Tino and the Pomodori- Tonya Russo Hamilton

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This is a delightful story of a young Italian boy who eagerly awaits the day when he can plant tomatoes with his nonno.

With beautifully drawn illustrations and a perfect smattering of Italian words and phrases, this is a charming book for young children.

The picturesque setting of the Italian countryside along with plentiful references to the traditions of family and culture certainly add to the charm of the story and are the perfect backdrop to the main focus of the tale, which explains the life cycle of the tomato plant.

Bellissima!

The Fifth Letter-Nicola Moriarty

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This is a slow burner which ratchets up to breakneck speed by the end!

The tale begins with the story of how the four girls came to be best friends, taking the reader back to high school and introducing Joni as the main protagonist of the tale.

Fast-forward several years and the four friends find themselves sharing a run-down beach house on an annual trip away where, after a few glasses of wine, Joni suggests they should each write a letter, revealing something about themselves they haven’t already shared with the group.

This ultimately becomes a true test of friendship as a web of suspicion and intrigue plagues the remainder of the mini-break and threatens to destroy the bonds that have been so strong over the years.

When a mysterious fifth letter is discovered in the dying embers of the fire, written by one of the group who then had second thoughts and tried to destroy the evidence, the plot thickens.

Someone in the group harbours potentially dangerous thoughts towards one of the others and Joni resolves to determine exactly who, with almost disastrous consequences for them all.

With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK for an advanced copy.

A Magical Venice Story: The Girl of Glass- Holly Webb

This is the latest offering in the ‘Magical Venice’ series by Holly Webb, although it can be read as a standalone story as its characters are unique to this tale. Marketed at readers aged 9 and upwards, this is a beautiful tale for children and adults alike.

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Mariana lives on the Venetian island of Murano with her glassmaker father, stepmother and sister Eliza, who is seriously ill. While Mariana longs to learn the art of glass making, her father refuses to teach her and instead she spends her time travelling to mainland Venice in search of the ‘perfect potion’ to cure her ailing sister.

A series of events turns the lives of the whole family upside down and Mariana finds herself in charge of protecting a glass doll made in Eliza’s image by her father in an attempt to appease her distraught stepmother. When this plan goes awry, both girls find themselves stationed on the mainland in a palazzo where magic and danger are never far away!

Published on 9th March 2017. With thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Children’s Group for an advanced reading copy.