Matthew has OCD. He has created a germ-free environment for himself in his bedroom and his parents' office. He doesn't go outside much because of hisMatthew has OCD. He has created a germ-free environment for himself in his bedroom and his parents' office. He doesn't go outside much because of his anxiety about germs and contamination, and from this vantage point he notices what is happening in and around his neighbours' houses. So when the toddler grandson of his next door neighbour goes missing, Matthew and Melody who lives over the road are able to piece together clues from what Matthew has observed in order to investigate.
This is a great book for years 5 and 6, both as a class novel to read aloud and for independent reading. It would spark a lot of conversations about mental health, loss and friendships. ...more
I enjoyed this book. It's exciting, and at points has moments of real scariness. It's the story of Rose, an orphan, who gets employed as a maid in a mI enjoyed this book. It's exciting, and at points has moments of real scariness. It's the story of Rose, an orphan, who gets employed as a maid in a magician's house. While there she discovers that children are going missing. Rose uses her emerging magical talents to solve the mystery, along with the Mr Fountain the magician's apprentice, and a magical cat. I'd recommend this for children 8+ who like a bit of terror in their reading....more
In Imperial China, Minli and her parents live in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain. Life is hard, and Minli's mother is dissatisfied with the hardIn Imperial China, Minli and her parents live in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain. Life is hard, and Minli's mother is dissatisfied with the hard work planting rice for little reward. Her father tells traditional stories of dragons, cruel magistrates, the mountains and the man in the moon, and when Minli has the chance to run away and journey to meet the man in the moon and ask him to change her family's luck, she grabs it. On the way she encounters a talking fish, a dragon, monkeys and other characters, all of whom help her, and eventually after an act of bravery and sacrifice, Minli returns to her family. I recommend this book to classes both culturally diverse and less so; the beautiful illustrations and Chinese folklore will entrance all, Y3 and above- and maybe some strong Y2 readers....more
A wonderful book. Believe all the hype! This is a magical read.
Sophie is found floating in a cello after a ship is lost. A young man called Charles fA wonderful book. Believe all the hype! This is a magical read.
Sophie is found floating in a cello after a ship is lost. A young man called Charles fosters her, and they live the wonderfully eccentric life I longed for when I was 9 or 10. However, as Sophie grows up, Authority steps in and demands that she no longer lives with a single man who is no relative, and Charles and Sophie run away to Paris. Here, Sophie meets Matteo, a boy who lives on the roofs of Paris, and they set off to seek Sophie's mother.
The language in this book is marvellous- Sophie looks like a Maths lesson in grey shorts; Charles is like a well mannered panther... how could you not fall in love with a book like this? It is a classic in the making....more
A fantastic book for Y6+, probably for independent reading for confident readers. It reminded me of a childhood favourite- Leon Garfield. It is the stA fantastic book for Y6+, probably for independent reading for confident readers. It reminded me of a childhood favourite- Leon Garfield. It is the story of Ezra McAdam, a mixed race surgeon's apprentice in late 18th Century London, who becomes involved in investigating the death of Loveday Finch's father. It is quite gory and involves body snatching, so not one for sensitive readers, but it is gripping. Highly recommended. ...more
If you haven't met Hilary McKay's enchanting Casson family, then make sure you remedy this omission! Their parents are painters- Bill, their father isIf you haven't met Hilary McKay's enchanting Casson family, then make sure you remedy this omission! Their parents are painters- Bill, their father is a successful and acclaimed artist, living and working in London; Eve, their mother, make ends meet by painting popular subjects and teaching art classes. The children- Caddy, Indigo, Saffron and Rose- get by as best they can in their loving but slightly chaotic home.
Saffron is the focus of this book. She discovers at the age of 8 that she is the adopted child of Eve's sister who died when Saffron was a toddler. A note in the children's grandfather's will leads Saffron, her new friend, wheelchair user Sarah, and her adopted siblings, on a journey to discover Saffron's past and her place in her family.
Told with a great warmth and humour, this is a wonderful family story that fans of Jacqueline Wilson and Noel Streatfeild will enjoy. I recommend it highly for independent reading or guided reading for readers 9+. ...more
Louis Sachar is possibly best known (in the UK at least) for the amazing Holes, but he has also written for younger readers. Someday Angeline has theLouis Sachar is possibly best known (in the UK at least) for the amazing Holes, but he has also written for younger readers. Someday Angeline has the aspects of Holes that I really enjoyed: the fantastical elements, well drawn but not over-described characters and a fast moving plot told in short chapters.
Angeline Perspolis is 8. A gifted child, she's placed in 6th grade rather than with children of her own age, to challenge her. However, despite Angeline's intelligence, she struggles socially and emotionally: she sucks her thumb, cries easily and is teased by her class mates. Mrs Hardlick, her teacher, is unsympathetic and uninspiring. Angeline's father finds it hard to communicate with his daughter. He is a widower and doesn't seem to know how to talk to her.
Angeline is saved by her friend Gary Boone, who tells dreadful jokes, and his teacher, Miss Turbone, who has tropical fish in her classroom. They, and Abel Persopolis's workmate on the garbage truck, help Abel and Angeline connect.
Fish, aquariums and the ocean are reoccuring motifs in this novel, in unobtrusive and skillful writing. It's a fabulous book. I'd read it to Y4+ and definitely use it for guided or independent reading in Y5 and 6. It would be very useful to discuss bullying, inclusion, difference and families. I also love that Angeline and Abel's family is working class. Sadly, this seems to be becoming increasingly rare in children's literature.
Last year I watched the BBC TV film Lost Christmas with Eddie Izzard. I found it an incredibly moving and very beautiful film, so I was excited to seeLast year I watched the BBC TV film Lost Christmas with Eddie Izzard. I found it an incredibly moving and very beautiful film, so I was excited to see that one of the writers, David Logan, has adapted it into a novel.
10 year old Goose wakes up one Christmas Eve in his house in Manchester to the sound of a puppy barking. He runs downstairs to find his parents unsuccessfully trying to hide a mongrel puppy. Goose is full of plans to play with him, but then his firefighter dad receives a call and has to go to work. Disappointed, Goose hides his car keys. Of course, that doesn't stop his father from going to work; instead his mum gives him a lift in her car. Goose's spur-of-the-moment act means that he loses both parents in a car crash.
A year later he is living with his grandmother, who is in the early stages of dementia. He still has Mutt, his dog, but he has lost everything else, including his ability to feel. He is also involved in crime, stealing and handing over the objects to his dad's former best friend, Frank, whose wife left him when Frank's grief led him to drink heavily.
Then after a heavy night in a pub, Frank meets a strange man, Anthony. Anthony seems to have lost his memory. However, he seems to have a strange power, to "read" people and know their secret- and not so secret- losses. As Goose and Frank become more involved with Anthony, he helps them to make amends and return lost things to their owners.
This book deserves to become a Christmas classic. I think it is probably aimed at 10+, but I think it could be a fantastic book to read to children 8+ and helping them understand allusions, to, for example, Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince. ...more
What an amazing book. It is indeed a "wonder". August Pullman was born with a rare genetic disorder and has cranio-facial abnormalities. He has been hWhat an amazing book. It is indeed a "wonder". August Pullman was born with a rare genetic disorder and has cranio-facial abnormalities. He has been homeschooled, because he has been in and out of hospital for most of his life, but his parents have decided to send him to school for fifth grade. This novel is the story of his fifth grade year.
The book is told in the voices of Auggie, his sister Via, his friends, Jack and Summer, Via's boyfriend Justin and her friend Miranda. There is one chapter told in emails and text messages, which gives us further perspectives on an incident. This is interesting, because Auggie says at the beginning that he doesn't want to tell us what he looks like; this information comes from Via most strongly.
What I really liked about the novel is that Auggie has to constantly deal with the reactions of other people, again and again, and this is not glossed over. Neither is the reaction of adults: we learn that some parents have photoshopped him out of school photos, for example. However, Palacio also lets us know that all of the young characters have difficulties, whether that is Via having to always be the good girl because Auggie needs care, or dealing with the death of a parent, divorcing parents or trying to fit in in a private school when your parents aren't wealthy. The reader empathises when the characters don't behave well.
I'm not keen on using books to point moral messages, but I do think the message of Mr Tushman's end of year speech is important: we should try to be a little kinder. A great book to read and discuss with children in Y5 or 6, perhaps alongside materials from Changing Faces charity www.changingfaces.org.uk. Highly recommended for teachers with an interest in inclusive practice. ...more
I read this in Whitby, where I have been for a few days. I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy,The Whitby Witches , and while there were bitsI read this in Whitby, where I have been for a few days. I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy,The Whitby Witches , and while there were bits of this book I liked, I didn't enjoy everything about it.
Ben and Jennet are still living with Miss Boston, their elderly foster-mother in Whitby. Following the events of the previous book, a mysterious visitor, Nathaniel Crozier, arrives in Whitby. He is quite scruffy looking, but has magnetic brown eyes and a lot of charm, and manages to bend the residents of Whitby, including Jennet, to his will. He is in fact the husband of Rowena Cooper, the villain of the previous book, and has come not only to be revenged on the people who defeated her, but also to unleash a terrible power that has been dormant for centuries.
In the meantime, Miss Boston has been called away to visit an old friend who is very ill in London. The children have been left in charge of the dithery and rather ineffectual Miss Werther, Whitby's post mistress. However, when she arrives, there is something very odd going on at her friend's house.
Ben's friend, Nelda the Aufwader, has her own problems. Since the curse of the Aufwaders wasn't fully broken in the previous book, she must appease Esau, one of the elders of the tribe, through marriage.
For me, the three strands of the book never really came together. I wanted to know more about all of them, and the Aufwader aspect of the story didn't tie together the way the other two did. Also, I found the way that Jennet was diminished in this book rather disappointing. I'd have liked her to have been far more instrumental in the plot of this book.
However, the sense of place and menace of Whitby (it takes place this time of year, when Whitby is at its most spooky) is really well evoked. It is an exciting read, and I'm sure that children of 9+ would enjoy it....more
This is a fantastic book in every sense! Set in the borders of Scotland, it is the story of Helen, a talented musician in the top year at Primary schoThis is a fantastic book in every sense! Set in the borders of Scotland, it is the story of Helen, a talented musician in the top year at Primary school. Her mum is a vet, but Helen hasn't paid much attention- she is more interested in her violin. One evening, she hears the sound of hooves limping up the lane, and, worried that her mum will be disturbed, she goes to deal with the most likely problem- a stone in a pony's hoof. However, what she thinks is a boy riding a pony turns out to be a young centaur, who tells her a tale of the Book of the magical peoples, which has gone missing, and the Master, an evil minotaur who is trying to get hold of it. After stitching Yann the centaur's wounds, Helen becomes involved in the quest for the Book, along with Yann, a selkie, a phoenix, a fairy and a dragon.
This is a great quest adventure for confident readers aged 8-12. It would be a great book to read aloud for children, and I think the pace of the story would carry along readers who may not particularly enjoy reading. Particular congratulations to the publishers for an attractive, non-gendered cove; sadly unusual these days. I have ordered the second book in the series!...more
Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is one of the best recent children's series, so I was very much looking forward to reading thisMichelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is one of the best recent children's series, so I was very much looking forward to reading this one, based in bronze-age Greece, pre-classical period. And I wasn't disappointed. Her ability to conjure up the cold and dangers of ancient Scandinavia translates to Greece, with the dangers from sea, sun and volcanoes to her protagonists Hylas and Pirra.
Hylas is an Outsider in Lyconia- he and his sister Issi are blonde haired, and therefore heard goats in return for limited protection of the villagers. Then one day black armoured warriors known as Crows arrive, attacking the goatherds, killing one, and Issi vanishes. Hylas runs away, seeking help from the chieftain's son, Telemon.
On his journey to find Issi, Hylas makes an unexpected friend in Pirra, a priestess's daughter, and together they must prevent the Crows from regaining a precious artefact, despite betrayal. A wonderfully exciting read for confident readers of 9+....more
12 year old Ante has a music scholarship to a private school. She lives with her mother, as her Ethiopian doctor father died when she was very young.12 year old Ante has a music scholarship to a private school. She lives with her mother, as her Ethiopian doctor father died when she was very young. Unfortunately she encounters a girl from her primary school, Florence, who dislikes her, and Florence and her friends set out to make Ante unhappy. One day Ante stands up to them, which results in them chasing her through the school. Ante hides in the organ loft, where Florence follows her. Then the rail gives way and they fall. After the fall, they notice an oddly-dressed boy who leads them into the Underworld, where they meet characters from classical mythology who help them on their quest to escape the Underworld and discover why they are there and why Florence is convinced that Ante has wronged her.
I really enjoyed this book. It isn't necessary to have knowledge of either Dante or classical mythology to enjoy it, but I would probably read it to a class or use it in guided reading with Y5 or 6 children after studying myths and legends. It would be great to discuss with children to develop their comprehension skills. I think children would really enjoy it....more
Rosemary Sutcliff is probably best known for her historical novels for children about Roman Britain, but this novel about Drem, a Bronze age boy livinRosemary Sutcliff is probably best known for her historical novels for children about Roman Britain, but this novel about Drem, a Bronze age boy living with his tribe on the South Downs, was one of my favourites as a child.
The novel opens with 9 year old Drem talking with Doli, one of the Little Dark People who live on the hills with their sheep. Drem tells Doli that he intends to become a warrior and to wear the Warrior Scarlet that the rest of his tribe do. However, on returning home, he hears his grandfather and mother talking, discussing Drem's withered arm and how unlikely he is to pass the tests required to be a warrior and be initiated as a full male member of the tribe. Drem runs away, but meets the one-handed hunter Talore, who tells Drem that he must learn to do things so well with one arm that people forget about the other one.
Drem becomes an expert with the spear, and he joins the Boy's House with his peers, to train as a warrior and to kill a wolf, the initiation required to become a warrior. However, Drem has to be rescued from his wolf, and is exiled from his tribe. He joins the Little Dark People and becomes a shepherd. His concern for and care of the sheep and of Doli eventually proves to be his redemption and the means to rejoin the tribe.
This is an amazing book. Sutcliff's ability to evoke history and draw vivid, lifelike characters is astonishing, and Drem's disability is a pivotal point of the novel without it being issue-led. Recommended for confident readers 9+ or for a teacher to read to classes 8+....more
13-year-old Amazon Hunt is climbing back into her English boarding school, having broken bounds to watch a family of badgers, when she is greeted by h13-year-old Amazon Hunt is climbing back into her English boarding school, having broken bounds to watch a family of badgers, when she is greeted by her 12 year old cousin Frazer and a companion who has come to tell her that she is to travel with them to Long Island and meet up with her conservationist parents.
On arrival she learns that her parents have not arrived, but she is invited to travel with her uncle's TRACKS conservationist group to rescue a rare Siberian leopard and her cubs from a forest fire. Little does she know that she will encounter tigers, bears and, most deadly of all, a human enemy with a vested interest in the failure of the mission.
Written in the spirit of the great conservation adventure stories by Willard Price, this is an exciting, fast paced adventure. I would have lived this book when I was 9; children with an interest in fact about animals will particularly enjoy it. Highly recommended for 9+....more