This book is set in Stone Age Northern Europe. Torak and his father are outcasts from their tribe, living in the great Forest as hunter-gatherers. TheThis book is set in Stone Age Northern Europe. Torak and his father are outcasts from their tribe, living in the great Forest as hunter-gatherers. Then his father is attacked and killed by a demon bear, and Torak must survive on his own. With the help of an orphaned wolf cub and a girl called Renn, Torak comes to discover his powers and to use them to fulfil his destiny. Michelle Paver manages to convey an amazing sense of place and immediacy in this novel, sometimes writing from Torak’s point of view, sometimes from the wolf’s. Wolf and Torak’s shared sense of grief at the loss of their families is incredibly touching. The language and concepts in the book would make it appropriate for readers of 9 and above, and I would recommend it as a class novel for Y5 or 6, or a group reader for those age ranges. There are good links to topics about Journeys (in RE or in Geography), or Maps, or Forest as an environment or landscape, and concepts of Duty, Destiny and Quest. It would be classified in the Fantasy genre- genre is considered in Y5 and Y6 literacy. It is the first novel in a series called Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, which are well worth reading....more
Eric and Gwendolen Chant have been left orphans by a steamboat accident. Cat, as Eric is known, seems an ordinary, very nice little boy, but his sisteEric and Gwendolen Chant have been left orphans by a steamboat accident. Cat, as Eric is known, seems an ordinary, very nice little boy, but his sister Gwendolen is a powerful young witch.
Cat and Gwendolen are taken to live at Chrestomanci Castle with Chrestomanci, a man who controls all magic use, and his family. There, Gwendolen's arrogance and selfish nature becomes evident, and makes life extremely uncomfortable for Cat, until one morning he awakes to find that she has disappeared, and in her place is a girl almost identical to her who is named Janet. Why and how Gwendolen has done this, and how it is resolved, is revealed in the story.
This book was published in 1977, and I remember reading it around a year later. It remains one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors. As a teacher I passed it on to some Harry Potter-mad children, who also loved it, and subsequent Chrestomanci books. I would use it in the classroom as a class novel for Y4+, and as a guided reading text to look at how Wynne Jones subverts our expectations, to read beyond the literal, and how she creates vivid settings. Highly recommended....more
An "other worlds" fantasy with a Science Fiction feel. Zahrah lives in the city of Kirki, in Ooni Kingdom, planet Ginen. In her world humans have harnAn "other worlds" fantasy with a Science Fiction feel. Zahrah lives in the city of Kirki, in Ooni Kingdom, planet Ginen. In her world humans have harnassed the natural world to technology- for example PCs literally grow on trees, and the currency is flower petals.
Zahrah is born with vines growing through her hair, linking her closely to the natural world: she is dada, having the power to fly. Despite this Zahrah is timid and frightened by her own powers. She has been bullied by her classmate because of her hair. Her best friend, Dari, is the only one not afraid of her; he is fearless and unwilling to accept the received wisdom that the Forbidden Greeny Jungle on the edge of the city is a dangerous place.
It is Dari who prompts Zahrah to visit the Dark Market, full of juju artefacts, to find out more about her dada powers, and who insists that they visit the Greeny Jungle. While there, Dari is bitten by a war snake, and only Zahrah can get the antidote from the Greeny Jungle to wake him from his coma.
There are a couple of quibbles- I felt that there was an over-reliance on exclamation marks to convey excitement/ danger, and some slightly cliched language, but this is really nit-picking. I look forward to reading more of Okorafor's work, and sincerely hope that she gets a UK publisher. I'd love to see these in the schools I've taught in North London, where good quality books reflecting the diverse community are sadly lacking, particularly in the very white, heteronormative fantasy genre....more
In the middle of a storm, a daughter is born to Matt the robber and his wife, Lovis. The little girl is named Ronia, and she grows up fearless, outfacIn the middle of a storm, a daughter is born to Matt the robber and his wife, Lovis. The little girl is named Ronia, and she grows up fearless, outfacing harpies and trolls in Matt’s Forest, swimming in the rivers and climbing trees. She grows up in Matt’s Fort amongst his gang of robbers, always a little lonely, until she meets a red-haired boy of her own age, Birk. Unfortunately he is the son of Matt’s rival, Borka.
This is a wonderful story, beautifully translated by Patricia Crompton. Any lover of Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking will not be surprised that Ronia is a fearless, charming character, but for me this book is a richer, more satisfying read, depicting family love and conflict, particularly a beautiful depiction of a loving but exasperated wife and mother in Lovis, and the growing friendship between Ronia and Birk despite their families’ disapproval.
This is a great read for 7-11 year olds, and should, I think, appeal to both boys and girls. It is a little frightening in places; the harpies chasing Ronia in particular are a little unsettling, so parents may prefer to read it to younger or more sensitive readers, but I think most children who like adventurous, slightly scary stories with a bit of the supernatural thrown in should love it....more
A really enjoyable read: think Georgette Heyer crossed with Diana Wynne Jones. A great, fun read for 9+, it has star-crossed lovers, a secret magic ciA really enjoyable read: think Georgette Heyer crossed with Diana Wynne Jones. A great, fun read for 9+, it has star-crossed lovers, a secret magic circle, witchcraft and highwaymen in an imagined Regency England where magic exists, but is socially unacceptable. Kat is a great 12-year-old protagonist, and there is a lovely, believeable sisterly relationship consisting of love along with resentment and exasperation. Highly recommended....more
I found this book a little strange. It was extremely creepy, in the way that run-down English seaside towns often are. Three children steal money fromI found this book a little strange. It was extremely creepy, in the way that run-down English seaside towns often are. Three children steal money from a wishing well to get the bus fare home, and awaken the anger of the spirit of the well. Two of them, Ryan and Chelle, attempt to put things right, but the third, Josh, starts to enjoy his new-found supernatural powers too much.
This novel was published after Fly By Night, which I loved, but I wonder if it was written before? Some of the details seemed odd to me- a song from Space's 1997 album is playing on the radio in a cafe (Avenging Angels, which fits the plot, but still...) Middle class 12 year olds without mobile phones or access to the internet? The father of one of the children is videotaping his favourite TV show? These details jarred with me a little.
As other reviewers have said, the novel starts slowly, but rushes with break-neck speed towards the denouement. I would have liked it better with more even pace, I think. However, Hardinge's inventive language and imagery is still enjoyable, and I recommend it to Neil Gaiman or Garth Nix fans....more
Ben and Jennet are travelling from the North East of England to Whitby, North Yorkshire to a new adoptive home. Since the death of their parents theyBen and Jennet are travelling from the North East of England to Whitby, North Yorkshire to a new adoptive home. Since the death of their parents they have moved from foster home to foster home: Ben's ability to see dead people tends to put off foster families. On arrival at Whitby they meet their new adoptive mother- the eccentric elderly Alice Boston. The children settle in quickly, enjoying getting to know Miss Boston and explore Whitby, getting to know the local legends, including the story of St Hilda, Dracula and the Barguest, a sort of ghost dog whose appearance foretells death.
When a mysterious and sinister woman, Rowena Cooper, appears and insinuates herself with Miss Boston's friends, some very mysterious things start to happen. Ben meets a strange group of creatures that only he can see- the Aufwaders- who are dying out due to a curse. How their story, that of Rowena Cooper and a mysterious nun fit together makes for a great fantasy read.
It would work brilliantly as a class novel, especially for a KS2 learning about coasts and shores as a Geography topic. It would also be a great guided or independent read for Y4+. My only quibble is that for me the ending felt a little unresolved, possibly as it is the first in a trilogy.
I loved this book. Told in the first person by Stephanie, it is the story of two children, Stephanie and Ewen, and their baby brother. They have two lI loved this book. Told in the first person by Stephanie, it is the story of two children, Stephanie and Ewen, and their baby brother. They have two loving but busy parents and an unkind Nanny who is obsessed with reality TV. Then one dark and stormy night, their mysterious grandmother, Granny Nothing, appears and tries to help them resolve their problems with the scary dogs next door, bullies at school, an unfair head teacher and last but not least, mean Nanny Sue. I recommend this book to 8-11 year olds, particularly those who enjoyed Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine. There are sequels which I will be investigating as soon as possible!...more
Nisa and Anand are now settled as apprentices with the Healers in their home in the Himalayas. Nisa is taking to her studies with enjoyment and ease,Nisa and Anand are now settled as apprentices with the Healers in their home in the Himalayas. Nisa is taking to her studies with enjoyment and ease, but Anand is struggling to find his place. Then news of danger comes from Bengal, and Abhaydatta the healer travels there with an apprentice. However Anand has a vision telling him that something has gone terribly wrong, so he steals the conch and he and Nisa travel through a portal. They are separated on the way, and Anand loses the conch. He discovers a magic mirror, and stepping through it, he arrives at the court of a 16th century Moghul emperor. The period details of the Muslim court are beautifully evoked, especially the food- expect to feel hungry much of the time while reading this book!- and the time travel aspect of the book works really well. The separation of men and women in the Moghul court mean that the devices used so that Anand and Nisa can communicate must necessarily be magical, and I was reminded of Aladdin in the parts where Nisa and Anand meet in the gardens. This is a great book, and I'm really looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy....more
I enjoyed this book. It's a fast-paced adventure involving spell of terrible power, a missing academic (and with him, a large chunk of university fundI enjoyed this book. It's a fast-paced adventure involving spell of terrible power, a missing academic (and with him, a large chunk of university funding), a sinister television hypnotist, a talking cat, a love-struck secretary, and Otto, Juliet and Max, the magical detectives. My only quibble is that I would have liked the characters of Juliet and Max to be a little more fleshed out; I couldn't picture them as well as I could Otto, his mother and Cornelius the talking cat. I read this before the first book in the series, which I now have and will read. I recommend this book for confident 8 year old readers and above; very confident 7 year olds would probably manage it as well....more
Imagine a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Jane Eyre, and that would give you an idea of how engrossing and enjoyableImagine a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Jane Eyre, and that would give you an idea of how engrossing and enjoyable the first book in Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is. Miss Penelope Lumley is 15 years old, and having completed her studies at Agatha Swanburne's Academy for Poor Bright Females, she is summoned to an interview at Ashton Place, the home of Lord and Lady Ashton. She is expecting a rigorous interview, and is instead surprised to find Lady Constance begging her to stay. However, unline the young Browns or Banks, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible are not naughty; they were discovered in the forests surrounding Ashton Place, apparently raised by wolves and with an unfortunate fascination with squirrels. As many teachers have asked themselves, what does one do with a child who growls in public? Penelope does incredibly well until, at one of the most hilarious Christmas parties I have ever read about, events come to a head and the mystery is at least partially explained; of course, there is a sequel... I recommend this book for confident readers of 9+, and of course their teachers, parents and relatives!...more
Sam Palmer and his family have just moved to the country. Sam is bored and fed up, missing his friends and the social life he had in the city. He hasSam Palmer and his family have just moved to the country. Sam is bored and fed up, missing his friends and the social life he had in the city. He has always been interested in insects, but now he has become hyper-aware of them, almost to the point of obsession. One summer Saturday he decides that instead of letting the insects follow him, he will follow them, and see where they are coming from. Little does he know that they are slipping between the fabric of our world and the connected world of Aurobon, where there is a fierce war on to stop General Hekken and the dictator Odoursin from destroying humanity in revenge for a terrible accident.
The Dreamwalker's Child by Steve Voake (2005) is a fast paced, exciting read, with an environmental message; if Artemis Fowl is Die Hard with fairies, then this is Rambo with pilot-controlled insects. Sam and Skipper, the daredevil girl insect pilot who rescues him from Hekken's prison-cum-insect breeding factory, are great protagonists, and the action sequences made me hold my breath. This is former Primary head teacher Voake's first novel, and I'll be certainly be hunting down others. Highly recommended for Artemis or Alex Ryder fans....more