Archives for category: For 9 – 12 Years

Published by Harper Collins.

I think I like most animals. Well, apart from hissing cockroaches – somehow I don’t seem to appreciate cockroaches. They tried to have me handle one in a zoo once. They thought we would have a meaningful meeting of minds. After all, I had just handled a snake or two, and a large rose kneed tarantula (named Rosie) amongst other creatures, so I suppose it was a reasonable assumption. I had to explain that though I was sure Hissing Sid was very nice in his own way, I didn’t want to have him walk from hand to hand, as I had with Rosie. I had, I remember to be quite firm about it…anyway, he survived to be presented to someone else and I was relieved that, to quote Stanley Holloway, that the Manager didn’t have to be called for…

This volume is about the friendship between a young boy and a fox. Friendships with animals should never be just brushed aside. They are as important as those we have with homo sapiens, at least that is what I have found. This starts with the heart rending description of a boy having to release his friend back into the wild…’for his own good.’ Which never really helps as a statement. We know in the front of our brains that perhaps it is, but, then again, perhaps it isn’t. You can never be sure…and there are ways of doing things, and sometimes they shouldn’t be done at all.

I remember once, and only once, walking with Pakka on the common. She took over long to come and I needed to go.  So I left the common without her. Then worried all the way back to find in the middle of the afternoon that she obviously hadn’t been home since that morning…so went out onto the common, called once and she bolted out from the undergrowth calling back as she ran straight to me. She had obviously been searching since the morning. I never did it again, and could never do, what this boy is encouraged to do by his father. Pakka and I lived together with respect for one another. She would wait for me on our walks, and I for her. She supported me, and we watched out for dogs and foxes, because she liked to chase them.  I was there for her when the seagulls flew to close and found her when the magpies ganged up and had her pinned down; we ran home together, she along side me.

This is a superb little book – a story of war, and the powerful connection between a boy and his fox – with illustrations by Jon Klassen, an emotional rollercoaster of the most extraordinary kind…

 

Image result for a place called perfection duggan

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd

This is a story of perfection. An uprising. Rose tinted glasses….Jealousy. Families. Tea. Orphans. It is the story of the three Archer brothers, bravery and of course, good old fashioned adventure. It starts with Violet’s family moving to the town of Perfection and a boy who she can’t see who laughs at her as she runs into their new house. When at last they meet she finds that he is called ‘Boy’ and has no parents at all.

I like tea. Personally I have never liked flavoured tea. I like tea to taste of tea and not of something else. This book rather backs my view. There is nothing like a good cup of English Builders’ or Kenyan tea. If I found my favourite brew should suddenly taste of vanilla and orange, I would be very suspicious. Those who like tea that is flavoured, however, would perhaps be beguiled….

Boy’s and Violet’s adventures become intricate and compelling. Violet’s father has disappeared. Her mother has started to bake cakes, and isn’t really sure about her daughter any more. For that matter nor is Violet sure of her mother. Boy too has questions. What happened to his parents? Why was he left at the orphanage? What is his history…

Perfection sometimes, isn’t everything it is held up to be. Sometimes normality is better. After all who can say what perfection is? Mine certainly wouldn’t be yours, I’m sure…Imperfection or differences should be celebrated…

At the end of it all, it seems it’s not. That is, The End.  After all, what did happen to Edward Archer?

There will be more.

 

 

Published by Pan Macmillan.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Which is probably true – though it is without doubt the first thing that attracts a reader, if they haven’t met the author before. In this case it was Chris Riddell’s illustration that caught my eye. Twice. Then I succumbed and I am very pleased I did – a superb story of a young boy who has, as far as he can remember always been the ‘owner’ / ‘caretaker’ of ‘the box’ which contain three demons – up to mischief at any opportunity. One, somewhat smelly, another frankly cantankerous and the third – well he’s just greedy for the smell of chips…

When he was younger the demons were at least funny, however, now things are getting a little more serious…he has always been deemed as a little ‘odd’, but now it is becoming something more. When Ben comes across an angel, who tells him he can be rid of the box, it seems like a dream come true. Perhaps there will be silence…the music the box makes is a continuous noise in Ben’s head, and for that alone, he would do almost anything….just for some peace and quiet.

I am just a little over half way through this and I can confirm it is brilliant.

Go out and buy it.

It is with some regret that I notice that there was once a Special Edition of this – I never saw it. I wish I had seen it – I’d have had a copy… A greater regret, is that this was first published in 2015 and as a paperback – last year. One that I missed, but not one you should.

 

Published by OUP

I always remember this book for three reasons. The first is that it is a very good story – the first that was published by this author. The second reason, because it is about a bird of prey and the third, because the title is a misnomer.

The story is brilliant, so much so I organised for a school to have an event based around the book. I love birds of prey and the book is a superb story about ospreys, and a nest that is found on a farm in Scotland…

When the author came to give her talk – which was filled with natural history and information about how the book came to be written, I asked her about the title. After all the book is about an osprey – an eagle, and not a hawk.

Oxford University Press’ decision to inaccurately (in my view) give the story this title has mystified me ever since. It is a good title. It should not, however, have been given to this book – there are many others it could have had.  So, this book is not about a hawk, it is about an eagle – and children who become bound into its story.

If you think birds of prey are extraordinary creatures or you love birds or wildlife and adventure, then this is the book for you.

Gill Lewis has written quite a number of books for this age group since this came out:

White Dolphin / Moon Bear / Scarlet Ibis / Gorilla Dawn / Sky Dancer (October / Hen Harriers).

 

Published by Orion Books

This reminds me a little of Welcome to Nowhere (Elizabeth Laird’s book on the Syrian refugee crisis); this though is a tale of Tibet, of bravery, adventure, secrets, mountains, danger, and two extraordinary yaks. It is another story about man’s inhumanity to man – but it is also a tale of hope. Tash and Sam attempt to travel to India from Tibet by yak, hoping to meet the Dalai Lama and perhaps make some contribution to change.

The chapters are small, no more than a few pages, with beautifully decorated leaves in between. Simply and clearly written it is a powerful novel.

I now want to visit Tibet, the mountains and perhaps to be introduced to a yak or a dri…I suspect they are rather special creatures.

 

Published by Puffin Books.

Some of you may have read The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, some years ago. This volume continues the adventures of Ted Spark – just three months after he solved the mystery of what happened to Salim, his cousin who, (if you didn’t guess, or know) disappeared off the London Eye. This is Ted’s second mystery – set around the theft of a picture from the Guggenheim museum in New York.

I have dipped into The London Eye Mystery, but haven’t yet managed to read it; it sells itself by word of mouth, and I do like to encourage new good books. I have read enough though to be happy to include it in my piles, with the notation that though not read by me yet, I believe it to be good. I will be reading it very soon; I loved The Guggenheim Mystery – its brilliant and extremely well written.

Ted Sparks is rather a unique character – and having a trip to New York to see Salim should be a holiday to remember, but not for his aunt being arrested for theft….

Robin Stevens is the author of the Wells and Wong detective novels.  There are six so far, and are very distinctive cover wise, with very bright covers. I have read the first in the series (I have too many books to read to try them all) – and wrote a post about it some time ago. This is very different – set mainly in New York, and is a brilliant bit of deduction.

So, for all those potential Poirots, Christies, Holmeses, Chestertons e.t.c that are out there – do read the Wells and Wong books, but start with The London Eye Mystery (Siobhan Dowd), then this and then disappear into Murder Most Unladylike. They will keep you out of mischief for some time to come!

Do remember, though, to read as wide a range of authors as possible – it is very easy to just follow one; only to miss out on new potentially superb authors. Its important for your health to eat a wide ranging diet, the same is true for reading – your English will improve if you read many different authors…(they use different words, and their use of language is different)…. It makes reading more interesting and food, quite extraordinary…

The titles in the Wells & Wong series so far run to six:

Murder Most UnladylikeArsenic for Tea, First Class Murder, Jolly Foul Play, Mistletoe and Murder and Cream Buns and Crime.

There are also two mini volumes: The Case of the Blue Violet and The Case of the Deepdean Vampire.

 

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

I recently organised a school event for Elizabeth Laird and at the end one of the boys asked Elizabeth Laird which was her favourite book, that she had written. It was obviously a very difficult question; her reply much the same as many parents’ – she loves them all, however, she did go on to say that the character Ben, in the story, was based around her younger brother, and so perhaps, if pushed this is her favourite.

This is the story of Anna’s family – her Mum, Dad, little sister, Katy and their new baby brother Ben. It is a tale of growing up, of accepting responsibilities, of acknowledging who you are, and who other people are too – along with realising that love comes in many forms and ways. It is a story of a family dealing with someone special, who though severely disabled, has a massive impact on the family.  Sometimes in a good way, and at other times taking all the attention.

The preface explains just a little about Elizabeth’s relationship with her brother Alistair – the positives and the negatives. Superb.

 

Published by Faber & Faber

This is Emma Carroll’s latest novel. It is set in the Second World War and encompasses the blitz, refugees, and evacuation – friendship, bravery and a little bit of luck – well more than a little. It will become a classic – there’s mystery and danger from the first page – it is a real page turner – a book that details the sense, and atmosphere of a very dark time in our history.

This is the first book of Emma Carroll’s that I have read – which is slightly embarrassing; five others are listed in the front, and her seventh book – The Lost Boy is being advertised in the back. Well written, edgy and engrossing. Superb.

 

Published by Canongate

I haven’t finished this one yet – and must admit to being attracted to the book first, because of its cover. I do read a lot of ‘children’s books’ – and mostly ignore the dust jackets and covers, as often they have very little to do with the content. A good book can have an appalling cover; and the reverse, sadly is also true. This one though I picked up initially as it had a sticker on it saying it glows in the dark, which I suppose does indicate that stickers work…(though do see below). The dust jacket does glow in the dark – they haven’t given the boards the same treatment – but as far as that goes, it does. That is not the reason to buy this book.

This is book one of the Worldquake Books  – a new trilogy to rival Harry Potter, yes, to rival Harry Potter. It is a story about a library, another world, and books – books that can pull characters through into another world all together.

It is very clever – and without doubt a series that should be given more publicity than it has so far.

Effie Truelove goes to a school with a rather wonderful name: the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange along with her friends, Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven – and the name of the school is reflected in her and her friends’ characters.  Effie inherits her grandfather’s library along with other gifts, but these are not handed down to her as they should be.  A book collector manages to get his hands on them – and that is just the start.

There are some wonderful vignettes in the book – one of the princesses, who has managed not to be eaten by the dragon…has a t-shirt with the statement ‘Badass Gristle’ on it – which I thought was a lovely touch –

This is a trilogy not to be missed…

Harry Potter has taken the world – there are numerous spin-offs from the original 7 volumes – the Red Nose & Beedle the Bard books, the 8 films, the books of the films, wands, time-turners, snitches, hats, cloaks, owls, board games, jewellery, maps, watches, snow globes, nodding headed manikins, events around the books, (at least on a six month cycle), notebooks, badges, a new film about one of the characters, a play, and the scripts from the new film and the play, toys – the list is never ending…but, fundamentally there were seven, just 7 books. Everything else hangs from those.

This trilogy could rival those books – without a doubt. They won’t have the paraphernalia attached to them or the fans yet, but hopefully they will in time.

If you don’t want to visit another Potter Event, or to have another edition of the same books you already have, and are perhaps, dare I say this, a little Potter-weary, whether temporarily or otherwise, you might do worse than to pick up this small volume and begin to follow Effie’s adventures.   If you are still enjoying Potter-mania – all to the good – you will without any doubt at all enjoy this new trilogy as well – buy it and read it.

My only slight reservations about this book are that the illustration on the dust jacket (that one that glows in the dark) – shows a girl in silhouette – who looks a little older than I feel is right and someone has decided to put a pink sticker on my dust jacket that states – This Book Glows in the Dark.

I  hate stickers on books -whether booksellers’ or publishers’.  With all the will in the world, they invariably can’t be removed easily – and are a distraction from the design of the books if left in place or worse, leave a mess behind if removed. A bookmark with a note stating that the dust jacket is a special edition and glows – or a note to the booksellers to make us aware, would have been better…but that is one of those bug-bears of my life… I have to admit, the sticker did bring my attention to the book – but mainly because it was there – I’d have much preferred a nicely designed bookmark…

Volume 2 The Chosen Ones is due out in April 2018, and volume 3, Keepers in April 2019 – keep an eye out, but be aware it may be that the titles change & / the publications dates shift…it does happen…

 

Published by Chicken House

This is the second book written by Kiran Hargrave – the first The Girl of Ink and Stars has just won the Waterstones Book Prize for 2017 – it was good, but not as good as this.

Ami lives on an island with her sick mother. She does most things for her as her condition worsens, however, life is good – the island is beautiful, there is fresh water, fruit, butterflies and they are together. When Ami is taken from her island to an orphanage as a result of a directive, she worries about her mother, but soon finds herself also worrying about the other children. They also have been taken from their parent’s and families to protect them; as their beautiful home is designated as a leper colony.

Moving, and rather beautiful this is the story of love, friendship, bravery and ultimately people. It is a much better book than The Girl of Ink and Stars – though that one shouldn’t be missed either. It is just that this one has much more depth.

Enjoy both – they are not connected (apart from being written by the same author), so it is no matter in which order you read them.