Author: E. B. Colin
KRB rating: 7/10
Recommended age: 8-11
Silas Orr is a pyrate’s boy. Leaving his Scottish town at a young age to seek his fortune in Jamaica, he is unexpectedly called back, shipwrecked and rescued by a crew of pirates whose skipper, Black Johnnie, offers him a position on his boat. And all goes swimmingly until the day he spots a boy floating in the water, tethered to a chain and an interesting-looking lead box.
Thus begins this swashbuckling adventure, which owes much to Treasure Island and many others, but still offers a story of interesting characters, darkest villains and a rattling good pace that keeps the surprises coming thick and fast. Silas is an endearing young hero, who never forgets the sister he left behind or those that have helped him on his way, while Black Johnnie is as good a role model as a pirate could be.
The story stretches from Scotland, to Jamaica, and back again via the east coast of America and a treacherous journey across the Atlantic – and treachery is the name of the game, keeping the reader constantly guessing whether characters are what they seem. But E. B. Colin’s book follows the classic mould, and everyone gets their just desserts. Pyrate’s Boy may not be breaking any new ground, but its plot, pace and characters make this story live and brings new impetus to an old genre.
Into That Forest
Author: Louis Nowra
KRB rating: 7/10
Recommended age: 12+
Reviewer: Aimee Paige
“The more I looked in its eyes, the more I seen kindness , and I knew it were saying to us, come , I’ll take you home…”
This is the story of two friends, Hannah and Becky, who end up lost in a forest and are taken in by two tigers who look after them. Soon they begin to act, eat and communicate like the tigers, and forget all about their old lives. But then after four years they are found, and they couldn’t be more angry and upset. They now face the hardest challenge yet: becoming human again.
I enjoyed reading this book as it’s like nothing I have read before. I think others who enjoy books about, nature, survival, friendship and trust or are just looking for something new to read will also like it. However, I also think some people may be a bit annoyed at some parts of the novel as it is told by Hannah, whose speech is not great as she had to learn to speak again, although I think this did add a more of an atmosphere to the book as it makes it more believable.Ii wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone under 12 as they may become slightly scared or disturbed as throughout the book the little girls believe they are animals and act like tigers ( it is described in quite a lot of detail) so this may become frightening for them. This book also tells you to never give up hope, never stop loving one another and never lose faith .
Overall I enjoyed this book and believe others will too! So go and join two girls, two tigers and go Into That Forest…
Osbert the Avenger
Author: Christopher William Hill
Publisher: Orchard Books
KRB rating: 9 ½/10
Recommended age: 9-12
Thank goodness for writers like Christopher William Hill. Just when you think you can’t read one more book about fairies or falling in love, along comes a story that is so beautifully sinister, so deliciously malevolent and so chock-full of squirmingly evil baddies that you can’t move without falling over another one.
Osbert Brinkhoff has the misfortune to be born into the exceptionally peculiar town of Schwartzgarten and to be unusually bright, both facts that lead him to apply to The Institute, a super-selective school about which tales are whispered of the extreme brutality of the teachers. But when you consider that Oscar’s Nanny has an unusual hobby of seeing off her lovers before they can do the same to her, and that Oscar himself has a particular affinity with butchers, you know that this is going to be anything but a run-of-the-mill school story. This is a tale of music, of fabulous eating (I was starving when I had finished reading it), of skulduggery, but mostly of murder, where nobody is blameless and everyone has something to hide. Even the best characters – especially the best characters – have ‘something of the night’ about them.
Dark, twisted, laugh-out-loud funny and endlessly inventive, Hill’s tale is a breath of fresh air and hugely recommended – I devoured it in a single day. Just one complaint: why do the publishers feel it necessary to compare Hill to Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket on the covers? A very odd practice and totally unnecessary: Hill has the talent to stand on his own. I, for one, can’t wait for the next Schwartzgarten book.
By the same author: The Woebegone Twins (out October 2013)
Just for a change, and as Bloomsbury asked so nicely, here’s a link to my video review of Neil Gaiman’s new children’s book, Fortunately… the Milk.
Right click to open link!
Today sees the launch of Neil Gaiman’s amazing new book for children, Fortunately… the Milk. And to mark the occasion, Bloomsbury have commissioned a number of short films reviewing the book. To see kidsreadbooks‘ contribution, follow @kidsbloomsbury on Twitter, where it will be launched at 2pm today, or come back to kidsreadbooks later today. Enjoy!
In a Glass Grimmly
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Publisher: Andersen Press
KRB rating: 8/10
Recommended age: 9-11
The frequently discussed notion that there are only seven plots in the whole of storytelling, and that these are reworked endlessly by each new generation, is probably more relevant for fairy tales than for any other genre of fiction. With their roots in oral tradition stretching back centuries, the origins of stories such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are probably lost in the mists of time. It is sad, therefore, that many children now only know the sanitised Disney versions.
That’s where Adam Gidwitz comes in. In the second of his books inspired by the tales of the Brothers Grimm, Gidwitz tackles the story of Jack and Jill, and a whole lot more besides, complete with blood, guts, gore and… um… nakedness. In this version, Gidwitz spins a web of unholy enchantment around the unlucky pair, who end up murdering giants, being drowned by mermaids and having the learn the unpronounceable German name of a giant salamander before voluntarily walking into its mouth.
One of the best things about this book is the glee with which the narrator stops the story to announce each section of particular nastiness. You could read these pieces as warnings to those with a nervous disposition, but in reality they act as enticements, daring children to venture just a little further, around the corner, into the dark where the nastier figments of their imagination live. Fortunately, Gidwitz writes with a wicked sense of humour, turning the grisly into the hilariously funny.
In a Glass Grimmly is pitched at the 9-11 market, which seems about right, and there are enough warnings to keep those away for whom it might be unsuitable, but I think that most readers of that age would be in for a real treat – a dark and witty fairy tale without the sugar-coating.
By the same author: A Tale Dark and Grimm
Author: Siobhan Curham
Publisher: Electric Monkey
KRB rating: 10/10!!!!!
Recommended age: 11/12+
Reviewer: Aimee-Paige, age 13
OMG, I loved this soooooo much, it’s exactly the type of book I would normally go for. It was great!!!!! If you have read the Laura Marlin Mystery books and enjoyed them, then I would definitely recommend this one!
Grace is the main character and the story is written from her POV (which I love). She keeps having dreams in which she is trying to save a baby from a fire. These frightening dreams have been troubling her, but she puts them to the back of her mind as she leaves with her fellow dancers to begin a job on a cruise ship. However, on their way a freak storm hits, and Grace and her friends become shipwrecked.
Strange things begin to happen, including strange pendants, a whisper, a Spanish boat driver and a voodoo doll. The teenagers begin to doubt that they will ever be rescued, and then they realise that they are not alone. The tension between them rises and they discover that the island is hiding a terrible secret…..
So I suggest you read this now!! It’s great for a summer/holiday read full of mystery, love, betrayal and a little bit of dark magic. Enjoy!!!
I know, I know, it’s been a long while since I posted this competition, so apologies for keeping you waiting while I took a summer break. So, better late than never, the winner of Andy Robb’s new book, Geekhood: Mission Improbable is…….
Justin, the book will be in the post to you today, I hope you enjoy it.