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Book review: Pyrate’s Boy

Pyrate’s Boy

Author: E. B. Colin

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Kelpies

ISBN: 9781782500131


KRB rating: 7/10

Recommended age: 8-11

Reviewer: Krissie


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.


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Book review: Into That Forest

Into That Forest

Author: Louis Nowra

Price: £6.99

Publisher: Egmont

ISBN: 978-1405267175


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…



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Book review: Osbert the Avenger

Osbert the Avenger

Author: Christopher William Hill

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Orchard Books

ISBN: 9781408314555


KRB rating: 9 ½/10

Recommended age: 9-12

Reviewer: Krissie


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)


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Book review: Fortunately… the Milk

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!


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Fortunately… the film

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!

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Book review: In a Glass Grimmly

In a Glass Grimmly

Author: Adam Gidwitz

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Andersen Press

ISBN: 9781849396202

KRB rating: 8/10

Recommended age: 9-11

Reviewer: Krissie

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

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Book review: Shipwrecked


Author: Siobhan Curham

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Price: £7.99

ISBN: 978-1405264570


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!!! 🙂

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Andy Robb competition winner!

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 Hall!

Justin, the book will be in the post to you today, I hope you enjoy it.

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Interview: Andy Robb, author of Geekhood (part 2)


Andy Robb (me)

Will this catch on as the new hat?


In part two of our interview with the lovely Andy Robb, author of the Geekhood duo of books, he tells kidsreadbooks of the real life, mortifying experiences that lead to the writing of the books…


What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you as a teenager?

There is a scene from my teenage years that the book began from. Age 13, there was a girl in my class, and I thought she was perfect. She was called Catherine. We ended up hanging out a lot. At this time, I was short, shy overweight and geeky, and I was amazed that she was even speaking to me. It was exquisite torture every time I saw her, but I could never say anything, and my crush kept getting bigger. We always had our mates with us, except that we walked home together every day, as far as the sweet shop – and it was like being in a golden bubble, nothing else existed.

One day, every time I saw her, I kept getting stomach flips and I was getting really down on myself about it. When we met at the school gates, I had a face like a thunderstorm. She asked me what was wrong, and of course I wouldn’t tell her, but she kept pushing and asking questions. Then suddenly, she asked if I fancied someone. And out of nowhere, my EM kicked in and I decided to tell her, but for some reason, I decided to do it in slow motion! I raised my arm really slowly and pointed at her, and said: “It’sssssss youuuuuuu.” Then I passed out. I woke up to a circle of faces staring down at me. She had been into the sweet shop and was eating bon-bons. I jumped up, said sorry and ran home.

For weeks later, after total silence in school, it was her birthday, and I decided to send her a bunch of flowers to let her know how I felt. By the time I had saved up enough money and got to the flower shop, my courage started to leave me. I chose the flowers – tiger lilies – and gave Catherine’s name to the woman serving in the shop. She looked at me a bit curiously and asked who it was, so I decided to lie – I told her it was my auntie, who had just been in hospital and that it was her birthday too, so she wrote a note saying “Well done for getting better, and happy birthday”. I heard nothing all weekend, then on Monday morning in school, Catherine’s friend Julia said that she had got the flowers, but that she wasn’t supposed to talk to me any more because her auntie had told her that I was a liar. It turned out that her auntie was the woman in the flower shop.

It all came to end when I lent her my trainers after her own broke on a sponsored walk. I insisted in finishing it myself in bare feet, and fainted again at the end. That was it, and she emigrated a few months later. There are things that are beautiful to relive in both optimism and despair.


What’s the funniest thing you have ever been asked at a reading or book signing?

I have been asked if I am Daniel Radcliffe, after I worked with him in The Woman in Black. I haven’t seen the film all the way through – it’s too scary.


Will there be any more Geekhood books, and what are you working on right now?

I don’t know yet if there will another Geekhood. The publishers are behind it, but now it is about sales. This is Stripes’ first venture into teen publishing, so it all depends on that. I do have a story in mind. I am writing something now, though. The lead character is about as far from Archie as you could get. He is very confident with girls, a bit cocky even. It could almost be in the horror genre, but it should also be funny. I’m 20,000 words in so far, and the publishers are looking at it now. I came from a comedy sketch I did with Jim, but it should also be quite touching.


Why do you think that being a geek has gained some kind of social status lately?

Geek status used to mean something different. It was about looking for stuff that wasn’t mainstream, like comics and RPG. Those things are more mainstream now. People have worked out they can make money from the geek thing, but geeks are also people who can see the beauty in things that other people can’t. Marvel comics, Dr Who, Star Trek and others have all come back – everyone has a need for escapism. It is all about the brightest and the noisiest now, but it is still telling old stories. There are still hardcore geeks though, having cosplay evening (dressing up), which is like the LARP thing. They create the environment to be what they would like to be rather than what they are. Geeks are important because they celebrate what’s important to them.


What’s your biggest ambition?

I was never very ambitious, I just wanted to be good at acting and writing. I want people to like what I do, and to be happy.

Krissie West

 MI (3)

Geekhood 2:bigger, better, funnier!

And there is still time to win a SIGNED copy of Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind! If you would like to win, simply answer this question:

What spooky film did Andy appear in with Daniel Radcliffe?

Answers to me no later than Sunday 28th July at Winner will be chosen at random.


Geekhood reviews:

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Interview: Andy Robb, author of Geekhood (part 1)

Andy Robb

Andy Robb, wearing one of his splendid collection of hats

Andy Robb is multi-talented. If it’s not enough that he has spent most of his adult life as an actor, with parts including murderer Darren Whateley in Coronation Street and acting alongside Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black, he has recently published the second book in his YA Geekhood series, and been nominated for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Not bad for a self-confessed geek…

How did you first get involved in the Dungeons and Dragons world?

I found Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings at the same time. I bought a copy of The Lord of the Rings in 1981. I was a big fan of Star Wars, Star Trek and Dr Who at the time, but my mind exploded with The Lord of the Rings, and I felt completely at home in that world. When I was 11, I saw a picture of a dragon miniature in The Observer, and there was an article on this new thing in the UK. I ordered some miniatures and started painting.

Aged 15, I was still painting, and a new shop opened in Exmouth, which sold other people’s painted models. ‘Big Marv’ was the owner of that shop. He was setting up a mail order business, and asked if I would paint figures for it. I did this for two or three years, but it became a bore painting for other people rather than painting what I was interested in, so I stopped. Then I went to drama school. I have taken up painting again now with my son. This all coincided with my parents divorcing, and they didn’t do it very well. Gaming and painting offered an exit from the real world, and I wanted to write about that. I would hope there are some ‘moments of solace’ in there for teen readers. Imagination is a boundless thing, and if you use it well, it can help you out.

How did your careers as both writer and actor begin?

I wanted to be actor from the age of 12. I was very shy, and geeky, and hopeless with girls. My friend was going to drama club, and I found acting was a place to step away from my personal insecurities and show off for a living. I remember watching a story on [BBC kids’ storytelling show] Jackanory called Help, I’m a Prisoner in a Toothpaste Factory that was read by Spike Milligan. It was really funny, and I tried to write something then – it was called Tom and Ping Save the Universe for £25. It was rubbish!

At drama school, part of the training was acting Falstaff and the Host of the Garter in The Merry Wives of Windsor. I was sharing the parts with a friend, and we wrote a huge back story of the characters together. Jim went on to write with a comedy group, and asked me to join. We were approached by Yorkshire TV and asked to do a soap pastiche for the graveyard slot. We did start to gain a profile at that point, but it eventually fell apart. I kept writing scripts and stuff with Jim, but nothing happened, so I decided to write a book.

I was acting, writing and working as an on-set film caterer on Sunshine by Danny Boyle, where the writer was Alex Garland. I got talking to him one day, and asked him to read my synopsis. He told me that I could write well and suggested I send it to his agent. They asked for an interview, then three more chapters, and then offered to represent me. If you want to write, you should speak to anyone you’re interested in! Geekhood was wanted by three publishers – I tapped in at the right time.

What do you like best about being a writer?

I love playing with words. I love the background to words and form when I’m acting. I like to pick up people’s phrases and save them to use later. When you’re an actor, you are still being told what to say and how to say it, but when you’re writing, you call the shots. When you are watching film or TV, you only experience what the actors let you experience. Books offer you a much bigger world. It is like getting into people’s heads. I tend to read in cycles – teen, adult, fantasy and criminal psychology mostly.

Why did you decide to write YA books?

I decided to write for teens because I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Some of the best and the worst moments of your life happen in your teens, and it’s a time when you get the most inspiration from books and TV. There are moments of great tragedy and huge highs, summits of emotion that you never experience again.

Who is your favourite Geekhood character?

The gang of geeks are all based on aspects of myself and the people around me at that time. Beggsy is what I was when I discovered acting – bouncy and irritating! It’s a stage we all go through, trying to work out our position on the planet. Matt is based on my best friend from college. Archie and Matt shouldn’t really be friends – Matt is the straightest, most rigid person, but somehow they laugh together a lot. Ravi is the most thoughtful and romantic. If there is a third Geekhood, it will be Ravi’s story. The IM is probably my favourite character, if you can call it that, because it’s the most honest in the whole book.

What are your favourite scenes in the two books?

In book one, the most soul-searching scene is when Archie cries in front of Sarah. It happens to everyone at some point, and it is the worst moment. It was not the most enjoyable, but it was the most vivid to write in terms of feeling and what it meant. In book two, it is the scene where Tony gives Archie the condoms, and when he goes to the loo and hears what is going on in the bedroom. Some of what is in the book is about sharing what is part of you; although it is painful, you can share it with fondness because it’s part of who you are.

What will Archie be like as a grown-up?

Archie as a grown-up (say, age 30) will still be very unaware of how to deal with women. It might be that the unawareness might get him attention from girls, as he doesn’t have a predatory bone in his body. He is unknowingly awkward, but endearing. I would hope that he would still be in touch with his mates, especially Matt. He will be the same at the core, and he will still do the odd RPG, for old times’ sake!

Coming tomorrow: Andy’s most embarrassing teenage experiences. Don’t miss it!

Geekhood_CEOTGKind (3)

Geekhood 1: the story begins

And there is still time to win a SIGNED copy of Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind! If you would like to win, simply answer this question:

What spooky film did Andy appear in with Daniel Radcliffe?

Answers to me no later than Sunday 28th July at Winner will be chosen at random.

Geekhood reviews:

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