kidsreadbooks

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Books I wish I’d written (part 1): The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
Written by Neil Gaiman
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 10+
Reviewer: Krissie

It is often I am lost for words after reading a book, and as I am supposed to be reviewing it, I really need to find some, but I have just finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and it is staggeringly good. It opens rather disturbingly with a triple murder committed by one of the most genuinely creepy characters it has been my pleasure to come across in a children’s book, with the intended murder of a toddler to follow. But the toddler has escaped into the local graveyard, and the inhabitants are coming to the rescue… The Graveyard Book follows the adventures of Nobody “Bod” Owens as he grows up with the ghosts and the ghouls, and his wonderful guardian Silas, and learns that his intended murdered, the man Jack, is still on his tail. Possibly the most original idea for and execution of a children’s book ever, this might not be for every child – the easily disturbed should perhaps wait until they are a little older – but for everyone else, buy, beg or borrow a copy. An absolute delight.

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Who’s a Big Bully Then?

Who’s a Big Bully Then?
Written by Michael Morpurgo
Price: £5.99
Recommended age: 7-12
Reviewer: Krissie
*Dyslexia friendly*

It’s great to see authors as talented and well-known as Michael Morpurgo writing for Barrington Stokes’ 4u2read series for dyslexic children, and this story is as good as you would expect from him. Who’s a Big Bully Then? tells the story of a young boy having trouble with the school bully, who has to learn for himself that brawn is no match for brain, with a little help from his farmyard friends. Clearly told, and ably aided by Joanna Carey’s illustrations, Who’s a Big Bully Then? will strike a chord with many children. The story is also followed by a letter from the author explaining the background to the story and his Farms for City Children project, with children, parents and teachers invited to write to Morpurgo himself for further information. A rewarding read.

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One of my favourites…

Saffy’s Angel
Written by Hilary McKay
Price: £5.99
Recommended age: 9-12
Reviewer: Krissie

Saffy’s Angel is one of those books that everyone seems to love – at least, everyone I know. This Whitbread Award-winning story from the Casson family series follows Saffy, the outsider, who has to deal with the news that her eccentric artist mother and uptight, but beautifully drawn, father are actually her aunt and uncle, and all of her painter’s colour-chart named siblings are, in fact, her cousins. Saffy’s journey to acceptance is painful at times, but McKay’s characters are drawn with a combination of laugh-out-loud humour and tenderness that make this a delight to read. A wonderful, warm, chaotic portrait of family life that would make every child wish to be part of the Casson family, and every mother feel that maybe they are not that bad after all…

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Would you like to review for us?

Read something you like? Read something you hate? Disagree with our reviewers? Have your say!

If you want to write for kidsreadbooks, it can be on any fiction book you have read – it doesn’t have to be new. Here’s some things you might want to consider while writing:

1. What the book about?
2. Tell us the story – but don’t spoil the end!
3. What did you like best about it, and why?
4. Was there anything you didn’t like?
5. Do you think your friends would like it? What ages would like it most?

Send any reviews to me at kristina.west@btopenworld.com

Happy reading!

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Danny Danger and the Cosmic Remote

Danny Danger and the Cosmic Remote
Written by Adam Frost
Price: £5.99
Recommended age: 8-11
Reviewer: Krissie

The perfect story for the TV generation, Danny Danger and the Cosmic Remote is the book equivalent of some of the best, most clever American cartoons aimed at the over-eights (Phineas and Ferb, anyone?). Danny is a normal boy until his uncle sends him a remote control that can change time, with the pause, rewind and fast forward buttons doing pretty much what you might expect. However, the fun turns into problems when the sinister Night Scientist and his collection of badly-made robotic animals try to steal the Cosmic Remote. With plenty of gags and appeals to the visual (the building of the criminal mastermind’s headquarters are arranged to spell the word EVIL when seen from above) and a sprinkling of great drawings, Danny Danger will soon become a hero to boys everywhere, especially with a sequel in the offing. Particularly recommended for those trying to pry their children away from the TV or games console.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – BYKIDSFORKIDS

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Written by J.K. Rowling
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 7-12
Reviewer: Liv, age 8

The second Harry Potter book is very exciting. This book is about Harry, Ron and Hermione’s second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When Harry starts hearing voices in the walls, he knows that Voldemort is at large again. He must get down to the Chamber of Secrets. Things were getting stranger – first Miss Norris got frozen, then Nearly-Headless Nick and Justin Finch-Fletchley, and that was when Professor McGonagall and Snape found Harry nearby. Harry got sent to Dumbledore, and that was when he saw Fawkes the phoenix. I like that everyone got frozen because you never know what did it. There was nothing I didn’t like about it. I think that most of my friends would like it.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever BYKIDSFORKIDS

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
Written by Jeff Kinney
Price: £12.99 (hardback)
Recommended age: 8-12
Reviewer: Dan, age 10

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever is the latest book starring Greg Heffley. Greg is worried because Santa’s Scout is everywhere, and he [Greg] has damaged school property: he has been spotted and it is all over the papers. The little scout is watching Greg and his brother Roderick like a hawk, apparently reporting back to Santa, and they are afraid they won’t get any presents this year. I enjoyed Santa’s scout popping up everywhere because it really made me cringe. I’d recommend this book to everyone aged 8-12. It’s a great laugh.

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Christmas is coming (2): Wolf and Twelve Minutes to Midnight

Wolf
Written by Tommy Donbavand
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 13+
Reviewer: Krissie
*Dyslexia friendly*

Get set for a gore-fest in a book that is strictly for teenagers. Adam Heath thinks his biggest worry is that his parents will find out that he has a packet of biscuits stashed under his pillow, but that’s nothing compared to what is about to happen to him – he turns into a werewolf! In this blackly-comic story, poor Adam’s day goes from bad to worse as he begins to grow claws, fur and sharp teeth, and his very disturbingly nasty parents begin to look extremely tasty… A recent release in Barrington Stoke’s books for dyslexic readers, Wolf caters for the teenage horror market in a way that keeps it accessible to all readers.

Twelve Minutes to Midnight
Written by Christopher Edge
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 9-12
Reviewer: Krissie
Not available until February 2012

Penelope Treadwell takes to the stage as the star of a delicious new historical thriller for older children, set in the Victorian London of illustrious writers and terrible poverty, of actors and madmen. The plot begins as the 14-year-old owner of scurrilous rag, The Penny Dreadful, searches for material for her next story and attempts to avoid the discovery of her alter ego by a nosy journalist. However, a letter from the governor of the notorious London institution of Bedlam and a blatant disregard for the venomous properties of spiders will soon put Penelope’s life in danger. This book joyfully mixes fiction and history with little regard for which is which, and while child readers may not recognise many of the figures such as H.G. Wells and Dr Freud, this won’t interfere with their enjoyment of the text. The level of detail may prove too complicated for some younger readers, however. I look forward to the rest of the promised series.

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Christmas is coming… Striker Boy Kicks Out and The Great Big Big George Book of Stories

…and even Santa doesn’t have time to read all the new titles on offer. So here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Striker Boy Kicks Out
Written by Jonny Zucker
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 9-13
Reviewer: Krissie

For any child, boy or girl, obsessed by football – playing it, watching it, supporting it – Striker Boy Kicks Out is the perfect book. Combining the rise of a very young teenage player to Premiership heights with a mystery that our hero, 13-year-old Nat Dixon, needs to solve, this sequel to Zucker’s Striker Boy hits all of the right notes. After clinching the match against Manchester United that kept his team from relegation, Nat Dixon must bring Hatton Rangers to victory against dastardly Spanish side, Talorca FC, and win their first piece of silverware, while simultaneously solving the mystery of his host family’s mysterious son – and saving the life of Talorca’s manager in the process. Striker Boy Kicks Out seamlessly combines the real with the imaginary, in language that never patronises the reader but makes them feel as part of the professional football world as any newspaper write-up could do. Highly recommended for the football fan in your family or class.

The Great Big Big George Book of Stories
Witten by Eric Pringle; Illustrated by Colin Paine
Price: £7.99
Recommended age: 7-11
Reviewer: Krissie

Don’t let the cover and the name of The Great Big Big George Book of Stories mislead you – the Big George compendium of three books (previously published separately) is far more suitable for key stage 2 readers than may at first appear. The stories tell of green-and-blue striped giant alien George, who crash-lands in England in the year 1103 to the consternation of Eric Pringle’s marvellously evil, stupid and gullible characters, who would not be out of place in Horrible Histories, but to the delight of one small girl, Tilly Miller. The stories continue through the middle ages, taking in the reign of Edward I and Owain Glyndwr’s Wales, and although the historical figures themselves remain distant, the three tales offer a glorious romp through the less savoury aspects of the middle ages, with Pringle’s delightful use of language (“Slap me with an elephant if I ever touch ale again”, comments one character) and plot (there can’t be many 8-year-olds who wouldn’t enjoy the destruction of an entire army through a giant breaking wind). I would recommend this most highly.

More coming soon…

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