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For the adults – Orange Prize-winner at Twickenham library TONIGHT

Would you like to meet Madeleine Miller, writer of the Song of Achilles and new Orange prizewinner? She is appearing at Twickenham library tonight, entrance £2 in advance – call them or visit your local library.

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Top 10 Classics for Teens

Thanks to the friend who asked me in the playground yesterday for recommendations on a classic to start her 12-year-old daughter with, because it really made me think. So here is a completely unscientific list based on what I read myself and other recommendations. I’m sure there are lots of really important books I have left out – so if you want to add anything, let me know. The list is basically in my own recommended age order, ascending from 12-17. My personal favourites while growing up were numbers 1, 2 and 10. What are yours?

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
7. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
8. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
9. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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The Worst Thing about My Sister

The Worst Thing about My Sister
Written by Jacqueline Wilson
Price: £6.99
Age range: 8-10
Reviewed by Charlotte age 8

The Worst Thing about My Sister is about a nine-year old girl called Marty (real name Martina) who is a big Tom Boy. She has an elder sister called Melissa who is eleven years old and who is completely girly-whirly and spends all her money on pink things and make-up! Marty hates Melissa and Melissa hates Marty. Marty even steals Melissa’s hair brush and sticks it onto her teddy to make it into a porcupine! But then one day they are made to share a bedroom as their mum needs a spare room.
I’d give this book 10/10. It is very easy to read and has a good story. I couldn’t stop reading it once I had started! You can really identify with the characters. My favourite bit was when Melissa and Marty got the shock of having to share a room as I wondered whether they would ever be able to get on.

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Cordelia Codd: Not Just the Blues

Cordelia Codd: Not Just the Blues
Written by Claire O’Brien
Price: £5.99
Recommended age: 10-14
Publication date: 7th June

Is there anything better than finding a fabulous new book by a brilliant new author, especially when you know that a sequel is on the way? That’s how I felt about reading Cordelia Codd: Not Just the Blues. Cordelia – Coco to her parents – is having a really tough year. Her dad has left to move in with another woman, she has fallen out with her best friends and her mum is suffering from depression, and most of all Cordelia is REALLY ANGRY like ALL OF THE TIME (and spends a lot of time talking in SHOUTY CAPITALS!). But through it all she remains one of the sharpest, funniest and most endearing pre-teens it has ever been my pleasure to come across in a book. Along with her new friend, school super-brain and class nerd Dru, Cordelia starts to come to terms with her life through a mixture of optimism, daring, costume-designing and well-timed revenge! More true to life than the cover might have you believe, I would recommend this to anyone age 10 and up (the book blurb says 9+, but I think that’s a bit young), especially fans of Jacqueline Wilson. Even parents might benefit from this one while struggling to understand why their darling daughter has turned into an unbelievably stroppy teenager… A really, really fantastic read!

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Monster Swap: Eddie and Fenda

Monster Swap: Eddie and Fenda
Written by Jonny Zucker
Illustrated by Tony Ross
Price: £5.99
Recommended age: 7-9

Eddie and Fenda is the latest offering in Jonny Zucker’s Monster Swap series, and the monster version of a school exchange trip concept is as fun as ever. Eddie is the latest boy to visit the home and world of a monster child, where he meets the three-eyed, long-armed Fenda, a hugely excitable green monster who is living with her grandfather. When the local meanies try to force the closure of the family funfair, Eddie and Fenda must come up with some money-making scheme to rebuild the fair before the annual Pembran festival day – but will annoyed Porcupigs, Grim Grim Coyotes and a past-his-sell-by Sage get in their way? And back in the human world, Eddie hopes that having a monster as a friend might help his mum to win the catering contracts for his school. Monster Swap: Eddie and Fenda is fresh and original, bursting with energy and perfect for boys and girls. As Fenda would say: ultra fine!

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Life According to… Alice B. Lovely

Life according to… Alice B. Lovely
Written by Karen McCombie
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 10-13

While you are sat at home, waiting for the sun to come out, you could do worse than immerse yourself in the shiny bright world of Alice B. Lovely. The fabulously spiky but vulnerable 13-year-old Edie is having a tough time since her parents split up, what with the neverending stream of new nannies, trying to ignore arguing parents and help her sad little brother; the arrival of fashion nightmare Alice B. Lovely seems to be adding insult to injury. So why is everyone else falling under the spell of this strange girl, and can Edie let her defences down long enough to be enchanted herself? I was worried that this was going to be another Mary Poppins/Nanny McPhee kind of story, and there is certainly an element of those stories here, but Alice is charming and grumpy teenager Edie even more likeable, and between them, they carry the story. I also loved the ending – which I’m not going to give away here! Probably not one to read if you are a fan of dystopian thrillers, but it cheered me up no end. Life-affirming and (Alice B.) lovely.


The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Written by Patrick Ness
Price: £7.99
Recommended age: 10-14
Reviewed by Fred, age 13

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a fast-paced, thrilling novel centred on a thirteen year old boy living in Prentisstown. In Prentisstown, there are only men and one boy, a boy called Todd Hewitt. Todd Hewitt knows he is the last boy in Prentisstown. Todd thinks he is the last boy on New World but could he be wrong? Todd has noticed something stirring deep in Prentisstown, it’s about to start. With nobody else to talk to he starts to investigate. He works out that it’s Prentisstown that’s been lying to him… He runs! The best part of the book is the final twist at the end, that puts all other cliffhangers to shame.

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Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus and Joined the Library

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus and Joined the Library
Written by A. F. Harrold
Price: £5.99
Recommended age: 7-9

This book definitely wins the prize for the longest title of the year, and its verbosity is more than reflected in the following 250 pages. The story tells of the unfortunately-named Fizzlebert, who is lonely in his circus home, where his only friends are Fish the sea lion and the adults who work there, but his attempts to make friends with the local children only result in ridicule for his unusual name. However, his first ever visit to a library results in more excitement than he could ever have imagined – or wished for.
The strength of Fizzlebert Stump lies in the characters described with an almost Dickensian touch, such as the fabulous librarian, Miss Toad, who looks like her name and burps all of her words, and Arthur, whose hearing aid picks up the horse-racing on the radio and whose moustache and nose hair are all tangled up with that morning’s toast. The originality of the story also stands in its favour, and the character of Fizz is likeable and sympathetic. I just wish I could say the same for the narrator, whose interjections in ever increasing brackets all too often veer from funny, to intrusive, to downright annoying. I would recommend Fizzlebert Stump, but with some reservations.

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A huge thank you…

…to all my new reviewers this week. I think they did a great job! If you would like to write a book review for kidsreadbooks, please e-mail it to me at Happy reading!

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The Secret Lake

The Secret Lake
Written by Karen Inglis
Price: £4.99
Recommended age: 8-11

Reviewed by Charlotte, age 9

This book is about an eleven-year-old girl called Stella and her little brother Tom. They used to live in Hong Kong but have moved to a flat in London with beautiful gardens. They are found digging one day by the beastly gardener Charlie Green. They have to hide but slip down an unexpected Time-Tunnel. Stella and Tom soon find out that they have stepped back to their home – only a hundred years back. They meet a boy called Jack who has been convicted wrongly of stealing silver. They also meet a girl called Emma who becomes a good friend and helps them show the police that Jack is innocent.
I really enjoyed this book because it was written in an amazing style with some really good words. It was very mysterious with lots of suspense, and some of the descriptions were amazing. It is very hard to choose my favourite scene but I think it was when the children discovered Mrs. Moon’s secret – it all fitted in which was really clever.

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