If you visited our blog this time last week, you’ll have seen our post recapping our morning shadowing this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards. One of the best parts of our morning was hearing what pupils from the six schools who joined us had to say about this year’s shortlists. Some even shared reviews- a few of which we have below from Litcham School’s Amelia and Felix, plus some younger members of their family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!
The Bone Sparrow by Zara Fraillon (reviewed by Felix)
Along with Salt to the sea, this is my favourite book. It shows the chaos the world is in and plight of people just trying to find safety. It questions how you would react if faced with the crisis. Would lock them up, alienate them, throw away the key or would you support them help them like Jimmy did. It makes you realise how lucky you are and how could you survive if you were in Subhi’s situation. It wrenches you apart with sadness and fills you fills you joy and hope. It is a great book, but is very real.
Beck by Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff (reviewed by Amelia)
I have loved all of Mal Peet’s books and so had been really looking forward to reading Beck. Beck is a powerful and passionate book and I loved every word. The story is beautifully crafted and each word has a purpose. The story is shocking with the tales of abuse that Beck suffers but overall the book radiates a sense of strong, powerful hope and a lust for living. The book of course is tinged with sadness as Mal Peet died while writing it but the book is a celebration of life; the trials and beauty of it. The book was finished by Meg Rosoff, another fantastic writer. Rosoff never tries to imitate Peet’s style or disguise her own. Instead the book is a collaboration, showcasing two extremely talented writers. I loved how the majority of the book is set in Canada during the 1930s. It was a really insightful and emotive look at a country emerging.
The thing I loved most of all about the book was it’s startling prose. Every word had a purpose. Reading this book really took my breath away. I would definitely recommend this book. Not only is it a vital and important read in terms of its subject. It is a beautiful piece of writing and is testimony to two great writers.
The Bone Sparrow by Zara Fraillon (reviewed by Evelyn)
I liked the book a lot because it made me realise what life for people living in those conditions is really like. I also liked the way the book switched from to 1st person with Subhi and then 3rd person to Jimmy. I think it told a very emotional story, which I really liked and it was great to read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a good book to read.
Sputniks Guide to Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce (reviewed by Evelyn)
I really liked the book, because it was different to how I thought it would be. I also liked it because lots of parts in the book were quite funny and would never happen in real life! Finally I liked the way the book had hidden messages in it, like never giving up and enjoying the small things in life.
Railhead by Philip Reeve (reviewed by Amelia)
Railhead is an outstanding book totally free from the stereotypes of sci-fi. I am not a massive fan of science fiction and so my first impressions of Railhead were clouded by that. I often don’t like science fiction books because I find emotion lacking and characters not relatable. How wrong was I! Railhead is a fantastic novel that plays on dreams. I loved every minute of the thrilling ride around the galaxy. Every moment of the story is richly imagined. Railhead is set in a future in which humanity has left Earth and settled in many worlds. Zen a teenage boy embarks on a mission that changes the galaxy forever. Interplanetary travel is achieved by trains that pass through gates. The trains have artificial intelligence and as result have dreams, feelings and thoughts. This was my favourite aspect of the novel. I love how Reeve skilfully examines the feelings and dreams of the characters. We are invited to slowly peel away the layers of characters revealing their inner thoughts. There is a strong sense of wonder throughout the book, of seeing a new world for the first time. The depth of Reeve’s novel surprised me. A recurring theme is artificial intelligence and whether machines can ever be truly alive. Zen travels with a Motorix (a robot) who is adamant that she is alive. The books has beautiful moments in it that steal your breath away.I liked how zen is not an innocent and straightforward hero but someone whose actions lead to death and destruction. In conclusion I was startled by this book’s uniqueness and its sense of true wonder. A powerful and compelling read that showcases what is so wonderful about Sci-Fi.
The Journey by Francesca Sanna (reviewed by Esme)
I really liked the Journey. I felt it was really touching and showed what happened in a creative way with the colours. I liked how you could tell they were insignificant at some points due to their size compared to other things. I really liked how the book doesn’t have an ending but continues. I hope people like this book because it shows how tough life is if you have to leave your home.
There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith (reviewed by Trancred)
My favourite was ‘There is a Tribe of Kids’ because I liked the bit when he met the other kids and he hugged his family. I liked the rocks bit. I liked all the names for the different animals. I liked when he pretends to be an elephant and a gorilla. I liked seeing the shells and when he got home to his family. Tancred, aged 5
Tidy by Emily Gravett (reviewed by Valentine & Romilly)
I thought it was really good and I liked how he thought it was all messy and he wanted everything to be tidy but then he realised he had made a big mistake. I like it when he put concrete down and then they had to make it all messy all again. I liked the beautiful characters. I though the Badger was funny but also a bit of a twit! He was also a bit selfish. I think the moral of the story is that things should be left as they are.
I liked the hole at the front. I liked Foxy. The forest is messy and beautiful. I like the book.
The Wolves of Crumpaw by William Grill (reviewed by Amelia & Tancred)
One of my favourite books on the shortlist was “The Wolves of Crumpaw. I loved the beautiful illustrations that are so simple. I loved how the wolves blend into the landscape in the pictures as it shows the relationship between the environment and animals. The pictures add and turn the non-fiction book into a story that is really powerful and emotive. I loved the small comic book like panels in the story. I think the different size of the illustrations really adds to the story. I liked the beautiful double page pictures at the start of each chapter. I think this is a stylistically beautiful and compelling read.
I loved the book. I really liked the wolf on the cover – he looks like he is going to eat you up.
Below are our team’s Friday Reads and don’t forget, if you’re after more recommendations, you can find lots of reviews in our archive.
Apryl: That Bear Can’t Babysit by Ruth Quayle, illustrated by Alison Friend
Mr and Mrs Burrow (two rabbits) have SEVEN children, so you can imagine their frustration when a party invitation arrives; who will look after the children. After advertising for a babysitter (rather unconventionally, by nailing a poster to a tree), only one applicant gets in touch- a bear. Mrs Burrow, understandably given the notoriety of bears, is apprehensive, but he’s given the job and the rabbit parents head off to their soiree. Bear thinks he has things under control, but the Burrow children have other mischievous ideas…
A great story with wonderful illustrations, this is a lovely little picture book from one of the best publishers around, Nosy Crow.
(Nosy Crow, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857638298, find it at a Norfolk Library)
Harriet: The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr
The author has based this KS2 novel on a true story about a circus elephant which walked from Edinburgh to its new home in a zoo in Manchester in Victorian times, having destroyed its railway wagon.
She has taken artistic licence with the basic facts and added in many twists and turns to turn the story into a truly exciting adventure.
(Chicken House, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781910655757, find it at a Norfolk Library)
Zoë: Hidden Lies by Victor Watson
This is the third exciting story in the Paradise Barn series (set around The Fens) featuring the children of previous adventures; great for independent readers.
The war is progressing – it is now 1944; 3 years since The Deeping Secrets. Adam, Molly and Abigail are at secondary schools in Ely. They have adapted to the life required of them yet still find time to enjoy themselves, particularly at their favourite place: Paradise Barn.
With the up-coming Whitsun half-term, the three friends are planning to camp at the barn for a few nights. Everything seems quiet, until their friend Edward introduces them to Cassie, whom he helped after she ran away from her uncle’s funeral and unintentionally appeared on stage of a performance he’d gone to see with his grandmother. Cassie, who found a strange man in her bedroom then ran to her school for help from her favourite teacher. Cassie, who felt alone and friendless, like Edward was before he made friends with Molly, Adam and Abigail.
Between the five of them, plans are laid as there are many questions: How can they find out what happened to Uncle Peter? Who was the strange man in Cassie’s bedroom? Why is Uncle Peter’s story book hidden in Cassie’s saddlebag?
(Book House, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781846471469)