Fakenham Meeting, 7th December 2016
Our Fakenham-based group met at the local public library to discuss this term’s books- opinions were varied, and thoughts are below!
The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney
A stand alone novella, quite scary and with a gruesome ending. The illustrations by Scott M.Fischer reflect this well. Although this has a suitably spooky cover and ‘ghost’ in the title, and is short, this was not picked up by children.
Extreme Animals (and others in the series) by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Neal Layton
This non-fiction series is unusual in its humour and cartoony illustrations with fun speech bubbles, but nevertheless it imparts a lot of information and there are helpful diagrams. Children enjoyed this, (as did the grown ups), and we will promote the series more on our mobile library.
When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson
Set very specifically in Heacham, this novel first written in 1967, has gained new popularity through the recent acclaimed film version. It is very atmospheric, and this new edition gains extra Norfolk poignancy with the postscript by the author’s daughter. The story feels very contemporary, featuring a lonely foster child who gradually comes out of her shell and gains new confidence and happiness through her new friendship with another girl – who just happens to be a ghost (echoes of Tom’s Midnight Garden). Despite the film and attractive cover this wasn’t picked up.
The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse
This exciting animal story was enjoyed by some mature readers, including boys. A family of water voles have to escape a new enemy, a mink, and the novel includes hair raising adventures and even death. It is enhanced by lovely illustrations.
Out of this World series by Sally Odgers, illustrated by Georgina Thomas
A series specifically aimed at reluctant readers the short sci-fi adventures are written in graphic novel form. Although only in black and white, the pictures are quite easy to ‘read’, and they were popular with readers, not just reluctant ones. Here’s a pupil review:
Norwich Meeting, 8th December 2016
Our Norwich group get-together this term took place at Little Plumstead Primary where Julie graciously hosted us in her wonderful library space. Over tea, coffee, biscuits (& roasted almonds for our sole vegan attendee!), thoughts were shared about the titles given to our group for perusal throughout the Autumn term- see what we discussed below!
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard
Though the group were quire partial to the books printed edge (see here– how lovely is that?!) and the story itself, the general consensus was that the children did not seem to want to pick this book up, despite heavy campaigning from their teachers! Suggestions were made as to whether they may have been put off by the book’s size in comparison to the others, or perhaps they felt the orange colour felt old fashioned. We loved it though; a great story with a sequel on the way!
Various books by Mitchell Symons
These non-fiction fact books went down a treat; the schools had been given a variety of titles by the same author and all reported that the children particularly liked these as you digest these in chunks, dipping in and out to share interesting bits of knowledge. Why can’t spacemen burp? It’s to do with the lack of gravity and air-pressure in your tummy, and did you know that the caffeine extracted to make decaffeinated coffee is added to make caffeinated fizzy drinks?
Gormy Ruckles series by Guy Bass
This series by the always funny Guy Bass were really well received by all children; brilliant accessible to all types of readers including those reluctant or less-able. Their short length meant they were easily digestible and children were please they could finish them in a short space of time.
The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie
This book was particularly loved by the boys at all of our group’s schools; the cover was considered to be very, very appealing, plus the element of magic (and the fact it’s a little bit gruesome!) made it a huge success. One boy even compared it to an episode of Doctor Who!
A Pair of Jacks series by Michael Lawrence
These books were an interesting take on traditional tales and had varying levels of success; some able year 4s loved it while some less able year 5s struggled.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
Our librarian, Harriet, included this wonderful picture book as she wanted to see whether children would love it as much as we adult readers did- unfortunately, this was not the case! Despite the intricacies of the illustrations, it was felt that the period old-timey setting was unappealing to children.
Summer 2016: Our Norwich Group shares some reviews…
Two of our Norwich FDG schools sent us some mini reviews written by some of the pupils with whom they shared last term’s books. We love receiving feedback from young readers- their thoughts are always great to hear (and they’re often very honest!)
Fakenham Group Meeting, 29th June 2016
A small but enthusiastic group met at Fakenham Library on Wednesday, to enjoy cake (thank you, Mandy!) and Scottish shortbread (carried on the train that very day from Edinburgh) to discuss this term’s selection of goodies (books that is, not food!). Below are a few comments from the pupils and grown ups about this term’s titles:
Jack Dash and the Magic Feather by Sophie Plowden
Y 3 and 4 children thought this story was funny and imaginative, even if (or perhaps because!) there were some bizarre happenings. However, despite a good cover, this was not picked up by Y5 and 6 children.
Imagination Box by Martyn Ford
This was really enjoyed by good readers in Y4 who gave it 3 out of 5 stars. There is an underlying theme of adoption, which feels slightly added on. Discussion of quantum physics gives it an interesting scientific slant, though how much of it is remotely realistic is way beyond our limited knowledge.
Me, the Queen and Christopher by Giles Andreae and Tony Ross
The children from Sandringham and West Newton Primary enjoyed this story very much, especially those in Y2 onwards. It is fun, silly but with a message about inclusivity done with a light touch.
Danger is (still) Everywhere: a Handbook for Avoiding Danger by David O’Doherty
David O’Doherty is a comedian and recent research shows that boys in particular respond well to comedy as it can be a powerful stimulus for writing. This title was popular, one child gave it 4.5 stars out of 5. Is this book an attempt to counteract our current risk averse culture for children? If so it manages to succeed in a very funny way. The amusing drawings and hand lettering are by Chris Judge. This is the second title, following a similar format to the first.
Let in the Stars: new poetry for children edited by Mandy Coe
Some of these poems were baffling for children and may work better for teens. However they did enjoy one called: “The end of year six”- it’s that time of year! Attractive artwork and cover, from the Manchester School of Art, this award-winning anthology of modern poets was compiled by published poets at Manchester Metropolitan University, and endorsed by Carol Ann Duffy.
Pocketful of Murder by R. J. Anderson
This is quite long and best suited to upper KS2 and was enjoyed by those who read it. It is a good mystery story with a feisty girl lead and a mysterious boy. Their magical abilities don’t add much to the story, but the religious beliefs of the main character’s family are an important element throughout, though this theme was not picked up by young readers.
The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard by Gregory Rogers
The only picture book in this selection, and wordless too- children were really enthralled by this book! They had to work hard to follow the story from the pictures, really looking at what was depicted in the illustrations. It worked very well this term with the topical link to Shakespeare’s birthday.