Review By Alice
Twelve year old Miguel lives with his single mother, sisters and the men who rent all the floor space from his mother. She was already a mess before her older son, Juan, was shot and killed at age 15 Miguel believes Juan was killed by a gang increasingly his grief begins to consume him whilst distracted in school by thoughts of what happened, he is suddenly overwhelmed by a sense that his brother is inside him. Juan’s ghost is there to listen to Miguel’s thoughts and direct his actions.
Tribute is a very fast paced novel with multiple storylines happening at once. It has some quite dark moments but is still very informative of gang life in northern California and how kids and teens so easily get caught up in it all. It is also very supernatural with its demons and ghosts and resurrected priests.
It has some swearing so would be suitable for ages 12-14 but I think it really depends if the children’s parents want them to read a book with swearing as everyone’s parents have different views.
Review by Alice
Semira and Hanna, her mother, have been in Britain for four years. They are under the “care” of Robel, a vile, pot-bellied people trafficker, who makes sure her mother doesn’t learn English or get paid, leaving her dependant on his scant goodwill.
They live in a house packed with people in similar circumstances. One day, Semira finds herself buying an old hat on a market stall, strangely drawn to the bird that decorates the hat. When she takes it home, she discovers there is an old diary hidden inside the hat box, written by a young girl called Hen over 100 years ago. Semira finds herself caught up in Hen’s story, finding in it an escape from her own life that is full of hunger and loss. She finds that she is challenged by the girl in the diary to speak up in her own life and fight for her place in the world.
I liked the feeling of escape and joy that Henrietta feels when she learns to ride a bike, and how that becomes mirrored in Semira’s story as she is also introduced to cycling through her new friend. This meeting then leads to more revelations in Semira’s life, about who she is and where she comes from. I also really liked the resolutions we get to some, but not all, parts of the story – it was interesting that not everything is resolved. It is a good bedtime book, perfect for children around 9-10 and older who are confident readers.
Review by Alice
The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods is about a town called Suds where children have been disappearing for a long time. Poppy arrives in this town to live with her grandma, who makes her follow these strange rules and soon she befriends the weird Erasmus. The two children team up and try to solve the mystery of the disappearing children.
The Peculiar Peggs is a book, that shows that imagination with an eerie atmosphere can make an excellent combination. This is definitely not your average ‘two kids team up to solve a mystery’ there are so many more layers to unpeel that just keep getting better and better!
I think this book can be for anyone because although the main characters are two innocent children, it’s so much more dark and creepy than you ever anticipated.
Review by Angela
This is a very endearing story of Maximillian The Mouse and is suitable from the age a toddler will listen to a story through to age 7 or 8, depending on the child’s ability. Appropriate and colourful illustrations accompany the rhyming text with nothing to scare a young child. The vocabulary is rich and varied with lots of words to stretch a child’s spelling, conversation and understanding.
Maximillian is an active and creative little mouse, and has to try to outwit Camilla the cat. An amusing and satisfying story for boys and girls, daytime or bedtime.
The book is soft backed with glossy front and back pages, the writing is large enough for youngsters to follow with their fingers and the illustrations match the wording on the current page.
Review by Angela
Sweaty and pals Smile is the third instalment of the ‘Sweaty’ trilogy, with Sweaty and Pals being the first and Sweaty and Pals Again the second. Much in the same vein as the first two books, there is good clean fun between Derek and his faithful pals.
In this book, Derek and his pals have all moved up a school year, with Derek and Curly having a new teacher, if only for a short time before getting yet another new teacher! The lovable old characters are all still there – smarty-pants Alison Brown and cross Mr Murdoch, as well as new-comers along the road, twins Nicole and Tiffany. There’s fun with teams of trolley racers organised by the local supermarket, Bisko’s, and a girly birthday party which the boys have to suffer!
This lovely paperback by Mac Black is well written with perfect length chapters for children’s bedtime which are complete little stories in themselves. Young children will love the realistic and funny tales of school days, taking photographs and shopping at the supermarket. The pages are liberally littered with wonderful and often amusing illustrations.
Mac Black’s website
Mac Black’s Amazon author profile
Review by Alice
When his parents separate, Ned Harrison Arkle-Smith is less than impressed with their ingenious plan to divide the family home into two – a mum side and a dad side. They hope this will help everyone cope better with the split, but Ned is furious, hating the walls and the changes they make to his much-loved home. As if this is not change enough, his best friend is acting strangely and a new girl has discovered his special place.
Narrated by Ned, Walls introduces us to and explores some of the emotional experiences of divorce through his eyes living with his two sisters, and his parents who have decided that they can no longer continue to live together. However there’s a slight twist to their living arrangements . . . as they continue not to live strictly ‘together’. The book teaches kids a lesson in friendship in a way they can relate to more than if their parents tell them what’s wrong and what’s right. A fun and intriguing concept that readers will delight in.
In my opinion Walls is aimed at children in primary school because a lot of the story is teaching children lessons in how to cope with friendships that might upset them.
Review by Alice
Esme is a fifteen-year-old girl who lost her mother at the age of eight. Everyone else seems to have moved on, thinking that Ariane was lost at sea, so why can’t Esme? But, Esme doesn’t lose hope, she goes searching for her mother to a world full of wonder and magic.
Esme’s wish is a book, that showcases the importance of family and trust. This book is very good although it would be even better if we found out a little more about Aaron, Esme’s father, I think it would make the story more interesting.
I think this book is for young adults but is appropriate for eleven-year-olds and above.
Elizabeth Foster’s website
Elizabeth Foster’s Amazon profile
Review by Angela
This is a lovely follow on from Sweaty and Pals. The main theme is fun and adventure for Derek (Sweaty) and his five pals. The style of writing, the length of chapters and the illustrations are very much like the original book and reading it felt very much like carrying on a school year later with more adventures of the Blytheton Road Gang.
The familiar characters we loved are still there, Gran, Grandad and the children’s favourite teacher, Miss Taylor, as well as the rather grumpy neighbour, Mr Murdoch. There are plenty of newcomers too with a couple of girls showing their faces to this all boys gang.
The chapters are just the right length to read one at bedtime and each chapter is a complete short story in itself. Young children will love the realistic tales of birthday parties, trips to the zoo on a bus and making the best of a rainy day inside. The illustrations are lovely and simple and depict the story perfectly.
Reviewed by Alice.
Red tells the story of a girl who wakes up with no memory and only a single word uttering from her mouth, jay-martin. After a cyclone destroys her city, a boy named Peri finds her, and as she does not know her own name, nicknames her Red. Red’s only possession is a locket, a locket full of secrets. Can Red find out the truth about her past? Can she take the secrets to where they must be revealed?
Red is a fantastic book, it shows an example of the independence of a teenager and how self-sufficient they can be. This book is very different to any children’s book I have ever read. I love how the story has many twists and turns – you never know what is coming round the corner.
There is never a dull moment in Red, it can keep you captivated for hours on end!
It is suitable for ages from nine to thirteen. Libby Gleeson mostly writes children’s books so she is
accustomed to writing for all ages under eighteen.
Authors Nancy King & Mary Jo Sterling and Illustrations by Cora Hays
Review by Angela
Jungle Kings is book one of a mini children’s series in which virtues, morals and friendship are the main theme. An enchanting story of an elephant calf, Bentley, who meets a lion cub, Carson, and they become friends and playmates. The parent and other adult elephants and lions are a different story, but the depth of friendship of the baby animals rubs off onto the adults.
Awesome Kindness is a story of three zebras, two who are kind and playful and one who is bad tempered and a little bit mean. The two kind ones overlook the temper and meanness and still ask him to play with them. The story is a gentle way of letting children see how to overcome being bad tempered and join play with others without feeling embarrassed, and equally, being friendly towards someone who isn’t always nice.
The illustrations in both books are absolutely beautiful. They are full of colour and emotion and really add to the story, in fact they almost tell the story. Cora Hays is truly talented.
One thing about this book which I’ve not seen in young children’s books before is that certain words are printed in orange or blue. At the back of the book there is a Word Power page for the blue words, a bit like a dictionary for children, and Turning A Phrase for the orange words, which explains phrases like ‘time flies’, ‘butterfly kisses’ and ‘living in harmony’.
The second book in the series, Awesome Kindness, isn’t a story which follows on but is a continuation of jungle animals and their friendship. Each book can be read independently and in either order.
Review by Angela
Ana and Tommy, aged 9 and 5, are staying with their grandparents. Their grandfather is telling them a story of ‘Trouble’, a Great Dane dog who was signed up to join the Navy – and this is based on a true story – yes, really! This reality made the story for me. I must admit that it’s not the most gripping of children’s stories, but knowing that there was an element of reality and truth to the story, it gave additional intrigue. Trouble, later to be named Joyful Trouble, is a big slobbery dog who loves to hang around with the seamen of Simon’s Town near Cape Town. Being such a lovable dog he was adopted as ‘one of their own’ by the seamen and travelled, slept and ate with them.
The two children are lovely to hear about, especially inquisitive and spirited 5 year old Tommy, and the dialogue presents polite, well spoken children. The grandfather is with the children for the whole of the time in the book so there is always adult talk and guidance. The grandmother is fairly stereo-typical, cooking, feeding the children and preparing picnics etc., but an obvious stable character for children.
For UK readers, just be aware that this is written by in South African English and is, at times, a little strange to our ears.
Review by Alice.
Gaby’s Angel tells the story of a girl called Gaby who loses her best friend. But when Emily comes back as her very own guardian angel, life is a whirl of sleepovers, makeovers and parties with mates. But Emily can’t stay in Gaby’s world forever – she’s on a mission to show Gaby that life is full of new possibilities.
I really enjoyed Gaby’s Angel because it shows how someone dying can change your life forever but that, in the end, love and friendship are the things that matter most. My favourite character was definitely Emily (the angel) because she always sees the bright side of things even in a world of darkness. She’s also a very funny character to read about with her sarcastic sense of humour and her sassy personality.
I think that Gaby’s Angel was aimed at children from the age of nine to twelve years old as some of the content is a little mature and a little sensitive. There is a little bit of lubby-dubby content.
Find Janet Hoggarth on Facebook
Janet Hoggarth’s Amazon author profile
Review by Alice.
Harry is back for another year at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With Sirius having died only a few months ago, life becomes much harder especially since he, Ron and Hermione are now N.E.W.T. students.
Furthermore, with a new teacher added to the mix and Draco Malfoy acting stranger than usual, how can Harry survive his sixth year at school ?
I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because it raises lots of questions of who Harry can trust and who trusts Harry. Additionally, I really think that you discover more of the emotional side of the characters as they are definitely starting to grow up.
I believe that J.K. Rowling aimed this particular book at thirteen plus but many people such as myself think that the book is appropriate for children from nine or ten years old. I started this series at the age of eight and a half and I really enjoyed it.
J.K. Rowling website
J.K. Rowling’s Amazon author profile
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Review by Angela
Sweaty and Pals is a good fun read for children of around seven years and upwards to read for themselves, or for parents to read to younger school starters.
The illustrations are bright, funny and add more depth to the already interesting and amusing stories. The chapters are set out at just the right length to read one at bedtime and each are a complete short story.
Derek ‘Sweaty’ Toozlethwaite doesn’t live with his mum and dad, he lives with his grandparents. We don’t get to know why in this children’s book, you will need to read the later adult series to learn why and who his parents are. In the first few chapters, we meet Sweaty’s ‘gang’ or playmates, and we learn how Derek got his nickname ‘Sweaty’ – and it’s not because he’s sweaty or smelly. We see Sweaty having a few new experiences – starting school, going to the opticians and going with his friend to the hairdressers – all showing young children in a fun way that these are normal and exciting things to do. There are chapters with morals, but not in an obvious way, and chapters of reasoning, like why you need to go to bed, even if you don’t feel sleepy. But most of all, the chapters are fun filled and will be loved by young children.