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Informative, candid and trusted; book reviews by our own book experts are unique to LoveReading4Kids. But we also want to know what the kids think too! The LoveReading4Kids Reader Review Panel is made up of passionate and prolific readers keen to share thier views and recommendations. All the titles in this category have not only been selected and reviewed by our editorial experts but they have also been reviewed by our kids reader review panel, a panel of book lovers across the UK.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Farr is a master storyteller as evidenced by his phenomenally successful screenwriting and directing for the stage. This is evident in the confidence with which he controls all the elements in this complex, engrossing fantasy thriller – his first novel for a child audience. Rachel and Robert live in a dictatorship in Brava that makes life very drab and humdrum – as well as very dangerous. Their father is a librarian – and on Rachel’s birthday he involves them in the theft of an important and forbidden book from the precious books room in the city library. For that theft he is captured – leaving the siblings with their ailing mother. When she dies it is planned that they will be separated into different parts of the grim orphanage that exists. Can they escape that fate, find out the secret of the book they keep hidden and keep it out of evil dictator Malstain’s hands? Meeting a wonderful cast of characters along the way – some good, some bad – they set off on individual journeys across the land to escape Malstain’s reach. This is a rich story, full of adventure, peril, and huge bravery from the children and many of the other characters, as well as awful evil. It will keep readers engaged and probably reading long after bedtime and lights out! Inspired by Farr’s great Aunt and Uncle’s escape from Nazi Germany this adventure is set in a timeless world that could be anywhere so that it will chime with children the world over. I hope Farr goes on to write more for children if this, his debut, is anything to go by.
November 2021 Debut of the Month | A dark, gothic adventure set deep in a Bavarian forest, with angels and owls and magic and a boy who isn't all that he seems to be... A cherub is blown into Cassie Engel's bedroom during a thunderstorm, triggering a series of terrifying events. Cassie must discover if its arrival was an accident or part of something more sinister. With a self-obsessed opera singer for a mother, a strange taxidermist father, and a best friend who isn't quite what he seems, Cassie is forced to unearth the secrets of her family's past. As the dark forces gather around them, can Cassie protect all that she holds dear? The fantastic debut novel from Lucy Hope, with cover illustration by Anna Shepeta.
November 2021 Book of the Month | Everything that is wonderful about Christmas (and some things that aren’t!) is thrillingly spun about in this deliciously magical and madcap adventure. Homeless Blanche has never had any real Christmas but when the mysterious Rinki gives her a magical bauble and some mince pies on Christmas Day everything changes. Rinki and Blanche are firm friends forever and together they are about to rewrite the Santa story. Santa Claus, elf magic, delicious Christmas food and drink, and a wonderful sleigh ride are all thrown into the mix as a very merry Christmas for all – except the sinister Mr Krampus – follows.
More Misadventures with Merdyn the Wild! | Merdyn the Wizard is back, which is great news for everyone who enjoyed his adventures in The Wizard in My Shed (and if you haven’t read them, you’re really missing out). In the first story, Merdyn found himself in the 21st century, where he met and made friends with 12-year-old Rose, who turned out to be a descendant (no space here to list the requisite number of greats before grandchild). In this story, Rose must time travel to the Dark Ages when her brother Kris is kidnapped on the orders of Vanheldon the Vandal, as a way to lure Merdyn into a deadly trap. Accompanied by her still talking guinea pig, Bubbles, all sorts of adventures await Rose, and the story is both action-packed and very funny. Farnaby fills the pages with more wonderful historical details while also making all of his characters living, breathing people. Original, vastly entertaining, full of humour and a fair bit of wisdom, these time-travelling adventures are solid gold.
November 2021 Book of the Month | The Carroll family love Christmas. They love it so much they celebrate it every day and in the most over-the-top way possible; Mrs Carroll has even changed her name to Snow by deed poll. Daughter Holly (of course), our central character, loves it too and does everything possible to spread good cheer wherever she goes. When the family move into their dream home, in Sleigh Ride Avenue, Holly stops being home-schooled and enrols at the local primary. Her arrival in Dickens class causes quite a stir, her new classmates don’t know what to make of her. Sadly, for a while it looks as though Holly will have all that ho-ho-ho happiness knocked out of her. Don’t worry though, she bounces back, and takes the whole community with her. There’s so much joy, happiness and laughter packed into this book that it’s certain to leave readers feeling full of festive spirit, whatever the time of year – it certainly had your normally bah-humbug reviewer whistling Jingle Bells. Holly is an irresistible character, her family a delight, there’s a guest appearance by a very distinctive donkey, and you know what, wouldn’t things be better if we did act like it was Christmas every day?
October 2021 Book of the Month | A guide to being the best – and happiest – person you can possibly be, this book takes a highly original approach and advises readers to learn lessons from animals. Author Carlie Sorosiak has gathered lots of examples of animal behaviour that demonstrate the importance of being yourself, of being brave, finding friends, being resilient. These range from meerkats who stop bullying and stand up for one another to wombats who shared their burrows with other animals during Australia’s bushfires. A particularly effective example is that of a racoon stuck in a storm drain for hours before eventually being released – the moral: all this will pass. It’s quirky, absorbing and enticingly do-able while Sorosiak’s cheerful, positive approach sets the perfect tone. Full of warmth and wisdom, this is a book to recommend to stressed young people.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Twelve is a Huntling, in training to become a Hunter and pledged to serve the seven clans as a warrior. Full of rage and guilt following the massacre of her family and neighbours, she is determined to remain friendless and dedicate herself to revenge. But when the Hunting Lodge is attacked by goblins, and other creatures even worse, and Seven, the only person she has any connection with, is kidnapped, Twelve sets out to rescue the little girl. She’s joined on the quest by Dog, the Lodge’s huge, living stone guardian, and by the two boys she likes least. Together they face multiple dangers and an array of terrifying and tricky monsters. As in the best of these sorts of adventures – and this is definitely an example of the best of these kind of adventures – throughout their trials they learn more about each other and themselves. Aisling Fowling’s debut is a thrilling fantasy full of battles and creatures the like of which you’ve never seen before, and stars characters you’ll regard as friends by the book’s end. There will be more adventures for Twelve and co to come, and readers will be counting down the days to the next. One to recommend to fans of A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons and Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray. ----------------------------------------- The LoveReading LitFest invited Aishling to the festival to talk about her debut novel and the start of a thrilling fantasy series. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, and watch this superb event chaired by Frankie Dumville, one of our star, young Reading Ambassadors Check out a preview of the event here.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Vibrant world-building, hilarious horror happenings, and splendidly quirky characters - Alex Foulkes’ debut, Rules for Vampires (the first in a series), has plenty for adventure-loving 9+ year-olds to sink their teeth into, a devour-in-one-bloodthirsty-sitting story that’s made even more engaging by Sara Ogilvie’s cleverly comic illustrations. “Slow as creeping nuns, stealthy as a stalking cat, the girl slunk closer to the door.” Thus we’re introduced to Leo on the eve of her one hundred and eleventh birthnight, as she must embark on her first solo mission as a vampire - The Hunt of the Waxing Moon, no less. Trouble is, following Vampiric Laws and negotiating that ghoulish line between the Living and the Undead sure ain’t no stroll in the cemetery, and all this while feeling the pressure to live up to the high and spiky expectations of the Great and Terrible Sieglinde. The writing is slick as blood, with smart turns of phrase that Lemony Snicket aficionados will adore, and cracking whip-smart dialogue that drives the story at bat-out-of-hell pace. Oh, and it’s divinely packed with a cast of top quality, quirky characters readers will want to get under the skin of (though not literally, of course…)
September 2021 Book of the Month | Warning: this is the kind of book you can get lost in. Open at random for a quick bit of browsing, and you’ll find yourself engrossed, turning page after page to absorb its assortment of marvellous facts and weird true stories. Whatever takes your fancy, whether it’s space, animals, sport, vehicles or words or numbers, you’ll find information herein to boggle the mind, all brightly and attractively presented across large colour pages. Fun to look at, fascinating to read, this will prompt all sorts of ‘Did you know …?’ conversations. Great fun!
A prize-winning picture book author and illustrator, Nadia Shireen is just as skilful at writing junior fiction, as this inventive, hilarious story shows. Fox siblings Nancy (the tough one) and Ted (the sensitive one) are forced to flee the big city for the countryside after Ted accidentally bites off pussycat boss Princess Buttons’ tail. Grimwood, where they find themselves, is a kind of paradise it seems, full of friendly if eccentric animal residents who love nothing better than a good game of treebonk. Ted feels right at home, Nancy needs convincing, but when Princess Buttons arrives, bent on revenge and armed with a Brain Zapper 3000, and their new friends step up to help, she changes her mind. It’s gloriously silly but still totally credible and a proper page turner, while Nancy and Ted are real characters. Watch out for the wonderful asides from woodlouse Eric Dynamite, and Princess Buttons’ comeuppance is an absolute treat!
September 2021 Book of the Month | If you’re looking for a creepy place for a holiday, Eerie-on-Sea has it all – mysterious creatures in the waves, strange figures prowling at night, and an end of the pier show to top it all. Fortunately, in the company of the Grand Nautilus Hotel’s lost-and-found boy Herbie Lemon and his best friend Violet, the spooky goings-on are tinged with just the right amount of fun. In their company readers have already experienced adventures that would make your niblets go knobbly (as Herbie would say), they haven’t faced anything like the Shadowghast, a terrifying horned spirit, permanently hungry for shadows. The story plays out in Eerie’s misty, candlelit October nights, when it’s harder than ever to distinguish what’s real and what’s just an illusion. Herbie and Violet’s friendship is tested as never before and the whole town is in danger. Thomas Taylor is as good at creating characters as he is at conjuring up spooky settings and thrilling adventures, which is very good indeed. Newcomers to Eerie and regular visitors are in for tricks and treats!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Mysteries pile up on top of one another in Cookie’s latest hilarious adventure. There are numerous secrets to uncover, several codes to crack, a number of unusual occurrences and a very important Nani who arrives from Bangladesh for a visit. Underlying all the gripping mystery and the comedy there is a simple message about the importance of both arts and science in school. Konnie Huq’s fast-paced story is brilliantly brought to life in her witty line illustrations which have a raft of jokes all of their own. With lots of additional information about codes as well as instructions on some of the things Cookie loves to make, this is a book to return to again and again. Konnie Huq is our Guest Editor, September 2021 - find out more about the Cookie series and her top children's book recommendations!
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
"Ed loves reviewing the books and it definitely encourages his reading, both solo and with me (which I love)." Tracey Parker (parent)
"Daniel has seen his review on the website for The Dark – he is so excited!" Cat Bisland (parent)
Since its inception, LoveReading4Kids and its sister site LoveReading have taken a different approach to book reviews, relying uniquely on the selection and review of books by editorial experts. On LoveReading4Kids one of our expert reviewers is Julia Eccleshare (who is also the Children's Books Editor at The Guardian) and she knows what makes a good read whatever the genre and actually reads the books before telling you what she thinks - radical we know, but sometimes old-fashioned ways are the best.
In 2012 however, to complement our expert reviews we decided to invite children of LoveReading4Kids members to join the newly created Kids Reader Review Panel.
We've now attracted over 500 children aged from 4 right up to late teen and 100's of books have now been read and reviewed by them. Many of them even have their own book blogs and help us to spread the word of mouth still further on a book they've enjoyed.
Panel members reviews are loaded onto the site and complement those of our own Lovereading editorial experts. We're even now receiving feedback from visitors to LoveReading4Kids that the 'Kids Reader Review Panel' reviews are as valued as those of our own LoveReading book experts! With that in mind, we thought it would be very helpful to everyone if we created a category and put all the books that have also been reviewed by some of our Kids Reader Review Panel members, in one easy to find place.
Here are a few testimonials from parents, teachers and importantly direct from some of our 'Kids Reader Review Panel'
The whole class are desperate to get copies of your books and are disappointed if their name doesn't come out of the hat. The more books the better! I've gone from having a class of boys who won't read to a class who get upset if they don't get chosen to read. It's brilliant! Jane Edwards, Little Sutton Primary School, Ellesmere Port (Teacher)
I just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to do this for your site. Ed loves reviewing the books and it definitely encourages his reading, both solo and with me (which I love). Tracey Parker (parent)
Daniel has seen his review on the website for The Dark – he is bringing it into school for Show and Tell on Friday – he is so excited! Cat Bisland (parent)
Just wanted to say thanks so much for uploading Cara's book review - she had the biggest smile ever when I showed it to her! It will have given her and her family a real boost. Great site too! Jill Rooney (parent)
Thanks for giving up the opportunity to review books for your website, this is proving really popular with our pupils and books are literally flying off my desk at the moment! It’s also great to see the reviews that the kids have written online Amy Bennett, Thomas Cowley School, Lincs (teacher)
The book reviewing has been a real treat for us, thank you for a wonderful experience. Tracey Upchurch (parent)
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