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Informative, candid and trusted, book reviews by our own book experts are unique to LoveReading4Kids. But the children of our loyal members are also prolific readers with a real passion for sharing their love of books. So, we decided to invite them to join what we are now calling the 'Children's LoveReading4Kids Reader Review Panel'. 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.
A wonderful story starring old friends and new from the much-beloved Victorian world of Hetty Feather. Rose Rivers lives in a beautiful house with her artist father, her difficult, fragile mother and her many siblings. She has everything money can buy - but she feels as though life isn't fair for girls and poor people. Why can't she be educated at school like her brother? Why can't she learn to become a famous artist like her father? Why is life so unfair for people who were not born rich? When a young girl, Clover Moon, joins the household as a nursemaid to Rose's troubled sister Beth, and she meets her father's bohemian protege Paris Walker, she starts to learn more about the wider world. Will Paris help Rose finally achieve her dreams? And will she be able to help Clover find her own dream? Beautifully illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Rose Rivers is a brilliant addition to Hetty Feather's world, by the beloved award-winning and bestselling Jacqueline Wilson.
Winner of The Branford Boase Award 2019 | February 2018 Debut of the Month | An important, engaging debut in which a bright British Muslim is drawn down a dark path. Tingling with heart and urgency, and astute on the complexities of radicalisation, this rivetingly authentic read shows that representation really does matter. Fifteen-year-old Muzna has a passionate ambition to become a novelist, but her parents have other plans. Boys, make-up and hair removal are strictly forbidden, and they want her to become a doctor – “#BrownGirlProblems”, as Muzna describes her predicament. When labeled a terrorist by a classmate in her new school, “Guy Candy” Arif sticks up for her, and it’s not long before they strike up a friendship, and more. She starts attending meetings with Arif and his older brother Jameel, and her eyes are opened to the media’s anti-Muslim bias, and to Western demonisation of Islam. The brothers encourage her to pray, and she’s gifted a hijab, which she hides from her parents, since her father insists “it was only the 'ignorant’ who clung to Islamic teachings”. Being sharp-minded and questioning, Muzna is keen to understand different facets of Islam, but she’s conflicted when Jameel says her parents aren’t “real Muslims”, and he can’t be right when he declares “writers of fiction are among the worst of people”, can he? Muzna’s conflicts are sharply evoked, and there are moments that will have you begging her to listen to her friends when they reach out to her. But the truth only fully hits Muzna as time is running out, and she must summon the strength to remain true to the talented, intelligent young woman she is. Inspired by author’s shock at hearing that three British schoolgirls had flown to Syria to join the ‘Islamic State’ in 2015, this is a timely, thought-provoking debut that also packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are. ~ Joanne Owen
Perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and David Baddiel's Birthday Boy - a hilarious tale of wish fulfilment gone wrong that every child will relate to Tom can't wait for his LUCKY BIRTHDAY. It's an EPIC family tradition and he's dreamed up an UNFORGETTABLE party! Only, after several disasters involving a flattened chihuahua and a curse from the tooth fairy, it's been CANCELLED. But Tom won't give up. With the help of his friends (and a pig painted like a zebra), Tom decides to throw himself the party he deserves. What could possibly go wrong?
June 2019 Debut of the Month | A range of simple stories for new readers, with beautiful colour illustrations. Milly loves going to story time at her local bookshop. Mrs Minty is an encyclopedia of books and knows the perfect story for every occasion ... tales of mischievous children and faraway lands, magical beasts and daring adventures. But the bookshop is old and creaky, just like Mrs Minty herself. And then one day Milly arrives to find the shop gone. What has happened to Mrs Minty and her irreplaceable bookshop? A warm and uplifting tale about the importance of stories.
In the kingdom of Frostopia, mermaids Beattie, Mimi and Zelda have come to the aid of Maritza Mist, a famous water witch who supplies magic spells to the underwater kingdoms. Two notoriously bad mermaids have escaped from Viper View prison and stolen Maritza's map that shows the locations of twelve magical objects. When brought together, these objects will create the most powerful water witch the world has ever known. Beattie, Mimi and Zelda set off to travel the underwater kingdoms to stop them. But they haven't counted on meeting a bunch of over-zealous spies, the oldest shark in the world or their faithful companion Steve the seahorse going rogue ... On Thin Ice is the third book in the hilarious Bad Mermaids series from the superbly witty and creative Sibeal Pounder, author of Witch Wars and a World Book Day author for 2019.
July 2019 Book of the Month | Winner of the BAMB Reader's Award for Middle Grade Fiction | Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2019 | A fabulous new adventure for Fionn Boyle, the new Storm Keeper of the windswept and magical island of Arranmore. Fionn has only recently inherited his role and title from his grandfather. He knows his powers are still only fledgling and certainly not strong enough to resist the powerful magic of Morrigan the terrible sorceress who longs to take control. When Fionn sees thousands of the terrifying Soulstalkers arriving on the island by ferry he knows that an almighty battle for control of the island is about to take place. Can he find the lost army? And can he and the islanders hold strong against Morrigan and her power? Catherine Doyle has added a thrilling new chapter to The Storm Keeper's Island, her first story about Fionn and the amazing island of Arranmore.
Luke's dad has bought a lot of gadgets recently and not one of them works as it's supposed to. Maybe it's because a machine-from-the-future is stalking Bromley, playing havoc with all the tech and trying to stop Star Lad going on a date. Could this be the Rise of the Machines? Luke knows what he must do - he just needs his fellow SCARF members to help, or it will be the end of everything... Cover artwork by Robin Boyden
The second book in a spookily funny new series, where the living meet the dead and survival is a race against time. Perfect for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant and Who Let the Gods Out. Welcome to the Embassy of the Dead. Leave your life at the door. (Thanks.) Jake may have already outrun and outwitted a grim reaper - saving his own life, as well as the soul of an innocent ghost - but his spooky adventure has only just begun . . . In return for helping ghost, Stiffkey, resolve his unfinished business and travel to the Afterworld, Jake has now been awarded an official position working for the Embassy of the Dead, protecting ghosts in need. He didn't ask for it and, to be honest, he doesn't necessarily want it, but saying 'no' to the Embassy isn't an option. Now Jake must journey even deeper into the mysterious world of ghosts where, on a rowdy night undercover at the Hangman's Social Club, he overhears a plot to destroy the very fabric between the world of the living and the dead. With his ghostly gang at his side - hockey stick-wielding Cora and Zorro the fox - Jake must do the impossible. He has to be a hero. Again. His life - and ultimately his death - depends on it.
Winner of the An Post Irish Book Awards Teen & Young Adult Book of the Year 2018 | Longlisted for The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | Heart wrenching, honest, funny and bold, this exceptional novel about the life, loves and agonies of a young carer, and the love between a mum and her sons, is a storytelling triumph. Seventeen-year-old Bobby Seed is a devoted son and big brother and an all-round firework of wit and charm, wise and strong beyond his years. He’s also a young carer to his mum who’s suffering from debilitating MS. Bobby has to “brush his mother’s locks every day, sort out her medicine, sponge her clean three times a week, ooze positivity” even when all he wants to do is “punch the shit out of a walk or wail in the shower”. In his situation “the worry of death never leaves you”, but that doesn’t stop the brilliant banter between Bobby and his mum. Theirs is a beautiful, tender relationship. Bobby does what he does for her “because she’s my Mum. That pure and simple”. Bobby’s spirits are kept up by best friend Bel and attending Poztive support group for young carers. It’s there he falls for Vespa-riding Lou, who helps him fulfill his mum’s unexpected birthday request as her deterioration quickens. But then comes the ultimate request. Can he do what Mum needs to alleviate her excruciating pain and loss of function? Always warm and witty, and never sentimental, this raw portrait of real-life ravages is suffused in the magic of the human heart. Bobby is an unforgettable, inspirational character – we could all do with taking a leaf from Bobby’s book of strength and wit - and author Brian Conaghan is a writer of the highest rank.
Winner of the Children’s Book Award 2016, Books for Older Readers category - Longlisted for the 2015 Guardian Children's Book prize - Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal | Apple is sure that one day her mother will return. And when that happens she is sure that everything in her life will be good again. But when Mum does return, Apple finds that what you wish for may not always be what you really want. With the arrival of mum, Apple’s life is turned upside down. Home, school and most of all, what she really thinks about all those around her, are all thrown into confusion. Can Apple find happiness in a new way of life? Apple’s poems help her to tell this touching story of an unhappy and complicated family life.
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, Best Story category | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | May 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | This sparkling debut weaves the captivating folklore of Baba Yaga with the thrills of a classic venturing-out-into-the-world quest, replete with primal conflicts, tantalising twists and an unforgettable protagonist that readers will truly root for. Twelve-year-old Marinka yearns to live in a “normal house” and to have a “normal family”, but instead her house has chicken legs, and her grandmother is a Yaga, a Guardian of The Gate between this world and the next. Worse still, in Marinka’s eyes, is that it’s her destiny to become a Yaga herself, to take on the duty of giving the dead “one last wonderful evening” before they “return to the stars”. Baba Yaga has long warned Marinka of the dangers of venturing too far in the world of the living, but her desire “to have friendships that last more than one night” is so strong that she’s prepared to risk everything. Teetering on the cusp of childhood and adulthood, Marinka’s frustrations and determination to find her own way in the world will truly strike a chord with the intended readership. This age-old conflict is delivered with heart and skillfully interwoven with the glorious trimmings of the original folklore. Add to this the twists, the unveiling of truths and the critical choices Marinka must make and you have a heartily satisfying novel that’s ideal for fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Older readers might also enjoy Circus of the Unseen, which offers an alternate re-working of Baba Yaga’s infinitely enthralling Slavic folklore. Radiant with wonder and wisdom, this is an exceptional debut.
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | January 2019 Debut of the Month | | Stinging with drama, action and, above all, a relentless sense of urgency, this ruthlessly remarkable debut sees an indomitable Jewess go undercover. When Sarah’s mother is shot dead, there’s no time for sentimentality, no time to grieve. Sarah must press on, “keep moving”, for her survival depends on it. She joins forces with the Captain, a man she discovers is part of the resistance against the Nazis, and Sarah will spy for him. To this end, she adopts a new identity. She becomes Ursula Haller, the “good little dumb National Socialist Monster”. The Captain secures her a place at a school attended by the daughters of top Nazis, and here she must befriend Elsa, whose father is a leading scientist. The conditions at the school are repugnantly cruel, but Sarah is sharp and strong beyond her fifteen years. Though her childhood was curtailed by her actress mother, and then by the Nazis, she’s defiantly resilient, and infiltrates the grand home and secret lab of a top SS scientist. Compelling and quick-paced, the writing - like Sarah’s character - is indelibly raw, and this is a fiercely gripping read. The Costa Judges said : ‘A compelling, darkly thrilling debut - tense, cinematic and brilliant.’
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | July 2018 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 | | A book to break your heart, quicken your blood and stir your soul by one of the most outstandingly distinctive writers to have emerged in a long, long time. New Yorker Joe Moon was only seven when he took the call in which his big brother Ed told him he'd been arrested because “they think I done something real bad”. That “something” led to Ed winding up on death row, convicted of murdering a cop, though he insists he’s innocent. Ten years later, now Ed’s execution date has been set, Joe travels to Texas to say goodbye. The sublimely-formed structure slips between present and past, recounting the brothers’ troubled upbringing - how their Mom took off; how Aunt Karen took control and decided that Bible study and never mentioning Ed again was the only route to their salvation. While she insists that there’s no point wasting life or money helping someone who wasn’t sorry, Joe sees things differently. “He's my brother,” and that’s really all that matters. He has to see him. Lawyer Al, who’s taken on Ed’s case for free, offers some hope, but time is running out. “It's better to be guilty and rich, I reckon,” Joe remarks, as he experiences the excruciating injustices of a legal system in which the harshness of a sentence depends on where a crime takes place, who the victim was, and who you can afford to pay to represent you (crucially, Ed had no representation when he was first arrested). Once again, Crossan's free verse form is breathtakingly powerful - always the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Yes, this is harrowing and heartbreaking, but the kindness of the strangers Joe meets in Texas is achingly uplifting, as is the deep bond of love between Joe and Ed. This really is a magnificent feat of writing.
June 2019 Book of the Month | Kids who like their adventures wild, funny and full of the unexpected will love Adam Stower’s King Coo stories. Starring ordinary schoolboy Ben and his best friend, the totally extraordinary Coo, a bearded girl who lives a secret life with her wombat Herbert in some woods near Ben’s home, they are a brilliant mix of action, invention and jokes of all kinds – verbal, visual, slapstick. This escapade sees the two friends thwart a band of thieves who are intent on stealing priceless golden artefacts from the local museum. For all the zaniness, the plot makes perfect sense and Stower’s excellent illustrations move it along at pace. One to recommend to fans of Tom Gates or Timmy Failure.
Shortlist for the UKLA Book Award 2019 | Winner of the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | In a nutshell: tense, super-suspenseful novel based on harrowing real life events | After the Fire was inspired by the Waco siege in Texas 1993 when 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect and four US government agents died in a fire fight after a long siege. It’s not a fictionalised version, but Hill imagines life in the camp and as a survivor. Moonbeam, his central character, is beginning to doubt the teaching of Father John and to comprehend the methods he uses to control his followers. A survivor, she’s being coaxed to tell the story of the events that led up to that deadly confrontation with ‘The Authorities’. The tension rarely abates, and Hill makes readers empathise with Moonbeam’s confusion and fear. He also makes us desperate to discover the secrets she’s keeping, and long for her to achieve the freedom that’s always been denied. One of the most gripping and suspenseful books you’ll read all year.
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | April 2018 Debut of the Month | April 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Inspiring WW1 against-the-odds adventure | It’s 1916 and fourteen-year-old Angelique is working on the family farm when she learns that her detested father has been killed in action, while her beloved brother Pascal is still at war. To Angelique, Mother’s grief seems excessive - “How could she have loved father so?” she wonders, and so we wonder what kind of man he was while she focuses all her energy on keeping the farm afloat. Angelique’s strength is formidable. She’s admirably forthright, a force to be reckoned with, especially when adversity escalates and so, with the support of her dear Uncle Gustav, she hatches a plan that might just save the farm. They will venture through France to sell her brother's flock of glorious geese to the Commander-in-Chief of the Somme. Blending real-life hardships and the horrors of WWI with an overarching fairy tale-esque adventure, this is a classic David versus Goliath story in which a girl steps up to fight multiple Goliaths with large doses of determination, wit and a willingness to take risks. Highly recommended. ~ Joanne Owen
Prowling Tiger is a picture book story in poem form about a Tiger who loses his stripes while doing his laundry. He prowls through his jungle home searching for his stripes and bumps into peacock who has lost his tail, mongoose who has lost his nose and wolf who has lost his teeth. All these things have been stolen by a beastie who uses them to adorn himself. Eventually, the animals regain their lost parts and are taught a valuable lesson. Beautifully illustrated.
April 2019 Book of the Month | The tables are turned in Jeff Kinney’s new comic adventure and the wimpy kid telling the story and steering the action is Rowley Jefferson, Greg Heffley’s best friend. As Greg’s long-suffering sidekick he deserves his turn in the spotlight, though as he apologetically points out, most of the book is still about Greg. The boys’ escapades, quarrels and daft schemes are just as funny as when we hear them via Greg. No-one does the straight to camera narrative style of the diary better than Kinney and no matter how straight Jeff tells it, our understanding of the action is often quite different to his. This is as authentic and funny as the original Wimpy Kid books and makes just as irresistible reading.
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | The Peachey family enjoy fine meals each night now that everyone takes turns cooking. Everyone, that is, except grumbling Pa Peachey - until some unsatisfactory bread pushes him to try baking. Convinced that he has found his true calling, Pa sets his sights on winning the town Bake Off. Unfortunately, his great ideas far surpass his skills, and soon Pa's ambitions are crumbling under the weight of 3,784 pieces of gingerbread ... McTavish smells disaster in the making, and it looks like he's going to have to save the day - again.
"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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