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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.
January 2020 Book of the Month | This is the fourth and indeed final book in Peter Bunzl’s hugely enjoyable Cogheart adventure series. Lily, the girl with the clockwork heart, and her friends Robert and Malkin the ‘mechanimal’ fox, are off to New York with her father to meet up with Robert’s mother and sister. The adventures start the minute they step off their ocean liner (the series is set in a steampunky late 19th century) and involve kidnap, stolen jewels and a heartbroken boy willing to do anything to put his family back together. There are wonderful scenes of adventure with escapades taking place on trains, hotel balconies and most thrillingly in an underwater diving vessel. Non-stop as the action is, there’s always time for Lily to realise what really matters and that love and friendship keep the world’s heart ticking. An excellent series and while each book stands alone, I’d recommend treating young readers to the set.
If you like Star Wars, you’ll love Alastair Chisholm’s space adventure. The action takes place on board the transport ship Orion as it heads out from Earth to a new colony far away. Reaching their destination requires ship and passengers making a series of Jumps through space and time, and surviving a Jump means entering a state of deep suspended animation. Emerging from one of these, Beth discovers that none of the adults can be woken, and that she is now acting captain with a ‘crew’ of fellow youngsters. There are tensions between the children, some alarming encounters with aliens and – much more terrifying – space pirates, all made worse when Beth begins to suspect that the ship itself may not have their best interests at heart. It all makes for a terrifically taut and entertaining page-turner, with twists and surprises galore. Don’t miss!
January 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s love, friendship and challenging prejudice aplenty in this debut novel by a LGBTQ+ parenting expert. Introverted Izzy has just started Year 8 and is wildly excited when her favourite teacher announces auditions for a Christmas production of Guys and Dolls. Though shy, she’s come to love acting because on stage she “could be whoever I wanted.” And Izzy’s not the only member of her family who wants - and needs - to be who they really are, as she discovers when her dad tells the family he’s transgender and is about to begin transitioning. Though he gently explains, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s nothing dirty, I’m not ill”, Izzy’s older sister reacts angrily, her little brother accepts it in the same way he understands Spider Man and Peter Parker’s different identities, while Izzy feels quiet worry about how their lives will change. The family’s journey is honestly and sensitively portrayed as they endure hurtful prejudice alongside many heart-melting moments, such as the gorgeous scene in which the three siblings think-up their new name for Dad. This is at once an important support tool for children in similar situations, and a barrier-breaking, empathy-inducing story for all.
As cat-owners everywhere know, all cats are equipped with super-powers and Gwynneth Rees’s series stars a band of feline heroes who use their powers to fight villains (a kind of moggie MI6). In this episode, new recruits Tagg and Sugarfoot have to infiltrate the infamous Hit Cats to stop a prison break. Can they do it, and could they really end up fish-sliced if they get caught? Rees keeps things fun, but suitably tense too and it’s another satisfying adventure in a very enjoyable series. Illustrations by Becka Moor add to the fun. If you like the Super Cats series, look out for Dermot O’Leary’s Toto the Ninja Cat books too.
This is a sensitive, often funny and thoroughly engaging story of teenagers coming to terms with who they are. It’s easy to think in these liberal times that anything goes, but teens will be quick to point out that growing up is as difficult as it’s ever been. It’s particularly hard for David, one of the two central characters in this assured debut. David has known since the age of eight that he wants to be a girl. Teased as a freak at school, he feels he can’t even tell his family. New boy Leo seems to have problems too and when the two become friends they discover they have more in common than they ever thought. This ultra-readable, highly entertaining story could also provide readers with some much needed reassurance that normal is as normal does.
A brand new title in the bestselling gorgeously gothic and wickedly funny Amelia Fang series - perfect for readers of 7+ Meet Amelia Fang. A little vampire with a big heart. Amelia Fang's mum has a baby vampire on the way! But with the Fang household completely focussed on the new arrival, no one is paying Amelia any attention. Until she is asked to look after three very mischievous caticorns who make it their business to get Amelia in a world of trouble. Now EVERYONE is watching. And not in a good way! Sink your fangs into Amelia's other howlingly hilarious adventures: Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures
Written by award winning author, Hilary Robinson (Mixed Up Fairy Tales/Where The Poppies Now Grow), Jasper: Viking Dog is illustrated by Lewis James, a Prince’s Trust Ambassador mentored through Strauss House Productions by award winning illustrator Mandy Stanley.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2019 | Full of Meg Rosoff’s delightful wit and evident affection for dogs, the is a great return for McTavish the big-hearted rescue dog who is already well-known for the good care he takes of all those around him. This time it is Betty who needs help. When Pa Peachey gets a new job the whole family is upheaved. Everyone is excited about it except for Betty. Not only has she got to move house but she also to say goodbye to her old friends and go to a new school. Betty does not want to be the new girl: she is terrified. Luckily, McTavish thinks of the best possible way to turn her arrival at a new school into a triumph rather than a catastrophe.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Not since The Snowman have readers been taken on such a magical, snowy journey of love and adventure. Phoebe lives in a gloomy orphanage run by the cruel Griselda Bone. The two clash frequently, and often over Phoebe’s creative response to her school work: Griselda does not approve of words like ‘whispery’ and ‘flumping’. Locked up in the snow overnight, Phoebe and her little dog Herb are surprised by a huge and magical snow dragon, who takes them on an extraordinary ride through the skies. Filled with snowflakes, starlight and revelling in the power of the imagination this is a gorgeous story for Christmas nights and Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations are very special indeed.
November 2019 Debut of the Month | Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
This endearing character-driven treasure from the award-winning author of Dear Martin is a race-against-time romance replete with real-life hardship, class conflict and hope. Rico is a high school senior who works at Gas ‘n’ Go after class to keep her family afloat and then races home to look after her little brother so her mom can pick up extra shifts. In the intensity and exhaustion of this hamster-stuck-in-a-ball situation Rico’s lost sight of what she wants for her future, but selling a jackpot-winning lottery ticket gives her new focus: to find the little old lady she believes won the ticket. Then maybe – just maybe – she’ll be rewarded with a life-changing cut of the multi-million-dollar winnings. To this end, Rico reluctantly enlists the help of handsome, rich “Zan-the-Man”, a tech whizz who “has no idea what it’s like to constantly be on the brink of not having what you need to survive.” But, as Rico discovers, while Zan’s set to take over the throne of his family’s toilet paper empire, his dad has made sure he knows the value of money. Their opposite-side-of-the-tracks narrative plays out with heated banter and feverish frisson, with class conflict rearing its head at every turn as Rico struggles to accept Zan’s generosity just like her mom refuses to apply for government support. Quirkiness comes courtesy of interludes told from the points of views of inanimate objects - the winning ticket, a taxi, a stash of $100 dollar bills, Zan’s fancy bed sheets, a salt shaker – and the novel’s conclusion is as thrilling and life-affirming as it is unexpected. Readers will be left rooting for Rico and Zan to forge the futures they deserve.
October 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | This book put smell, the Cinderella of the senses, into the spotlight. It examines smelly facts about the human body, some of them really rather disgusting, as well as the power and importance of our sense of smell. It looks at how animals use smell and how plants use it too to attract insects or keep animals away. And it looks at smells and smelling through history before taking a last look at weird and wonderful odours. With unusual facts and information on every page it’s well worth a nose. I was particularly fascinated by the ‘odorous occupations’ highlighted in panels throughout the book and children will be definitely tempted to try out the smelly experiments and activities it suggests too.
Set in a flooded future world, Tom Huddleston’s book is a thrilling adventure, in which two young people are caught up in a world of pirates, gangsters, power struggles and corruption. Kara and Joe live in a floating slum on the edge of what is left of London after rising seas have drowned our civilisation. They’ve always been told that the Mariners, gangs who live entirely at sea, are terrorists. But then Joe’s life is saved by a Mariner, who entrusts him with a secret map. It’s a story that poses questions about our future, individual responsibility and the morals of political activism. Timely, thought-provoking, and action-packed.
Paul’s life changes in totally unexpected ways when he discovers a little ghost living in the keyhole of his front door. The two quickly become friends and no wonder, Zippel the ghost is irresistible – funny, mischievous and thoroughly well-meaning, if totally baffled by modern life (he’s particularly fascinated by the flush on the toilet). Together they have some excellent adventures, Zippel getting up to all sorts of tricks in an old castle and taking ingenious revenge on a couple of bullies who’ve been tormenting Paul. Full colour illustrations by Axel Scheffler perfectly capture the droll humour of the stories and this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Buy a copy and don’t be surprised if you find readers checking out keyholes in the hope of finding their own Zippel.
October 2019 Book of the Month | New Yorker Leah is a tenacious, snarky queen of quips. She’s also an exceptional chess player but decides to give up the game after losing a match that, had she won, would have seen her move up the rankings to grandmaster status. Feeling the pressure of her mom and coach, feeling that she’s let down her beloved dad, she decides to get a tattoo, “proving to myself and the world that there is life after chess and that I’m not just a pawn for other people to push around.” Leah’s certainly not a girl given to being pushed around but, with the skills of a master weaver, the author sensitively shows how grief’s deep wounds underpin her anger and tendency to drive people away. When her tattoo plan is foiled by one of her blog readers, Kit, who makes big bucks from illegal chess hustling, Leah winds up making a thousand dollars in a couple of hours. It’s through the police busting one of the illegal games that she finds out about chessboxing, “the ultimate contest of brains and brawn”. The thrill Leah feels for this hybrid sport’s speed and tension is palpable, and she’s a natural at it too, with her boxing coach praising her exceptional resilience: “You never know what’s inside a fighter until they’re flat out on the canvas”, a perceptive comment that encapsulates Leah’s story journey. She’s grappling with grief, but making emotional breakthroughs and learning new skills, to the point that she’s ready to fight Death (a formidable champion chessboxer) in Vegas. With a truly pulse-quickening climax, this exceptional novel rages with raw emotion. It’s a bona fide page-turner seared with life-affirming insights into grief, friendship and finding new paths.
October 2019 Book of the Month | P.G. Bell’s debut The Train to Impossible Places established him as a writer of hugely exciting, inventive and satisfying adventure, and its sequel, The Great Brain Robbery, is just as good, if not even better. Once again 11-year-old Suzy is aboard the Impossible Postal Express tearing through the fantastical realms that make up the Union of Impossible Places, and this time it’s a do or die mission to save Trollville from a thoroughly nasty villain. Suzy is much more at home now with fuzzics, the strange mix of science and magic that lies at the heart of troll technology, though there are still some fabulous surprises in store for her and readers. Adventure doesn’t come more exciting or entertaining, and this is one train young readers really mustn’t miss.
October 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Follow in Greta Thunberg's footsteps and join the global mission to save our planet from climate change. With in-depth text and data, this necessary and timely book will answer readers' questions on what climate change means, what its consequences will be, and what must be done to protect our world.
"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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