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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.
March 2019 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Guy Bass comes out all guns blazing in his latest comic adventure which features some typically wonderful characters – I particularly like Tad Tipsy the bartender and Precious Little the gold prospector. Centre stage is sheriff’s daughter Laura Norder and her arch enemy Duncan Disorderly, motto ‘No rules!’. In a spontaneous gesture he comes to regret, Laura’s dad makes her sheriff, but absolute power is no good for anyone and Laura’s obsession with imposing strict rules quickly makes her very unpopular with the townspeople of Butts Canyon. It’s very funny indeed, but there are lessons for us all and a sly bit of political satire too. Yee haw!
April 2019 Book of the Month | Blimey, but can Anthony Horowitz pack huge amounts of tension, excitement and humour into his short stories! He shows off a breath-taking ability to conjure adventure out of the most unlikely beginnings, and in his hands even a trip to the dentist turns into a full-on, peril-laden caper. There’s everything in this collection that makes the Alex Rider novels so addictive: dangerous situations, daring escapes, gadgets galore. And of course, there’s Alex himself – super-smart, super-resourceful, super-cool. Irresistible, unbeatable reading. LoveReading4Kids Loves Alex Rider! Find out more about Alex Rider in our Series of the Month feature.
Rob Biddulph’s new picture book is another typically happy reading experience. Nine dinosaur eggs (count them) are ready to hatch: out pop Otto, Winnie, Hector, Sue, Nancy, Martin, Wilf and Boo. But what about egg number nine? Greg (short for Gregosaurus) hatches a week late, and by then the other little dinosaurs are already settled in their friendship groups and busy playing. Poor Greg is down in the dumps (there’s even a little raincloud over his head in the illustrations) but don’t fear, he’s in for a lovely surprise. There’s so much to enjoy in this wonderful picture book - a story that is both funny and cheering, a clever rhyming text that is great fun to read aloud, glorious illustrations, and things to count on every page. It’s just brilliant and this Cretaceous crew deserve to be loved as much as Spot, Kipper or the Gruffalo.
What young reader wouldn’t want to have a sleepover with Isadora Moon? With a fairy mum and vampire dad she can fly and do magic, and she’s lots of fun – she magics best friend Zoe’s favourite toy to life. When the two little friends get a bit carried away making a cake for a school competition and use magic to conjure up something really spectacular, Isadora realises it wouldn’t be fair to enter it into the competition, but can she persuade Zoe of that? For all the magic, these appealing stories are mirrors of real life, reassuring, revealing, full of the ordinary happiness that friends and family bring. With illustrations on every page and short, easy to follow chapters, they’re perfect for newly independent readers.
Fang-tastic for newly confident readers, these gorgeously illustrated stories are full of excitement, and little vampire Amelia is as cheerful, resourceful and generous heroine as you could want. In this adventure she and her friends are heading off for a week away with the rangers. They’re expecting outdoor games and activities, but end up teeny-tiny thanks to a curse, a curse they can only lift by mending a broken heart. They do of course, and make lots of new friends along the way, including a regal bee and kind-hearted mermaid. With a fabulous set of characters, these stories are always lots of fun, a quirky mix of the everyday – feelings and friendships – with other-worldly, slightly ghoulish goings-on. Laura Ellen Anderson has lots of fun with the plots and language, and these are deservedly popular. Readers who enjoy Amelia’s escapades will also enjoy A Moon Girl Stole My Friend by Rebecca Patterson.
Framed was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Prize 2007 'The Book I Couldn't Put Down.' and shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal | Framed has been chosen as a favourite book by our Guest Editors Philip Ardargh and Joanna Nadin. Philip Ardagh: Reviewing children's books for a national newspaper on a fairly regular basis means that I have to read a goodly number of books I might never otherwise have made the time to do. Stumbling upon books such as Framed is one of the perks of the job. I could tell you that it's about the redemptive power of art but I'm not absolutely sure how to spell 'redemptive' and, anyway, what it's really about is a boy and his dad... and families, and what makes them tick, stop ticking and then tick again. Frank Cottrell Boyce is a craftsman. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Joanna Nadin: Frank Cottrell Boyce writes boys with humour, irony and compassion. Although best known for Millions, it is his second novel, Framed, that I go back to time and time again: the laugh-out-loud funny and try-not-to-cry story of nine-year-old Dylan Hughes, man of the house, boss of the failing family business, and the only boy left in Manod.
Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2008 and the Carnegie Medal 2008 | Comic and cosmic, this is a roller coaster adventure that takes Liam Digby up into space with a handful of other children and their parents. It’s an hilarious journey of discovery as Liam hurtles around the world finding out exactly what makes children and adults different.
Anthony Horowitz’s announcement that he was writing a new Alex Rider book was one of the best bits of literary news of the last year. Now the book is here, and Never Say Die sees Alex Rider at his daring best. After the shocking climax to Scorpia Rising Alex is living in San Francisco with his friend Sabina’s family. When he receives a cryptic email implying his guardian Jack Starbright may still be alive Alex is on a plane to Cairo in no time following up the lead. The adventure brings him back up against his enemies the Grimaldis, and Mrs Jones of MI6 reappears too. To describe the action as fast-paced is an understatement but there’s always time for sardonic humour. The fight scenes of course are superb. For adrenaline-filled, addictive adventure, Alex Rider is unbeatable, and it’s great to have him back. There are nine other Alex Rider books, all excellent, and readers should also look at Steve Cole’s Young Bond books.
February 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | Charmingly produced, this is a beautifully illustrated and designed book which makes the very best use of its stylish illustrations and layout to tell an important story about friendship and its complications. Lula and Lenka enjoy and acknowledge their many differences while also remaining steadfastly good friends. It doesn’t matter that Lula loves talking and Lenka loves drawing. Or that Lenka loves cats and Lula loves dogs. But then they have an argument and words are said which hurt. Now they don’t want to play together or even speak to each other. But that feels all wrong too. How can the two girls make things better. Friends everywhere and of all ages will recognise the intensity of these two little girls’ friendship and will be willing them on to make it up!.
February 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | With a fabulous heroine at its heart and propelled by a fast-paced adventure in not just one world but others too, The Star-Spun Web is a spell-binding fantasy adventure. As a little baby, Tess de Sousa is left on a doorstep by her father in an effort to keep her safe. To be safe, he knows he has to get her out of one world and into another. Apparently orphaned, Tess, with her pet tarantula for company, grows up in Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings where she is encouraged to use her brain to do difficult scientific research and is very much loved by all. But her life changes suddenly when a stranger, claiming to be family, arrives at Ackerbee’s Home, and takes her away with him to Roedeer Lodge. Mr Cleat is not family and Tess needs all her intelligence and persistence to keep safe and, above all, to find out why he is interested in her and what his terrible plan for the future might be. The plot hurtles along and Tess remains a resourceful and delightful character throughout.
February 2019 Book of the Month | This is book ten in this excellent series which recounts – via email exchanges – the escapades of young Eddie Smith-Pickle and his eccentric Uncle Morton, dragon aficionado and explorer. In this episode, Eddie’s first email to his long-suffering mother is entitled Confession and gets straight to the point: he’s not in Glasgow as mum believes, but 4,329 miles further away. Uncle Morton has persuaded his nephew to accompany him to Mongolia to witness the legendary Great Dragon Battle Ceremony. The trip turns out to be every bit as exciting as you’d expect, and it’s only the arrival of Uncle Morton’s own dragons, Ziggy and Arthur, that prevents Eddie ending up as a dragon’s dinner. The email format ensures the stories are told with the utmost economy, but they’re also full of humour and wit. This is sophisticated storytelling in a really accessible format, no wonder the series has now reached number ten.
Irresistible for anyone mad about trucks! There’s so much to learn about the extraordinary world of trucks and truck-mad William Bee is the man to explain it all. There are steam trucks, amphibious trucks, rescue trucks, snow plough trucks, fire engine trucks and much, much more. Gloriously bold illustrations celebrate the wonders of trucks while the texts adds some useful details.
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award 2016 Best Story | This is Frank Cottrell Boyce’s first standalone novel since Cosmic in 2008 and it’s been well worth the wait. The smallest and weakest boy in his class, Rory Rooney makes an unlikely superhero. But all that seems set to change when he suddenly and inexplicably turns green, surely the markings of a superhero. Stuck in a hospital isolation ward with two other remarkably green children – including his nemesis, school bully Grim Kommissky – Rory discover his superpowers and becomes Astounding. The adventure that follows is by turns hilarious and heart-warming, further proof if it were needed that Cottrell Boyce is one of the wittiest, warmest and most inventive children’s authors of today.
February 2019 Book of the Month | Under-your-skin powerful novel about a talented young black woman who refuses to be silenced. Bri is a smart hip-hop writer from rough, tough Garden Heights, the same housing project that provided the setting for Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Hate U Give. Her underground rap legend dad was murdered twelve years ago, leading to her (now clean) mom seeking solace in drugs. Bri’s dad’s legacy means she has a hell of a lot of baggage when she performs at a big open mic event. While she chokes the first round after being goaded by her opponent in a scene that will have you desperately urging her on, Bri’s powerful lyrics and performance mark her out as something special. But as her hip-hop reputation is on the rise, so other aspects of her life take a downturn. There’s serious money trouble at home, and at school she’s unjustly suspended, the latter of which leads to her writing the track that further rockets her reputation, “On the Come Up”. But this brings further struggle. There’s the racism of black women being labeled “aggressive” for merely expressing their views. There’s a painful falling out with “tight since womb days” friend Malik. And there’s a cruel conflict between self-preservation (shutting up and putting up to avoid being wrongly locked up, or worse) in a racist society, and the heightened need to speak out precisely because of this situation. Impeccably plotted, with a multiple storylines woven to a pulse-pounding conclusion, this is an astoundingly affecting novel that shines a light on the struggles of young black women, and celebrates freedom of speech and making noise about who you are, as seen through unforgettable Bri, a 100% authentic character whom readers will root for, cry for, yell out loud for, and grin for joy with.
This high-octane, high-stakes London-set thriller is a fast-paced read with contemporary resonance about kids who get caught up in gang culture as a result of being forgotten by government and overlooked by adults. Orphan Ollie’s life is turned upside-down when his guardian is captured and attacked in front of him and he discovers The Haven, a secret subterranean organisation of kids and teenagers who look after and educate each other with no adult intervention. “We’ve come to realise that grown-ups don’t always have kids’ interests at heart,” explains one of The Haven’s leaders. This stimulating set-up is propelled by a gripping race against time to find a missing kid, the murderous menace of a woman bent on destroying the city, and the threat that The Haven itself might be dying as a result of diminishing incomers and depleting donations from former members. The compellingly thought-provoking concept is deftly delivered through accessibly snappy writing and, as such, I’d recommend it to reluctant readers and those with shorter attention spans as well as devoted fans of teen thrillers, providing as it does an instant hit of action, intrigue and narrative energy. What’s more, this is the first in a series, and readers will no doubt be left eagerly awaiting the second instalment.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, Best Story category | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | 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 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.’
January 2019 Book of the Month | Ross Welford has a knack for combining science and philosophical questions in stories that stem from things we all understand – family, friendship, self-discovery and love. Georgie and her friend Ramzy are fascinated by the eccentric Dr Pretorius and the amazing VR machine she’s created in her secret hideout on the Whitley Bay seafront. She claims it can send them into the future, something Georgie is willing to try, despite the dangers, if the future holds a cure for the disease that is threatening all dogs – including her beloved Mister Mash – and even humanity itself. Welford cleverly balances tension with humour and sets readers thinking about what’s really important in our lives. This is another warm-hearted, intelligent and gripping adventure from a consistently excellent author. Readers who enjoy this will also like Christopher Edge’s stories The Jamie Drake Equation and The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.
"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 it is Julia Eccleshare who is also the Children's Books Editor at The Guardian. 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)
Matilda Greenacre, one of our Reader Reviewers next to all the books she has reviewed for us.
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)
Thank you for sending me the published book of TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE. I loved Timmy Failure and have told all my friends about it. I’m glad you liked my review, I was really excited to see a quote inside the book. Charlie Upchurch (age 9)
Sometimes even publishers use the reviews that are written...
"Evie was thrilled to find the Monster and Chips review she wrote for you printed inside the sequel she bought last week"
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