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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.
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 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.
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!
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!.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Featuring effervescent illustrations and an engaging rhyming text, this picture book has lots of page-turning “what happens next?” appeal, which makes it perfect for reading aloud to animal-mad toddlers. Poor Tiger! He’s lost his stripes while doing his washing, and a real sense of drama is evoked as Tiger prowls the jungle in search of them. Along the way he encounters a host of animals who’ve also lost their defining features - first parading Peacock who’s lost his “fabulous tail”, then Mongoose who’s lost his nose, then Wolf who’s without his teeth. But who’s the thief? While the text could be trimmed in places for smoother scansion, and the concluding morals could be expressed more subtly, this is a well-designed, vibrant picture book, and the reveal and outcome is sure to illicit surprise from little ones. Joanne Owen
October 2018 Book of the Month | | The Nothing to See Here Hotel offers a 5 star reading experience for youngsters, hilarious but still exciting adventures, a fabulous setting and a cast of totally eccentric but utterly lovable characters. The hotel you see is not for humans, but magical creatures – a scenario offering all sorts of possibilities, exploited brilliantly by writer Steven Butler and illustrator Steven Lenton. In this second book, preparations for the annual Trogmanay celebrations are threatened, first by the arrival of a family of yetis (in magical snowstorm), then by something that seems a lot less friendly. Can Frankie, son of the owners and our hero, sort things out before the Trollidays are ruined? No matter how much snow and ice the yetis bring, reading this provides a real sense of warmth, and everyone will want to be part of the hotel’s community.
"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)