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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.
Fast-paced and very funny, Eddy Stone’s new adventure involves wizards, emperors, talking (dancing) camels and lots more that is very silly indeed. It all begins when Eddy buys a parcel of stuff in the house clearance at the town’s old manor. It turns out to contain a wizard with no body and a curse. He has to give everyone a wish, but they never work out as the wisher wanted. For example, when Eddy’s dad wishes he could sit around in front of the TV all day, he turns into a sofa. The only way Eddy can put things right is by heading to the wizard’s home in another magical land. The adventure that follows is consistently inventive, packed with cracking one-liners and lots of very funny set ups. There are two other Eddy Stone adventures, and I’d recommend you buy the lot.
Ermine is a stoat-ally adorable heroine – smart, independent but child-like, she enjoys nothing more than exploring new cities and making new friends. Fresh from a sojourn in New York, she arrives in Sydney to stay with the city’s star opera singer, though she’s mostly in the company of the diva’s granddaughter Butterfly. The two have great fun together – though only Ermine’s quick thinking and quicker fingers save them from falling from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! A run in with a ruthless rival in the finals of Australia’s Most Awesome Animal Show allows for more excitement and comedy too. Jennifer Gray’s sprightly storytelling packs a huge amount into the short extent, and there’s lots readers will relish. Elisa Paganelli’s illustrations give Ermine the look of Audrey Hepburn, and this is a thoroughly stylish, well turned-out series.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Like the first adventure in this series, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, this is a clever and inventive fantasy, with characters readers will love. This time Silke is the hero of the story – smooth-talking, determined, but more than a bit reckless. When the Crown Princess recruits her to spy on a royal party of fairies who have suddenly arrived to set up trade partnerships, Silke is both excited and alarmed – she knows how dangerous the fairies can be. As well as being a thrilling story - girl and her dragon best friend versus malevolent fairies - this is also about love, trust and loyalty, and slips in subtle messages too about refugees, and the importance of welcoming people who need a home. I hope there’ll be another book in this excellent series.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation from the Carnegie shortlist 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
August 2018 Book of the Month | A kind little dragon learns that she can bring beauty and joy into the world simply by finding the bravery to be herself in this beautiful picture book. Shy and timid, Maud shares a cave with a bunch of noisy, bullying night dragons, but doesn’t dare fly out in the evening like they do to bring the night. Until one day she finds she has to, and everything changes. Flying out on her gorgeous multi-coloured wings Maud fills the whole sky with brilliant hues of purple, gold and crimson. The story of Maud and her little companion Mouse will inspire children who will love this story of friendship and courage, and Naomi Howarth’s watercolour illustrations are simply breathtaking.
Tom McLaughlin creates some of the best, and funniest adventures for young readers and this is another hilarious, cleverly structured story. Nine year old Pete just wanted a quiet day watching the snooker on the telly, so how on earth did he end up committing armed robbery (sort of), impersonating a policeman, and driving a tank across his own lawn, before breaking up a gang of admittedly incompetent criminals? Read the book to see how it all begins with his mum’s parsnip bake… It’s part of the joy of the book that even as the plot gets more and more convoluted, and as yet more accidental disasters heap on Pete and his new friend Sammy, there’s a logic to everything that happens. Irresistible page-turning fun, and McLaughlin’s cartoony illustrations are an added bonus.
From the moment he discovered he’s a sort of hero, with special powers and the ability to move into a magic world, Ned’s adventures have held readers spellbound. The Darkening Path brings the series to a conclusion, and it’s every bit as thrilling as we’ve come to expect. As the world of Hidden begins to fall apart, Ned and his companions including robot mouse Whiskers and huge familiar Gorrn, travel to far off places including the forests of Siberia to rally an army to take on his enemies. Of all people, the Armstrongs deserve a happy ending, but will they get it? Inventive, exciting, page-turning magical adventure, with a fair few laughs as well. We’ll miss Ned and co!
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.
Award-winning duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks have created a brilliant new adventure for the clever Ladybird, star of What the Ladybird Heard. The Ladybird’s old adversaries, Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, are planning another dastardly crime. This time they are after the Queen’s crown and to get it they plan first to steal a monkey from the zoo. Can the Ladybird, who happens to be on holiday in the same place, stop them? Clever Ladybird comes up with a brilliant plan and, helped by some very noisy Zoo animals, she once again saves the day. Gloriously glittery pages add a sparkle to this delightful and witty story with includes a CD of the story read by Alexander Armstrong.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ten steps ahead of everyone around her. But further tragedy follows at her new school when Hanna, her roommate, falls to her death. While Jess tries to figure out who’s behind the mysterious postcards she finds in the wake of Hanna’s death, she falls for new boy Dan and confides in him as it emerges that Professor Coleman wants her back. A tangle of questions arise as Jess tries to keep herself safe, and the answers are revealed with terrific tension as a series of damning discoveries set the stage for an explosive showdown. Recommended for YA readers who like their fiction fast-paced and full of psychological thrills and chills.
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.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | July 2018 Debut of the Month |Historian Janina Ramirez’s TV programmes are as inspiring as they are informative. Her passion for Viking history comes through loud and clear in this story for young readers, which is also inspiring, and a great crime mystery too. Young Alva lives with her mother, uncle, baby brother and pet wolf Fenrir in the Viking settlement Kilsgard. Her father is away ‘a-Viking’ and much missed. The peace of their community is disturbed by the arrival of an English monk. He says he’s on the trail of treasure – certain to catch Viking attention – but has been attacked, a companion kidnapped. Alva is determined to investigate and soon on the trail, at first independently, then as semi-official assistant to her investigator uncle. The mystery comes closer to home still when the two discover secret messages from Alva’s father amongst the clues. Readers will pick up a real sense of Viking life as they compulsively turn the pages of this gripping adventure and Alva is a great new character in children’s books. Readers who can’t wait for the next book in the series will enjoy Caroline Lawrence’s historical crime series The Pinkerton Mysteries or the Artie Conan Doyle series by Robert J. Harris.
"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)