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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.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Charlie Tanner’s dog Jasper thinks he’s descended from Viking dogs and is determined to find out more. This sparks a series of very funny letters from Charlie to the curator at the local Viking museum, in which Charlie poses questions from Jasper. In fact, questions and answers tell us lots about Viking life and the unusual and ingenious presentation makes it all extremely readable and accessible. A great way to learn about the Vikings. Jasper has explored space for readers too, and it looks he has more adventures to come, which is good news.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Nothing is higher profile or more topical currently than concern for the planet, making this subject an excellent choice for the next topic to get the highly successful Kate Pankhurst treatment. Continuing her quest to pay tribute to the often-overlooked female pioneers in any field of human endeavour with her mission to provide accessible and engaging non- fiction, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet does all that and more. Once again, I was struck by the fascinating and diverse choices of the featured women and girls. Some are relatively well-known: such as Anita Roddick who founded the Body Shop and Jane Goodall and her pioneering research and protection work with chimpanzees. But I had never heard of Edith Farkas who discovered the ozone hole in the Antarctic or Mária Telkes and her pioneering work on solar power. Even more inspiring is the evidence that everyone, however humble, can make a difference. Such as Isatou Geesay in the Gambia and her fight against plastic pollution or the Chipko movement in India, village women literally hugging trees to prevent the deforestation of their land and the floods and landslides which would follow. Each double-page spread has accessible paragraphs of text and lively cartoon illustrations and speech bubbles to tell the story concisely and clearly. This visual style is very engaging to young readers and has great shelf appeal. A useful glossary of terms and a page of inspiring calls to action complete the book. Another triumph of information presentation. Highly recommended.
There are some excellent series for young readers at the moment: Amelia Fang, the Royal Rabbits of London, Isadora Moon, and now Mermaid School. Marnie Blue is worried about her first day at Mermaid School, for all the usual reasons: will she make friends? will the teachers be very strict? When she arrives, it seems her teachers expect her to take after her aunt Christabel, now a famous singer and DJ, who was a right terror! And for some reason, fellow first year Orla seems to have it in for Marnie too. It’s all a lot more interesting than the average primary school, and Orla’s story in particular involves Marnie in a very exciting adventure. Very nicely told, and the underwater world is enticing; young readers won’t be able to put this down.
When Melvin Pebbles moves to the town of Donut Island, he has no idea what’s in store: before he’s even unpacked his vast collection of toy bags (unopened, toys still inside to preserve the mystery), he’s been adopted into the Daily Donut Club by new friend, Rhubarb Plonsky, and by the end of the book, together with third Donut Club member Yoshi Fujikawa, will have foiled an alien invasion and bid to brainwash his new neighbours. As you’d expect from the creator of the inimitable Barry Loser series, this is a blissfully surreal mystery adventure, as weird as it is wonderful, and certain to have readers laughing out loud from beginning to end. Jim Smith’s illustrations are as playful as the plot, and make the whole package even more of a treat. Comic genius!
If you love Tom Gates, the Wimpy Kid, or Nikki Maxwell of Dork Diaries fame, then you need to get to know Max Crumbly. Like these hapless anti-heroes, Max has a habit of getting into trouble – this episode opens with Max and his crush Erin Madison trapped in a dumpster full of smelly rubbish – mainly in an effort to escape school bullies or teachers. He recounts his adventures in a breathless, as-it-happens mix of text and image, which is vivid, action-packed and guaranteed to keep the pages turning and readers laughing. It all works too because author Rachel Renée Russell understands her protagonist and her readers so well, ensuring that Max is always a credible and sympathetic character.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | February 2020 Book of the Month | With a new baby on the way Amelia’s mother is too busy to do much. So it is up to Amelia and her friends Florence and Grimaldy to look after the sweet little caticorns. What can be hard about taking care of the cute looking Gerrard, Butler and Mo? Amelia is keen to impress all with what a great big sister she will be but looking after the very naughty carticorns turns out to be very hard indeed!
Larabelle Fox is an orphan, a tosher who searches the sewers for any ‘treasure’ she can find, in the sewer system under Kings Haven. She is ranged against rival toshing gangs who want to rob her, as well as the powerful King’s Witch who wants to revive the Evernight in a bid to gain total power for herself. Unbeknownst to Lara she has found exactly what the King’s Witch and her awesomely scary djinn Shadow Jack are looking for – a box, long lost in the sewers. Can Lara discover what she can do with the box and its contents before the world succumbs to the evil of the Evernight? This is a wild magical delight of a story. The bad guys are wickedly bad and seemingly undefeatable, whilst Lara and her friend Joe Littlefoot seem small and powerless. But they have quick wits and goodness on their side, as well as the witches, though it will mainly be down to Lara that a defence is put up to the Evernight.This is the sort of book that will create a buzz of enjoyment, the fantasy world is well built, believable, cinematic and child friendly. The magic is fun, the friendship believable, the story is refreshing, and the feisty heroine is a delight to follow. I shall look forward to more books in this series.
March 2013 Book of the Month Fizzlebert Stump’s Circus is back for a second riotous show during which everything can – and does – go terribly wrong. The new act features the very, very hairy Barboozul family which includes Wystan, the bearded son. Fizzlebert - his mum is a clown and dad is a strongman - is used to oddities but he has never come across a bearded boy. Will the two become friends? Many strange things happen at the Circus before anything as obvious as that happens in a delightfully chaotic and imaginative romp. This is Fizzlebert Stump’s second adventure - which began with Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library)
November 2014 Book of the Month A richly visualised story which explores imaginary friends and the very special role they play in children’s lives. Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger have the best of times playing together. While Amanda’s mother accepts the existence of Rudger she can’t actually see him. He is only visible to Amanda until the sinister Mr Bunting and the pale girl who travels with him turn up on the doorstep. Mr Bunting is searching out imaginaries with sinister intentions. When Amanda is hit by a car Rudger goes on the run and learns the rules of being an imaginary. Emily Gravett’s illustrations capture the hazy world of the imaginaries brilliantly.
Winner of the UKLA 2016 Book Award in the 7 - 11 year old category. A richly visualised story which explores imaginary friends and the very special role they play in children’s lives. Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger have the best of times playing together. While Amanda’s mother accepts the existence of Rudger she can’t actually see him. He is only visible to Amanda until the sinister Mr Bunting and the pale girl who travels with him turn up on the doorstep. Mr Bunting is searching out imaginaries with sinister intentions. When Amanda is hit by a car Rudger goes on the run and learns the rules of being an imaginary. Emily Gravett’s illustrations capture the hazy world of the imaginaries brilliantly. ~ Julia Eccleshare
June 2015 Debut of the Month An enthralling and profoundly exciting dystopian novel; set aside plenty of reading time, as once you start you just won’t want to stop. It’s fascinating when an author explores a possible future, this particular future feels as though it could be just around the corner. The concerns of mental trauma, violence and social unrest exist today; ‘Mindwalker' is set after a war involving internal terrorism and the state has intimate and invasive access to peoples minds in order to stop violence from occurring. Lain is sensitive, strongly principled and becomes involved in a thrilling race for the truth, she has a captivating romantic interest, and rather than detracting from the storyline, it cleverly adds an intensity. The novel roars towards the ending, quietens then settles, as you turn the final page you can’t help but feel that a ferocious storm is gathering and waiting for release. This absorbing and thought provoking read is a gloriously impressive debut. ~ Liz Robinson
February 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: gentle badgers versus greedy farmers, no contest! | Could badgers take the place of penguins at the top the charts of cuddly, lovable stars of children’s books? Certainly, if Badger Bill is anything to go by. His happy life is horribly interrupted when he is snatched by the thoroughly nasty Maude and Ethel McGloone. They plan to force him into a boxing match with their vicious dogs, and they’ve got equally mean plans for a family of llamas they’re holding hostage too. Fortunately, help is on the way in the shambling form of Uncle Shawn, one of the kindest and best humans in the world. The Dahlesque wickedness of the McGloones forms a wonderful contrast to the gentle benevolence shown by Uncle Shawn and there’s a zany, madcap humour and surreal logic to it all which is delightfully engaging. It would be fun to compare Ethel and Maude with Aunts Sponge and Spiker in James and the Giant Peach. Children who enjoy the mix of crazy comedy, jeopardy and warmth will also appreciate Philip Ardagh’s stories of The Grunts. ~ Andrea Reece
Children who like their stories filled with larger-than-life characters, crazy comedy and the reassuring sense that love and goodness will win out, will really enjoy A.L Kennedy’s Uncle Shawn books. In the first book in this series, little Badger Bill needed rescuing from a particularly nasty couple; now the tables are turned and everyone’s best friend Uncle Shawn has been locked up by the awful ‘Dr’ P’Klawz, whose ambition is to rid the country of all types of fun and – above all – Unusualness. The action is fast and very funny, and leaves readers in no doubt that unusualness in every form is to be encouraged. Filled with some wonderful images (P’Klawz grins ‘like a cruel iceberg’) it’s made for reading aloud, and Gemma Correll’s black and white illustrations are an added treat.
February 2015 Debut of the Month Captive starts with a bang and keeps the tension high. Robyn, the prime minister’s daughter, is kidnapped by eco-terrorists, the same group who recently tried to assassinate her father. These are ruthless, scary people – but Robyn suspects that her father too might be involved in something murky and the longer she spends in captivity, the harder it is for her to know who she can trust. This is a taut, cleverly-constructed and very contemporary YA thriller, which puts family relationships as well as issues such as corporate corruption and moral responsibility into the spotlight. Ideal for fans of Sophie McKenzie, it’s a book that respects its target readership. ~ Andrea Reece
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - A Staff Pick of the Year 2015 - March 2015 Debut of the Month Abi Elphinstone’s debut novel plunges the reader into a world of magic and adventure. Twelve-year-old Moll lives in a gypsy camp in the Ancientwood. She has no parents but the gypsies’ extended family take care of her. There’s something special about Moll - her very best friend is a wildcat, Gryff, and the strange nightmares that plague her seem to prophesy dark and scary battles in the future. This is a wonderful book with all the elements that go to make classic children’s fantasy – a good versus evil battle in which a young child is pitched against a powerful enemy, the band of close friends who will help Moll, a wild forest setting. And a magical wildcat! It’s perfect for fans of Harry Potter, and there are more adventures to come. ~ Andrea Reece
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | March 2016 Book of the Month Fabulous, feisty Moll returns with the ever faithful and courageous Gryff by her side in their quest to save the old magic and stop the Shadowmasks from destroying them. This is a tale of friendship, about finding courage in the darkest of moments and the desire to fight and stand up for those you love and what you believe in. Abi Elphinstone has a huge talent for storytelling and the influence of well loved fairy tales and stories is clear to see as she expertly creates a tale filled with adventure, peril, mystery and of course magic. This is a fantastic sequel to The Dreamsnatcher and continues a thrilling series that is sure to capture imaginations and have boys and girls, young and old, reaching for their catapults and quivers. Absolutely loved it. Do read Abi's debut novel The Dreamsnatcher first, it's fabulous and will have you eager for The Shadow Keeper as soon as you've turned the last page. ~ Shelley Fallows
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.
May 2017 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2017 | A glorious romp of a story full of confusion and chaos but with a strong message about trusting yourself and standing up to bullies. Terrorised by Monty Grabbe, the very nastiest school bully you can imagine, Ben hides under the rubbish bin – one of the bullies favourite places of persecution – and finds himself in a twisting tunnel that leads him to somewhere quite unrecognisable and apparently a long, long way away. Now in the land of King Coo, a bearded female ruler, Ben enjoys some stinky, splotchy, squelchy adventures in which he also defeats Monty. Told in words and pictures, Adam Stower’s hilarious story is beautifully presented in this hugely attractive hardback. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2017 The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue King of the Sky by Nicoloa Davies A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis King Coo by Adam Stower The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman The Big Bird Spot by Matt Sewell
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.
"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)