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Informative, candid and trusted; book reviews by our own book experts are unique to LoveReading4Kids. But we also want to know what the kids think too! The LoveReading4Kids Reader Review Panel is made up of passionate and prolific readers keen to share thier views and recommendations. 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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Mysteries pile up on top of one another in Cookie’s latest hilarious adventure. There are numerous secrets to uncover, several codes to crack, a number of unusual occurrences and a very important Nani who arrives from Bangladesh for a visit. Underlying all the gripping mystery and the comedy there is a simple message about the importance of both arts and science in school. Konnie Huq’s fast-paced story is brilliantly brought to life in her witty line illustrations which have a raft of jokes all of their own. With lots of additional information about codes as well as instructions on some of the things Cookie loves to make, this is a book to return to again and again. Konnie Huq is our Guest Editor, September 2021 - find out more about the Cookie series and her top children's book recommendations!
August 2021 Book of the Month | Edie is still grieving for her mother, killed a year earlier in a horrible accident, when she discovers a secret note her mother left for her. It states that the ‘accident’ was anything but, and that this is the first in a trail of clues she has left for her daughter, explaining what it was she was investigating, and why it got her killed. The tension heightens as Edie solves the clues, putting herself in more and more danger. The people who arranged her mother’s murder are utterly ruthless while Edie has very few she can turn to for help. Anthony Kessel handles plot and character well and this DIY detective story will appeal to fans of Holly Jackson and Sophie McKenzie. NB, there’s one particularly violent scene that some readers might find upsetting.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
September 2021 Book of the Month | On the eve of Ghastly Night, a hypnotic stage magician, Caliastra, checks in to Eerie-on-Sea’s Grand Nautilus Hotel. She’s arrived with her entourage to put on a show – and she claims to be related to Herbert Lemon. Caliastra’s act is so shadowy and strange that Herbie’s friend Violet wonders if dark forces are at work, but Herbie won’t hear a word said against his new relation.
Fox cub siblings Ted and Nancy are on the run from Princess Buttons, the scariest street cat in the Big City. They flee for Grimwood, expecting to find refuge in the peaceful countryside. Instead, they are met with thieving eagles, dramatic ducks, riotous rabbits and a whole host of unusual characters. Grimwood is . . . weird. But when Princess Buttons tracks them down, Nancy and Ted and the animals of Grimwood must unite in a mind-bending race against time . .
Genna has always been good at history but the strange connection she has with times gone by turns into something terrifying when she becomes the victim of a series of assaults, each linked to violent moments from the past. Who is Damien, the young man determined to kill her, and who is Phoenix, the boy equally prepared to save her life? As the attacks continue Genna discovers that she is a First Ascendant, born at the dawn of mankind, with hundreds of lives already lived, and that this makes her the target of the evil Incarnates who won’t rest ‘til she is dead forever. As she and Phoenix fight to survive, and thereby save the human race, the action comes satisfyingly thick and fast, often staged in thrillingly described historical scenes. Few authors know more about pace, combat and all-out excitement than Bradford (Bodyguard, Young Samurai) and this will delight his legions of fans, and even more besides.
August 2021 Book of the Month | What a diamond of a thriller this is - a genuine page-turner that snakes with twists readers genuinely won’t see coming. Who to trust? Who to believe? Sophie McKenzie has struck gold with her latest page-turner. Fourteen-year-old Cat is having a hard time of it, to put it mildly. She’s lost her father, her little sister doesn’t speak, and her mum, a former TV astrology celebrity, is more interested in her work than anything Cat says or does. But after receiving a bolt-from-the-blue text alleging that her dad is alive, Cat throws herself into trying to tracking him down, with the help of a newfound friend, handsome Tyler, the first person she’s been able to open up to for an absolute age. A search for a dad becomes a search for a priceless diamond, which in turn becomes a search for the truth - and then a struggle to understand that truth. Driven by Cat’s endearingly determined, courageous personality, this read-in-one-sitting thriller has family and friendship bonds at its fast-beating heart. Find out more about Hide and Secrets as we chat with Sophie McKenzie, our Author of the Month.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | A new hilarious adventure for the ever- engaging Anisha and her family. Life in Anisha’s family is never straightforward…This time, the whole lot of them are off to Leicester for a special festival. Luckily, Leicester is also the home of the National Space Centre which Anisha and Milo have always wanted to visit. The Mistry family journey would be a drama in itself but things get much, much more exciting when they get to Leicester and find that the famous, hugely valuable diamond that should be on display as the centre piece of the festival has gone missing. Can Anisha’s granny really be the person who stole it as the police think? Anisha needs her best detective skills to free her granny from suspicion and find the real thieves. Our Kids Reader Review Panel reviewed the second in this series, School's Cancelled - find out what they thought!
July 2021 Book of the Month | The Ordnance Survey Kids’ Adventure Book is an inspiration, guide and introduction to map-reading and navigation that will give both competence and confidence to young explorers. Ever since I was a kid, looking at a map has been imagining an adventure. Learning the symbols, colours, abbreviations, lines, dashes and fonts that illustrate an Ordnance Survey map is like cracking a secret code that makes it possible to visualise what is around and beyond. In this new Kids’ Adventure Book, OS has made the learning even more fun - packed cover to cover with puzzles, quizzes and tips that will keep the young adventurer in your family (and you!) entertained for days. Then, once they are ready to step out on their first expedition, the book also provides everything they need to know about how best to prepare, deal with difficult weather, injuries - and even where they might go in Britain and what to do if they get lost! Perfect to equip curious kids aged 8+ with the confidence and skills to explore the outdoors and get adventurous. Kids who love the outdoors will find more inspiration in our collection, A World of Adventure.
Adapted for a younger readership from the author’s celebrated adult book of the same name, this illustrated history of the Silk Roads, bound in a majestic gold and blue package, is the perfect present for fledging historians. The book’s journey leads armchair adventurers along thrilling, far-reaching roads, taking in the history of ancient Persia, Constantinople, Rome, Attila the Hun, the emergence of Islam, Viking slavery, Genghis Khan, Columbus - and more - from a holistic perspective. “You might even think of the Silk Roads as the world’s central nervous system, linking all the organs of the body together”, the author suggests in the introduction, and his engaging exploration of the interplay between politics, science, religion and trade certainly gives this book far greater tang than your standard textbook. Indeed, generously spiced with exquisite illustrations and maps that inform as they enthrall, young history buffs will undoubtedly devour this pitch-perfect treasure, and grown-ups will get much from it too.
July 2021 Book of the Month | Aldrin Adams is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary superpower. When he eats cheese, just before he goes to sleep at night, he can enter into other people's dreams . . . and their nightmares! But why has he, of all people, been given this ability? What is he supposed to do with it? And why doesn't it come with some kind of instruction manual that explains how it works? There are so many questions that require answers. Luckily, Aldrin's dad owns the biggest and finest cheesemonger's for miles and miles around, offering him unlimited access to some of the stinkiest cheeses in the world as he tries to figure it all out. What Aldrin doesn't realise, as he embarks on his journey of discovery, is that he is being watched by Habeas Grusselvart, a mysterious, supernatural villain who creates nightmares for millions and millions of children every night. Suddenly, a young boy poses a threat to his plans to control the world through fear. Which is why he must be stopped - at all costs!
The Devonian period is often called ‘the Age of the Fishes’, and of all the fishes, the Dunkleosteus was the scariest and most powerful of all, the apex predator. Huge, with an armoured head, and the fastest bite you can imagine, it ate everything, including other Dunkleosteuses (i?). None of that helped of course when the Dunkleosteus faced a mass extinction event, in its case, it was a victim of the Late Devonian mass extinction, the only one that might have been caused by trees. In the second in his excellent series on extinction, Ben Garrod brings this amazing creature back to life, and explains all that we think happened during the Late Devonian era. This is non-fiction at its very best – completely up to date, packed with information explained clearly and through some excellent analogies, it tells us everything about the period and creature in question, and lots about our own world too. Buy the set!
June 2021 Book of the Month | Honest, authentic and (ultimately) uplifting, Holly Bourne’s The Yearbook will strike a powerful chord with young women on the brink of leaving secondary school. Realistically raw in its portrayal of toxic relationships (from poisonous school peers to abusive partners), with an underdog protagonist readers will wholeheartedly root for, and a sweet, slow-burning romance that will melt the most cynical of hearts, this is classic contemporary YA. Budding journalist Paige lives a lonely, isolated life - “the undeniable truth was that I was invisible as well as unlovable. Nobody could see me see me at all, let alone look at me and see the potential to store their heart there. People don’t fall in love with wallpaper. Or silence.” At the same time, her parents’ marriage shows the jeopardies of falling in love with the wrong person. She and her mum walk on eggshells around her erratic, coercively controlling dad who flips from jolly joker to enraged monster over the tiniest thing. At least Paige has the school newspaper to keep her occupied - until it’s hijacked by malicious narcissists from the official Leavers’ Committee who want to create a yearbook. As Paige’s family life disintegrates, she realises that the infiltrators steering the yearbook are re-writing history. The same goes for Paige’s dad and his ilk - people who think “they’re the hero of their own story, but, actually, in the pursuit of being so important, they’re often the villain of everyone else’s”. Thankfully, though, hope comes in the form of her independent-minded aunt Polly (“she seemed to genuinely care for me”) and soul-lifting Elijah, who supports Paige’s quest to find her voice and speak the truth after they meet through a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Kirsty Applebaum’s The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke takes a timeless folkloric concept and transforms in into a heartfelt contemporary story that will surely grip readers who enjoy adventures infused with magic. “The buzzing shifts. Shudders down my neck. Squeezes past my shoulder, my elbow, my hand. Pushes out through the ends of my fingers.” That’s how Lonny Quicke experiences his special, secret gift. He’s a lifelong, which means he has the power to heal and bring creatures back from the dead. But, as he explains, “talents like this don’t come free, you know. There’s always a price. Give a bit of life, lose a bit of life.” That is to say, by extending the lives of others, he shortens his own, which is why Lonny’s watchmaker dad keeps him and his little brother in the forest, safe from the rest of the world. The thrilling climax that surges during the Farstoke Lifeling Festival will keep readers on the edge of their seats, willing all to be well for Lonny and Midge as they face tremendous decisions and high-risk situations. Exploring loss and illness within its folkloric premise, this is a thoughtful tale, told with clarity and heart.
A group of hungry creatures are searching for their dinner in this Arctic-set picture book, and none of them get it. That might sound disappointing, but from the point of view of the plankton, almost eaten by the sprats, or the sprats, narrowly avoiding the bigger fish, who just escapes the penguin, who in turn avoids the polar bear … well, things look different. Written in rhyme and with gentle illustrations by Silke Diehl this makes a fun bedtime story. Added extras include the Polar Bear’s Song.
May 2021 Book of the Month | With absolutely no sign of the tricky second novel syndrome following, as it swiftly does, the critically acclaimed Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, Jenny Pearson shows again her ability to make the reader laugh aloud while also tackling some really emotional ‘big’ topics . As a primary teacher she knows her audience inside out and creates very real and believable characters even if they are involved in extraordinary adventures. The capacity of children to become obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records is familiar to every librarian and so the theme of this story is spot on. Young readers will adore that every chapter is headed by ever more outlandish world records (and to read about the author’s own favourites at the end) and will relish the antics of Lucy and Sandesh in their record attempts. I love the fact that the text is peppered with Don’t Try this at Home warnings too! The lively illustrations only add to the book’s already significant shelf appeal. But it is the reason for the World Record attempt that gives the hilarity a much deeper impact. Lucy’s single parent Mum suffers from depression and is hospitalised at the beginning of the book. Lucy’s poignant quest to find her Mum’s happiness tellingly reveals the internal struggles of children faced with parental mental health issues and will provide an invaluable opportunity for other children to empathise or indeed talk about their own difficulties. The fact that Lucy realises that she does have a strong support network with her eccentric, yet wise, Aunt Sheila and with her incredibly loyal friend Sandesh, will provide these children with comfort and hope that things will get better. This novel positively sparkles with kindness, heart and humour and I predict young readers will be fighting to get hold of it!
May 2021 Book of the Month | Despite being set in the 1920’s in the imaginary country of Afalia, this stunning and inventive story, from twice Carnegie medal winning author McCaughrean, has powerful messages about the current state of politics, big business and environmental exploitation in our world and most loudly of all about the need for reliable and independent news sources. The story is partly revealed by facsimile newspaper cuttings and it is fascinating to see the progression from real information to manipulation of popular opinion by ruthless and deadly corrupt officials. Gloria, a naive 15-year-old maid to the Suprema, Alfalia’s ruler, is at the heart of the story. As flooding and disaster threaten to overwhelm the country, the Suprema runs away, and Gloria is inveigled by the Suprema’s husband into temporarily impersonating her. As they discover the full extent of the corruption and misinformation, they face an uphill battle to save lives and stand up for what is right. Meanwhile a second narrative follows the fate of people in the neglected North (in another real life parallel) and a dog’s epic quest to find his boy. The canine conversations are just one of the pleasures provided in this multi-layered narrative populated by such a vivid cast of characters and with so many twists and turns keeping the reader enthralled. Ultimately the novel demonstrates the resilience of man and nature and the ability of people to do the right thing given half a chance. This really is vintage McCaughrean and highly recommended. As our Guest Editor on LoveReading4Kids, Geraldine McCaughrean tells us more about The Supreme Lie and her other brilliant novels.
Fresh-voiced and thought-provoking contemporary YA exploring friendship, trust, messing up and trying to do the right thing in the aftermath of a teen girl going on the run with a teacher. Fabulously forthright Eden has always been the kind of student teachers “call ‘spirited’ when they're trying to be nice and 'disruptive' when they're not”. The last thing anyone expected was for her level-headed, flute-playing, star student bestie Bonnie to run off with the school music teacher, but that's exactly what happens, right before they're due to sit their GCSES, and Eden is the only one who knows where Bonnie is. She knows this is wrong, that Bonnie should come home, but she’s promised not to tell, and she can’t betray her friend. Bonnie was the one who made Eden feel at home in a new school when she was placed with a new foster family. Until Bonnie, Eden hadn't had a proper friend. And exploring friendship - how it feels, what it means, the joys, the obligations, the codes of loyalty - is at the heart of this involving novel. No one believes Eden when she says Bonnie hasn't been in touch, but how long can she keep lying? And what price will be paid for her loyalty, when she knows Bonnie is making a massive mistake? Alongside Eden’s struggle, understanding why Bonnie left is also thoughtfully explored - the pressures she put on herself to perform at school, the weight of expectation, the fears and doubts that made her more susceptible to grooming, the desire to feel understood. This novel tackles serious issues head-on, and with tremendous empathy, never shirking from the complexities of both Eden and Bonnie’s predicaments. Eden’s adoptive parents are a delight, as is her relationship with super-sweet boyfriend, Connor. They’re true friends, and the very model of a healthy relationship: loving, supportive and respectful of each other. Sara Bernard has done it again.
"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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