Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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Review of

The Treasure in the Tower by Rob Keeley

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Rob Keeley is back! Hooray! We here at Bookbag Towers are always happy to read a new adventure from Rob - his stories combine fast pace and lots of action, an easy to read style, an unerring eye for children's friendships and rivalries, and always a good dollop of naughty humour. They're all present here, in The Treasure in the Tower. The chance purchase of a book during a school trip sparks the whole adventure. Who can follow the clues best and find the treasure? Jess, her brother Mason and their friend Kessie through sheer persistence? Or spoiled brat Perdita with her money and tech gadgets and willingness to cheat? Full Review

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Review of

It Isn't Rude to be Nude by Rosie Haine

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This could have been one of those books which 'preaches to the choir': the only people who'll buy it are the people who know that nudity is OK and the ones who know that it's shameful will avoid it like they avoid the hot-and-bothered person in the supermarket who is coughing fit to bust. But... Rosie Haines makes it into something so much more than a book about not wearing clothes. It's a celebration of bodies: bodies large and small and of every possible hue. Bodies with disabilities and markings. They're fine. In fact, they're wonderful. Full Review

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Review of

The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q Rauf

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Hector is a bully. Egged on by his two 'friends', he takes other children's sweets, harasses and threatens, plays pranks at school, and gets into trouble at every turn. Yet he finds himself frustrated when something actually isn't his fault, but then he isn't believed as everyone expects him to be telling lies. Nothing seems fair. His parents are barely home, and seem to only care about his perfect sister and his annoying little brother when they are, and his teachers have abandoned him as a lost cause. So what happens when, in trying to tell the truth & fight to be believed, Hector finds himself embroiled with the police; first trying to accuse, and then trying to save a homeless man from his local park? Full Review

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Review of

My Life as a Cat by Carlie Sorosiak

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This is the story of an alien who has come down to spend some time on earth living as a human. It's something that each member in the alien collective is allowed to do, for 1 month, once they reach a certain age. Leonard comes to earth but gets distracted en route, and so something goes wrong with his arrival and he finds that instead of landing in Yellowstone Park, ready to work as a park ranger, he is instead in the body of a cat on the other side of the country! This is not what he had planned! Not only is he in the wrong place and the wrong body, he is also in the middle of a storm, stuck in a tree! And so he meets Olive, the little girl who rows out in a boat to rescue him, and who names him Leonard. Full Review

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Review of

The Adventures of an Urban Fox: Maggie Arrives by Yara Evans and Luciana Betti

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Black Cat and Tabby Cat are minding their own business in their own house when a very alarming thing happens. A creature - a large, dog-like creature - appears in their house. Black Cat, always one to take charge, challenges this fearsome creature with all the courage he can muster. Tabby Cat backs him.... from a rather safe distance. The creature is indignant - I'm not a dog. I'm a fox! Full Review

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Review of

Archibald Lox and the Vote of Alignment by Darren Shan

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This third and final book in the first volume of Darren Shan's new Archibald Lox series sees Archie and Inez make it almost all the way to the Cuckoo's Nest, where the Vote of Alignment will be held. But how will they get in? Full Review

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Review of

Archibald Lox and the Empress of Suanpan by Darren Shan

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Archie's second foray into 'the Merge' opens with a fantastic vista. All of the Born's most famous buildings and monuments - Big Ben, the Taj Mahal,  the Eiffel Tower - are collected together, joined by those clever Merge vines. But there's no time to waste in admiration: Archie is carrying an urgent cry for help from Inez to a venerable locksmith called Winston.Winston is a darling but is afraid to help - what is to be done? Despite yearning to go home and worry for his foster parents, Archie feels an obligation to take Winston's place. And so Archie embarks on a new, and even more dangerous, adventure.... Full Review

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Review of

How Do You Make a Baby? by Anna Fiske and Don Bartlett (translator)

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It's more than sixty years since I asked how babies were made. My mother was deeply embarrassed and told me that she'd get me a book about it. A couple of days later I was handed a pamphlet (which delivered nothing more than the basics, in clinical language which had never been used in our house before) and I was told that it wouldn't be discussed any further as it wasn't something which nice people talked about. I knew more, but was little wiser. Thankfully, times have changed. Full Review

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Review of

Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds by Darren Shan

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Time to catch you all up with some of my lockdown reading - I've been doing so much of it that I'm a bit late to the party with actual reviewing. Oops! And where better to start than with the new series from Bookbag favourite, Darren Shan?

Archie is very down. He's lost a dear friend recently, in a tragic accident, and Archie blames himself. He can't face school so he takes himself for a truanting wander around London. As he strolls across a footbridge, he sees a girl who is being pursued by some murderous-looking men in white suits. He watches, aghast. What is going on? Full Review

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Review of

Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten

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Tannash and her brother Geb are waiting in great excitement for the hunting party led by their uncle to return. They're hoping for a feast of mammoth meat. Geb longs for the day he can join his uncle Gagba and the other warriors on a hunting party and take part in their deeds of derring-do. But their father, the leader of the village, thinks that they also need an education; that knowledge is power. Full Review

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Review of

The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth

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Elsie is an ordinary sort of girl. The sort of small girl who often gets overlooked, and forgotten. She is quiet, and compliant, and makes the best of whatever happens to her. So when her parents forget that her school holidays have started before they are free to take care of her, they have to arrange for her to go and stay with her Great Uncle for a week. Poor Elsie, forgotten again, just decides to make the best of things. On investigating the house she finds that her Great Uncle had lived in India as a boy, and he has an enormous tiger rug on the floor of one of the rooms. When Elsie asks him about the rug he seems unhappy, and he says he has to keep it because he was the one who shot the tiger when he was 12 years old, and he says it was the worst thing he ever did. So when Elsie suddenly finds herself magically transported back many, many years, to the time in India when her Great Uncle was 12 years old, she believes that she must try to stop him from killing the tiger, in order to put something right that happened a long time ago. Full Review

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Review of

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant

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Set in England in the aftermath of World War One, this is the story of two children, Lotti and Ben, who have lost everyone they love, but don't want to let go of their last, tiny glimpses of hope. Ben is living on a narrowboat on the canal, lying to the police about his brother's imminent return from the battlefields to take care of him. Lotti, meanwhile, has been expelled from school and is back at home; it's a beautiful house that belongs to her but that her terrible Aunt and Uncle currently have guardianship for. The day Lotti meets Ben (the day she steals a dog!) is the beginning of a deep, and powerful friendship. It sees them become each other's family, and undertake a perilous trip to France, in the boat, to try to find out the truth of the people they both love. Full Review

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Review of

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M Harris

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I have always been of the mind that once you're above picture-book level and before you get to graphic sex & violence, there is no difference between books for children and books for adults. There are good books and poor ones. And Joanne Harris does not produce poor ones. A Pocketful of Crows is clearly aimed at the younger readers as witness the use of the middle initial in the author's name to differentiate from her adult offers. Ignore that if you have loved anything from Chocolat onwards you will know that Harris is mistress of the modern fairy tale. This is no different. It is an utter delight. Full Review

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Review of

Lost by Ele Fountain

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Lola lives in an Indian city with her father, and her brother, Amit. She lives with them in a nice apartment, and although they are not rich like some of the girls at school, they have enough money to be comfortable. Lola spends her time thinking about her school friends, and trying to fit in with them, until one day, suddenly, everything in her life changes. After taking a work trip away, Lola's father doesn't come home. They have nobody else to help, and as they wait day after day, Lola wonders what will become of them until, finally, they are evicted from their flat, and she and her brother find themselves forced to live on the streets. Full Review

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Review of

Roxy and Jones: The Great Fairytale Cover-Up by Angela Woolfe

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After her father gets married for the umpteenth time, Roxy Humperdinck is sent to live with her half-sister Gretel in Rexopolis, capital city of the Kingdom of Illustria. Gretel works as a toilet cleaner for the Ministry of Soup. Why does a country like Illustria need an entire ministry dedicated to soup, you ask? Well, after Roxy finds a secret passage in her bathroom and meets a snarky young woman known only as Jones, she soon finds out why. Turns out, fairy tales are real, and the Ministry’s official job is to safeguard all knowledge of them and monitor the living fairy tales. And, when an evil queen breaks out of a maximum-security prison and threatens to reinstate her reign of terror, Roxy and Jones hold the fate of the world in their young hands…so, no pressure then! Full Review

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Review of

The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle

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Set in the 1960's, this is a mystery adventure story, all about a little girl called Nell and her quest to find her nanny, Perrine (Pear) who left her very suddenly and then, after keeping in touch regularly by post, disappeared completely from her life, leaving Nell bereft. There's everything in this story, with underground tunnels as the playground of gangs of children, to travel and detective work, a mystery mould infecting Parisian bakeries, mysterious figures following Nell around, and a set of truly dreadful parents! Full Review

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Review of

Troofriend by Kirsty Applebaum

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Are you tired of your child's classmates constantly being horrible to them? Do you want your child to have some positive experiences with people? Introducing the new Jenson & Jenson Troofriend 560 Mark IV android! These state-of-the-art machines are capable of emulating the full range of human emotions without lying, stealing or bullying. They're the perfect companion for any child! Any mention that these androids are beginning to develop real human feelings are just unsubstantiated rumours and have absolutely no basis in reality…right? Full Review

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Review of

The Highland Falcon Thief by M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman

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Harrison Beck, or Hal as he prefers to be called, isn't exactly pleased when his parents send him off with his uncle Nat, a travel writer, on a long train journey. Although, this isn't any old train; this is the Highland Falcon, the royal train, and this is its last ever journey before it gets sent to a museum. A number of high-society figures, including film stars, millionaires and aristocrats, will be on this train, so it is quite the event on the social calendar. However, when an expensive brooch is stolen, Hal realises that maybe this trip won't be as boring as he previously thought. As the passengers begin to turn on each other, Hal vows to get to the bottom of the mystery…before the train gets to the end of the line. Full Review

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Review of

Sequin and Stitch by Laura Dockrill and Sara Ogilvie (illustrator)

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Sequin loved her mum to bits, but sometimes she got very cross with her. It wasn't that mum wouldn't go outside their flat - Sequin coped with that - it was because she never pushed to get credit for what she did. Mum is a seamstress and she makes the sort of clothes that you see on red carpets or at important weddings. She's not the designer - they're the people who make a lot of money from the clothes. Mum is the person who actually makes the garments and she's really talented, but when people talk about the dress or the suit, they talk about the designer. The seamstress is never mentioned. Full Review

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Review of

The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke

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In the winter of 1880, five babies are abandoned at the Little Tulip orphanage in Amsterdam, much to the annoyance of matron Gasbeek. Twelve years later, Milou, the last of the five babies to be abandoned back in that winter, struggles to work out the identity of her parents from the clues she was abandoned with: a small coffin with claw-marks on the outside, a cat doll made by someone called Bram Poppenmaker and a velvet blanket. She, along with the other four, patiently wait for Milou's parents to come back and take her home. However, when the five children are sold to the dodgy merchant Meneer Rotman, they know they have to escape. And so begins the adventure of a lifetime as the Unadoptables join forces to reunite Milou with her parents, all the time being pursued by the Kinderbureau and Rotman… Full Review

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Review of

Wink by Rob Harrell

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When Ross is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, aged 12, his desperate attempts at school to just be 'normal' become impossible. Suddenly he is the cancer kid, and everything he does, how he looks, and how he behaves falls under the scrutiny of the other kids in school. Ross is, understandably, angry. He is facing potential blindness, whilst dealing with an eye sealed in a permanent wink. He has gloopy eye medicine to try to help with the pain, plus the need to wear a hat at all times to protect his face due to the ongoing treatment. With the sudden ghosting by one of his best friends, and a series of horrible memes that someone at school creates about Ross, nothing about his life is normal any more, and he has to find new ways to deal with his feelings, and survive. Full Review

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Review of

Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm

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Thirteen-year-old Beth and her parents board the transport ship Orion ready for a new life on Eos Five. Their new home is still being terra-formed and life there isn't going to be easy, but it is going to be a fresh start. As Beth's mum puts it, There's a future waiting for us. A chance to make our own decisions, create our own lives. Full Review

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Review of

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray and Manuel Sumberac (illustrator)

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In the last city on Earth, anyone can be the vessel of The Enemy - the god who drowned the world - who has come to wreak havoc on the last of humanity. When a mysterious boy is pulled from the corpse of a whale, the citizens immediately believe him to be the Vessel - all except for young Ellie Lancaster, a girl inventor. As the ruthless Inquisition prepares to execute the boy, Ellie must prove that he is innocent - even if it means revealing her deepest, darkest secrets... Full Review

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Review of

Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers

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Demelza Clock is a scientist, often staying up late to work on her various gadgets, much to her Grandma Maeve's irritation. However, she has also inherited a certain set of skills that are not especially scientific: Spectre Detecting, the ability to summon the ghosts of the recently deceased. Under the guidance of her Grandma Maeve, Demelza begins to master her newfound skills. However, there is a mysterious individual on the prowl, kidnapping young Spectre Detectors. It's up to Demelza and her best friend Percy to get to the bottom of this... Full Review

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