Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2016

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We've quite a range of books in our confident readers category - it stretches from the time that children are nicely reading on their own right through to the point where they're looking at books for teens. we think we've got something for everyone is this selection which is in alphabetical order by author.

Erica's Elephant by Sylvia Bishop


Erica Perkins is a very sensible young lady. When she wakes on the morning of her tenth birthday and finds a very confused elephant sitting on her doorstep, she doesn't jump up and down shouting Ooh, goody goody, or Oh, you poor cuddly thing. She looks the elephant in the eye: Who left you she demanded And why? Erica lived with her Uncle Jeff. Well, she would live with him, if he was there, but he'd left when she was eight years old in search of a bird - the Lesser Pip-footed Woob - and it was up to Erica to cook and clean and, well, bring herself up. He'd left some money in an envelope but there was only £30.42 left and even the piece of paper which came with the elephant stating that Erica Perkins had a Legal Right to him didn't explain how she was going to be able to feed him. Full review...

A Library of Lemons by Jo Cotterill


Calypso is a quiet young girl, passionate about books and reading and writing and, since her mum died a few years ago, she has lived alone with her dad who is busy writing his own book on the history of the lemon. There’s never enough food in their fridge, and the house isn’t clean, and Calypso is too busy taking care of herself and her father to have any friends of her own age. But when a new girl, Mae, starts at school, Calypso discovers a kindred spirit, and when she visits Mae’s home she encounters a family quite the opposite to her own. Still, it is only when she discovers a secret that her father has been hiding from her that Calypso’s ability to cope begins to fail her, and she starts to wonder just how damaged her family is. Full review...

Ned's Circus of Marvels by Justin Fisher


Ned is an ordinary boy; in fact he is less than ordinary. His life is dull and he is quite unnoticeable. His dad is overly protective: he is the dad who wraps his child up in cotton wool and then adds a layer of bubble wrap for good measure. Ned barely leaves the house, only to school, but then he must be back on time otherwise his dad would worry and start to panic. Not the ideal life for a boy just about to turn 13. However, in a frantic moment of disbelief, Ned's life changes in an instant with a glimpse of two clowns at his door. Everything he knew of himself, his dad and his family is turned upside down. In a barrage of confusion and panic intertwined with a dramatic car chase, the comfortable world as Ned knows it has changed forever. Ned is not who he thinks his is - he is so much more, and ordinary? Not one little bit. Full review...

The Ministry of Suits by Paul Gamble


Do you happen to know where duvet fluff comes from? (It's kind of gross, so don't rush around telling grown-ups when you find out. They prefer to pretend stuff like that doesn't exist.) Have you ever wondered why squids don't use mobile phones, or why vampires always wear black? No? Well, your education's been seriously lacking, so you'd better drop everything (no, not literally – put that sandwich down somewhere safe first) and rush off right now to read this useful and informative book. Never mind the crazy adventures enjoyed (probably not the best word, but you get it, right?) by Jack and don't-call-her-Moody-if you want-your-nose-to-stay-in-the-centre-of-your-face-Trudy. Forget the deadly peril, the dozens of missing children and the six-foot-high Tooth Fairy. There's a lot of important facts to be checked out first. Full review...

Beetle Boy by M G Leonard


When Darkus's dad disappears from a locked room in the Natural History Museum, everyone's desperate to discover what happened. However, when no clues are found, the police and the newspapers rapidly lose interest and Darkus is left to solve the mystery. Luckily, he has some very special friends to help him. This is a detective story with a twist: Darkus's quest to find his dad is supported not only by his two best friends – Bertolt and Virginia – but also his new pet beetle, Baxter. And Baxter is no ordinary beetle. Baxter is huge (the size of a hamster), has the intelligence of a human, and several hundred friends hiding next door just waiting for the call to action. Full review...

The Chicken Nugget Ambush by Mark Lowery


Roman Garstang and his class are embarking on their school residential trip to Farm View Outdoor Survival Centre. Events leading up to departure day mean than Roman is not all that excited about the visit - mostly due to the jam doughnut incident which in turn leads to a solely chicken nugget diet prescribed by his doctor. Well, not exactly prescribed by his doctor, but this was the message his mum chose to hear. A typical school residential setting provides the backdrop for exploring children's relationship when they are away from home. Some of his class mates are fully prepared for the trip, others shudder at the thought of a bit of mud in their finger nails and a stereotypical survival 'expert' in Mad Dan leads the children on their adventure. Full review...

Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery


Forced to live on Middle Island with just her parents for company, Caitlin is lonely. The closest she's got to a friend is the grumpy fisherman, Frank, who takes her to school each day in his boat. But everything changes when Catlin finds a wriggling prawn on the beach and decides to keep it as a pet. Only it's not a prawn. It's soon the size and shape of a frog. By the next day it's the size and shape of a person and it keeps growing. And growing. What is it? Caitlin doesn't care – he's the friend she's always wanted. Full review...

Pax by Sara Pennypacker


Young readers will be well aware of the horrors of war. It kills people, destroys families and homes, creates waves of desperate refugees and devastates the landscape. But there's one aspect of fighting which, apart from a few notable exceptions, isn't often touched upon – the fate of animals caught up in conflicts. We know a little about horses participating in cavalry charges, and homing pigeons carrying messages, but what about those animals which live in the wild? And worse still, what about all those well-loved pets which can no longer be fed or protected by owners close to starvation themselves? Full review...

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit


It's Poland in 1939. And Anna's linguistics professor father is about to be rounded up in the Nazi purge of intellectuals. Knowing this is likely to happen, he leaves her in the care of a friend for the day. When her father doesn't return to collect her, the frightened friend loses his nerve and abandons Anna to a new and dangerous world. Anna is just seven years old and will never see her father again. Full review...

The World's Worst Children by David Walliams and Tony Ross


At last David Walliams has produced a book for me. I'm damned sure the previous ones (eight full novels and four picture books, and counting) are fine enough quality for me to consider, but I'm contrary. Whether the author sells ten copies or a million I'll look for the more esoteric titles on their list – the essays not the novels, the short stories that get ignored and not the big-sellers, the Lee Scoresby spin-off and not the full His Dark Materials. But if you think that makes me bad – a reviewer who can spout about only the less populist works – I'm sure you will agree, after reading these pages, that I could be a heck of a lot more bad, if I tried. The children here, what's more, don't have to try. Full review...

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