Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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Riddle of the Runes by Janina Ramirez

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The name Janina Ramirez is well known: her television programmes on cultural history, especially of early medieval times, are both lively and informative. She shares her extensive learning with a light hand (and a frequent giggle) and her enthusiasm encourages students and viewers alike to explore further the subjects she discusses. But how will that translate into children's fiction? Will her academic desire for accuracy make the story dull and fact-packed? Will she hold up the action to display her considerable knowledge? Nope, not a bit of it! Full Review

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Showtime (Dance Trilogy) by Jean Ure

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Second years. The girls couldn't believe that they'd made it through the first year - in fact they'd all made it, all eight of them, which was most unusual. Usually some were thrown out - they might have grown too tall, didn't look right or didn't have the commitment required. Maddie felt a bit nervous when she thought about that last bit as there'd been a point when she might have been thrown out for that reason. She's now determined that she really does want to be a ballet dancer, except... Full Review

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Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

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Cymbeline Igloo (yes, that’s his real name!) is nine years old, and he has never been swimming, and this wouldn’t be a really big problem except for the fact that the school bully has somehow got the impression that Cym is actually an amazing champion swimmer, and has challenged Cym to a race at their very first school swimming lesson! He tries to research swimming on the internet, but there’s an accident at the pool that, initially, sees Cym embarrassed in front of the other kids, but that results in his mum having a breakdown. Why has she never taken Cym swimming? And why does his accident at the pool create such devastation in Cym’s life? Full Review

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The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid by Tania Unsworth

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Stella's mother died when she was a little girl. Stella is growing up in a house with her dad, who is often away, and her grandmother, who is starting to experience the onset of dementia. This is all hard enough for a young girl, but at the same time Stella finds that she feels like rather an oddball, struggling to fit in at school, and as her grandmother begins to lose her grip on reality, Stella struggles with feeling very alone. When Stella's only school friend suddenly moves away, Stella struggles even more. She is desperate to find out what happened to her mum and to uncover her family's secrets. Full Review

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Run Wild by Gill Lewis

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Dyslexia Friendly, Confident Readers

Meet Izzy and Asha. Bullied away from the local attempt at a skatepark, they find a huge waste ground in the shadow of a derelict gasometer to practise on, which they duly do, even though they have to drag Izzy's younger brother with them. The following day they all want to return, as does the brother's schoolfriend, despite – and of course because of – there being a huge wolf living in the site. Can the children survive living in the urban wilderness, alongside such obvious dangers? Full Review

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The Mapmakers' Race by Eirlys Hunter

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It's easily done. You nip off to fill everyone's water bottles, and your mum starts to fret in case you don't make it back before the train leaves. Mum gets off to find you, you make it back in good time but she doesn't, and hey presto, four children and a parrot disappearing into the unknown with no money, no home and not a parent in sight. Full Review

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Across the Divide by Anne Booth

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I want all children to know that they CAN already make the world a better place, and that there are other people, now and in history and in fiction, who stand alongside them in this. This is what author Anne Booth said about the inspiration behind her latest children's book and this thoughtful story about family, friendship and being brave enough to speak up for what you believe should help to achieve this. In Across the Divide she cleverly combines current issues regarding peace and conflict and the history of conscientious objectors during World War 1 in a moving portrayal of young people trying to make sense of the world and the decisions made by adults. Full Review

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The Boy Who Lied by Kim Slater

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers, Teens

None of them believed me. Nobody believed I really couldn't remember what happened to my brother. I wanted to scream at them to listen. Because, for the first time in a long, long time, I was actually telling the truth.

Ed Clayton is a teller of tall stories. He just can't help it - even though he knows and everybody else knows that most of what comes out of his mouth is complete fantasy. It all started when Ed's father was accused of fraud and sent to prison. Then mum's mental health went to pieces. Then, with nobody bringing money into the house, poverty - real, grinding, poverty - set in and life became all about scratching about for pennies and visiting the food bank. All of this is horribly shaming, so is it any wonder that Ed has become a bit of a Billy Liar, hiding the truth of his home life in the hopes the power of imagination can make it all disappear? Full Review

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The Boy Who Hit Play by Chloe Daykin

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Elvis Crampton Lucas was found, as a baby, on a bench at the zoo. He knows little else about himself, other than that's where his father found him one day and he took him home and named him after the first three vinyl records he took down from the shelf! Elvis' life has been a happy one, but as his twelfth birthday comes around he finds himself suddenly wanting to know, and needing to know, the truth about who left him on the bench and why. Elvis' quest takes him far away, to a new country, facing challenges he'd never imagined in his desire to know the truth. Full Review

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Walls by Emma Fischel

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When Ned's parents decide they can no longer stay together they come up with what they think is an ingenious plan, which is to divide their house in two, so that there will be a mum side and a dad side, and the children can spend a week on either side at a time. Whilst his parents hope this will be less disruptive, Ned is incensed by the walls that spoil his beautiful home and stop him from moving through the house as he used to. The walls make him angry, and that anger grows and grows until one day, Ned suddenly discovers that the walls are no longer important because he can walk through them! Full Review

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Kat Wolfe Investigates (Kat Wolfe 1) by Lauren St John

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Kat Wolfe lives with her mum, a vet, in London and following a break-in they decide that the time has come to move out of the city. Kat, a confirmed animal lover, is delighted when her mum accepts the offer of a job on the idyllic Dorset coast as the job comes with one special condition. They must agree to adopt the previous owner's cat. However this presents a problem that Kat had not foreseen for the cat is a wild Savannah who resists all Kat's attempts to sooth and tame him. Furthermore when she starts a pet-sitting agency to make pocket money Kat's problems mount up. The owner of her first charge disappears leaving a series of mysterious clues behind him. What started out as a promising escape from city life quickly escalates into a mystery that deepens and becomes steadily more dangerous. Luckily Kat has her new friend Harper to support and help her. Although Harper is laid up with two broken legs thanks to a horse riding accident she is not about to let that stop her getting involved. Harper is a language and coding whizz and she and Kat are determined solve the clues and make people listen to them. Even if they can't do that by themselves they know that they have their animal friends to help. Can the team work together to save the day? Full Review

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The Silver Hand by Terry Deary

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Aimee like languages. She's particularly keen on Latin and enjoys a sparring session or two with her teacher. Aimee would like nothing better than to have her head stuck in a book all day every day. But that's not possible when it's 1918 and you live in the town of Bray - captured and recaptured by the Germans and the British during WWI. The Germans are advancing and Aimee's mother decides it's finally time to tell her daughter that she is part of a secret spy ring, helping the British. Aimee is desperate to help. And help she does, soon uncovering a traitor in the British camp. Full Review

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The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean

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Grandfather had been gone for two years but I never thought it would be an ordinary day he'd come back, like a Monday or a Tuesday... I always knew he'd return across the water, triumphing over a few monsters on the way, I just didn't known when.

Azi lives on a Mediterranean island. Since his grandfather left, he has been living with his irascible uncle who owns a busy tourist restaurant. Azi helps out as much as he can and he goes to school and works hard at his lessons. But he isn't really interested in Uncle's restaurant or playing with his classmates. Azi is interested in two things: the sea, and the return of Grandfather. Full Review

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The Colour of the Sun by David Almond

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Teens, Confident Readers

This book... explores what excites and mystifies me about the nature of being young, and dramatises the joys and excitements of growing up. And I guess it embodies my constant astonishment at being alive in this beautiful, weird, extraordinary world.

This is what David Almond says about his latest novel for young people, The Colour of the Sun. And, having now read it, I see what he is saying so clearly. This is a story of being young - both older than you used to enjoy being and younger than you aspire to be. And it's a story of finding strangeness in ordinary things. Full Review

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The Company of Eight by Harriet Whitehorn

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Fourteen-year-old orphan Cass lives in the Magical District, but as she hasn't the slightest ability in that direction she doesn't exactly fit in. She takes after her dad, and she hopes desperately that she'll pass the upcoming auditions for acrobats and join the Circus Boat as it tours to give performances on all the islands of the Longest World. Her guardian Mrs Potts, however, does not approve: her hope that Cass will demonstrate magical abilities like her mother's (and make Mrs Potts very rich) has been disappointed so she is determined her ward will take on a sedate, genteel job instead: governess, maybe, or draper's model. So poor Cass is reduced to practising her routines in secret, using an old book her father left her. Full Review

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Humanatomy: How the Body Works by Nicola Edwards and Jem Maybank

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers

Get under your own skin, pick your brains, and go inside your insides!

That's what Humanatomy invites you to do and honestly, I don't see how you could resist. This informative book provides a wonderful primer about the human body to curious children- from the skeletal system to the muscular system via circulation, respiration and digestion, right up to the DNA that makes who we are. Full Review

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Spirit by Sally Christie

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Matt Barker has seen something strange. Something extraordinary that no one would normally see. That wouldn't usually matter but Matt accidently tells the rest of his class when they're playing the 'truth game' on the school bus. Now most of the class think he's either mad or a liar. To make matters worse, his classmate and new next-door neighbour, Jazzy O'Hanlon, believes him and she's determined to find a way to share his experience, even if that means losing her best friend. Full Review

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Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Teens, Confident Readers

How small I look. Laid out flat, my stomach touching ground. My right knee bent and my brand-new Nikes stained with blood.

Danny was playing with a toy gun his friend Carlos had lent to him when he was shot by Officer Moore, who claims he was in fear for his life, that Danny, a five foot tall, twelve-year-old boy, was a threatening thug whose menace was such that Officer Moore had no choice but to reach for his gun and eliminate the threat. Full Review

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How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

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Imagine a world without bees. Not just how nice it would be to eat jam sandwiches in the garden without having the little yellow and black torpedoes attacking you - really imagine it. No bees, no pollination. No pollination, no new plants. No new plants, no food. Simple. So, if those pesky chemicals we use kill off practically every bee in the world, humans will have to take over their work. Children, in fact, because you need small, nimble fingers to work those tiny feathers full of pollen into the flowers and turn them into delicious fruits. Full Review