Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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My Sweet Orange Tree by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos and Alison Entrekin (translator)

3star.jpg Confident Readers

It's just that sometimes, Zeze, you're too naughty. And that's almost the entire truth about our narrator, Zeze – he's a young tyke, and everyone in his large, half-Indian family – heck, everyone who recognises his blonde and pale looks in the neighbourhood – knows he's skilled at being up to no good, that perhaps he was born with a little of the devil in him where Jesus should reside. Instantly adept at being able to read, even when he's only five, the precocious brat is forced to face something that might be the changing of him, once and for all – school. This time of change is also featuring a move of home, as the family cannot afford the rent arrears on their current place, although having downsized the garden comes to feature the titular tree, which almost works as a confessional cum best friend. Whether either the new home or the school will get to change Zeze, or neither, is the plot of this vintage Brazilian junior read. Full review...

The Mirror of Pharos by J S Landor

4star.jpg Confident Readers

12 year-old Jack Tideswell is not your typical adventurer. In fact, he spends most of his time trying to prevent his Nan worrying and trying to avoid the gang of school bullies. This, however, changes when a seagull delivers a strange package through the cat flap. Suddenly everything is different. Jack finds himself briefly catapulted into the future and then into the past. It takes him a long time to understand what's happening but luckily he has several friends to help him. There is his best friend from school, Charlie (occasionally known as Charlotte), the people he meets in the past and the future (several of whom claim to have met him before), the stranger Jago Flyn, and the magical wolf, Alpha. With their help, Jack learns that he's a fledging Magus (a true magician) and comes to realise that he alone can prevent a Titanic-like disaster in the future. Sadly one of his friends isn't everything they claim to be. Will Jack realise in time? Full review...

Beauty and the Beast by Katie Haworth and Dinara Mirtalipova

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

We all know the story of beauty and the beast. A prince, transformed in to a monster for his cruel and malicious nature, trapped in his grotesque form seemingly for the rest of his days. Then comes along a young woman, the beauty of the story, who mellows the beast's harsh character and grows to love him for who he is, and not because of his appearance. It's a fairy tale of old and a story of love crossing boundaries which has been adapted countless times both on screen and in literature. So is this new retelling worth the read? I think so, because I loved it. Full review...

Conkers and Grenades by Hilary Lee-Corbin

4star.jpg Confident Readers

It's Bristol in 1916. Britain is halfway through the Great War and everyone is expected to put their shoulder to the wheel of the war effort. Mar and Appy might be boys, but they're no different. Both their fathers are away fighting and the two young boys are expected to help with household chores, look after younger siblings, earn a few extra pennies through casual jobs and concentrate on getting an education... Full review...

Under The Light of a Full Moon by Donna McGrath

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

When the bad dreams and the whispers at night first start, Clara has no idea what's going on. All she knows is that the lack of sleep is making her feel ill. But a visit from her Great Aunt Selina supplies some answers. Clara's family has a gift. One member of each generation has the ability to shape-shift into the form of any species of animal. But the gift comes with an ancient curse - bearers of it can only transform during the three days of the full moon each month. Full review...

Potter's Boy by Tony Mitton

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Life is unpredictable; it never goes exactly where we want it to despite how much effort we put in to shape a direction for ourselves. It's a hard lesson to learn, and one Tony Mitton captures with vivid simplicity for the potter's boy. Full review...

American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood by Susan Wood and Ross MacDonald

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Who won a national prize for a crayon drawing of three oak leaves before he was properly in his teens? Who sought acclaim as an artist and came to Europe to study from the greats, only to reject all they had to offer? Who instinctively knew a picture of his dentist (yes, his dentist) would be more appealing and say more to people than floating water lilies and frilly ballet dancers? The answer in all cases was Grant Wood, practically the most well-known painter in America at one time, and still the best, alongside Edward Hopper, at presenting his world minus any Modernist trappings. Full review...

The Atlas of Monsters by Stuart Hill and Sandra Lawrence

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

There are monsters and mysterious characters, such as trolls, leprechauns, goblins and minotaurs. They're the stuff of far too many stories to remain mysterious, and every schoolchild should know all about them. There are monsters and mysterious characters, such as Gog and Magog, Scylla and Charybdis, and the bunyip. They are what you find if you take an interest in this kind of thing to the next level; even if you cannot place them all on a map you should have come across them. But there are monsters and mysterious characters, such as the dobhar-chu, the llambigyn y dwr, and the girtablili. To gain any knowledge of them you really need a book that knows its stuff. A book like this one… Full review...

The Road to Ever After by Moira Young

5star.jpg Confident Readers

A grumpy old lady who can no longer drive requires a chauffeur, and we watch as she gradually softens towards him and they become friends. So far, so Driving Miss Daisy, an apt comparison in a book which references several well-loved classic films. But the obvious similarity ends there. Davy, hired to take Miss Flint on her final road trip, is thirteen years old and has not the foggiest idea how to drive a car. Full review...

Tortot, the Cold Fish Who Lost His World and Found His Heart by Benny Lindelauf, Ludwig Volbeda and Laura Watkinson (translator)

4.5star.jpg Teens

Meet Tortot. He's a camp chef for an army, with a cold heart – he sheds no tears, or at least as much as does a fish – and a brilliant way of gauging the warfare going on around him. The book even starts with him crossing the battlefield to start work for the enemy the night before they turn the tables on his previous employers and defeat them, leaving Tortot on the winning side once more. But now he's not alone – for he has managed to also inherit an assistant, who lives in a barrel of the Emperors' favourite and most important gherkins… Full review...

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Morrigan Crow is a cursed child. Everyone in Jackalfax where she lives believes she is responsible for all the things that go wrong in their life. And, if that's not bad enough, the curse means she will die on her eleventh birthday. Morrigan believes there is no escape from her fate until a mysterious man appears and offers her a new life in the secret city of Nevermoor. There is only one problem – to stay in Nevermoor she needs to gain a coveted place in the Wunderous Society by competing against hundreds of other hopefuls to pass four seemingly impossible trials. Full review...

Secret of the Stones by Tony Bradman

3star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Twelve year old Maglos has a fulfilling and happy life with his father, the High Priest of Stonehenge. However, everything changes when his Uncle Tigran murders Maglos's father at the mid-summer festival before turning to do the same to Maglos. As the axe is about to fall, two strangers intervene warning Tigran that the Gods will be angry if he spills the blood of a child. Tigran allows the strangers to take Maglos away as their slave. What Tigran doesn't realise is that these two men carry the secret of the stones – a secret that they pass onto Maglos and which he will ultimately use against his uncle. Full review...

Dog by Andy Mulligan

4star.jpg Confident Readers

What life can you find for yourself, when it seems to be marked out at the start that this – the only one you get – begins at such a lowly place? That's the question the dog in Dog faces, especially when a snide spider tells him he is the runt of the litter, and instead of being bought has been selected by an adult only because he's free. He wasn't even really chosen, and they had thought to get a cat. Oddly enough the mutt gets to be called Spider by Tom, the lad who gets to call him his, but he's fraught with self-doubt. The spider tells him he's only going to cause harm – which he does. But the neighbourhood cat declares that Spider has something of the feline in his mongrel mix, and tempts him across to her way of living. Tom himself, meanwhile, is being nudged into thinking he's beginning at a lowly place – he ignores his absent mother, he has the privilege of a scholarship for him to get beaten up and bullied at school, and he can't see much future for himself, either. Can Spider work out his lot, and match his life with that of Tom, or will outside agencies get in the way? Full review...

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Gomorrah, a travelling circus as big as a city, tours the land, entertaining the crowds with fantastic shows of magic, illusion and sleight of hand. But the proprietor of Gomorrah, Villiam, believes he has a far more important role than merely organising the acts in the circus. He has political ambition, which he keeps a secret from his adopted daughter. Growing up in the circus, Sorina knows that she will one day become the Proprietor and take over from her father. At sixteen, she is keen to start learning everything she can from Villiam. Full review...

The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator)

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Hollywood any more. And no, indeed we are not. We are in the realm of L Frank Baum, and not the cinema version of this fantasy quest story. So those slippers are silver and not ruby, the companions do not get given solid things that may imply they have achieved what they seek, and the flying monkeys played backwards do not work out to be singing Pink Floyd records, or whatever the urban myth was. Otherwise, we're pretty much on the same, assured, solid ground, with the greyness of Kansas (in a scene that seemed to foretell of the Dust Bowl decades later) being swapped for the quartet of queer, questing characters, the yellow bricked road and everything else you would want of a young reader adaptation of the novel. Full review...

The Real Thief by William Steig

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Gawain. He's a goose, with great plans to be a great architect, who's fallen instead into being the Chief Guard of the Royal Treasury belonging to King Basil the bear. Only the two of them have keys to enter through the only door into the place, but lo and behold, some of the gems have been stolen. Gawain promises to be even more diligent than he already is – I check, I double-check and I re-double-check, he insists. But more and more things go missing, and soon Gawain is being accused of betraying King Basil's trust and helping himself. I would say he's out on his ear as a result, but, you know – he's a goose. Full review...

Detective Nosegoode and the Museum Robbery (Detective Nosegood 3) by Marian Orlon, Jerzy Flisak and Eliza Marciniak (translator)

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Last time I met with the retired Detective Nosegoode and his loyal and helpful dog Cody – the dog that can speak human language, what's more – there was a most intriguing case for the two to solve – that proceeded to go about in less than perfect ways. This third volume of the pair's adventures contains prequels – a selection of three shorter works that convey dramas from the latter stage of Nosegoode's career. So a museum curator is convinced the town's masterpiece landscape is due to be stolen, the chess club has a robber, and Nosegoode gets a tip-off from his mentor about a pickpocket being in town. It's almost too much for even a clever little old man and his clever little hound. Full review...

The Christopher Robin Collection by A A Milne and E H Shepard

5star.jpg Confident Readers

'The Christopher Robin Collection is a compilation of stories and poems and what not, from A. A. Milne's original works, so it's a new book but with existing content, perfect for re-remembering as Owl might say, but equally good for discovering for the very first time, just like Pooh and the North Pole (Discovered by Pooh…Pooh found it). Full review...

The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders and Mark Burgess

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Winnie the Pooh is a classic, and sometimes classics should be left untouched by the hands of time. After all, can you improve on perfection? With A.A. Milne no longer with us, there are limited options for continuing the stories of Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit and the gang, but in this authorised sequel the show must and indeed does go on, with four new tales about the bear with very little brain. Full review...

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Makena was born and raised in the city of Nairobi but she dreams of mountains, in particular Mount Kenya. When her father takes her on her first real exploration of the mountain, and she gets a brief glimpse of a strange sparkling fox, Makena thinks life can't get any better. Within weeks, however, her perfect world is shattered. Makena finds herself scratching out an existence in the city slums. She contracts cholera and almost dies. Luckily a pair of young charity workers are led to her by a fleeting image of a fox and offer her a new start and a trip to the Scottish Highlands. But will Makena be able to accept their kindness? Full review...

Undercover Princess (The Rosewood Chronicles) by Connie Glynn

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Lottie Pumpkin is an ordinary girl who is obsessed with princesses, fairy tales and Disney. Her dream is to become a princess and she had no idea that she would be sharing a room with one at Rosewood Hall...Ellie Wolf is a princess who wishes to be ordinary, so she attends Rosewood to avoid her royal duties in the kingdom of Maradova. When destiny puts these girls in the same room, the only way to survive Rosewood is to swap identities... Full review...

Blue Dog by Louis de Bernieres

4star.jpg General Fiction

Mick's mother had a mental breakdown after his father's death and Mick was sent to live in in the outback with Granpa. On the face of it you'd think that it was going to be a lonely life for an eleven-year-old city boy, with no school to attend, in fact no other children anywhere near. Granpa's busy too: life on a cattle station is brutal for anyone, with all the heat and the dust. But they've all got to make the best of the situation. Full review...

50 Things You Should Know About the Vikings by Philip Parker

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The Vikings have got a lot to own up to. A huge DNA study in 2014 was the first thing that proved to the Orkney residents that they had Viking blood in their veins – they had been insisting it was that of the Irish. The Vikings it was that forced our English king's army to march from London to Yorkshire to kill off one invasion, only to spend the next fortnight schlepping back to Hastings to try and fend off another – and the Normans had the same Norse origin as the first lot, hence the name. There is a Thames Valley village just outside Henley – ie pretty damned far from the coast – that has a Viking longship on its signpost. Yes, they got to a lot of places, from Greenland to Kiev, from Murmansk to Turkey and the Med, and their misaligned history is well worth visiting – particularly on these pages. Full review...

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

5star.jpg Confident Readers

I really loved The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley when I read it, and so I was excited, and also a little nervous, to see there was a sequel. The book picks up almost exactly where we left off, with Ada having had her operation to correct her club foot. Now her pain has, for the most part, been removed and she can walk and even run, Ada finds that she must now redefine who she is, and who she has always believed herself to be. Her mum had told her she was worthless, unloveable and a monster...a freak of nature who shouldn't be seen. Yet now she is just like any other little girl, with the beginnings of a new family with Susan. Ada, as spiky and unpredictable as ever, finds herself struggling with ideas relating to who she is, and who she must now try to protect, since although her foot is fixed, the war continues to rage on in Europe. Full review...

Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Since the death of his father, the moors no longer offer Joe the sense of freedom and tranquillity that they once did. Instead, they become a battleground for a fight over the fate of the hen harriers which are nesting in the heather. This is a fight that Joe becomes wrapped up in and he is required to make some serious decisions. Knowing that he can't please everyone, he decides to stay true to what he really believes in and in doing so, he finds friendship in two unlikely characters: the stylish daughter of wealthy landowners and a naïve townie involuntarily transplanted to the countryside. The three of them learn to overcome their differences and trust each other as they question what really matters to them and how they can make a difference. Full review...

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R M Romero

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Karolina is a refugee from the Land of the Dolls. Her homeland has been ravaged by rats and Karolina was blown by a magical wind into Krakow, Poland, at the height of WWII. She finds herself in a workshop belonging to Cyryl, known as the Dollmaker of Krakow. Lonely, crippled Cyryl repairs Karolina and the two cement a strong friendship which helps Cyryl in his life outside the workshop. But it's not just the Land of the Dolls suffering under a vicious enemy: it's Poland, too. Together, Karolina and Cyryl befriend their Jewish neighbours and determine to do whatever the can to save from the monstrous Nazi regime... Full review...

The Sinclair's Mysteries: The Midnight Peacock by Katherine Woodfine

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Oh, the excitement, the glamour and the sheer, unabashed luxury of Christmas at Sinclair's! Windows full of fabulous items which lure shoppers inside, where their nostrils are filled with the scents of cinnamon, toffee and cigars while they browse the laden shelves or relax and take a refreshing cup of tea (with maybe just a teensy little cream cake or two: shopping is so very exhausting!). The staff scurry here and there, packing up purchases and sending them out to the delivery teams waiting patiently in the stables, helping customers to find that perfect something to place under the Christmas tree, and preparing costumes for the forthcoming New Year's Ball. Full review...