Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

This lovely tale of a small rabbit hero, begins in a time of peace and contentment for the rabbit kingdom. In the cold and snowy days leading up to the mid-winter holiday, an old Bard visits Thornwood Burrow to entertain the rabbits around a roaring fire. The Bard tells a gripping tale from the past, about Podkin, the son of a rabbit chieftain. When a dark and frightening power, known as the Gorm, rises up in the rabbit world, Podkin and his sister and brother are forced to leave their burrow and run for their lives. The story follows their journey and their attempt to defeat the Gorm and restore peace and safety to the rabbit communities across the land. Full review...

The First Hunter by Robert Swindells

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Tan and his family are scavengers - stone age scavengers. When a big cat makes a kill one of the family - the brand man - dashes in and frightens the big cat off its kill with a firy brand and one of the others snatches some of the meat for the family. If they don't get the meat then it's down to roots, insects or lizards. Some of the family are concerned about Wid, who grew, but his brain didn't and they don't see why they should hunt for meat to keep the boy alive. They're all for leaving him to the wolves. Tan won't have it and for the moment Wid is safe. Full review...

The Land of Stories: An Author's Odyssey by Chris Colfer

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

I think that it is only fair to warn people who haven't yet read any of the Land of Stories books and may be contemplating it. Prepare to be completely consumed. Be aware that once you pick up one of these books you will be unable to put it down until you have finished the last page. Also know that the author likes to torture his readers with the most frustrating cliff-hangers at the end of each book. You will want to read on, but are essentially paralysed in a type of limbo until the release of the next book in the series. The last book ended on a tantalising premise: our heroes, Alex and Connor have a potion that will enable them to enter any story they wish. They are going to use it to travel into Connor's own collection of short stories in order to recruit his creations, fight the bad guys and save the storybook world. So grab your book, clear your schedule and get cosy, because the reading marathon is just about to begin... Full review...

Tarzan and the Blackshirts by Andy Croft and Alan Marks

4.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

1930s London, and the streets are rife with racial divides, to the extent that people on one side of the road, generally of one ethnic origin, hate the residents from some other background living on the other. Our narrator Sam has no reason to hate anyone, apart from those in the other gangs, like Alf. But when they latch on to each other as best friends, despite Sam being Jewish and Alf having Irish blood, it seems nothing can stop them. But in times like that – and, of course, in times like 2017 – that doesn't necessarily mean friendships can't be broken… Full review...

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan

5star.jpg Confident Readers

This is fantasy in the vast, epic sense of the word. There are warring royal Houses, strange and wonderful settings, unexpected heroes and monsters – lots and lots of monsters, some of which, unfortunately, are human. There are battles in the grand tradition, with our hero and heroine fighting injustice and evil, and there are deaths, losses and triumphs. But that's where the same-old, same-old ends. Full review...

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel and Jim Field

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Malcolm’s family likes animals. No, it’s more than that, in fact, everyone in his family adores every kind of animal. Malcolm has a whole menagerie of animals living in his house to the utter delight of his parents and his social-media frenzied teenage sister. They love it when they walk them, cuddle them, feed them and watch them sleep. The problem is Malcolm doesn't get it. He doesn't necessarily hate the animals; he just doesn't understand their attraction. As he lives in an animal-loving house, he feels somewhat of an outcast - he doesn't quite fit in and belong. That's all OK though because Malcolm is off on his Year 6 residential trip. Away from his family and a break from the animals. In his excited-haste he didn't quite take enough notice of the location for his three days of freedom – Orwell Farm. During his time away from home Malcolm quickly learns a lot more intimate details about the animals than he could have ever imagined and begins to respect each one in their own unique way. Full review...

Star Wars: Galactic Atlas by Emil Fortune and Tim McDonagh

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

At the time of writing this review, people are eagerly tapping away at phones, laptops and screens everywhere to find out what they can about Rogue One, the Star Wars film that's the first live action cinema effort to be off to one edge of the canon, and is five whole weeks away. Perhaps, however, there is a chance that all the many books being released that mention the ability to tie in to Rogue One will let slip something important. The volume at hand includes a map from… said movie, and all the maps here initially seem to feature a huge amount of information. Could valuable secrets be herein? Full review...

The Song from Somewhere Else by A F Harrold and Levi Pinfold

5star.jpg Confident Readers

If you were being stalked by the school bully and his two sidekicks, and if a kindly soul rescued you from them in the park, you'd be grateful, right? Or would you? Frank knows she should be grateful when Nick rescues her from Neil Noble and his acolytes Rob and Roy. But she also knows that Nick - laughed at for being flea-ridden and smelly at school - is not a person you'd want to be associated with. So Frank intends to say thanks and get the heck out of Nick's house as quickly as she can... Full review...

Winter Magic by Abi Elphinstone (Editor)

5star.jpg Confident Readers

With everything from dragons to mysterious crimes, voice-stealing witches to time travel, and magical worlds to first performances of world-famous ballets, this is a collection of short stories that delights from start to finish. Anthologies of short stories can sometimes fall flat, with one or two good ones and then a bunch of mediocre fillers, but this collection has no weak links...all the stories are good, and most of them are brilliant. I felt entirely caught up in each individual world as I read, loving the varied and extremely likeable heroines throughout. Full review...

The Tigerboy (Faber Children's Classics) by Ted Hughes

4star.jpg Confident Readers

This is a small, but beautifully formed book. Containing just one short story it is perhaps over a little quickly, considering the price of the book, but it is a really lovely object to own. It is the story of a perfectly normal little boy, with the very ordinary name of Fred. Fred, however, knows that there is something different about him, and that he is special. Everything about his life is unremarkable until one night his foot starts to itch and he finds himself turning into a tiger! Full review...

The Midnight Gang by David Walliams and Tony Ross

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Tom. The experience is easier and more pleasant after a few pages of this book, for it begins without him remembering his own name. But eventually he pieces his day and his life together – he is a student at a stereotypically bad posh boarding school, with his new-money parents working abroad (somewhere with a desert). He was struck on the head by a cricket ball, and has now been admitted to a hospital for a few days – and nights. With four very diverse residents already in the children's ward, added to the horrid matron, the inept young doctor and the incredibly ugly and evil-looking porter, he settles down, finding it not quite the holiday from school he expects, but worthwhile all the same. He also finds that some of the other kids have a Midnight Gang. What and where is this, can Tom go – and what might he get out of it – immediately become the salient points of this latest huge-seller by David Walliams. Full review...

Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 11) by Jeff Kinney

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

There's one thing we learn from this book's October setting – Greg Heffley's best buddy Rowley is a complete scaredy-cat. Everything makes him quake in fright, but it should surely be Greg quivering in the corner with fear, considering what his life brings him. He's begun to think he's in a sequel to The Truman Show, due to the fact everything must all be scripted against him, and life like that doesn't occur naturally. His mum thinks a drive to get him registered as 'Talented and Gifted' at school will help with the family self-esteem, but there are all sorts of things going against everyone, ranging from a disembodied witch's laugh to killer geese marauding around town. Yes, this is certainly a Hallowe'en to be glad to see the other side of… Full review...

The Ultimate Book of Space by Anne-Sophie Baumann, Olivier Latyk and Robb Booker (translator)

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Space. For all the huge, empty expanse of it, it's a full and very fiddly thing to experience. The National Space Centre, in the hotbed of cosmology and space science that is Leicester, is chock full of things to touch, grip, pull and move around – and so is this book. It's a right gallimaufry of things that pop up out of the page, with things to turn and pull, and even an astronaut on the end of a curtain wire. Within minutes of opening this book I had undressed an astronaut to find what was under his spacesuit, dropped the dome on an observatory to open up the telescope, and swung a Soyuz supply module around so it could dock at the International Space Station. Educational fun like that can only be a good thing for the budding young scientist. Full review...

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig and Chris Mould

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Amelia. She is not the character that invented Christmas, but someone who certainly helped create it – it was her magic, her dreams and her concern that reached across the miles to Father Christmas and got his spirit (and reindeer) up enough for it all to work. But now, things are a lot worse for her – she is stuck in the nightmare job of chimney sweep in Victorian London to help feed and pay for medicine for her dying mother. Elsewhere things are taking a turn for the worse, too – Elfhelm is under threat from a nasty, underground source, and with it being Christmas Eve it looks like the glimmer of light that would normally be Christmas itself is a dim prospect. As it works both ways – Elfhelm helping lift the human world, which in turn inspires the elvish festivity and work – what could be the consequence when both sides begin to lose the most vital aspect of life, the one called hope? Full review...

Incredibuilds: Buckbeak: Deluxe Model and Book Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The general perception is that to become a leading British actor, you need the fillip of Eton or somesuch education. But you don't have to be an actor to make a great film. Gravity for instance has extended scenes where the only thing natural is the performers' faces – everything else, even their bodies, was made in Britain by people using computers. The eight Harry Potter films, also made in the UK, needed a lot of computing power as well, but also a lot of craftsmen with their hands on tools and a keen eye. What better way to start training the young reader into that side of things, than with tasking them with making a, er, hippogriff? Full review...

Incredibuilds: Aragog: Deluxe Model and Book Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Aragog the giant spider, don't you know, took six man years just to build, and weighed a ton. After countless trial models and pieces of visual design work, he could finally be constructed, and he stretched across eighteen feet of the studio floor. Or, conversely, he is about seven inches long and seven wide, and you put him together in a day or two, for the cost of this book-and-gift set and some craft paints. Full review...

Incredibuilds: House-Elves: Deluxe Book and Model Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

How do you create a house-elf like Dobby? Well, you have a tennis ball on a string, and point actors so they look at it, and say their lines to a pretty-much empty space. You then film Toby Jones doing the elf's lines, and use that sound file and his facial expressions as basis for your CGI creation – the first major character to come from the digital realm in the Harry Potter films. You can throw in a few puppets, and now and again a gifted small person, particularly at the end of film #7… Or, of course, you can get this gift set, and press the wooden parts out, muckle them together – and lo and behold, a six inch tall Dobby for your windowsill. Full review...

Greatest Animal Stories by Michael Morpurgo (Editor)

5star.jpg For Sharing

We all know of Aesop and his animal fables: the hare and the tortoise, the boy who cried wolf or the ant and the grasshopper. In this stunning collection of animal stories, Michael Morpurgo has collated well-known and much-loved animal stories in a beautifully presented book. In the introduction he writes that we often first meet animals in stories before we meet them in real life and this collection is selected from his favourite childhood animal tales. Within his own stories, Morpurgo favours the inclusion of animals as the central character and these are all well received by children. As a primary school teacher, I value the fact that such a well-known author has collected these valuable animal-centred stories which can be used not only to engage children with tales from different cultures but also in providing life lessons. Each is beautifully illustrated and individual in style to each story. Prefacing each tale is a short paragraph giving information on the origin of the story and often a question or two to promote thought and discussion within the story. The stories originate from across the globe: Iceland, Africa, China and North America to name a few. Full review...

Good Dog Bad Dog: Double Identity by Dave Shelton

4star.jpg Confident Readers

There has been a killing in Collie-wood, a bustling movie-making city. Two detectives are on the case – Kirk Bergman and Duncan McBoo, however this one's not going to be easy to solve. Throughout Muttropolis there are crafty canines who will stop at nothing to keep the truth locked away. Surely nothing is going to stop these shrewd detectives from solving the case and enjoying a celebratory glass of milk-shake. Full review...

Robyn Silver: The Midnight Chimes by Paula Harrison

4star.jpg Confident Readers

The middle child in a family of five children, ten year old Robyn Silver longs for her life to be more exciting. However, she means exciting like owning a pool with a water slide or winning a life-time supply of pizza. She doesn't mean seeing freaky things in the middle of the night or discovering a whole creepy world that most people don't know about. But that is what she gets: the moment she hears the Mortal Clock strike she is able to see the creatures of the Unseen World. Suddenly her life is turned upside down as she begins the secret training of a 'Chime'. Full review...

Marvel Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer

4star.jpg Confident Readers

No superhero story is really complete without a lesson of some kind, and this adventure starts with one too. Tony Stark – a young, teenaged fan of Duran Duran Tony Stark – is taking his latest home invention to his father. It's a perfect drone, able to do no manner of humanitarian things, but the lesson from Howard Stark, the weapons developer and seller, is that toys like that don't help the security of the world. From now on, Tony will be building things that are definitely not cutesy, or do-goody. But, while the gamut of Iron Man suits he has developed since then allow him to have a playful playboy figure in the limelight, especially courtesy of his party DJ variant, the threats continue to rise. And this one seems to come from within… Full review...