Newest Confident Readers Reviews

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

4.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Forget the moon being made of cheese, here the Earth looks like it's a huge dollop of the finest Swiss stuff. Horrid, giant insectoid alien things have taken over, and they have zapped anything technological they can find – pumping a blob of something over it, and turning whatever turns up in the resulting spheres into sand, or carting it off to larger ships. Our heroes belong to a travelling caravan of a village, keeping intact as much human knowledge as they can (think a digital version of those readers in Fahrenheit 451), but they've left their compatriots behind to go exploring. They'll never expect to find a magical, wondrous, robotic horse, though – which is where their problems begin… Full review...

Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond by Martin Jenkins and Stephen Biesty

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I take it as read that you know some of the history of space exploration, even if the young person you buy books for doesn't know it all. So I won't go into the extremes reached by the Voyager space craft, and the processes we needed to be expert in before we could launch anything. You probably have some inkling of how we learnt that we're not the centre of everything – the gradual discovery of how curved the planet was, and how other things orbited other things in turn proving we are not that around which everything revolves. What you might not be so genned up on is the history of books conveying all this to a young audience. When I was a nipper they were stately texts, with a few accurate diagrams – if you were lucky. For a long time now, however, they've been anything but stately, and often aren't worried about accuracy as such in their visual design. They certainly long ago shod the boring, plain white page. Until now… Full review...

Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Snake and Lizard, after deciding not to eat or be eaten by the other, have set up their business designed to help other animals in need. But they need a new sign for their premises, and work done to the entrance burrow. But what name goes first on the advert, and who is to do the labour for the expansion? Those arguments done – and there will be arguments aplenty before this book is out – they find a rival has stolen all their traffic. Can they get any business back to their door? A rabbit that's too pale for the desert life, critters in need of a bed for the night, and even one wondering if the world is flat or round, all prove they can. It's a hard life being such unlikely partners… Full review...

Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Meet Lily, Maddie, Zack, Khal, and James and Batts. They all go to a school together – and they do it eagerly, as their inner city life is so devoid of nature and the open space that the playground is the only room large enough for football. But lo and behold the new head teacher has banned all ball games, on health and safety grounds. How do these friends get over their disappointment? Why, with imagination, hard work and a firm belief that what they're doing is right, is how – they convert a rotting tennis court handily hidden in the school's woods into a pitch, where after a lot of labours they can play to their heart's content. Or so they think… Full review...

Good Dog McTavish by Meg Rosoff

5star.jpg Confident Readers

McTavish did wonder whether he was making a mistake in adopting the Peachey family: it was a decision which came from the heart rather than the head. You see the Peacheys were dysfunctional: Ma Peachey, an accountant by profession, decided that she was fed up with chasing around after an ungrateful family, so she resigned and dedicated herself to her yoga with half a hint that she might also dedicate herself to her yoga teacher. She gave up cooking, cleaning, baking, washing and all the other things which kept the family going, such as finding lost keys and getting people out of bed so that they got to wherever they were going on time. And the family? Well, they had no idea of how to cope, with one exception. Full review...

Nancy Parker's Spooky Speculations by Julia Lee

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Nancy Parker, likeable maidservant, and part-time super sleuth, returns in this enjoyable mystery story set in 1920. Nancy is delighted to be rescued from her job on the fruit and vegetable market stall when she is offered the job of housemaid at an old house by the sea thanks to her old friend Ella who lives nearby. However strange noises and bumps in the night coupled with ghostly appearances soon disturb Nancy's contentment. The two friends team up and decide to investigate the mysterious happenings. However all does not go smoothly for our young heroines as they cope with unfriendly neighbours, spooky cellars and Nancy's kindly but eccentric boss. Full review...

Born to Dance (Dance Trilogy 1) by Jean Ure

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Maddy O'Brien is just eleven years old and her life revolves around ballet dancing. It's not surprising really: her father is a leading choreographer, her mother was a ballerina but now runs her own ballet school, her brother, Sean, has just been promoted to soloist and her sister Jen might be having a baby but she was in the business too. Maddy's enthusiasm for ballet isn't the usual passing interest which many young girls have - she's longing to be off to ballet school full time. In the meantime she and a couple of her friends are looking over the new arrivals at their school and Maddy is convinced that one of them is a ballet dancer. Only Caitlyn is adamant that she's not and quite definite that she doesn't go to classes. Full review...

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

We start this book introducing us to Max Crumbly in the dark. Literally – I don't mean as regards knowing very little about him and it. It's clearly a diary-styled, heavily pictorial, light read for a young audience, but we're in the dark as regards Max because he is in the dark. School bully Thug Thurston has locked him in his locker, and he's scribbling a goodbye to the world in his journal, with the help of a handy pocket torch. Over an extended flashback – a flashback that would never really work otherwise in a diary-styled book – we see more of who Max is. He's buddy to the boyf of Nikki Maxwell from this author's other series, and is a friendless yet cool chap at his middle school, which he's riding out – complete with Thug – because the alternative is his gran's version of home-schooling, which is much worse. But when the locker, official notes of his attending late, and problems with classroom beauty Erin all conspire to make Max hate school even more, you might just expect him to change his mind. But events here will more than make up his resolve… Full review...

The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall by Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Poop-poop! Yes, that must be the most inaccurate representation of the noise a toad makes. But of course, it's not just a toad, but Mr Toad – Toad of Toad Hall. The irrepressible juvenile driver, thrusting himself into the Edwardian era, and scaring the bejaysus out of his friends, Moley, Ratty and Badger. But he's long gone. Toad Hall is a shell – a ruin compared to what it once was. Stumbling into its underground regions (don't ask) are Mo, Ratty and TJ – Toad Junior, in full – and what they're about to discover will shock them. But that's nothing compared to the shock that what they find will face, for Mr Toad will be revived after a century of being frozen, and not like what he finds one bit. Apart, that is, from the modern cars… Full review...

My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Miss V is the daughter of Sir John Conroy. Sir John Conroy is the comptroller of the household of the widowed Duchess of Kent. And the widowed Duchess of Kent is mother to the young Princess Victoria, who will go on to be one of Britain's most memorable monarchs. Miss V is also called Victoria - well, Victoire actually - but distinctions of rank are important, especially when one of you will become a queen. Full review...

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Reuben is a small boy growing up with his mum in a big city full of injustice and fear. The family have little money and working two jobs means that Reuben's mum trusts him to be on his own a lot. For a young child Reuben develops a lot of independence, which really helps him when he finds an unusual and precious object and decides to try to uncover its secret. He hopes it might be valuable and dreams of being able to buy his mum her ideal home. Unfortunately there is someone else also looking for the object and Reuben enters into a dangerous game of hide and seek as he dares to take on the most powerful and ruthless man in the city Full review...

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Matthew has OCD. Not that he knows that's what it is. He just likes things clean, he really hates germs, or going outside, and he feels safest upstairs in his room and the front bedroom, where he can control the dirt, and where he can watch everything that's going on outside, making notes on his neighbours' activities. When a little boy, Teddy, from next door goes missing one day, it turns out that Matthew was the last person to see him, and with all of his neighbours as suspects Matthew struggles against his crippling anxieties in order to try and uncover the truth of what happened to Teddy. Full review...

All Mary (Mary Plain 2) by Gwynedd Rae and Clara Vulliamy

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Mary is growing up – and going out into the world. Which you might expect of a young girl in society, but this is a young girl bear in society. Still, she's finding the Ps and Qs and her manners are equally as important as our daughters would. But when she's told to be on her best behaviour and she thinks it is something to sit upon, is there any hope? Full review...

Mostly Mary (Mary Plain 1) by Gwynedd Rae and Clara Vulliamy

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Mary Plain. She's a bear, living in a pit in the Swiss city of Berne, and bears have been there as a tradition for centuries. She's not been there long, for she's just an exuberant, slightly stroppy and definitely naïve, little cub, trying to catch up to her two slightly-older cousins, loving life with her aunt and uncle, and the generations above them. She's got a lot to learn about life, however – from how snow and ice change her world to what sitting on sticky paint can mean. Oh the innocence of little tykes – such as these books were written for. Full review...

The Painted Dragon (The Sinclair's Mysteries) by Katherine Woodfine

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Ornate hats, the best cigars, fine foods and delicate perfumes – Mr Sinclair offers it all in his wondrous new department store, a marvel never before seen on the streets of London. Comfort, refinement and luxury abound, with smoking rooms, tea rooms and even an art gallery to excite and intrigue the haut monde as they examine the merchandise and chatter their days away. But beneath the wealth lies something more sinister, and once again Sophie and Lil find themselves solving a complicated and multi-layered mystery. Full review...

Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Zeus retired as chief god a long time ago, so the rulers of things are the Constellations, even when they're a far-too-juvenile nineteen hundred year old like Virgo. Feeling left out, she steals the ambrosia that the Earth resident known as Prisoner Forty-Two needs, with hardly any clue as to what to do with it or where he is. So it's no surprise that she crashlands on the farm where Elliot lives. He's got enough problems without worrying about a girl who seems doolally arriving – his father is nowhere to be seen, his mother has got dementia and the farm is a week from being repossessed. It's the birth of a most mismatched partnership – the wise-cracking but hard-done-by lad, and his problems, and the godlike girl who thought she could do it all, but stumbles at the first receipt of sarcasm. But not even together can they see the bigger problems around the corner, for both of them – nor the enormity of the help they might end up calling on… Full review...

The Shakespeare Plot 1: Assassin's Code by Alex Woolf

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Shakespeare's London – a vibrant, colourful city rich with promise, new discoveries and great art. A place, too, rife with conspiracies and schemes for murder and mayhem. Add to the mix a mysterious code, a girl disguised as a boy and a young servant asked to spy on his aristocratic master, and the stage is set for thrills and adventure. Full review...

Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson

3.5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

I doubt if you could have zebras, foxes, the end of the world, penguins, dinosaurs and people out of fairy tale all together if it wasn't in a book of poetry. Even short stories would struggle to fit the breadth of content into as few pages as this volume does. Add in home life, school life and, er, football, and you really do have a diverse selection of subjects. All have caught the eye of our author ever since she started her career – some of these poems date back a decade – and now she is going to try her damnedest, with some brilliant design, to make sure they all catch the eye of you. Full review...

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World (Hilo Book 2) by Judd Winick

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Judd Winick certainly knows how to keep his readers in suspense. The first Hilo book ended on a massive cliffhanger and I've been eagerly awaiting the next instalment to find out what happens next. The first book was pure comic-book joy, with bright and bold artwork and an engaging fish-out-of water story about a boy with superpowers who fell to earth with no memory of his identity. In this sequel, Hilo returns and discovers that mysterious portals are opening up all over town, releasing all sorts of strange creatures from other dimensions. As the townsfolk run in panic from the invading monsters, its the job of Hilo and his friends to send them back where they came from and seal the portals for good. Full review...

His Royal Whiskers by Sam Gayton

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

What would you do if your only son was accidently transformed into a cat? The Czar is beside himself, as a war chief, the emperor of the land, he needs an heir strong enough to follow his legacy. Instead, he has a fluffy ginger kitten. He is the laughing stock of his enemies, and he really needs to turn these odds back in his favour. So he forces those responsible to change the cat into a giant cat through the same magic they used the first time: alchemy. Full review...

Tilt by Mary Hoffman

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

To make an author, you first show someone books. To make a reader, you first show them the books they want to, and/or can, read. To make a builder, you first show someone buildings. I use those platitudes to introduce Simonetta, or Netta, who lives in Pisa late in the thirteenth century. She is surrounded by fabulous buildings – it's not for nothing the area will become known as the Field of Miracles, for the Cathedral, Baptistry and bell tower look gorgeous. But something is wrong with the latter one – it's definitely leaning, cracks are showing, and over the hundred-plus years it's taken to get this far people have built the floors at odd angles to correct the problem. Netta is intent on being the person who can solve it, alongside her father who's employed to finish it off. But therein lies the problem – it's all well and good showing someone buildings, and making them want to be an architect, but if they're the wrong gender then all hope is lost… or is it? Full review...

Until We Win by Linda Newbery

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

The best journeys are made with little steps. Lizzy is slowly leaving her boring village behind – by being cheeky yet clever at her lessons, and getting a job in an office in the nearest proper town – and by saving to buy, and teaching herself to ride, a bicycle. All that's under the watchful eye of a mother insistent she learns to knuckle down with the housework on behalf of the men, and an older brother working at the village hunt. At the office, however, further steps are suggested to her – shorthand and typing classes, but she gets diverted. A chance encounter in a tea rooms puts more stepping stones in her way – en route to becoming a fully committed Suffragette, concerned only with making demands for votes for women. Full review...

Worst Ever School Trip: Beaky Malone by Barry Hutchison

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Dylan 'Beaky' Malone has a reputation as a prolific liar. He lies to his teachers, friends and family and has become so good at it, he rarely gets caught out. Everything changed, however, when he stepped into Madame Shirley's magical truth-telling machine. Now it's impossible for Beaky to tell a lie, but worse than that, he now has a habit of blurting the truth out without warning. So whether it's telling the headteacher that his breath smells, confessing undying love for the dinner lady, or embarrassing his friends by sharing their deepest secrets, the saying: the truth hurts has never been more appropriate. Full review...

Mark of the Plague: a Blackthorn Key Adventure by Kevin Sands

5star.jpg Confident Readers

London during the plague – a terrifying place to be in any era. And in 1665, a time when relics and blessings are considered just as effective – if not more so – than medicines, it spreads at a horrific rate. Imagine it: if one person in a family starts to show the distinctive signs, everyone in the household is sealed in, meaning that they too will almost inevitably succumb and die a painful death. Quacks sell all manner of rubbish to desperate townsfolk, and prophets draw large crowds as they preach repentance for sin. Full review...