Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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The Giant's Necklace by Michael Morpurgo and Briony May Smith

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

On holiday in Cornwall Cherry found a length of fishing line and decided that she was going to make a giant's necklace with cowrie shells. She's patient and painstaking - it takes her weeks to gather the shells, clean, polish and string them together. On the final day of the holiday she knows how many more she needs and she's determined that she's not going to be beaten. The family head off for a day on their beach and Cherry begs to stay on for a little longer so that she can get the shells she needs. Only she's not quite careful enough and allows herself to be cut off by the tide when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Full review...

Resurrection by Derek Landy

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Skulduggery Pleasant – the sharply dressed and wise-cracking skeleton – is back and he needs help. A small group of disgruntled sorcerers have banded together and have plans to use their unique set of skills to wage war on the mortal world. Others have tried this in the past but this particular group have a scheme that should guarantee their success: they're going to resurrect a terrifying evil. Despite his powers, Skulduggery can't defeat them alone. He successfully persuades his former partner – Valkyrie Cain – to join him for just twenty-four hours. But will she stay when the time runs out? Will they be able to save the world? Full review...

Super Creepy Camp (Beaky Malone) by Barry Hutchison

5star.jpg Confident Readers

First of all, I'd like to start off by making a complaint to Barry Hutchison. His latest book, Super Creepy Camp has been giving me sleepless nights. I've been kept awake by the raucous laughter emanating from my son's bedroom as he reads it before bed. I'd just be settling down and then it would start again, bouncing off the walls in the dead of night and probably keeping the neighbours awake too. I'd stomp angrily across the landing, open his door, to find him helplessly rolling around on the bed in fits of giggles. So thanks, Barry. Thanks a lot. Full review...

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 2: Middle School Mayhem by Rachel Renee Russell

2.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Max is in the middle of a situation, and no mistake. Last time he had to bust himself out of his own school locker, and found himself caught up in a right scrape suitable only for his own superhero aspirations, involving burglars at the school, retrieving valuable comics, and so much more. Joining right back into the action with a literal splat this time we face the thieves up front and personal, and at the same see Max trying to save what little friendship he has with the hot computer-loving girl at school, who can easily rank as his only friend there – and whose clothes he happens to be wearing. Oh woe is he… Full review...

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

This is the perfect book for those that want a taste of Homer's Iliad before attempting the full work. Although aimed at a younger reading audience, Sutcliff's writing is concise and gripping; thus, this will be as equally beneficial to adults. This, when brought together with the excellent artistic skills of Allan lee, makes for a lavish retelling of the Iliad. Full review...

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

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It's Germany, 1933 and nine year old Anna has a dream – she wants to be famous when she grows up. Unfortunately nearly all the famous people she's heard of have suffered from a difficult childhood and Anna knows that's not her. She has a loving family with enough money. Her life is, however, turned upside down by Adolf Hitler's rise to power. Anna's told that she's Jewish (her parents aren't particularly religious so she was only dimly aware of this) and her dad is likely to be a target under a Nazi government. Anna and her family are forced to flee Germany and build a new life as refugees in Switzerland, then France and ultimately England. It's a hard life, especially when money worries settle in, but for Anna and her brother it's also an adventure. It's, therefore, a long time before Anna realises that her experiences might actually count as a difficult childhood. Full review...

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valerio

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I never really caught the bird-watching habit, even with the opportunity of growing up on the edge of a village in the middle of nowhere. It was in the family, too, but I resigned myself to never seeing much that was spectacular, and once you've seen one blackbird you've seen them all, was my thinking. If I'd had this book as a youngster, who knows – I may have come out of it differently, having been shown the diversity of the bird world in snippets of text, and some quite unusual illustrations… Full review...

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry by Danna Smith and Bagram Ibatoulline

5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

I don't know why I was surprised by this book – I've read enough volumes for the young audiences to know that as far as subject matter is concerned, pretty much anything goes. But this is about falconry, of all things – the use of a once-wild and still pretty much free-spirited bird of prey to hunt down animals, either for the heck of it or for the pot. An attractive girl and her father get their hawk ready, and leave the castle with all the equipment in tow – bells to hear the landed bird and what it's captured, the hood to act as blinkers for it on the way there, the lure if necessary. The story concerns just one trip out, girl, father, hound – and hawk. But while that may surprise you as a subject matter of choice, it was the whole artistic approach that won me over here… Full review...

How Harry Riddles Made a Mega Amount of Money (Shoutykid, Book 5) by Simon Mayle and Nikalas Catlow

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

There is a child who likes his school. It just takes him to be fictional for that comment to be true. Yes, while the building is way above his older sister in Harry's estimation, and while school is way below his enjoyment of playing zombie games, he likes it. He likes it enough to worry about it being forced to close when there's a heinous sum of £7,000 to be made up – but does he like anything profitable enough to make sure he can get the place saved? Full review...

Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Set just five weeks after the events of Scorpia Rising, Alex Rider is living in San Francisco and attempting to adjust to life as a normal high school student. Normal, however, is not a word that we associate with this particular fifteen year old. After all, this is the boy who's completed nine successful missions for M16: the teenager who has saved the world (more than once) and effectively brought down the international criminal organisation, Scorpia. And things aren't about to change. Given everything that has happened in Alex's young life, it's not surprising that the past is about to catch up with him… Full review...

Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

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Rule Number One: Don't run in front of a soldier.
Rule Number Two: Never look at a soldier.
Rule Number Three: Say as little as possible.

There are two words banned in Tibet: Dalai Lama.

Tash lives in a Tibet under the Chinese occupation that began in 1950. Chinese soldiers are a constant and oppressive feature of her life. Most of Tibet's cultural and religious traditions are severely suppressed and any act of rebellion can result in you taken away by the soldiers, never to be seen again. But there is resistance. Tash's father belongs to a secret cell that tries to get information out to the wider world. But it's dangerous. And when, one day, a man self-immolates in her village as an act of protest, the Chinese authorities crack down hard. Full review...

Defender of the Realm: Dark Age by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

King Alfred the Second is still growing into his roles as King and Defender of the Realm. Just having defeated the Black Dragon at his coronation, Alfie is trying to focus on making less of a fool of himself in his day job, something the Prime Minister is keen to encourage as much as possible, when a new threat hits the Kingdom. The UK is being savaged by a hoard of undead Vikings, intent on causing as much trouble as possible, who have all been stirred up by Alfie's old History teacher, Professor Lock. But how do you kill something that's already dead? Alfie is trying to save the Kingdom by night, rule it by day and keep his family together, all the while knowing if he fails, we could be thrown into another dark age. Well, no one said being King would be easy. Full review...

Beards From Outer Space by Gareth P Jones

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

You might not realise it but Earth is under constant alien attack. Luckily we humans don't need to worry because the Pet Defenders (a secret society of our domestic pets) are always on standby to keep us safe. The activities of the Pet Defenders are normally kept secret but Stripes Publishing are kindly allowing human children a brief glimpse into their exciting adventures. In Beards From Outer Space we are able to read how a dog and cat – secret agents Biskit and Mitzy – team up to rid the world of an army of alien beards. Full review...

The Secret of the Wooden Chest (Roman Magic) by Catherine Rosevear

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Hannah lives with her parents in a flat above the nursing home where her mother is matron. Hannah is an only child and so she enjoys making friends with some of the home's residents. So when Mrs Oberto moves in, Hannah is keen to make her acquaintance - Hannah has never met anyone Italian before. Mrs Oberto is quite standoffish at first but Hannah persists and soon they are the best of friends. Mrs Oberto is particularly keen on helping Hannah with her school project about ancient Rome and relates many interesting stories about her Sicilian childhood. But she remains tight-lipped about the mysterious wooden chest, the key to which she keeps around her neck... Full review...

The Beautiful Game by Alan Gibbons

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Football is all about its colours. And even if I write in the season when one team in blue knocks another team in blue from the throne of English football, it's common knowledge that red is the more successful colour to wear. But is that flame red? Blood red? The red of the Sun cover banner when it falsely declared 96 Liverpool FC fans were fatally caught up in a tragedy – and that it had been one of their own making? And while we're on about colour, where were the people of colour in football in the olden days? There are so many darker sides to football's history it's enough to make a young lad question the whole game… Full review...

Lena Lenik S.O.S. by Bernard Ashley

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Lena's mother seems very ill. Scary noises are coming from the bathroom, she's off food and completely listless, complaining of the effort involved in sewing a patch onto a cub scout uniform. It might be a surprise to the young reader of this book when we learn what the reason is – certainly it was obvious from page two for me – but there are definitely more surprises to come. Mother makes a slightly unusual decision about her condition – leaving Lena with a lot on her plate when fate sets in with a surprise of its own… Full review...

Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle

3star.jpg Confident Readers

Dancing Paws of Magic offers us almost two related stories in one. Part One focuses on the problems that arise when the dancing cats of the Pusska Mogginsky Ballet Company go on strike. There is only one feline who can put things right but sadly the lepremog (the cat equivalent of a leprechaun) Galway O-Toot is dead, crushed by a falling wall. If the animal ballet is to be saved, the remaining members of the ballet company must work together to find his bones and restore his life even if this means taking on the Black Treacle Farm Gang. In Part Two, we move on to the long-awaited performance of The Sleeping Beauty. Here everything seems to be going just purr-fectly until the Black Treacle Farm Gang – including Gang Leader Bruiser Bumfluff – appear to get their revenge. Full review...

The Harder They Fall by Bali Rai

4.5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Cal loves comic books. He also dreams of being a superhero and saving the day while simultaneously winning the heart of the girl (Freya being the girl, hopefully). Batman is his favourite superhero. But Cal's world outside his daydreams is not particularly superhero-like. Because Cal is a bit of a geek and he is being bullied by mean girl Anu, who makes him complete homework assignments which she then sells on to lazy classmates. Still, it's not all bad. Cal's parents are lovely and the gorgeous Freya is making friendly overtures... Full review...

Family, Friends and Furry Creatures (Tom Gates) by Liz Pichon

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Tom Gates has got a problem: his shoes are making a noise. They sort of rasp when he walks, only he can't recreate the sound at home. At school it's a different matter: not only is the noise very loud, there are those of his classmates who suggest that it has originated from somewhere a little more, well, intimate. All in all it's not a good start to the day for Tom, particularly when he realises that he's also forgotten his baby photo for the latest school project. Class 5F are building their family trees and they've got to interview family members to get stories of their lives for the project. Full review...

Cheeky Charlie: Bugs and Bananas (My Crazy Brother Book 2) by Mat Waugh

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Cheeky Charlie has already had one book written about him and now he has another. His slapstick adventures are related once more by his sister Harry. I love Harry. Harry is by turn infuriated and amused by her brother Charlie. And Harry also brims over with enthusiasm. Full review...

Journey to Dragon Island (The Accidental Pirates) by Claire Fayers

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Two quests. Can the crew of the good ship Onion (don't ask) help their young friend Brine to find her home? And does the legendary island of dragons really exist or – a rather important point, this – if the ship keeps sailing west, will it just topple off the edge of the world? Of course, if you think a little thing like terrible peril and near-certain death should stop Captain Cassie and her shipmates from going wherever they fancy, then you're reading the wrong series. Full review...

New Jungle Book Adventures: Spirit of the Jungle by Bear Grylls

3star.jpg Confident Readers

This book is technically excellent but unfortunately it falls flat in the actual execution. Grylls uses trusted storytelling techniques such as the hero's journey and Chekov's Gun to produce a frame that should be engaging with the target audience but unfortunately it does not quite hit the mark. What we ultimately have is a great idea with some wonderful moments that never really recovers from a slow beginning. Full review...

Spudboy and Chip by David Windle

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Sticky Toffee Trifle flavour mashed potato. This one's a winner!

Er... ok then. Not.

Colin Sludge's parents run a fish and chip shop and it isn't doing so well. So Colin's mum is trying out new recipes to tempt in more customers and Colin's dad is using Colin as a guinea pig. The only problem is that Colin has eaten quite enough exotic mashed potato, thankyouverymuch. He's practically bursting with it. And the house is practically bursting with potato peelings, so it's no wonder that Colin slips and falls when he's taking them out to the garbage bins. Full review...

Flesh and Blood by Chris Priestley

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Families change in wartime – in size, if not any other way. Bill and Jane have already had to get used to their father being away to fight, and they've tried the evacuee experience, but are back in London – just in time for the Battle of Britain, which is a circumstance Bill hates Jane for, as he quickly grew to love the countryside, while Jane resisted the idea of them settling there, so they were returned to an allegedly safe capital. One night after a bombing raid they settle outside the neighbourhood's token empty, boarded up and deserted home – only for Bill to convince himself he hears someone inside. The unidentifiable and severely burnt child that gets rescued becomes a kind of new family member – but does this have anything to do with Bill's resent-filled wish for a brother to replace Jane? Full review...

The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Alberto is a carpenter, the very best in the town of Allora. But after the plague sweeps through the town, taking many of the citizens and Alberto's wife and children, he turns his skills away from furniture and toys to making coffins. Wrapped in sadness, and waiting only for the plague to come and claim his life too, Alberto lives alone, keeping company with the dead who are delivered to his house to await their coffin. One day, however, he realises that he must have a living visitor, as food starts to go missing. He begins to leave scraps of food, to try and discover who his mystery thief is… Full review...