Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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The Matchbox Mysteries (Wings and Co 4) by Sally Gardner and David Roberts

4star.jpg Confident Readers

This was my first introduction to the Wings & Co fairy detective agency. It's certainly the sort of book I really should have come across sooner since it's wonderfully odd! With Emily working alongside of Fidget, the talking cat, as well as a lot of keys and an overly talkative, egotistic magic lamp this isn't the sort of book you read as a bedtime story and drift off half way through! In this book there is trouble in Podgy Bottom. Someone is stealing cars, shrinking them down into a matchbox, and there is also a crazy purple bunny and a troublesome broomstick. Will the detective agency be able to figure out what on earth is going on? Full review...

The Queen Alone (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn

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Katie is back, and once more she's back in Victorian England. This time, however, she isn't quite sure who called her back in time or for what purpose and, unfortunately, something went wrong as she came and she brought someone else along with her! In the final episode of the Chronicles of the Tempus we see Katie trying to save Prince Albert's life, trying to prevent Britain messing up the outcome of the American Civil War, and rescuing Queen Victoria from an asylum! Full review...

PathFinder (TodHunter Moon Book One) by Angie Sage

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Twelve year old Alice TodHunter Moon, who prefers to be known as Tod, is a Pathfinder, a member of a fishing tribe with a mythical history of travelling across the stars. She lives a nice life in her Pathfinder community until her father, her only surviving parent, doesn’t come back from a fishing trip and Tod is left alone with her horrid step-aunt Mitza. Full review...


The Brockenspectre by Linda Newbery

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Tommi lives up in the mountains with his parents and his baby sister. Mamma is artistic and paints beautiful designs on chairs and stools and planters for tourists to buy. Pappi is a mountain guide and Tommi's hero - brave and fearless and a lover of his wild mountain home. Tommi wants nothing more than to be like Pappi. But things aren't peaceful at home. Pappi is only truly happy by himself, out amongst the peaks. After just a day or two at home without guiding work, he becomes irritable and critical of Mammi and his children.

After an argument one day, Pappi strides out of the house and onto the mountain. And he doesn't return. Full review...


The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig by Emer Stamp

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Hello.

I is Pig and I has one book out already. In it I tells you in diary form about how I ends up on a spaceship that EVIL CHICKENS make out of a tractor. I cannot speak human but I knows the bookbag really likes my first book. So now I has a second. In the past I has problems with an evil farmer who wants to put me in a pie but now all I has is happiness and peace. I even has a new best friend called Kitty the Cat. But my old best friend Duck is telling me Kitty is not the best new best friend I can have. How is Duck right and how is I wrong? Full review...


The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

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The upside to being forgotten by everybody the minute they lose sight of you is that it makes stealing things pretty easy. The down side is that you never have a friend, you never have someone to turn to if you are sad or sick, and maybe worst of all you never, ever, see a face light up with recognition as you approach. Of course it means you can say and do absolutely anything you like, because it will be forgotten immediately, but then, why bother? In five seconds from now, who's going to care? Full review...

Awful Auntie by David Walliams

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Stella Saxby is the sole heir to her family home, Saxby Hall, but when her awful Auntie Alberta decides she wants it for herself, what will happen to her? Find out in this excellently written, funny, yet poignant and wonderfully sinister book by the brilliant David Walliams. Full review...

The Illustrated Old Possum by T S Eliot and Nicolas Bentley

4star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

This title is clearly of importance to the house of Faber. To this day their puff mentions it was one of their first childrens' books, after the author sent his publisher's son, his godson, some writings based on jellicle cats and some of their scrapes. It's clearly a book that's important to Andrew Lloyd Webber, too, but we'll gloss speedily over that. It's a book that was important to me as well – I certainly had a copy, a thin, barely illustrated, old-fashioned style paperback of it once I had seen the musical. And with the excellent writing here and the ability of it to delight so many people of so many ages, it has the power to be important to a future generation. Full review...

Nonsense Limericks (Faber Children's Classics) by Edward Lear and Arthur Robins (illustrator)

4.5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

There was a young man whose critique
Of this book was submitted one week
When they asked 'Was it fine?'
He said 'No denyin' –
'There's very little here they could tweak!' Full review...

Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole

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Shoot to Kill may be the sixth Young Bond in the series, but it is the first to be written by Steve Cole. He has taken over the reins from the highly capable Charlie Higson. Like the adult Bond books, the character has seen many people write about him since Ian Fleming’s death, so there is no reason to think the quality would suddenly drop after a new author comes on board. In fact, Cole is able to inject a little more energy into a series that was starting to flag. Full review...

Ballet Stories by Margaret Greaves and Lisa Kopper

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As a young dancer, I had a whole library of books about ballet, from positions to biographies to, at one point, the RAD syllabus for grades 1 to 5. Never mind that we didn't follow RAD, I wanted it. What was lacking, however, was a full on proper book of classic ballet stories, the tales behind all the famous dances. Preferably told in an engaging way, with beautiful pictures. Like this book. Full review...

The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant (illustrator)

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The hyrax is so angry he could tear his hair out, for the sun sets every evening and doesn't pay any attention to the hyrax's daily request for it to stick around. There's an elephant who berates himself every time he tries to climb a tree - and gets too excited about managing it when he's too dangerously close to the top. The hedgehog tries writing I am angry down on a piece of bark to try and make it come true - and indeed does get cross at the consequences. All these odd little tales feature the same emotion, and both them and their collective subject matter make for what is definitely a unique little read. Full review...

Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

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When the author of a book is also the illustrator, and he has a wild and thoroughly silly imagination, it's not surprising if that book is swiftly turned into a highly successful film. This story, part of the Ratsbridge Chronicles, is a lively and wondrously eccentric tale of greedy villains bent on revenge, brave and resourceful heroes of all shapes and sizes, and brilliant (if occasionally sinister) Heath-Robinson-style devices. Full review...

Thunderbirds Comic: Volume 1 by Gerry Anderson and Frank Bellamy

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet the Thunderbirds. If you don't know anything about the Tracy family and their International Rescue organisation, then I'm not sure where you've been. For people of a certain age (OK, mine, at least) they were the staple of Saturday morning cinema clubs, a highlight of BBC2 when repeated teatime, and even managed to make those 3D rotating card-a-vision things worthwhile. They've been in cinemas since then, of course, but now with the world needing everything everywhen we've got a welcome chance to look back at some of the original comic book spin-offs, that probably haven't been much seen since then. With five volumes of these books on the cards, it's worthwhile sticking to the first and seeing just what these retro delights – or otherwise – could bring. Full review...

The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett

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Rudger is Amanda's imaginary friend. She found him in her wardrobe one morning and they've been inseparable ever since. Amanda's mother is quite accepting of Rudger, Amanda's friends less so. Amanda took him to school with her once but the trip wasn't a huge success so now the pair hang out by themselves, taking voyages of adventure in Amanda's garden, in her bedroom and under the stairs in Amanda's house. It's while exploring a complex of dark and dingy caves under the stairs - what on earth could be in a cupboard under the stairs other than a complex of caves? - that the doorbell rings and Mr Bunting appears. Full review...

The Hero Pup by Megan Rix

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Christmas is going to be tough for Joe this year. It's going to be the first without his dad; a brave soldier who died in the line of duty. Before then, he has the more immediate issue of facing his friends when he returns to school. They are bound to ask him lots of awkward questions about his dad and he's not feeling ready to open up to people just yet. Luckily, Mum has an idea that will help them both perform a fitting tribute to dad, whilst giving Joe something worthwhile to focus on: they decide to adopt and train a helper pup who will eventually assist an injured soldier in need. Full review...

Doctor Who: 12 Doctors 12 Stories by Malorie Blackman, Holly Black and others

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How long do you keep your birthday presents for? A week, a month, a year – or life? Is that time-scale different, perhaps, when you're nearly a thousand years old? I only ask because Doctor Who is, of course, both 51 (in our earthly, televisual representation) and 900 and more in human years as a character. In 2013 we were given a great book that gave us a story for every Doctor Who we've seen on TV, in honour of the 50th birthday proceedings. But now is a year on, and we're a further Doctor down the line. And so what was '11 Doctors, 11 Stories' is now '12 Doctors, 12 Stories'. So while many of us would have cherished and kept said birthday present, the only addition is the last, which like the rest was available as an e-book. So it's worth revisiting what I said about the book last time, then chucking in the (what might only be temporarily) concluding story at the end. Full review...

Rugby Academy: Combat Zone by Tom Palmer

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Woody's dreams were about football: he wanted to play for his country one day, but there was a snag. His father was a fighter pilot - and his squadron was going to war - but as Dad was a single parent Woody had to go to a boarding school for armed forces kids. That's enough of a change for any boy, but there's an even bigger one which Woody has to contend with. At Borderlands they don't play football. They're mad about rugby. It's almost a religion. How will Woody cope with boarding schools and rugby? How will he manage the constant knowledge that his father is in a combat zone? Full review...

The Girl With The Sunshine Smile by Karen McCombie

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Everyone knew Meg as the girl with the sunshine smile. She always looked pretty and happy and her mother used her in her business to model bridesmaid's dresses. They had a lovely little flat which was always neat as a new pin and Meg thought that life was perfect. Then her mother met Danny - and everything changed. Danny was the single father to four boys and they all lived on a houseboat. A messy houseboat. With no lock on the bathroom door. And when there was a flood at Mum's flat they had to move in with Danny and the four boys. That was when Meg stopped smiling. Full review...

The Odd Squad: King Karl by Michael Fry

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Nick, Molly and Karl have come through a lot of things together since forming Safety Patrol - often with the help of Shakespeare-quoting janitor Mr Dupree. But when the mysterious MLEZ, who run the school, want Karl to join them, Nick and Molly have to start thinking about ways to stop him - because Karl in charge is a frankly terrifying prospect. Full review...

Les Miserables by Marcia Williams

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An ex-convict who lapses into crime again even in the face of the greatest charity... A policeman bent on outing a man from his past, whatever the human consequences… A girl growing up under the loving eyes of a suitor while being totally unaware of her background of poverty and misfortune… Yes, meet the original and real story of Les Miserables, but presented as you've probably never seen it before – told in an all-ages comic strip version, with bright colours and much intricate detail from the pen of Marcia Williams. Bear with us and see how the new version compares to the original. Full review...

The Snow Leopard (Mini Edition) by Jackie Morris

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You probably haven't heard of Mergichans – although if you pronounce it correctly in your head, in connection with spirits and magic, you will work out what they are. One of them is the totem, if you like, of a hidden Himalayan valley, and she is in the form of a snow leopard, singing existence as she sees fit and protecting the Shangri-La type location. But she cannot protect it from all-comers, least of all when she's trying to sing to find a successor. Mergichans do not have it all their own way… Full review...

Mountwood School for Ghosts by Toby Ibbotson

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You've met people like the Great Hagges. Broad in the beam, determined and strident, they subdue petty officials with a single look and ensure everything around them is neat and tidy and well-planned. They're often to be found in the caring professions, but don't be fooled: they are not kind, or gentle, or sensitive to other people's feelings - not even the teeniest little bit. They just don't like mess. Full review...

The Parent Agency by David Baddiel

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Barry likes football (especially if Lionel Messi's playing), James Bond and lists. He doesn't like his two sisters, who tease him mercilessly and get away with all sorts of meanness right under his parents' noses. All his mates have cool names and even cooler parents, and their tenth birthday parties were amazing. His family, on the other hand, just can't manage the simplest thing he asks of them. He knows they're not well off, and he doesn't blame them for that, exactly, but going up to double figures is a big deal and deep in his heart he really does feel they could make a bit more effort. Well, actually, a lot more effort. Full review...

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

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Living in Edwardian England, Opal Plumstead is a fiercely intelligent girl. She has already won a scholarship to a public school and dreams of going to university. But all her ambitions are snatched away when her father is sent to prison and Opal is forced to abandon her education for a job in the Fairy Glen sweet factory. The other workers there find Opal snobby and arrogant but the factory's owner, Mrs Roberts, notices her artistic talent and treats Opal as a protege. Through Mrs Roberts, Opal learns about the suffragette movement and even meets the legendary Mrs Pankhurst. Full review...

Knightley and Son: K9 by Rohan Gavin

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Young fans of Sherlock Holmes will be happy to see this, the second in the series devoted to the tweed-wearing teenage detective. Together with his father (well, more or less: the poor man slips into a semi-coma whenever he gets stressed), his clever and resourceful sister and his beloved dog Wilbur, Darkus is soon hot on the trail of the mysterious dogs, which hunt in pairs and are strong enough to tear a man's throat out. If the creatures are indeed just dogs, that is . . . Full review...

Big Fat Christmas Book (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary and Martin Brown

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I was reading Terry Deary before he even started writing the ‘Horrible History’ franchise. It seems that as I grew out of children’s non-fiction just as he exploded in popularity, selling millions of books in the series and even spawning a successful TV show (that I admit to watching). It has been years since the first Horrible History book, but they are still popular enough to produce an annual of sorts, but is this a case of annual horribilis? Full review...

Lucky by Chris Hill

3star.jpg Confident Readers

Does enjoyment of a book depend on whether it measures up to expectations? As readers, our initial impressions of a publication are based entirely on the blurb and cover art, although there are plenty of instances where the content doesn't do justice to either. In some cases, it can be a good thing; a book may be a lot better than first expected. However, when the story is completely different to the one that you hoped for, it can leave a somewhat bitter after-taste. My daughter requested Lucky after seeing the cute cover art and reading the blurb about a little red squirrel trying to save the park. She is a big fan of Holly Webb animal stories and was hoping that this would be written in a similar style. Full review...

ZOM-B Family by Darren Shan

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REPEATING STANDARD WARNING! If you haven't read the first book in this series, STOP READING NOW! NOW! Spoilers ahoy! Full review...

The Winter Wolf by Holly Webb

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Amelia should be looking forward to spending Christmas with her older cousins, but she can't help feeling overwhelmed. The house that they are staying in is big and foreboding and she is very small for her age. Even worse than that, her cousins have a HUGE dog that seems to seek her out at every opportunity. Can't they understand that she is terrified of dogs and just leave her alone? Full review...