Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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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...

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird

5star.jpg Teens

Omar is a twelve-year-old boy living in Bosra, Syria. He works two small jobs before and after school. He prefers the jobs to school. Omar dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur with a network of businesses to rule over. He's already developing a successful sales patter. Omar has a clever sister who wants to be a teacher, and a clever brother who few realise is clever because he has cerebral palsy and people can't see past his speech impediment. He has a father who works for the government, a mother who worries too much, a hypercritical granny and a couple of annoying younger siblings. Full review...

Alice Jones: The Ghost Light by Sarah Rubin

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Actors are superstitious creatures at the best of times, but it doesn't help that the cast (including Alice's twin Della) is rehearsing in a historic old theatre once ravaged by fire and haunted, so they say, by the ghost of a former leading lady. After a spate of inexplicable and apparently random accidents threaten the show Alice's sister insists she investigate and stop the culprit before someone is seriously hurt. But can it all be blamed on the shady businessman who wants to tear the place down and build a multi-plex instead, or is the explanation something a good deal more spooky? Full review...

St Grizzle's School for Girls, Goats and Random Boys by Karen McCombie

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Dani's mum is a zoologist which – according to Dani – means she's obsessed with penguins' bums. There are lots of penguins in Antarctica and it's, therefore, not surprising that Dani's mum can't turn down the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a three month expedition to study her beloved penguins in their natural habitat. But where does that leave Dani? Mum thinks it means sending Dani to a sensible boarding school for girls. Dani hates the idea and she hates the school even more when she arrives and discovers the new headteacher has made some rather unusual changes. Dani's convinced there is no way she'll ever fit in in a school where students run wild, where the receptionist barely speaks English, and where they have to remember to lock their dormitory door to keep out the resident goat. Full review...

What Not to Do If You Turn Invisible by Ross Welford

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Ethel. Yes, it's an old-fashioned name for such a young girl, but she has connections with the generations that came before, in that she lives with her gran in the far north-east of England. Mother dead, and dad long absent, it's them and the dog, and very little in the way of friendship, mostly because Ethel is not allowed to be as cool as she would wish, and because she has horrendous acne. The nearest thing to a friend would seem to be a boy in class who has allegedly awful BO, and obviously worse, is an Arsenal fan. So why are we meeting Ethel? Oh yes, it's because she woke up one morning, after trying a sunbed that had been offloaded on to her for free, to find she'd been on it well over an hour, and had in fact become totally invisible. Full review...

Star Wars Rogue One: Mission Files by Jason Fry

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Out of several books I've seen to tie-in to the seventh official cinema movie in the Star Wars universe, this – and the resulting review – is the greatest source of spoilers. What you get is a surprisingly mature look at the background and events to Rogue One for such a juvenile book, with some fine stills photographs, and a volume that introduces all the main characters and gears you up to understand and enjoy a lot of the events of the film. So if you don't want to know those in advance, look away now. But certainly consider this as a purchase for reading once you've watched it. Full review...

Amy Lee and the Darkness Hex by Amy Lee

3star.jpg Emerging Readers

Amy Lee wakes up from one of her usual dreams, where she combats an evil pirate. You would think that was the only nastiness in her life – she lives in a lovely place in the Land of Love, and doesn't have to worry about paying for steaks for her nine dogs, nor salmon for her cats. She can go to her favourite tree who will entertain her with a story, and she can go adventuring with her bottomless rucksack, and spend all day daydreaming of a wicked new house for her dogs… Until she sees threatening purple clouds over the forests. And not even in this fantasy world do you want to see purple clouds… Full review...

Radio Boy by Christian O'Connell

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Spike. There're two things he loves in life: Katherine Hamilton, the unattainable girl at school everyone does their best to warn him off, and radio. He is the youngest person volunteering for his local hospital station – he's read all the books and knows that's the best classroom to learn his trade in. But he's been sacked – the only listener recently was someone who'd died and not turned her radio off. Never mind, though, the horrid headmaster has always promised the school its own radio – but prime presenter will not be Spike, but the headmaster's own son, who is not only Katherine's squeeze but the biggest bully around. Is there any way for Spike to possibly get his lips to the mike and his talents on to the airwaves? Full review...

The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Tom and Ellie's parents have set sail around the world on a raft made of rubbish! They tell the children that they will be gone for three years, but it will go by very quickly and they'll be safe and happy in the company of Aunt Tab. But who is this strange lady who applied for the job of caring for two wonderful children and their cat, Whiskers? She doesn't seem to be the kind guardian that the children need, and why is everything in her house so very, very sticky? Full review...

Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet D.J. He's the odd one out in a family of talented prodigies. Whilst his siblings excel at music, arts, science and sport, D.J. isn't particularly good at anything. When D.J. discovers a boy who seems to have crash-landed to earth, things start to change. Suddenly, this very ordinary boy has the potential to be a real hero; especially when he discovers that his new friend is not the only thing that fell to earth that day... Full review...

Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer and Daniel Rieley

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Arthur. He's a young lad with a lot on his shoulders, and nearly all of it seems to come courtesy of his younger brother, Liam. Liam, you see, is on the autistic spectrum – at the colour marked rocking to and fro lots, face to the TV screen so Arthur can't see the football, and shrieking at the slightest sign of stress. Arthur for one stresses because of this situation, so is leaving home for good one day – with lucky charms in his pockets – when he nearly bumps into Mister P on their doorstep. Mister P is a tall, distinguished character, oddly bearing a small suitcase that smells of fish and has a label on it stating Arthur and Liam's address. Has he possibly come to stay? That would be weird. And what is even weirder, as of course the cover tells you, is that Mister P is a polar bear… Full review...

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...