Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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The Iliad (The Classics) by Rosemary Sutcliff and Alan Lee (illustrator)

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How do you retell the Iliad for the modern young reader? Do you, for example, have Helen of Troy but only imply, not state, that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships? Should you, as Rosemary Sutcliff does here, ignore all the important background detail and just let the story tell itself? How do you convey to the masses the mythical talent of a story that has lasted millennia, yet when it all comes down to it is just a lot of detail of people fighting, and fighting, and fighting? Full review...

The Eye of the Falcon (Gods and Warriors Book 3) by Michelle Paver

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It's been seven long months since Hylas and Pirra were separated in the wake of the devastating eruption of Thalakrea. The eruption was followed by tsunami and the coldest winter anyone can remember. There is no spring. No sun. Full review...

Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator)

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In the eyes of those who write proverbs, giving is as good as receiving. Similarly in the eyes of Paddington Bear, taking a test is as good as giving a test, for he is without equal in giving tests – to the patience of the Brown family who adopted him many years ago, principally. Other people he meets on a temporary basis in the course of his adventures – pantomime magicians, art school bosses, country house owners – have varying degrees of luck and ability in dealing with him, but it's the family he returns to each night that is put through a worrying mill so often, and still comes out loving him. But when he himself takes a test – well, the kind it actually is is best for you to discover yourself… Full review...

Paddington at Work by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator)

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You remember the stories of a bear called Paddington coming to London from darkest Peru – leaving his aunt Lucy behind in a retirement home in Lima? Once on these shores he met up with the Brown family, and then all hell broke loose. He blundered into one misfortune, made mistake after error after miscomprehension, and only barely got away with his marmalade sandwiches intact. Well, these are these same stories – but with a slight twist. This is the second coming of Paddington, as he is once again on a trans-Atlantic liner, returning this time from a holiday back home. Only, this time he will not quite reach London when the disturbing adventures of the bear and the Brown family are resumed… Full review...

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Rollercoaster Riot by Steven Butler

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Beanoland, Beanotown, is going to be the home of the world's most extreme rollercoaster, the Vomit Comet, and as he's a fan of all things extreme, scary and menacing, Dennis the Menace is determined to brighten up his current school term with an early ride on it. By an act of subterfuge during his latest detention he finds out the school is holding a competition to win the prize of being first in line at its grand opening. Surely this has Dennis's name all over it? Well, he thinks so – but then he doesn't yet know what he has to do to win the contest… Full review...

The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie

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Maisie doesn’t believe in ghosts. At least she didn’t until she started at her new school. Her dad has a new job working as the school caretaker and as Maisie stands at her new bedroom window one night she thinks she sees something or someone at one of the windows of the closed and empty school. On her first day the other girls tell her of rumours of a ghost of a long-gone girl who wanders the school corridors. Could this be the answer to the mysterious shape at the window? With the help of her new friend Kat, Maisie decides to find out more about the school ghost and solve the mystery. However her investigations unearth surprises that she could never have expected. Full review...

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

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A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.

This is the blurb on the back jacket of Apple and Rain and it sums up the book just perfectly. Full review...

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler

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Who doesn't dream at times of having a super-power? Suddenly being able to creep around without anyone knowing you're there, or to soar above the tree-tops with the birds? When you're an ordinary thirteen year old girl, going to an ordinary school, finding out that bits of you have started disappearing and reappearing must come as a bit of a shock, especially as it happens the first time right in the middle of a rather boring double geography lesson. Luckily Jessica has Izzy, who willingly helps her recover from the news and start to control the way she uses this new and exciting aspect of her life. And Izzy isn't even jealous, which, let's face it, is definitely the sign of a real, true friend. Full review...

Danger Is Everywhere: A Handbook for Avoiding Danger by David O'Doherty and Chris Judge

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Meet Docter Noel Zone. Yes, it's his spelling – safely making sure people don't think he is a real doctor. And safety is his first and foremost interest. After having to rescue too many people in his job as a swimming pool lifeguard – he banned all movement in and around the water as it was just too dangerous, after which however the people in the water started to drown – he made it safer for all concerned by removing the water. I'm sure he'd barricaded the diving board off long before – even in his own home he's removed the stairs as a safety risk. This book is his illustrated guide to playing it safe, in all aspects of life – from the hazmat suit needed to make toast to illustrating what you need to do when attacked by a polar bear or a toothbrush snake. Full review...

Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman

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Meet Alan Taylor. No, sorry – you'll have to look down if you want to. He's only 15.24 centimetres tall, but now you're looking down you can see the blue sparks that come off him when his electric muscles move him. Alan's a true gentleman born and (ginger)bread, but he's been tainted by money – a massive fortune the little gingerbread man carries around in a biscuit tin. He's of the impression that he needs to scatter his dosh around in order to make friends. Nobody else in their right mind in the town of Lamonic Bibber is of the same opinion, but two people who are certainly keen to be on the receiving end of the cash include the nasty Mr Gum – and he wants to receive it all through some evil robbery. What's more, he'll do it in the middle of Alan's impromptu party, complete with helicopter rides, a full fairground and the world's nastiest hot dog stand… Full review...

Aesop's Fables (The Classics) by Beverley Naidoo and Piet Grobler

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They're not Aesop's fables. They're ours. The stories have lasted for so many thousands of years, and have been told and retold both verbally and in print that they are of this earth and all upon it. So that when we realise we don't really know much about Aesop himself, it hardly matters. Basing this collection on the idea that he was of African ancestry, the creators give us a dozen or so short snappy tales, peopled with southern African nature and sensibility. The result is a vivid and bright guide to the moralistic little tales – that always felt African and not European in style, according to the introduction. Full review...

Tiger Moth by Suzi Moore

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Both Alice and Zack have had idyllic childhoods with wonderful homes and loving parents. However, out of the blue, they find their lives turned upside down. When Zack's dad dies, he is forced to leave his luxurious home and all his friends for a tiny cottage by the sea with his mum. With the grief at his loss still very much raw, he struggles to deal with the added difficulties that this move brings. Meanwhile, for Alice it is the arrival of a new life, namely a new baby sister, which has left her reeling. Fearing rejection from her adoptive parents in favour of a child of their own, she finds herself overwhelmed by a whirl of emotions too complicated for her to express in words, words that abandon her altogether as she loses her ability to speak. When the two tweens meet at a beautiful, secret beach, they not only find a place where they can get away from their angst, but also a friend with whom they can share their troubles and talk about the things that their parents simply don't get. Full review...

The Dangerous Discoveries of Gully Potchard by Julia Lee

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Gully never intended to get into trouble. At the beginning of our story he has a good job as a delivery boy and a safe, secure home with a loving family. But a single action can have a multitude of effects, and being forced by Nathan Boldree and his gang to take part in their latest scam soon has Gully fleeing his home. He takes refuge from the villains with his uncle on the Isle of Wight, but even there danger and menace pursue him. Full review...

The Girl Who Walked on Air by Emma Carroll

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I have been looking forward to reading this book for some time. Emma Carroll’s debut novel, Frost Hollow Hall, was one of my favourite children’s books of last year and I was delighted to discover that this is just as good. This is the exciting story of Louie and her hopes to become a circus star. Ever since she was abandoned as a baby at Chipchase's Travelling Circus, Louie has dreamed of becoming a 'Showstopper’ but Mr Chipchase only ever lets her sell tickets. However Louie has a talent as a tightrope walker and every morning she practises her act in secret watched by her little dog Pip. Can Louie find the courage to overcome the challenges that face her, defy Mr Chipchase and achieve her dream? Full review...

Jedi Academy 2: Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

There lived a boy called Roan Novachez who always dreamed of being a pilot like his big brother. Fate works in mysterious ways and poor Roan ended up at Jedi academy instead. His first year was full of drama and tween angst; trying to make friends, fit in, impress girls and avoid lightsaber-wielding bullies. Roan thinks this year is going to be different: This school year will definitely be the BEST YEAR EVER! Of course, nobody told Roan that when you make statements like that, you are just asking for trouble... Full review...

Hattie B, Magical Vet: The Dragon's Song (Book 1) by Claire Taylor-Smith

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Hattie's birthday is not going as well as she planned. Mum and Dad are busy at work, her teenage brother is ignoring her and her best friend has decided to go away for the weekend. Hattie is resigned to a morning of watching DVD's in her bedroom until a surprise knock at the door heralds the delivery of a very special gift that will change her life forever. Full review...

Jelly Baby by Jean Ure

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Flora, who is generally called 'Bitsy' and sometimes 'Jelly Baby' because she's well rounded, doesn't really know what it's like to have a mother. Mum died when she was two and only her elder sister, Emily, who's thirteen, has any real memory of her. Since then the girls have lived happily with Dad - the rather absent-minded Professor - and Aunt Cass. They've not really bothered about keeping the house tidy and things do get rather scruffy but it doesn't seem important until they're told that their father is bringing a girlfriend home. The girls are delighted. They want their father to be happy. Full review...

Wild Boy and the Black Terror by Rob Lloyd Jones

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In Victorian London, the city has been plunged into shock and confusion by a poisoner who strikes without trace, driving victims insane before killing them. Wild Boy and Clarissa, still hated and feared by much of the population, must try to avoid detection as they aim to solve the case and free the capital from the terror. Full review...

Buckle and Squash and the Monstrous Moat-Dragon by Sarah Courtauld

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In this story we have two sisters. There is Eliza, who dreams of being a swashbuckling hero, whilst her sister Lavender spends her time mooning over pictures of princes, hoping to become a real princess. One day Lavender gets kidnapped out in the forest by a rather dreadful villain, Mordmont. Will poor Lavender ever escape? Will Eliza get to be the hero? And what about these monstrous moat dragons?! Full review...

The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer

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My house is a mess, the laundry is piling up around me, my poor children haven't been fed and I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Chris Colfer. From the moment I opened the cover of his latest book, I have been spirited away to a magical land of fairies, elves, dragons and trolls and I'm afraid all of my mundane, everyday tasks and responsibilities have been sadly neglected ever since. Full review...

The Classic Adventures of Paddington by Michael Bond

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Some characters have stood the test of time and few would deny that accolade to Paddington, the bear from darkest Peru who now lives with the Browns at 32 Windsor Gardens, London. We've enjoyed him for over fifty years now and to celebrate the occasion eleven of the classic books have been collected in one, slipcase volume. All the stories are unabridged and accompanied by the gorgeous illustrations by Peggy Fortnum. Full review...

The Story of Matthew Buzzington by Andy Stanton

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Ten year old Matthew Buzzington was less than impressed when his father got a new, high-powered job and they had to move to the big city like IMMEDIATELY. It meant a new school, complete with a bully called Pineapple Johnson. (No. Sorry. You'll have to find out for yourself.) Matthew held on to one fact though - he knew that he had a superpower. He could turn himself into a fly. There's only one problem. It didn't work. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how he concentrated on thinking himself into being a fly, he was still a ten-year-old boy with curly hair and he was getting bullied. Then everything changed one night when Matthew, his four-year-old sister Bella and Pineapple Johnson were accidentally locked in the school one night. And burglars broke in. Full review...

S is for South Africa by Beverley Naidoo and Prodeepta Das

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Beverley Naidoo is best known for her award winning fiction for older readers but in this title in the World Alphabet series she brings her native country of South Africa to life for younger children. Starting with A for the Apartheid Museum and finishing with Zoo Lake in Jo’burg she covers many different aspects of life including traditions, food, landscape, animals, music and family life and each subject is accompanied by one of Prodeepta Das’s stunning photos. The poetic text flows and this would work well read aloud. Full review...

Shrinking Violet Absolutely Loves Ancient Egypt by Lou Kuenzler

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Shrinking Violet Absolutely Loves Ancient Egypt is the fourth instalment in the popular series about a tween girl who magically shrinks to the size of a doll whenever she gets excited. In her latest adventure, Violet's gran wins a trip to Egypt and decides to treat Violet, her surly sister Tiff and moody cousin Ant to a Nile cruise. The trip culminates in an archaeological dig at the mysterious 'Temple of the Cats', but when Ozzy the ship's cat goes missing, it is up to Violet and Gran to solve the mystery before it is too late for the unfortunate feline. Full review...

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

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It's hard not to be clumsy when you have to wear the big old boots you father left behind when he disappeared years ago – even if you do stuff them with fresh straw every day. But that doesn't stop eleven-year-old Rye O'Chanter and her two friends from getting up to all manner of mischief, from 'borrowing' a forbidden text from the Angry Poet to sneaking out at night to see the Black Moon festivities. Full review...

ZOM-B Clans by Darren Shan

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

Go on. Run along. Full review...

Dragon Shield by Charlie Fletcher

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"Dragons don't exist,"whispered Jo. But even those three short words sounded more like a wish than a statement of fact.

Something dark and sinister is going on at the British Museum. An ancient power has awoken and it has stopped time. People are frozen like statues. Only Will and his sister Jo are still moving. The only humans still moving, that is. The dragons are moving. They're spitting real fire, too. And they're attacking Will and Jo. A glorious golden girl comes to their rescue, followed by an angel and a muse. And Will and Joe are plunged into a world where statues are alive and where good battles evil. Why are they still moving? Who is behind the stopping of time? And will they ever get Mum back? Full review...

Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

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Wonderful, wonderful story about a lonely boy, his agoraphobic mother and building-eating plants. That could never work, right? Wrong! It's a must read and you won't ever have read anything quite like it before. Full review...