ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Dec 12 2017

Refugee boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408894996
(Age: 13+) On the disputed border of the African countries Eritrea and Ethiopia, armed militants from both sides terrorise villagers for being from the other nation. Teenager Alem has an Ethiopian father and an Eritrean mother and his family literally has nowhere to go because of the hatred and intolerance soldiers from each nation show for the citizens of the other.
Naively thinking that he is going on holiday, Alem accompanies his father to England where he enjoys the marvels of London for a couple of days before he wakens in their hotel room to find his father gone. In a desperate bid to ensure his son's safety, Alem's father had abandoned him and returned to his border village, in the hope that Alem might be granted refugee status.
Whilst Alem experiences an understandable sense of bewilderment and loneliness, he is remarkably resilient and mature for his years and stoically endures the trials of his predicament, trusting in his father and British civil service.
Placed into a refuge for teenagers, Alem finds himself alone amongst boys who appear to be a mixture of young offenders and orphans, inevitably becoming a target for moronic bullies who derive pleasure from domination through violence.
Alem endures this hardship and struggles to understand mindless behaviour and careless attitudes to education and self-improvement at the school he attends. Coming from an austere background in a dysfunctional country, Alem has high expectations of British society and experiences disappointment when he realises that some citizens have no awareness of their good fortune.
Eventually Alem's personal circumstances improve when he is placed with a loving foster family whose only desire is to ensure his happiness and safety. Sadly, letters from his father confirm a rapidly deteriorating situation at home and he lives in constant fear for his parents.
This revealing story explains the difficulties faced by both refugees and those public servants and legal adjudicators whose task it is to determine who deserves asylum and who must be repatriated. As with other stories dealing with similar situations, I could not help feeling a sense of despair that so much trauma is caused by religious, political and territorial disputes. So many people are currently displaced in the world that it seems unlikely they will be granted asylum anywhere safe. This novel considers the role of advocates, protesters, lawyers and the judiciary in dealing with a situation which is often presented too simplistically by both sides of the debate.
Rob Welsh



More Reviews

Dec 11 2017

A cold case in Amsterdam Central by Anja de Jager

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Constable, 2017. ISBN 9781472120649
(Age: Secondary to adult) Recommended. Themes: Crime. Amsterdam. Cold case. World War Two. Sympathisers. This is a wonderful concoction of a crime thriller set in a totally different environment, Amsterdam, with its canals, polders and...
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Dec 11 2017

Ultimate Lego Star Wars

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DK, 2017. ISBN 9780241288443
(Ages: 8+) In 1999 the first LEGO Star Wars sets were released and since then the collaboration has continued to grow. This is a definitive, unrivalled encyclopaedic guide to every LEGO Star Wars minifigure or set ever produced. Each of the three main...
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Dec 11 2017

The birthday invitation by Lucy Rowland and Laura Hughes

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408862995
(Age: Junior primary) Recommended. Who would believe that losing just one birthday invitation could lead to such surprising results? Who will catch the invitation that Ella dropped? A wizard, a princess, even a pilot flying high above.
Planning a...
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Dec 11 2017

Pick a pine tree by Patricia Toht

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Ill. by Jarvis. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406360608
"Pick a pine tree from the lot -
Slim and tall or short and squat.
Long, straight limbs
Or branches bent . . . .
Mmm! Just smell that piney scent!" Publisher
I absolutely loved this picture book. It bought...
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Dec 11 2017

A Christmas wish by Beatrix Potter

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Puffin, 2017. ISBN 9780241291757
Board book. It's Christmas Eve and Peter Rabbit and his sisters are excited, but Peter is worried too. They have all wished for a special present but Peter can't sleep, and he knows Father Christmas won't visit if he's still awake. As the hours drag by...
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Dec 11 2017

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R M Romero

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406375633
(Age: 10+) "In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope."
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange...
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Dec 08 2017

I hate everyone but you by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760631482
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. A modern coming-of-age novel written through a series of emails and text messages, I hate everyone but you tells the story of best friends Ava and Gen, who are starting their first year of college on opposite...
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Dec 08 2017

The start of me and you by Emery Lord

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Bloomsbury 2017. ISBN 9781408888377
(Age: 12+) Recommended. A new year, a new plan, a new start. Grief is hard, no matter what, but it can be more complex when you're grieving for someone you hardly knew. Paige's first boyfriend died in a swimming accident leaving her to deal with her...
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Dec 08 2017

Ali-A adventures. Game on by Alastair Aiken and Cavan Scott

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Lead artist: Aleksandar Sotinovski. Puffin Books, 2017. ISBN 9780141388168
(Age: Primary - Lower secondary) Recommended. Themes; computer games, aliens, superheroes. Ali-A is attending a gaming convention with his dog, Eevie and partner Clare, reporting to his online fan base of gamers....
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Dec 08 2017

Father Christmas's Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

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Doubleday, 2017. ISBN 9780857535504
Christmas and Christmas stories are a little bit different in the mind and hands of master storyteller Terry Pratchett. Instead of the usual, sometimes twee, tales of reindeer, helpful elves and generous children this collection has a huge exploding...
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Dec 06 2017

This mortal coil by Emily Suvada

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Penguin 2017. ISBN 9780141379272
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. When the plague breaks out and all hell breaks loose Cat thinks she is safe enough living with her father, a genius gene-hacker, and his assistant, Dex. But everything changes when Cartaxus, the organisation responsible for...
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Dec 05 2017

Learning to swear in America by Katie Kennedy

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Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2016. ISBN 9781619639119
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Minor sexual references. Katie Kennedy's gripping first novel brings the reader a suspenseful, compelling yet touching story. Learning to Swear in America follows the trials of Yuri Strelnikov, a...
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Dec 05 2017

Provenance by Ann Leckie

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Orbit Books, 2017. ISBN 9780356506968
(Age: Adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Science fiction, Coming of age, Power, Sibling rivalry, Theft, Alien culture. Ingray, in a desperate bid to outwit her brother and impress her mother the Netano, frees a thief from Compassionate Removal, a...
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Dec 05 2017

Saving Marty by Paul Griffin

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Text Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925498868
(Age: 10-12) Themes: Friendship, Family Life, Pets, Music. Saving Marty is an honest story of family life, love, friendship and sacrifice. Eleven year old Lorenzo Ventura has a difficult life, physically he's over six feet tall and 250...
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Dec 05 2017

Hugo makes a change by Scott Emmons

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Ill. by Mauro Gatti. Flying Eye Books, 2017. ISBN 9781911171218
(Age: 3-5) Themes: Diet and Nutrition, Vampires. Hugo the vampire is a carnivore, he's 'crazy for red, juicy meat!' After dark, he prowls through town looking for a meal. He' a hungry young creature with only one thing on...
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Dec 05 2017

The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse by Nicholas Gannon

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Greenwillow, 2017. ISBN 9780062320971
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Good and Evil, Adventure stories, Friendship. Nicholas Gannon's beautifully crafted sequel The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse brings Archer's infamous explorer grandparents' home after a lengthy and mysterious...
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Dec 05 2017

A jigsaw of fire and stars by Yaba Badoe

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Head of Zeus, 2017. ISBN 9781786697981
(Age: 13+) Themes: Magical Realism, African folklore, Human trafficking, Resilience. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a fast-paced present tense narrative told from fourteen year old Sante Williams' point of view. As a baby she was tucked in...
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Dec 04 2017

Timeless : Diego and the rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar

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Harper Collins, 2017. ISBN 9780008258955
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. What would the world look like if the past, present and future collided together? Timeless : Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic describes that world in words and approximately 150 beautifully executed...
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Dec 04 2017

I went to see Santa by Paul Howard

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408844724
It's a classic scenario of little ones and their need to be just that bit better than their friend. So when the little girl announces that she went to see Santa and got a pair of Christmas glasses, her friend says well he not only got Christmas...
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Dec 03 2017

Snow penguin by Tony Mitton

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Ill. by Alison Brown. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408862957
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Penguins, Antarctica, Adventure, Exploration. In the Antarctic, one little penguin decides to explore his surrounds. He leaves the warmth of his family, and looks outward, standing on a piece of...
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Dec 03 2017

What's going on down there?: A boy's guide to growing up by Karen Gravelle

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Ill. by Robert Leighton. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781681193618
Recommended. Themes: Sex; Growth and Development. This is a very simply written, down-to-earth explanation of the growth and development that occurs during puberty, focusing on the circumstances for boys. It does also include...
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Dec 03 2017

Toto: The dog-gone amazing story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo

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Ill. by Emma Chichester Clark. Harper Collins Children's books, 2017. ISBN 9780008134600
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy tale; Home; Kindness; Resilience. Michael Morpurgo has added his wonderful skills to retell the story of Dorothy and Toto and the Wizard of Oz. Told...
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Dec 01 2017

I want to be in a scary story by Sean Taylor

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Ill. by Jean Jullien. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406363463
Ages: 3 - 7) Highly recommended. Picture Book. Little Monster is the cute, purple coloured cartoon character of this tale. The text spoken by LM is in matching purple. He clearly loves stories and announces to the narrator that...
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Nov 29 2017

The last girl by Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski

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Virago, 2017. ISBN 9780349009759
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. The Yazidi people are a religious minority group living primarily in a northern province of Iraq. Because they worship a fallen angel, Melek Taus, the peacock angel, they have been branded devil...
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Nov 29 2017

The Creakers by Tom Fletcher

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Penguin, 2017. ISBN 9780141388762
(Age: 10+) Recommended. "What silently waits in the shadows at night? What's under your bed, keeping just out of sight? Do you ever hear strange, creaking noises at night? Ever wonder what makes those noises? Lucy Dungston always did. Until, one morning,...
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