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

Apr 26 2018

Face by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781408894989
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Martin Turner is good looking, funny, and the leader of his Gang of Three, which also includes his mates Matthew and Mark. He also has a girlfriend, Natalie, who he has even kissed. The four kids make up the main characters in the story, who are all aged about 15. The author writes the characters' speech using a lot of colloquial language that was popular at the time, circa 1985, including homie, guy, man, as terms of endearment and poxy, geezer as insults. This aspect of the novel felt a little stereotypical and didn't add a lot to the storyline.
Martin and his friends are out late one night at a dance party. Here, the reader will learn a little about the under-age drug problems of East London in the 1980s. When offered drugs from over-age sellers, the three lads decide to leave and are offered a lift by an ex-school friend. Unbeknownst to them, the driver is high and out of his mind on heroin; the vehicle is stolen and soon they are pursued by the police. Martin and his friends are all involved in a high-speed crash and he wakes two days later in hospital, suffering deep partial thickness (3rd degree) burns to his face.
The novel then takes on a different aspect. The author, having done a lot of research, writes about burns recovery and Martin's experiences with facial reconstructive and skin grafting surgeries. The language used here is descriptive and well-written, particularly Martin waking up after the accident and eventually looking in a mirror.
Martin's return to everyday life is well documented by the author. Martin works through his feelings of aggression with the help of a clinical psychologist, Alan. Martin begins to understand the idea of everyone managing grief and loss differently, despite the unfailing support of his family. His former friends withdraw; Mark leaves the gang to form a new one where he is the leader; Natalie, now seems vain and self-obsessed.
Most refreshingly, the author has found a way to write about discrimination that is outside of the norms. Martin learns to respond to tormentors and bullies by being honest - I'm still me / I'm not disabled / I can still do everything I did before. He rekindles his passions and interests and makes new friends who don't see him for the facial disfigurement. Readers will enjoy and celebrate as Martin finds his confidence and identity post-accident.
While I would recommend this novel for readers in secondary school, the content is appropriate for capable readers who are younger - 12/13 years.
Clare Thompson



More Reviews

Apr 26 2018

Bobo and Co. : Shapes by Nicola Killen

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Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781408880517
(Age: 2+) Recommended. Board book. This is the fun story of Bobo the panda and his friends as he explores the things around him and what shapes they are in a lift the flap book.
Bobo is celebrating his birthday, and his new tent is a...
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Apr 26 2018

Bobo and Co. : Opposites by Nicola Killen

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Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781408880500
(Age: 2+) Recommended. Board book. Bobo the Panda and all of his friends are exploring the concept of opposites in this lift the flap book. This is a simple story about opposites with great illustrations. It explores the concepts of in and...
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Apr 24 2018

Undercover by Mark Powers

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Ill. by Tim Wesson. Spy toys book 3. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408870907
(Ages 7-9) Themes: Toys. Spies. Espionage. Undercover is an action-adventure story in which a cast of misfit creatures, a doll, a teddy bear and robot rabbit join forces and return to solve a...
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Apr 23 2018

The poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2018. ISBN 9781405291460
(Age: Older teens) Highly recommended. Verse novel. The Poet X is a novel which grabs a reader by the heart and transports them into another world. Poet X takes us on an emotional, heart-rending journey through a tumultuous time in her...
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Apr 23 2018

Feed by M. T. Anderson

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Walker, 2018 (2002, 2012). ISBN 9781406345209
(Ages: 12+) Recommended. Themes: Dystopian fiction. Future. I reviewed this book on its rerelease in 2012, and said: "about to be released as a film, this republication of the award winning novel by American author, M. T. Anderson, Feed will...
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Apr 20 2018

Everless by Sara Holland

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Hachette, 2017. ISBN 9781408353622
(Age: 12+) Jules and her father are poor, not of money, but of time. In the world of Everless, payments are collected in the form of time, which is siphoned through blood. Through alchemy, this time and blood is bound to coins (the larger the coin, the...
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Apr 20 2018

Thunder Creek Ranch by Soya Spreen Bates

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Orca Books Publishers, 2013. ISBN 9781459801127
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Thunder Creek Ranch is a short story full of adventure. When Jake visits the neighbouring ranch, even though he knows he shouldn't, a chain reaction of events unfolds. Jake and his younger brother Tommy...
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Apr 20 2018

The 1,000 year old boy by Ross Welford

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Harper Collins, 2017. ISBN 9780008256944
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Youth; History-fiction; Friendship; Adventure. What if you never got old? What would you do if you were stuck as an 11 year old for 1000 years? For Alfie this is his life! The stories passed down through...
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Apr 20 2018

Ruby in the ruins by Shirley Hughes

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406375893
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Ruby in the Ruins is a beautifully illustrated story depicting life in the ruins of London after World War Two. The war is over and Ruby and her mum are eagerly awaiting the return of Ruby's dad, a soldier. Ruby...
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