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

Oct 22 2019

Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw

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David Fickling Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781788450010. 422p.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Themes: Dystopian fiction, Survival, Dogs. Opening with a daring escape from a horrible school for children, Outwalkers finds Jake, a 12 year old boy, on the run from the authorities. Set in a dystopian England, where everyone is microchipped and there is a threat of catching a killer virus, Jake sets out to find his dog Jet and a home. Then he encounters the Outwalkers, a gang of young people who are also on the run from the government system, and together they go on a massive adventure, travelling from one end of England to another in their quest to get to Scotland and freedom.
This was a gripping read with a setting in a future England that to an adult felt eerily real and plausible as the government microchipped their citizens and watched them non-stop, controlling their actions and imprisoning children in so called Academies that were like detention centres.
Jake is the central character in the story and his love for his dog Jet is a highlight of the story and adds a touch of poignancy as he tries his best to struggle through the nightmare of his world and work out who to trust. The portrayal of Swift carefully carrying her sick sister Cass, and the picture of the motherly Martha, the strong Poacher, twitchy Davie and young cook Ollie, all make this gang come alive and the reader is invested in the survival of all of them. Each contributes a special skill to help the gang move from safe house to safe house and forage enough food to eat.
Children will read it as a gripping adventure and survival story with its motley crew of young people vividly drawn. Readers will also identify with the loyalty and determination that the gang needs to keep going on their dangerous quest for freedom.
A small window for a possible sequel at the end left me hoping for another novel from Shaw.
Pat Pledger



More Reviews

Oct 22 2019

Slay by Britney Morris

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Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9781444951721.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Themes: Computer games, Virtual reality, Black power, Cyberbullying. Teenage college student, Kiera has created her own original computer game, 'Slay', built around black heroes and familiar concepts in black American culture....
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Oct 22 2019

Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla by John Cena

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Illus. by Howard McWilliam. Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9781524773533.
(Age: 3-10) Brightly coloured illustrations draw the reader into this picture book depicting five monster truck brothers competing in a demolition derby against Motozilla, 'that gnarly monster who turns trucks into crunch...
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Oct 22 2019

Elbow Grease by John Cena

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Illus. by Howard McWilliam. Penguin Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9781760894658.
(Age: 3-8) Board Book. Themes: Monster Trucks, Persistence, Determination. This is the board book edition of the same title published in 2018. The series features five monster truck brothers: Flash is all about...
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Oct 18 2019

Guinness World Records 2020

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Guinness World Records Ltd., 2019. ISBN: 9781912286812.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Records. Once again the Guinness World Records team has brought together a fabulous collection of fascinating, weird and wonderful records with something for everyone. In 11 chapters, including...
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Oct 16 2019

Africa, amazing Africa: Country by country by Atinuke

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Illus. by Mouni Feddag. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406376586.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Themes: Africa, Geography, Climate, Animals. Every page is full of colour and fascinating information in this highly readable account of the 55 or so states in the continent of Africa. Divided...
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Oct 16 2019

Akin by Emma Donoghue

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Picador, 2019. ISBN: 9781529019971.
(Age: Adolescent - Adult) Recommended. This beautifully written narrative takes us into the world of Noah Selvagio, an older man faced with a challenge that is unexpected. His decision to agree to guardianship of his young great-nephew, Michael, a boy...
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Oct 16 2019

In the forest by Nancy Bevington

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(Age: 0-3) Board Book. Themes: Forests. This is one in a new series for babies called Can you find? (others are Under the ocean, At the beach, On the farm). Nancy's previous titles have included the ZenTails and Mad Dog the chef series. In this book,...
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Oct 16 2019

On the farm by Nancy Bevington

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Can you find? series. New Frontier Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925594362.
(Age: 0-3) Board Book. Themes: Farms. This is one in a new series for babies called Can you find? (others are Under the ocean, In the forest, At the beach). Nancy's previous...
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Oct 15 2019

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

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Argyll Productions, 2019. ISBN: 9781614505006. 174p.
(Age: 13-Adult) Recommended. Themes: Magic, Drought, Coming of age. Oliver is a minor mage with the ability of being able to cast only a few spells, including the ability of tying shoelaces together and a pushme pullme spell. He is...
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Oct 14 2019

Step sister by Jennifer Donnelly

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Hot Key Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781471407970.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fairy tale retelling, Stepsisters, Bullying, Redemption, Feminism. I'm very fond of the retelling of fairy tales and this one kept me reading to finish it in a couple of sittings. Award winning author...
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Oct 14 2019

A different land by Paul Jennings

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Illus. by Geoff Kelly. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760528720. 128 pg.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Resilience, Migration, Courage, Loneliness, Humour. Standing on the platform watching a steam train pull away but with no one there to meet them, Mum (Pat), her son...
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Oct 11 2019

Return of the Temujai by John Flanagan

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Brotherband, book 8. Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780143785941.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Action; Adventure; Conflict; Teamwork. John Flanagan writes with an amazing flair for tension and action-adventure stories for young adults who have grown up on video-game...
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Oct 11 2019

If you're out there by Katy Loutzenhiser

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Balzer + Bray, 2019. ISBN: 9780062865670. 320p. Hbk.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Mystery, Romance, Social media. An engrossing story featuring female friendship and a mystery is sure to engage both fans of suspense and those who like a romance. Zan is devastated when her...
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Oct 11 2019

The adventures of Anders by Gregory Mackay

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760632076.
(Age: 7+) This large book contains the first three graphic novels about Anders and his friends, by author and illustrator Gregory Mackay celebrating friendship, adventure and creativity. In the first,...
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Oct 10 2019

Give me back my bones! by Kim Norman

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Illus. by Bob Kolar. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406384932. 40pp., hbk.
A stormy night and the fast-flowing ocean current has uncovered and scattered the pirate's skeleton all over the seabed and he is desperate to put himself back together. And with clever language and a rollicking...
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