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

Jan 18 2019

Shadow of the centaurs: an Ancient Greek mystery by Saviour Pirotta

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Ill. by Freya Hartas. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN: 9781472940254.
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: Ancient Greece, Mystery. Saviour Pirotta's fourth book in the Ancient Greek Mysteries series is a lively tale of mystery and celebration. In Shadow of the Centaurs the citizens of Athens are preparing for the festival of Anthesteria to honour Dionysus the god of wine and to celebrate the beginning of spring. Pirotta's attention to detail from clothing, architecture, food, daily life, even conversations about politics, class structure and religion bring the Ancient Greek world alive.
Told through young Nico's eyes, a free man who scribes for Master Ariston the travelling poet, he and his friend Thrax who is the poet's personal slave quickly become involved in a small mystery. Thrax's deductive powers and his careful observations have assisted in solving of other mysteries and he's asked by Master Zeno the gym master to unravel the problem of his stolen dog. When the boys visit his house, Thrax comments on the gruesome floor mosaic depicting a battle between soldiers and centaurs. When the boys return late at night to investigate why the little dog who always barks at strangers was stolen then returned, they discover a hidden secret under the mosaic floor. Soon they come upon a plot to assassinate Pericles the general of Athens and they become deeply embroiled in searching for the evil people behind this. Thrax mysteriously disappears, his cloak found supposedly torn by a lion and Nico even succumbs to an extreme bout of food poisoning. With the help of street urchins and other members of their secret Medusa League Thrax and Nico sneak into the festival at the Acropolis and perform one of their greatest feats.
Shadow of the Centaur is a wonderful historical representation of ancient Athens, filled with recognisable figures like Socrates and Pericles. Pirotta addresses the role of women in society, the structure of the classes and opens the reader's eyes to a new world. Readers who love historical mysteries will enjoy these junior novels and can quickly refer to the glossary and learn about everything from agoras - meeting places to tympanums - tambourines. What a valuable resource for teaching Upper Primary History researching the roles of key groups in Athenian society!
Rhyllis Bignell



More Reviews

Jan 18 2019

The Boy by Tami Hoag

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Broussard and Fourcade book 2. Trapeze, 2018. ISBN: 9781409169635.
(Age: Adult - senior secondary) Recommended. Themes: Mystery and suspense, Detectives, Death, Domestic violence, Children at risk, Bullying. As a fan of Tami Hoag, I grabbed The boy as soon as it arrived on...
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Jan 18 2019

The extraordinary life of Michelle Obama by Sheila Kanani

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Ill. by Sarah Walsh. Penguin Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780241372739.
(Age: 8+) Michelle La Vaughn Robinson, the descendant of a slave, was raised in a small apartment in Chicago. At the age of forty-four she became the First Lady of the United States. Sheila Kanani's biography explains...
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Jan 17 2019

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

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Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406386851.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Droughts. Survival. California. Climate change. What would happen if suddenly there was no water in your house - nothing to drink, nothing to wash with or cook with, let alone use on the garden? This is what...
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Jan 16 2019

The assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763698225.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Power, Politics, War, Propaganda. What a treat to read a unique tale told by two outstanding people, National Book award winner M.T.Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin. The historian elf...
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Jan 16 2019

Flat cat by Hiawyn Oram

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Ill. by Gwen Millward. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN 9781406371543
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Cats, Friendship. Jimi-My-Jim lives in an apartment in a big city with his owner, Sophie. She loves him dearly and spoils him woefully with only the best of treats and toys. He responds by doing...
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Jan 16 2019

Ellie Engineer - The next level by Jackson Pearce

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN: 9781547601097
(Age: 7-9) Themes: Engineering, Friends. Ellie is an enthusiastic engineer; she wears her tool belt all the time and loves to solve problems and come up with creative solutions. She draws up the plans, finds innovative resources to use and enjoys...
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Jan 15 2019

A good night for shooting zombies by Jaco Jacobs

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One World, 2018. ISBN 9781786074508
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Themes: Adventure. Martin aka 'Clucky', is a quirky 13 year old mathematician and heir to his father's egg business. Vusi owns a dog who likes to bite chickens. Confronting your neighbour about his murderous dog is not a great...
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Jan 15 2019

Ten terrible dinosaurs by Paul Stickland

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Macmillan Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781509835522
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Dinosaurs. Prediction. Rhyme. Counting. Humour. From ten down to one, the text of this wonderfully inviting romp with a whole lot of dinosaurs will enthral readers as they count the number of animals on...
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Jan 15 2019

Treasure of the golden skull by Chris Priestley

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Maudlin Towers Book 2. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408873106
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Boarding school. Pirates. Treasure. Monsters. Chris Priestley's Treasure of the golden skull is a dark tale, set in a very gloomy English boarding school, Maudlin Towers, which is threatened...
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Jan 14 2019

What monster? by Liz Pichon

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Tom Gates book 15. Scholastic, 2018. ISBN: 9781407179865
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: School life, Families, Music festivals. Tom and Derek stop in at the newsagents on the way to school attracted by the headline 'Angry Squirrel Throws Nuts'. Whilst trying to read the newspaper...
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Jan 14 2019

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes series by Kate Knapp

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Harper Collins Publishers, 2018.
ABC Alphabet Book. ISBN: 9781460756904
123 Counting Book. ISBN: 9781460756911
(Ages: 1-5) Recommended. Rhyming Books, Counting, Alphabet. 'Ruby Red Shoes is a white hare who loves to learn. Hop along with Ruby and her chickens as...
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Jan 14 2019

Hedgehog Howdedo by Lynley Dodd

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Puffin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143773023
(Ages: 1-4) Board book, Hedgehogs, Hibernation, Counting Book, Rhyming book. This is a previously published title (2000) from the creator of Hairy Maclary. It is winter and the garden is full of hibernating hedgehogs. 'There's one beneath the...
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Jan 11 2019

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

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Lady Helen book 3. Angus and Robertson, 2018. ISBN 9780732296117.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. After devouring the first two books in the series (Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club  and...
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Jan 11 2019

Something rotten - a fresh look at roadkill by Heather L. Montgomery

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Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781681199009
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Biology. Non-fiction [591.7] In this easy-to-read memoir, Heather Montgomery investigates the impact of roadkill, for the most part in the USA but also high profile international cases such as...
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Jan 11 2019

A dog's way home by W. Bruce Cameron

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PanMacmillan, 2018. ISBN PanMacmillan, 2018. ISBN 9781529002690
(Age: 12- adult) Recommended. Themes: Dogs, Dog Owners, Movie tie-in, Animal Rescue. A Dog's Way Home is an emotionally honest story of love, loss and the journey of hope told from Bella, a pit-bull cross's point of...
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Jan 10 2019

The chaos of now by Erin Lange

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Faber and Faber Limited, 2018. ISBN 9780571317479
(Age: Teens+) Recommended. Themes: Cyberbullying. Suicide. Computer hacking. A group of hackers emerge with a new website that can avoid the cyber snoop's radar, a place for people to voice their own opinions for once without getting...
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Jan 09 2019

The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton

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Ill. by Angela Barrett. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408886915
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy; Princesses. Twelve excellent Princesses, all with talents unique and exceptional, are plunged into a virtual prison by their father, the King, after the unfortunate death of their...
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Jan 09 2019

Geronimo by David Walliams

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Ill. by Tony Ross. HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN 9780008279752
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Humour, Penguins, Difference, Endeavour, Striving, Perception. When hatched, Geronimo the Emperor Penguin, just thinks about flying. That's all he wants to do and spends his waking hours attempting...
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Jan 08 2019

The caged queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

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Gollancz, 2018. ISBN 9781473218161
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy. Love. Loyalty. Roa and her sister, Essie, share a bond that goes beyond understanding and even death. Essie's spirit is trapped in the body of a hawk, living in the limbo between life and freedom. Roa's...
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Jan 08 2019

Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

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Ill. by Paola Escobar. Pages and Co. Book 1. HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN 9780008229863
(Ages 9-12) Recommended. Themes: Literary characters. Booksellers. Mystery. Missing persons. Anna James introduces a truly wonderful world where you can step into your favourite books and interact...
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Jan 08 2019

Island born by Junot Diaz

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Ill. by Leo Espinosa. Oneworld, 2018. ISBN 9781786074775
(Age: 7-9) Recommended. Themes: Culture. Identity. Lola lives in an ethnically diverse community and the teacher's instruction to draw a picture of her 'first home' causes problems for her because she cannot remember! Interviewing...
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Jan 04 2019

Marvel Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World by Sam Maggs, Emma Grange and Ruth Amos

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DK, 2018. ISBN 9780241357491
(Age: 8+) Themes: Superheroes; Women. Characters from the Marvel world encourage people to be determined, daring, compassionate and curious. Under each of these headings are described superheroes who embody these qualities. So under the heading 'Determined'...
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Jan 03 2019

Stories for boys who dare to be different by Ben Brooks

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Ill. by Quinton Winter. Quercus, 2018. ISBN 9781787471986
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Themes: Men - Biographies. Boys - Biographies. Masculinity. Inspirational author Ben Brooks continues his motivating series with Stories for boys who dare to be different. The subtitle captures his...
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Jan 02 2019

The Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke

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Simon and Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781471170003
(Age: Mature 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: High Fantasy, Death. Certain to appeal to young adult fans of medieval epics, this macabre group of heroines will attract an even wider audience. In the male dominated Vorseland, orphaned girls who...
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Jan 02 2019

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

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Macmillan, 2018. ISBN 9781509876495
(Age: 12+) Despite having read the previous books in the series, Three dark crowns and One dark throne I personally...
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