Review blog

Click here for link to thhe review blog RSS feed Click here for the ReadPlus Review Blog RSS feed. Copy the link location into your feed reader.


Nov 15 2018

The football book: The teams, the rules, the leagues, the tactics by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton

cover image

David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton
Ill. by Phil Gamble, Mike Garland, and Mark Walker. Dorling Kindersley, 2018. ISBN 9780241332856
(Age: 8+) Recommended for sports fans. Subjects: Soccer. Team sports. Football. The football book, published by DK, is a comprehensive compendium of football, from the history of ancient ball games, to how the game is played, even the results of the 2018 World Cup. This is a visually outstanding information book with graphics of team players, maps, diagrams of the evolution of the pitch and text boxes filled with statistics. Each double-page spread is set out in an easy-to-read format, just right for a quick read, to find relevant information about teams from across the globe, tactics and techniques.
Four thousand years ago, the Chinese played cuju with two teams and a ball, kicking towards a fixed goal. Spectator ball sports developed in Mesoamerica three thousand years ago. Football has evolved over the centuries into a variety of different games with five players a side, beach football, freestyle, indoor games and Paralympic football. Detailed descriptions of how the game is played, each player's position and quotes from famous players are included in 'How the game is played.'
'The footballer's anatomy' looks at strength, height, shape, muscular structure and discusses the hypothetical ideal player. This includes Beckham's right foot, Rinaldo's upper body and Maradona's left foot! Detailed diagrams of spectacular moves, spins and turns, shooting for goals, heading the ball, all help players both young and older to study the techniques.
'Planet Football' takes us across the globe with the FIFA Confederations and its more than 200-member countries divided into six geographical areas. Starting with the English clubs and an inside look at Wembley Stadium, we branch out across the United Kingdom then into Europe. 'Australia's Stat Attack' describes the Socceroos, our national team, the A-League teams, and the origin of the Old School teams, Sydney City was founded in 1939. The football book is packed with data and statistics, finishing with the International Awards and Records, including Women's World Cup Winners; Men's and Women's Player of the Year and Club World Cup winners.
The football book is a most comprehensive, all-inclusive visual encyclopedia of football perfect for sports fan, families to delve into, armchair players and anyone who loves the game.
Rhyllis Bignell




Nov 15 2018

Snow Penguin by Tony Mitton

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408862964
(Age: All) Recommended. This little penguin can never stay still.
He's always in search of excitement and thrill.

In the frozen Antarctic one curious little penguin decides to explore the ice and the snow and the sea. On his travels he sees two blue whales, a family of sea lions and a whole school of orca, but soon Penguin starts to miss his own family. Sometimes coming home is the best adventure of all.
This is a gorgeous book about penguins having a wonderful time in the snow. This is sure to become a family favourite that will eventually fall apart. I can see a child snuggled up on a parent's lap discussing the questions and answering them over and over again! The young readers will identify with the cold weather and the fun that can be had in the snow. Would make a fantastic addition to the Christmas stocking. Suitable for all.
Kathryn Schumacher




Nov 14 2018

We're going on an elf chase by Martha Mumford

cover image

Ill. by Laura Hughes. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408872413
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Christmas, Elves, Hunt, Lift the flap book, Verse. Fingers will just love lifting the flaps in this book as the reader is asked to work with the bunnies on their wintry quest to find the elves. Four very warmly wrapped bunnies walk through the snow to find the elves hidden in various places on each page. Sometimes lifting the flap reveals an elf, sometimes something associated with Christmas: presents, a candy cane, a stocking.
Through the woods, passing penguins and polar bears, the bunnies have their work cut out for them as they travel north. Through snow and wintry weather, past gingerbread houses, and stables with reindeer housed in them, they finally reach the place in the North Pole where many elves are working, wrapping presents for Christmas Eve. Then they must rush back home and be tucked up in bed for when their turn comes for someone very familiar to land upon their roof.
A very cute introduction to the ideas around Christmas which we all hold dear: stockings, elves, reindeer, gingerbread, fir trees, snow and so on, this will have broad appeal at this time of the year, and the rhyming lines encourage prediction of the next word, and underline the ideas of poetry, as well as being good fun for kids looking under the flaps.
Fran Knight




Nov 14 2018

Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

cover image Bruce book 4. Disney-Hyperion, 2018. ISBN 9781484782903
(Age: 7+) Recommended for its humour. Themes: Christmas, Santa Claus, Humour. Santa Bruce is the fourth in a series about Bruce, a very grumpy bear, who is often the victim of mistaken identity, in this case Santa Claus. Bruce does not like holidays and is not impressed when his friends the mice, drag in a huge Christmas tree. All he wants to do is stay in bed, but his friends have other ideas - they want 'to enjoy a cozy snow -filled Christmas together.' Bruce didn't like fun or cheer or the cold, so he started to wear long red underwear and a red hat leading to another mistaken identity - a woodland creature asking him if he was Santa, everyone else believing he is Santa and from then on he is enticed to finally deliver Christmas presents to all the forest animals.
The contrast between the very large and very grumpy Bruce and the very cute and very small mice and other woodland creatures makes for a very funny experience for the reader as the wonderful illustrations show the crossness of Bruce's face while the happiness of all his little friends is very vividly portrayed. I particularly liked the page showing the geese trying to pull Santa Bear on the sled, and then the following page which shows Bear having to pull the sled and carry the huge bag of presents himself. Cold wintery scenery also brings the northern Christmas season to life.
Readers familiar with other books about Bruce the Bear will love this one, while readers new to the characters will have an enjoyable and humorous read to lighten their day. Not for younger readers who might start to have questions about Santa's identity.
Pat Pledger




Nov 14 2018

Princess Snowbelle and the Snow Games by Libby Frost

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408896853
(Age: 3+) Recommended for its themes of cooperation, sharing, teamwork and being a good sport. Following Princess Snowbelle and the snowstorm this very cute picture book features Princess Snowbelle competing at the snow games with her family against the neighbouring kingdom of Snowland. Princess Snowbelle hopes to win the Ice Trophy while her brother Noel is convinced that he will win the sledging race and Nicholas has been training for the running race. Meanwhile Snowbelle's mother and father remind them:
'Remember, it's not about winning, it's about trying your best.' And when the games begin the children from both families show their competitive spirit and how to be a good sport when they don't win. Sparkleshine helps Snowbelle when she gets into trouble in the horse race, even though it means that she could have won the race and instead of competing for the final event, making a snow sculpture, the children all cooperate together in a wonderful display of teamwork to make a magical snow sculpture.
Although rather didactic, small children will love the cute, diverse main characters with their smiling faces, capes and sparkles and the snowy landscape will attract much attention as the children compete in the snow games. The themes of being a good sport, of helping others and about doing your best in competitions would fit in well in classrooms when these issues are being discussed and would also be a talking point when reading the tale as a bedtime story.
The book would also be good for emerging readers to engage with, especially those who are interested in little princesses who are magical and helpful.
Pat Pledger




Nov 14 2018

Feminists don't wear pink and other lies by Scarlett Curtis

cover image

Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780241364451
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Scarlett Curtis assembles a magnificent 'guide book' for the Girl-Up movement, with this anthology of short essays, blogs, narratives, lists, poems, diaries, interviews, anecdotes - including an Alphabet. The Girl-Up brand, spanning over 2,000 clubs worldwide, is transparent but both the foreword and further reading sections encourage any and every level of feminism. Listing websites, books and everyday actions, Curtis is expansive, including books like The Hate U Give and The Bone Sparrow to reassure girls that equality for women runs parallel to equality for all people. Important quotes and truisms loom large covering entire pages. 'Women's history is bigger than one person, so the way we talk about the past needs to be as well.'
Kiera Knightly addresses her young daughter fiercely regarding the lie of the weaker sex. Nothing is sacred as her co-contributors gleefully discuss periods, bras, genital mutilation, masturbation, man-hating, ableism, #MeToo, intersectionality and more.
This historical quest for equal rights across gender, age, race, class, disability is pervading, although the history of the women's movement is extolled in the very last 'Education' section. It's a shrewd device because we have spent 300 pages being highly engaged by comedians and actors with amusing perceptions and fascinating experiences - from transgender girls to traditional Muslim girls. The reader does not want for feminist definitions, but Scarlett Curtis, while pinpointing the gender stereotyping of the patriarchy, opens her feminist arms wide, 'The goal of the feminist movement aims to give each person on the planet the freedom to live their life the way they want to live it, unhindered by sexism or oppression or aggression.'
One of the contributors warns against using the internet abounding with confusing fallacies, encouraging girls to go right to the source - the wealth of books written by historical and current feminists. Perhaps drawing on those higher tier needs and habits of humanist thinkers, Curtis encourages girls not to leave any girl behind, rather support them with understanding and encouragement for their own difficult struggles against aggression. Beanie Feldstein's drama teacher encapsulates the books sentiment, 'Stuff your pockets'.
Although females and males of all ages will devour this funny, uplifting and sometimes shocking collection, school libraries are likely to run into problems with the many colloquial referents for female genitalia - thus an 'M' for mature sticker is mandatory. There's not one picture in this verbal 'mash-up' but there's a brilliant reason for the cover's particular shade of pink - finding out is definitely worth it. Want more? Investigate the podcasts on itunes found on the book's site.
Deborah Robins




Nov 14 2018

Bad Mermaids: On the rocks by Sibeal Pounder

cover image

Ill. by Jason Cockcroft. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408877142
(Age: 8-11) Recommended. Another hilarious, laugh out loud book about mermaids, evil mothers, talking seahorses, fish, crocodiles and more. Featuring magical mysteries and fabulous fashions, this adventure brings a whole new twist to the underwater world of mermaids.
We leave where we left the girls the previous time in Bad Mermaids, stuck in a ship being flung to parts unknown. Steve is getting shipsick/seasick? The girls are trying not to panic too much. And on the other side of the story we see Paris. A girl we already met in a fleeting way in the first book, is the one who handles the ice cream cart. But she is also much more than that. She also loves inventing and has put a tracker on the mermaids.
My favourite part of the book was the mermaids, seeing their friendships, and seeing them discover new places, and try to, once again, save the day.
I love that we found out more about the mermaid world. This time we see about a kingdom with crocodiles. Mermaids with crocodiles' tails, crocodiles for transport. And then the fact that there are even more kingdoms/countries to explore, and I hope that we will be going there as I want to see what mermaids live there and what their life is like.
It was fun that we discover magic is real, and that there are witches.
The book is delightfully illustrated.
Donna Isgar




Nov 13 2018

Up the mountain by Marianne Dubuc

cover image

Book Island, 2018. ISBN 9781911496090
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship. Generosity. Outdoors. Life skills. Mrs Badger lives at the bottom of a mountain and each Sunday she takes a walk up the path to the top. She knows all the creatures who live along the way, stopping to talk to them or help them on their way. One day a cat called Leo stops her and she convinces him to walk with her. He is easily tired and they need to stop and rest, but she shows him all the other animals and plants on their route, showing him which mushrooms are best to eat, and how to avoid dangers. Leo tires quickly because of his short legs, but Mrs Badger urges him on. Together they reach the top and the view of the world is magnificent, worth the effort made. Together they climb the mountain each Sunday, Mrs Badger teaching him the names of the plants and animals, watching over him as he learns the way. But one day Mrs Badger cannot climb the mountain as easily as she once could, and it is up to Leo to help her. The situation is reversed until there comes a time when Mrs Badger can no longer climb the mountain at all. Leo brings back some of his findings for her and eventually someone else climbs the mountain with him, Leo showing the way.
Translated from French, this is a gentle story of the passing on of knowledge, of leading younger people to being independent, as Mrs Badger leads Leo up the mountain of life, and when she can no longer help, he in turn helps another.
The trek through the path leading to the mountain displays a lot of the outdoors to children, a turtle on its back needing help, a group of baby hedgehogs crossing their path, keeping to the right path, making a stick to help with walking and so on. Lots of discussion points to pursue with a group of children, eager to be outdoors themselves.
The charming illustrations invite closer inspection of the animals that a child would find in the European outdoors, badger, hedgehog, fox, a bunting bird and so on. I love the repetition of the illustrations as Leo becomes the leader, changing roles with Mrs Badger. The drawing of Leo helping Mrs Badger at the top of the mountain is inspiring and children will easily understand the message being shown.
Fran Knight




Nov 12 2018

The Lost Magician by Piers Torday

cover image

Quercus, 2018. ISBN 9781786540515
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Good and Evil, Fantasy. The year is 1945 and Simon, Patricia, Evelyn and Larry have survived the London Blitz and experienced the destructive effects of the bombings on their schools and housing. They are sent off to the countryside while their parents search for a new residence. Secretly, they have been chosen to participate in the classified 'Magician Project' to discover if magic is real and can be used as a powerful force by the Government.
On arrival, young Larry disappears in the old country house and discovers a secret carved wooden door leading into The Library. Here there are three sections of books, Read, Unread and Never Read. Of course, he's selects a book and is swept into a magical kingdom led by a fairy knight flying on a tiger-winged butterfly. His siblings do not believe his wild tales about the magical kingdom, preferring to swim and explore the countryside around Barfield Hall. When Evelyn discovers the secret portal, she chooses a different section and is drawn into the Never Reads world - Folio, ruled by evil secretary Jana and her silver robots. Evie makes a pact to return with the rest of her siblings to assist in the evil plans to destroy the fantasy characters and fantasy world.
Torday includes so many recognisable elements, blood drops revealing hidden texts, giant talking trees, assistance by fairy tale creatures, here the Three Bears help in their rescue. His central theme differs from that of C. S. Lewis, the battle is fought between knowledge and imagination: Jana believes in a factual world filled with numbers. She delights in turning, giants, fairies and other magical creatures into strings of data. There is the difficult and dangerous quest to find the Magician. The author imbues the characters with a deeper sense of self, Evelyn - Evie struggles with her allegiances and her trouble memories of her school being bombed.
In The Lost Magician, Guardian children's fiction prize winner Piers Torday's decision to pay homage to C. S. Lewis and his Narnia Chronicles, delivers a very familiar format. He has added Tolkien touches, included recognisable fantasy characters and common fantasy tropes. This is an interesting junior novel, one for fans of the genre.
Rhyllis Bignell




Nov 12 2018

Competing for the Cup by Bobbi JG Weiss

cover image

Ride series, Book 2. Candlewick Entertainment, 2018. ISBN 9780763698553
(Age: Teenagers+) Recommended. Competing for the Cup is the second book in the Ride series, and is based on a TV show aired on Nickelodeon. Competing for the Cup follows Kit Bridges after her arrival to Covington, an elite equestrian boarding school in England. Thankfully her father is there with her, and together they are helping each other deal with the death of Kit's mother. In this second instalment, Kit has to prepare for the House Cup competition, and she is raring to prove just how far herself and her horse TK have come. But life isn't always that simple: Friends and frenemies acting stranger than usual, someone leaving encouraging sticky notes with tips for bonding with TK for her, and lastly catching her Dad on a dinner date. Kit may have more problems than she can handle. This story explores life issues and the struggles one can have when moving to a new home, as well as other teenage issues surrounding friendships and first loves. Kit is strong minded but her emotions seem to get in the way of her decision making at times. Still recovering from the events from the first installment she tries her hardest to be normal at this new school she now calls home. Kit's father Rudy is portrayed as a strong father figure to not only Kit but some of the other students as well. But he seems to be ready to move on in his romance life sooner than Kit expected. Lastly, since there are a number of other characters in the TV show that the story follows, the author does well to balance the chapters between them all. Overall, I believe this to be a good series for teenagers and would recommend the series to teenagers and above.
Kayla Raphael




Nov 09 2018

Seeker of the Crown by Ruth Lauren

cover image

Prisoner of Ice and Snow Book 2. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781681191331
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Valor risks everything to protect her friends in this second book in a thrilling fantasy series that's Percy Jackson meets Frozen.
'One month has passed since Valor broke her twin sister Sasha out of jail. But the girl who imprisoned her to begin with - Princess Anastasia - has gone missing. The queen, desperate to find her daughter, asks Valor and Sasha to track Anastasia down and bring her home.
But just as the girls and their friends embark on the search, the queen also vanishes, throwing the realm into utter chaos. If Valor can't restore order, she risks getting sent back to prison . . . and tearing her newly reunited family apart once again. She must rely on people she can't quite trust, as well as her own instincts, to protect the people she holds dear.' (Publisher)
I could not put down Prisoner of ice and snow, the first book in the series and this was no exception. I found myself going to bed early to read as much of it as I could before I fell asleep. It is fast paced, and I loved the descriptive language that Lauren so cleverly intertwines into the story. Despite this book being a sequel, it could in fact be read as a stand-alone.
It is a great read for fantasy readers starting from age 10 and up. Valor is an incredibly strong lead character and I love the fact she is female. The plot is complex and continually twists and turns. There is certainly no sexism in this book with both male and female characters taking on the roles of archery, guards, royalty and hunters. This is a welcome companion to the first book and a must read.
Kathryn Schumacher




Nov 09 2018

Athena the story of a Goddess by Imogen and Isobel Greenberg

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408892497
(Age: 8+) Greek myths, Athena, Gods and goddesses, Women. Athena the story of a Goddess, is a collaboration between the Greenberg sisters, with Imogen retelling the story and Isabel providing the arresting images. The tale of the goddess Athena is retold in comic style, part Graphic Novel, part text, while the pages are filled with illustrations full of the fire of her life reflecting the images presented on Greek antiquities. Some pages are presented in full comic mode, with illustrations bound by frames, and conversation given in bubbles in the air, while others are presented in larger amounts of text with some illustrations, but all is easily read, the text and drawings conveying to all readers the tenor of her life.
From the story of her birth when she appeared out of Zeus's skull!, Athena soon made her headstrong self known. She was a strong, wise woman who showed distinct favour to humans, frowned upon by the other gods watching from Mount Olympus.
In this publication, we see her outwit Poseidon to have a city named after her (Athens), destroy the life of one more talented than her (Arachne) changing her into a spider, challenge her sisters to charm a shepherd by the name of Paris, and watch over Odysseus on his return home from the Trojan Wars. The lives of gods and goddesses intersect with humans in these stories, the gods and goddesses having power of life and death over humans, and sometimes playing with them like toys.
Athena's strength in dealing with others who cross her path is captivating, and the retelling is accessible to all young readers, who will enjoy the black outlined illustrations.
A double page at the start gives quick biographies of the main protagonists in the tale of Athena, and the endpapers show the illustrations seen on Greek vases, used as a reference for Isabel's illustrations.
Fran Knight




Nov 09 2018

White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

cover image

Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406378177
(Age: 14+) Recommended. This book is brilliant, gripping and horrifying - all at once! Right from the start we are gripped by the anxiety of the narrator, and this does not let up at all. We are positioned to wonder whom we can trust? Told episodically, this narrative has chapters named for the thoughts and action that occur. Plunging us into the lives of some members of one family, who are clearly very clever people, albeit distracted and secretive, Pollock takes us on a journey of fear, confusion, and a sense that terrible and catastrophic events may happen at any time and they do.
Shocking, puzzling, and heartachingly sad, this story of a family who are brilliant people, a family that does not seem like one, however. This family of very, very intelligent people who can explore, explain and expose what is happening to them and the world around them, but fear the consequences, appear to be in trouble.
Two adolescents, a boy and a girl, we realize very quickly, possess outstanding abilities to rationalize, explore, explain and comprehend the situation in which they find themselves, a situation that portends absolute disaster, that challenges them to trust no-one, not their mother nor their sibling. His extraordinary intellect enables seventeen-year old Peter Blankman to grasp the threat that he faces, and the threat is his life. As the novel focuses mostly on the way in which his use of mathematical logic and computer-like reasoning enables him to slowly piece together the events that have occurred both in the past and in the present, which is the narrative structure of interwoven chapters, except for the opening chapter, named ENCRYPT, with these letters encrypted to read YICMXKQ. Already we are alerted to the model of thought that imbues this novel with cleverness, fear, betrayal, murder and a seeming lack of love and loyalty within one family.
Ultimately, this is a story of the failure of a family to be what families should be, that is, to protect, nurture and guide the children to live good lives, not selfish lives, but lives that enable them to be honourable, to help others, to be part of a social web that protects and nurtures children. The children in this story are sacrificed for the state, or at least that appears to be so.
The narrative delivers a hard and fear-filled world for one fearful child, albeit a brilliant one, whose actions reflect his isolation when things go amiss and his family are not there. He and his twin sister appear to have been abandoned, the adults in their lives missing, and they themselves endangered. After a series of murders, this family is catapaulted into terror. Using their brilliant minds to decode the events and the messages they perceive, the twins work to decode the events so that they can survive.
This powerful new novel will disturb, intrigue, fascinate and unsettle the reader. Tom Pollock's work on the perils of espionage, and the threat of death for anyone who reveals what is happening, is situated in the centre of a modern world where fear of exposure and death looms for those who work in government, and correspondingly threatens the lives of their children.
Elizabeth Bondar




Nov 08 2018

Good Rosie by Kate DiCamillo

cover image

Ill. by Harry Bliss. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406383577
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Dogs. Responsibility. Family. Companionship. Divided into nine chapters, this comic styled story tells of Rosie the dog who lives with George. Each morning, George cooks himself two eggs and gives Rosie her food in her silver bowl. But once finished Rosie can see another dog at the bottom of the bowl, and realises that she is lonely. In chapter two George and Rosie go for their usual walk in the woods, watching the shapes made by the clouds. When George points out a dog-like shape, Rosie becomes excited and George has an idea. The next chapter sees George take Rosie to a dog park. Here Rosie is somewhat overwhelmed with the number of dogs and one in particular who comes up to her is much larger and has a toy in its mouth which it shakes with gusto. In chapter four a smaller dog drops by, but this dog is a livewire and jumps rapidly from one spot to another, so putting Rosie off. The next chapter sees the larger dog shaking the smaller one in its mouth and in chapter six, Rosie tackles the larger dog, warning it to drop the little dog, which it does in chapter seven, and the last two chapters see the problem resolved and the three meet regularly at the dog park for companionship and play. Even George gets to make new friends.
A seemingly simple tale of friendship, the story has the trio not liking each other at first, but when an incident occurs from a misunderstanding, Rosie stands up for the little dog, resolving the issue and so making friends. It resonates with the problems of young children making friends, of being understanding, of resolving issues with other children and coming to a mutual understanding. The positive flow of the story will appeal to younger readers who will see it as a dog story but with overtones of their own attempts to make friends.
The illustrations are simply adorable and highly appealing to any reader who picks up the book, while the expressions on the dogs' faces are wonderful.
Fran Knight




Nov 02 2018

Noni the pony rescues a joey by Alison Lester

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760293123
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Horses, Australian animals, Environment, Habitat. Noni the pony rescues a joey will captivate its audience, already thrilled at the first book about Noni the pony (2010) and Noni the pony goes to the beach (2014). All the right ingredients are brought together, Noni, of course, with her two friends, Coco and Dave, and an array of Australian animals for young children to recognise and name while they have this rhyming story read to them. They will thrill at predicting the word to end each line, and work with Noni and her friends as they try to find the joey's parents.
Lester entrances her readers with a story of loss, but as Noni asks each animal she meets, the joey finds her mob, and along the way small pieces of information are given teaching the audience some of the habits of these animals. So many of the animals are asleep, being nocturnal, the koala and her joey asleep because of their poor diet, the echidna is digging, the father emu is looking after his chicks, and finally as evening falls the other wallabies come out to graze, and the joey is reunited with the family.
Lester's recognisable illustrative technique will delight younger readers as they will be able to find other books by this prolific Australian author in the library.
The range of animals that live in Waratah Bay will intrigue readers as they note the echidna, possum, quoll, koala, wallaby, goanna, emu, wombat and platypus, and feel impelled to find out more about these Australian animals and their habitat and habits, perhaps looking for them in their own neighbourhood or seeking them out at the zoo.
Fran Knight




Nov 01 2018

Doctor Who: Twelve angels weeping: Twelve stories of the villains from Doctor Who by Dave Rudden

cover image

Ill. by Alexis Snell. BBC Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781405938273
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Themes: Science fiction. Doctor Who. Time travel. Monsters. Aliens. Robots. Villains. Life on other planets. Twelve short stories featuring the villains from the Doctor Who series will enthral any fan of Doctor Who and probably encourage many who haven't seen all the series to go back and find them. The author Dave Rudden must have an immense knowledge of and love for the series to be able to write convincingly of all the monsters and villains that are described in this set of stories. As a fan of the series I was reminded of many episodes that I had seen and some that I had missed.
The introduction reminds the reader that 'Everywhere in the universe, on every planet that has existed or will exist, there is a winter...' and that 'stories are a light in themselves' and then goes on to explain the light that is carried in these stories. All were very readable and will be particularly enjoyable for Doctor Who fans, but some stood out for me. One was 'Student bodies', where a young PHD student, Donovan Claire, tries to record what is happening to her as her memories are stolen by something strange and alien. The reader also finds out about River Song's youthful exploits at the university. In 'Judoon the rhino of twenty-three Strand Street', 10 year old Patricia meets an alien rhino and learns that she needn't restrict herself to the narrow pathways that Mother Superior and her father expect of her. Of course a volume about Doctor Who would be incomplete without a story featuring Daleks, and the reader will be mesmerised by 'Daleks, the third wise man', and the doctor as the Renegade.
Each of the stories has a full page black and white drawing by Alexis Snell and each one vividly illustrates the villain in the following story - some may give you nightmares!
A must for any Doctor Who fan, this group of short stories will be welcomed in a library or as a gift.
Pat Pledger




Oct 26 2018

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, retold by Tony Mitton

cover image

Ill. by Mike Redman. Orchard Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408351673
Highly recommended. Themes: Christmas; Charles Dickens; Generosity; Poetry; Rhyme. This is wonderful poetic rendering of the classic story from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Mitton has told this story of transformation in a clear and simple way, with rhyme seeming unforced and natural and therefore very appealing for a young reader. The younger generation are unlikely to read Dickens' original work, but references to the old Miser Scrooge who is changed on Christmas Eve when confronted with a number of ghosts, has become part of the common experience and vernacular and therefore this story is worth sharing in this easy to read form.
The illustrations provided by Mike Redman are delightful, with initially dark and sombre detail befitting Dickens' work. (Scrooge's work chair is impossibly high, and his office is grey and dismal). When Scrooge finally repents of his former ways and generosity flows to Bob Cratchit and his ailing son Tiny Tim, colour flows more freely.
This is an easy to read book and can quite easily be used by many to reflect on the need to consider others at Christmas and to be generous with what we have . . . before it is too late.
Highly recommended.
Carolyn Hull




Oct 12 2018

The Christmas tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson

cover image

Ill. by Eleanor Taylor. Frederick Warne, 2018. ISBN 9780241352885
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Christmas, Poultry. Emma Thompson, the renowned actress, has written another tale about Peter Rabbit in this board book, beautifully illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Peter is very excited about Christmas and can't contain himself in the kitchen, upsetting three bowls of mincemeat. Mrs Rabbit sends him off on an errand to get him out of the way, and then he bumps into Benjamin Bunny and William the turkey, who confides in the pair that the McGregors "say that on Christmas Day they are to have me for dinner!"
Peter and Benjamin are determined to save their friend and come up with many ingenious ways to hide him from the McGregors, including under a rhubarb-forcer by the compost-heap and in the coal shuttle, but his magnificent tail-feathers always gave him away. Finally they came up with a solution - and children will have fun suggesting ways of hiding a turkey with a very full set of tail-feathers.
Thompson has succeeded in writing a narrative that reads aloud very well and will be enjoyed by children, as they follow the dilemma of William and his two friends. Parents and teachers should be aware that younger children may need to be introduced gently to the idea that turkeys are killed and then roasted for Christmas dinner.
The illustrations are done in the vein of the original Peter Rabbit drawings, and are charming and often humorous.
Overall, a delightful addition to the Peter Rabbit tales.
Pat Pledger




Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
2018 Teens' Top Ten announced
Klaus Flugge Prize 2018
Why we need libraries

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet