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

Jun 18 2018

The 13th Reality: Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

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Scholastic, 2018 (First published by Simon and Schuster, 2008). ISBN 9781742994789
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Truth and Reality, Courage, Quantum Physics, Adventure, STEM. Atticus Higginbottom (nicknamed 'Tick') is not a super-hero type. In fact he is more the kind of 13 year old student who is likely to spend time in his own locker at the 'suggestion' of the school bully and who has a passion for the local library, the pursuit of science and understanding quantum physics. He is also the recipient of a series of strange letters that are both extremely puzzling and also life-altering. These letters demand great intelligence and problem-solving skills and ultimately bravery as they lead Tick into dangerous new territory, alternate realities and, as a side-note, into new friendships. His courage is tested and the world he knows is challenged, twisted and tipped upside-down in amazing ways. Reality itself is tested by technology, new knowledge, new possibilities and possibly even forces of good and evil. Quirky characters abound. Fortunately he has a supportive family to fall back on! (This is in itself a pleasant change from the ultra-independence of many teen YA characters.)
The author James Dashner is perhaps better known for his dystopian speculative fiction, "The Maze Runner", written for a slightly older YA audience. "The Journal of Curious Letters" is infused with humour and a little bit of science and technology, but it is mostly an enthralling, fantasy-quest, adventure written for capable and intelligent young readers. This book was originally released in 2008, before "The Maze Runner", but this Scholastic release should capture a new readership that enjoys reading about young protagonists who are pushed to their limits and overcome adversity using their brainpower. (Readers that have enjoyed Trenton Lee Stewarts' "The Mysterious Benedict Society" series will enjoy this book too.) I will also look forward to reading more in this series and will even enjoy grappling with the concepts of Quantum physics that underpin the idea of alternative realities!
(Note: James Dashner has been embroiled in the #Metoo controversy. Read his and other comments online to inform your own opinion on this issue. Young readers may or may not be aware of the issues, but the book publishing industry is not immune.)
Carolyn Hull



More Reviews

Jun 18 2018

Jane Seymour. The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

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Six Tudor Queens series. Headline, 2018. ISBN 9781472227683
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. Jane Seymour is a wonderful read with Alison Weir convincingly bringing the Tudor Court of Henry VIII to real, exciting and tumultuous life both in the Court and in Jane's...
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Jun 18 2018

William Wenton and the Secret Portal by Bobbie Peers

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Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406371710
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Science Fiction, Adventures, Codes and ciphers, Secrecy. Norwegian film director Bobbie Peers' "William Wenton and the Secret Portal", the second novel is darker and slower-paced than...
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Jun 18 2018

Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera

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Candlewick, 2018. ISBN 9781536201406
"Can you walk and talk at the same time? How about Jabberwalk? Can you write and draw and walk and journal all at the same time? If not, you're in luck: exuberant, blue-cheesy cilantro man Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, is...
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Jun 18 2018

Alma and how she got her name by Juana Martinez-Neal

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763693558
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Alma is a little girl who believes her name is far too long, until the day her dad explains to her where her name came from. She then realized that her name had meaning and that each bit of it did fit her just...
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Jun 15 2018

Genesis by Brendan Riechs

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Project Nemesis 2. Pan Macmillan, 2018. ISBN 9781509869992
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Genesis is a whirlwind of a story full of thrilling experiences and mind boggling scenarios that will have you questioning your own existence. It's the sequel to Riechs' first book Nemesis,...
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Jun 15 2018

Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408869444
(Age: 13+) Recommended. "By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon's divorce as you've never heard it before - from the eyes of their daughter, Princess Mary.
More than anything Mary...
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Jun 15 2018

Miniwings - Firestorm's musical muck-up by Sally Sutton

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Scholastic New Zealand Limited, 2018. ISBN 9781775434863
(Age: 7+) Imagine having six gorgeous little winged toy horses that come to life when the adults aren't looking! Firestorm is the hero - or chief troublemaker - in this fourth book in the series.
Clara and Sophia are preparing...
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Jun 15 2018

Best buds under frogs by Leslie Patricelli

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763651046
(Age: 10+)Recommended. "For Lily, it's the worst first day of school ever. Who would want to be friends with the new girl, whose debut act is to throw up on the playground (on somebody's shoes!)? Fortunately, quirky Darby comes to the rescue....
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Jun 15 2018

Count with little fish by Lucy Cousins

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406374193
(Age: 2+) Highly recommended. Board book. This is a colorful counting book that has both the numerals and the number word and a little rhyme to go with each number.
This is a fun counting book from 1 to 10.
The bright colors engage the...
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Jun 14 2018

The outcast by Taran Matharu

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Summoner series: the prequel. Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9781444939095
Recommended. The outcast instantly had me hooked, taking me through parallels between Fletcher and Arcturus virtually from the beginning. It explained and fleshed out most of what fans of the...
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Jun 14 2018

Goat's coat by Tom Percival

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Ill. by Christine Pym. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408881019
(Age: 3-6) Themes: Goats. Coats. Helpfulness. 'Let me tell you the tale of Alfonzo the goat, who was terribly proud of his lovely new coat.'
Tom Percival's charming rhyming story begins with a rather proud goat Alfonzo,...
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Jun 14 2018

The Goose Road by Rowena House

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406371673
(Age: 12 and up) Highly recommended. "France 1916. Angelique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her...
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Jun 13 2018

Not if I save you first by Ally Carter

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Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742765945
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Themes: Thriller. Kidnapping. Conspiracies. Alaska. Survival. Maddie and Logan were inseparable until a kidnapping attempt was made on Logan's mother and Maddie's father foiled the attempt. He was the bodyguard of Logan's...
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Jun 13 2018

Dude by Aaron Reynolds

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Ill. by Dan Santat. Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9780734418784
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Sharks, Friendship, Surfing, Humour, Cautionary tale. To all those intending to read this hilarious book out loud, you will need to practice saying 'dude' in a variety of different ways with...
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Jun 13 2018

Julian is a mermaid by Jessica Love

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406380637
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Mermaids, Grandmothers, Imagination, Diversity, Individuality. Julian is mesmerised as he returns home on the tube with his grandmother. Several women are dressed in the most spectacular of costumes, brightly...
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Jun 13 2018

Be Cool Be Nice

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Templar Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781787410961
(Age: Teenager/Young Adult) Recommended. I have to be honest when I first saw this book, I thought it was just another activity book but how wrong was I! After doing some googling, I was amazed with the background of this book and the meaning...
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Jun 13 2018

Kit meets Covington: Ride by Bobbi JG Weiss

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Candlewick Press, 2017. ISBN 9780763698355
(Age: 10-14) "When American teen Kit Bridges moves to England to attend an elite equestrian boarding school, neither she nor her new home will ever be quite the same.
Trying to move on from her mother's death and afraid of riding after a...
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Jun 12 2018

The wonder of us by Kim Culbertson

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406377170
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended . Friendship on the brink, after spending a school year in different countries? Struggling with your parent's divorce in a little country town while your best friend since kindergarten is swanning around Europe? How do...
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Jun 12 2018

Crash! Boom! a maths tale by Robie H. Harris

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Ill. by Chris Chatterton. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406380514
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Maths. Building. Experimentation. Perseverance. STEM. Resilience. Elephant wants to build something as tall as he. He experiments, calculates, builds and when his efforts fall to the...
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Jun 12 2018

Honor code by Kiersi Burkhart

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Lerner Publishing Group, 2018. ISBN 9781512429961
(Age: 14+) Sam is excited to be enrolled into Edwards Academy, a prestigious boarding school, as she believes it will be a positive move towards achieving her dream of getting into Harvard Law School. The Academy is everything Sam has not...
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Jun 11 2018

Down among the sticks and bones by Seanan McGuire

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Wayward Children book 2. Tor, 2017. ISBN 9780765392039
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books 2018. Themes: Horror, Fantasy, Fairy tales, Diversity, Gender stereotypes. Fans of Seanan Mcguire's books will have encountered twin sisters...
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Jun 11 2018

MunMun by Jesse Andrews

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Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760523596
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. From the opening chapter, in its enigmatically entitled 'LifeandDeathWorld, Prayer', Jesse Andrews plunges the reader into a strangely dystopian world. Andrews plunges into a reality that is actually full of...
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Jun 11 2018

The Price Guide To The Occult by Leslye Walton

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763791103
(Age: 15+) Themes: Supernatural, Fantasy, Rivalry, Black Magic, Dark arts, Self harm. Seventeen year old Nor is the eighth generation of Blackburn women on Anathema Island off north west Canada. The first Blackburn woman, Rona, an extraordinary...
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Jun 11 2018

The things that I love about trees by Chris Butterworth

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Ill. by Charlotte Voake. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406349405
(Age: 5+) Recommended. This book looks at the seasons of the year and how trees change with the different seasons.
This book is a combination of story and some facts, which are written in the book in a way that makes...
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Jun 08 2018

The King of Birds by Alexander Utkin

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Translated by Lada Morozova. Gamayun Tales 1. Nobrow, 2018. ISBN 9781910620380
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Themes: War, Loyalty, Magic, Folk tales, Russia. Based on Russian folk tales and vividly illustrated in a graphic novel form this beautifully designed book is engaging on many...
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Jun 08 2018

Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

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Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780718184131
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Themes: Dystopian fiction. Eve is the last girl on earth, she is humanity's only hope, and she has a mind of her own.
Imagine Rapunzel crossed with The Handmaid's Tale and something more farfetched than pigs...
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Jun 08 2018

Sam and Ilsa's last hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

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Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760293857
(Age: Senior secondary) Themes: Anxiety, friendships, Relationships, twins, change, sexuality. It is a time of change for twins, Sam and Ilsa, not only are they about to leave school but their grandmother, who they call Czarina, and whose New...
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Jun 08 2018

Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406378658
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Themes: Perception, Shapes, Building, Perfection, Genius. The two large eyes which stare out of the cover, a brown square within the square shape of the book, replete with two small brown legs to stand on, will...
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Jun 08 2018

Rescue and Jessica: A life-changing friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes

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Ill. by Scott Magoon. Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763696047
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. Themes: Service dogs, Disability. This book is the story of Rescue a pup who was learning to help people and Jessica who was an amputee. They were both worried about what life would be like...
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Jun 07 2018

Grandmas from Mars by Michelle Robinson

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Ill. by Fred Blunt. Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408888766
(Age: 3-6) Themes: Martians. Grandparents. Fred and Nell's mother and father leave for an evening meeting with Grandma in charge. 'Homework, a bath and in bed before eight,' are the simple instructions. All across...
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Jun 07 2018

My best friend is a goldfish by Mark Lee

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Ill. by Chris Jevons. Carolrhoda Books, 2018. ISBN 9781512426014
(Age: 4+) Theme: Friendship. The boy and his friend argue, and in trying to find another best friend, he rejects them all, realising that his former best friend is the one for him, but he must be more patient and celebrate...
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Jun 07 2018

We come apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

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David Fickling Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408878866
(Age: 14+) Themes: Families. Adolescents. Love. Survival. Prejudice. Racism. Domestic violence. Jess and Nico meet during community service. Jess has to deal with her dysfunctional and fractured family and Nico feels trapped in a life he...
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