Category: Book reviews

Review: Nick Lake’s realistic YA science fiction SATELLITE

Review: Nick Lake’s realistic YA science fiction SATELLITE

[ 0 ] October 20, 2017 |

I was not going to bypass a story pitched as THE MARTIAN for teens, and SATELLITE fills its brief fabulously: you won’t be disappointed if you come looking for realistic space-exploration science. But this book delivered lots, lots more…so much that I’m planning to read it again. SATELLITE follows 15-year-old Leo Freeman, one of the […]

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Police brutality in children’s fiction

Police brutality in children’s fiction

[ 2 ] May 22, 2017 |

THE HATE YOU GIVE, ALL AMERICAN BOYS and THE PEARL THIEF are books to make you — and the kids in your life — think hard about racism, authority & violence

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Review: Chloe Daykin’s MG magical realism Fish Boy

Review: Chloe Daykin’s MG magical realism Fish Boy

[ 0 ] May 1, 2017 |

Anyone who enjoys the two David A’s – naturalist David Attenborough or author David Almond – will love FISH BOY by Chloe Daykin, self-discovery novel by means of a clever bit of magic realism, a talking mackerel. The fish doesn’t say much, and 12-year-old Billy — who swims avidly in the sea every morning as […]

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Review: Jack Cheng’s MG contemporary See You in the Cosmos 

Review: Jack Cheng’s MG contemporary See You in the Cosmos 

[ 0 ] February 2, 2017 |

You’ll enjoy this middle grade roadtrip story even if you aren’t crazy about the movie Contact, but space fans will especially adore it.

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Review: Lisa Thompson’s MG mystery The Goldfish Boy

Review: Lisa Thompson’s MG mystery The Goldfish Boy

[ 0 ] January 17, 2017 |

Confession: this is a review I hadn’t intended to do; I tend to write up only the advance review copy books I get from NetGalley. But on rereading THE GOLDFISH BOY this week with my daughter, it struck me again what a genius work of middle grade fiction it is.

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Review: Dave Rudden’s MG fantasy Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Review: Dave Rudden’s MG fantasy Knights of the Borrowed Dark

[ 0 ] July 26, 2016 |

I first heard of Dave Rudden following his intriguing think piece in the Guardian about how society raises boys, and about his own quiet suffering the face of bullying. So when I spotted KNIGHTS OF THE BORROWED DARK on NetGalley, I was extra-interested to read this middle-grade debut, which promised chosen-one adventure and power to the powerless.

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Review: Emma Shevah’s MG comedy Dara Palmer’s Major Drama

Review: Emma Shevah’s MG comedy Dara Palmer’s Major Drama

[ 0 ] May 22, 2016 |

I’m a sucker for theatrical kids, and it was obvious from the start that Dara Palmer, star of Emma Shevah’s DARA PALMER’S MAJOR DRAMA, wouldn’t disappoint. Eleven-year-old Dara is a born star; it’s just that no one around her has recognised this yet. Passed over repeatedly for starring roles in the school play, Dara ever-so-reluctantly joins the director’s after-school acting class at the local theatre and ever-so-gradually learns that she has a lot to learn about this acting thing…which is not, evidently, based around how many faces she can pull.

If you loved Tim Federle’s BETTER NATE THAN EVER books, you’ll love the Dara story, not least because there’s a heavy dose of heart-warming self-discovery as Dara’s eyes open to other things beyond what makes a good actor.

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Review: Martin Stewart’s YA fantasy Riverkeep

Review: Martin Stewart’s YA fantasy Riverkeep

[ 0 ] April 21, 2016 |

I recently joined NetGalley and was thrilled for the chance to read an advance copy of Martin Stewart’s YA fantasy Riverkeep, a river “road trip” tale that put me in mind of so many English literature classics I lost count, but that still managed to steer its own course and be thoroughly itself, and thoroughly unforgettable. […]

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Great middle grade reads: review of PAX by Sara Pennypacker

Great middle grade reads: review of PAX by Sara Pennypacker

[ 0 ] April 8, 2016 |

Although I write for middle grade I’m largely catching up on young adult reading at the moment, and amazing YA it is. That’s why I was extra thrilled to come across a middle grade book that really packed an emotional punch: PAX by Sara Pennypacker. I haven’t read a dual voice narrative that works in quite a […]

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My top 2015 contemporary middle grade books

My top 2015 contemporary middle grade books

[ 0 ] December 22, 2015 |

If you’re like me, word of mouth is the most reliable way to find books for your kids and yourself to read. Here’s my video roundup of the best contemporary, realistic middle-grade books (for reading age 9 to 12) that I read during 2015. Not all of them were published during this year, but they were new to me.

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