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Reviews Written by
ELH Browning "Esther-Lou" (Kingston Bagpuize, Oxon)
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The Pencil of Doom! (Henry Mcthrottle)
The Pencil of Doom! (Henry Mcthrottle)
by Andy Griffiths
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeremy Strong crossed with Captain Underpants, 30 Aug 2009
This is a fun early chapter book, set in a zany school with a funky teacher. Henry McThrottle has a new pencil with a a skull and cross bones on the top, and this pencil proves to be far from ordinary. However, not only do the things it draws become true, more or less, but they happen in a malevolent way. The question is can Henry and his friends stop the pencil and it's evil deeds before it destroys THEM? This is quite a dark story for the younger reader with a Captain Underpants flavour (though without the toilet humour and comic strip elements), and has a great "fright factor" which made it a great success with my children aged 6 and 8.


Ernest
Ernest
by Catherine Rayner
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great big idea for a book squeezed, like Ernest the Moose, with charm and flair into an ordinary sized book., 24 Aug 2009
This review is from: Ernest (Hardcover)
Ernest is an exceptional moose, both exceptionally drawn in Rayner's free flowing lines, and exceptionally determined. He is also so large that he can't fit inside the book, but he isn't going to give up. And you can be sure that, with his trusty chipmunk friend, by the end of the story Ernest will be in the book - but how? It's a novel and surprising end which my children loved.
Brilliantly told in only seventeen short sentences, and with such striking artwork, this light-hearted book will amuse both preschoolers and their grown-ups. A cracker!


The Rabbit Problem
The Rabbit Problem
by Emily Gravett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.71

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quirky picture book looking at a year's worth of rabbits for 3-8s., 22 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Rabbit Problem (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This story is about "The Rabbit Problem", a millennium-old conundrum posed by the mathematician Fibonacci. If a pair of baby rabbits are put into a field, how many pairs will there be a) at the end of one month b) after one year given that rabbits are fully grown at 1 month old and become parents at 2 months old (assuming that boy and girl rabbits are born in equal numbers, all reproduce, none die and that none leave the field).

You might think this is rather advanced for a small child - and I would have expected you to be right before opening the book, but the story is told very visually and with subtle humour, and the bulk of the pages are the pages of a month-by-month calendar. These illustrate the change from 1 rabbit (Jan); I pair of rabbits (Feb), 5 pairs (May), 21 pairs (August), to 144 pairs by December! In each of these months the rabbits in Fibonacci's field have a problem to overcome - which might be weather-related, a shortage food or field graffitti, for example. On each of the monthly double pages there are interesting and fun things to look at including 'how to knit a hooded rabbit top' to overcome the February snow, rabbit accessories for the rain, carrot recipes and the local field newspaper. We particularly liked the rabbit scarecrow and the rabbit exercises.The piece de resistance however is the finale: an unexpected and explosive rabbit-ridden pop-up page.

I read the book through for the first time with my four year old and my eight year old. My four year old enjoyed the story, my eight year old was trying to get her head around the logic of the exponential explosion in rabbit numbers. Her immediate comment was "Exhausting to work out but I love it" and she re-read it several times immediatelyto spot all the extra details we missed first time around.

This is one of Emily Gravett's remarkable picture books for older children - if you have Gravett's simpler "Orange Pear Apple Bear" and "The Odd Egg", then be aware that this is far more detailed in both pictures, and depth of story. If you loved the more involved "Meerkat Mail" then order this right away and solve the age-old question of rabbit reproduction!


The Post Office Girl
The Post Office Girl
by Stefan Zweig
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark, melancholy and startlingly moving. Amazing!, 20 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Post Office Girl (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an interesting read about a Post Mistress who lives a frugal life because of the war who inadvertently gets catapulted into a more high-living set for a brief spell and then returns dissatisfied to her former life. The paucity of her life and happiness are thought-provoking and moving. The pace is steady, rather than swift, but deep and rich with intensity and emotion. An absolute masterpiece.


Remarkable Creatures
Remarkable Creatures
by Tracy Chevalier
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle insight into the way fossils shaped early thinking about evolution, with a Jane Austen flavour, 20 Aug 2009
This review is from: Remarkable Creatures (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I LOVE Tracy Chevalier's novels, and while I wouldn't rate this one as highly as The Lady and the Unicorn or Virgin Blue, it's certainly a very enjoyable read. Remarkable Creatures is the story of the changing friendship between two women from very different backgrounds who nonetheless find themselves together on the beaches of Lyme Regis. The gentle focus on the women of the era, though the plot doesn't have a major romantic sideline, reminded me of Austen's classics,and I found the underlying learnings about fossils and how these challenged thoughts about the church were fascinating. A great book for the Dorset Coast, or anywhere else!


Falling
Falling
by Sharon Dogar
Edition: Paperback

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern day Romeo and Juliet played out in racist and hate-filled streets., 19 Aug 2009
This review is from: Falling (Paperback)
Asian Neesh and white Sammy are a modern day Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed in a racist hate-flled playground in modern Britain. 'Falling' is a multilayered story that interweaves Neesh and Sammy's lives with the strikingly similar story of their forebears, dream-like images of which haunt the supernaturally-sensitive Neesh. The story is told in three teenage voices (mainly) and Dogar doesn't shy away from doesn't shy away from bad language, violence and raw issues such as self-harm. This book is rich with colour and emotions from the dark hatred of racism to true compassion and love, a striking blend of moving romance and a vivid tense plot with gut-wrenching moments of terror.
This is a great read and a striking novel, both stark and thought-provoking, which will encourage compassion and understanding as teens mature into adults. I won't forget it for a long time.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2010 5:20 PM GMT


Fur
Fur
by Meg Harper
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful first love story with an overtone of mystery for early teenage girls., 3 May 2009
This review is from: Fur (Paperback)
This is a well pitched book about a young teenager becoming aware of her body and exploring first love that is completely contemporary and grounded yet is woven onto an ancient myth about Selkies, seals who can transform to human form by shedding their seal skins, and return to seal form by putting it back on.
The reader is captivated from the beginning of the book, and quickly drawn into the characters of both Gracie and her father who is bringing her up alone, and their thoughts about Gracie's growing-up both physically and emotionally.
As Gracie develops from a girl into a woman her body becomes covered with a soft velvet fuzz of which she is self-conscious and embarrassed. And why is she so obsessed with swimming in the cold British sea, and why does she have these dreams every birthday about gifts from the sea that are so vivid she can smell the salt-water? And will she ever find out the truth about her mother?
This is a great read, perfect for girls in their early teens, particularly any who have loved the Emily Windsnap series.
I would however recommend that parents read this book before giving it to their daughters. It isn't suitable for girls under the age of about 13 as it assumes prior knowledge of periods, pregnancy being the result of sexual activity, and includes lightweight kissing appropriate for this age range. This said, the story is beautifully crafted, the whole subject matter is well-judged and sensitively handled, and it is an outstanding book for this audience at the onset of their teens book.


The Monkey Pirates
The Monkey Pirates
by Mark Skelton
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bananas and Barnacles - this be treasure for developing readers., 3 May 2009
This review is from: The Monkey Pirates (Paperback)
This is a smashing book, particularly for the 6-9 age bracket. Emily Jane finds monkey pirates, the Banana Bucaneers, in her wardrobe and joins them on their adventures to look for her long lost Uncle Bartholomew as they travel by wardrobe through time and space in their quest for yellow treasure. Yellow bendy treasure.
With a good splattering of light-hearted black and white illustrations, this is a quick fun read for a confident reader, or a smashing bedtime story. It's cheerful and charming with a chatty style and a perfectly-pitched foolishness that children who love Andy Stanton's Mr Gum series will enjoy.


Rowan the Strange
Rowan the Strange
by Julie Hearn
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should do for schizophrenia what the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time did for Autism., 2 May 2009
This review is from: Rowan the Strange (Hardcover)
This powerful story of a teenager with schizophrenia at the outset of the Second First War and "Rowan The Strange" is a rich yet raw tale, shocking yet gripping that'll fill you with both sadness and hope, and encourage an understanding of mental illness.
Rowan has uncontrollable and unexplainable rages that exhaust and frighten his caring family and they don't know how to cope or what to do for the best. While his sister is evacuated in the normal way, Rowan is sent to a lunatic asylum and is accepted as a test-case for a new type of treatment - electroconvulsive therapy.
The path he charts, from his arrival at the hospital through to the end of the book contrasts considerably with the experience of his friend on the ward, a feisty girl Dorothea who sees saints on people's shoulders. Her own "daemon" is aptly Joan of Arc, and although curing her of these apparitions would be a medical success, what would be left of Dorothea without them?
Throughout, this heartfelt story is sensitively handled with a great eye for detail. Hearn also cleverly interweaves additional themes into this riveting read: the exclusion felt by the patients from mainstream society, the undercurrent of racism for the doctor who is German, and the doctor's own feelings about what is going on in the hospital and in his own country.
Despite the sad subject matter, and this book would be a great Xmas present, especially for teenage boys - a pantomime is a fairly key part of the plot and from his admittance to hospital Rowan's family wonder whether he might be home for Christmas, some moths later. It certainly makes the "normal" reader appreciate their sanity and their acceptance in a family and community.
Thank you, Julie Hearn. I'm very glad I've read this compelling and thought-provoking book and Rowan will stay with me for a considerable time to come.


The Princess Plot
The Princess Plot
by Kirsten Boie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.60

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A kind of Princess Diaries crossed with The Prince and the Pauper, 2 May 2009
This review is from: The Princess Plot (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's enough of the sugary sweet to entice the ten-thirteen year old girl into this book - a young girl who goes to an audition with an ambition to be a film star - and yet this is an intriguing adventure story really. There's an underlying plot that is rather more sinister which covers inequality and the prospect of civil war, manned by a cast of courtly and political characters.
Overall, this is a well-written and enjoyable read, an interesting take on a Princess theme and ripe for televization!
And if you enjoy this, try also The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson.


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