Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The statistical probability of love at first sight By Jennifer E.Smith

Hadley Sullivan is a problem struck girl,  living in the midst of the remainders her parents awkward break up. She lives with her mum, and her dad has moved on and has started a new life in england with his fiance. Out of pressure from her family, hadley is going on a trip to london to her father and soon to be step mums wedding.
Yet hadley finds herself in a bad situation, that she has just missed her flight by 4 minutes. But while waiting for her replacement flight she meets someone who might be worth missing a flight for; oliver. He is a charming english boy who finds out about hadleys story and becomes her travel companion.

The characters in the book, are all so unique and had been crafted like real people. Hadley seemed reasonably normal with her opinions and personality and I think this made her very likeable straight from the start. Oliver's character is well suited for the audience of readers, mainly teenage girls, as he has lots of charisma and his joking personality makes it funny to read. As for the other characters they are also very lifelike and interesting and quietly add to the books hook.

I know most would say she's a bit too obvious in the storyline, but still, my favourite character is Hadley. I just love the way her personality is very different on the outside to what she actually is. Also she makes the book exciting without being too bold and making too obvious actions, and smith really writes her well.

For the negatives about the book, I can't see any! But if I had to be picky I would say at times you could see what was going to happen, but wasn't too obvious and didn't spoil the storyline.

I reallyyy loved this book, for many reasons! The characters were so realistic and in so many books authors make their characters perfect, and I think with a few flaws it really adds to the books emotion! The books ending was all summed up nicely and made you have a sigh of relief. Also I like the short time period in which this book is set, it stops it from dragging on and let's the author go into detail, with added suspense as times runs quickly.
This book may seem a bit girly, but I think boys would enjoy it too, and people of most ages! I would definitely read another one of hers in the future!

9/10! Chloe year 9

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight By Jennifer E. Smith

Hadley Sullivan, an American girl living with her Mum in America and on her way to for a weekend of hell, her Dad’s wedding with his new fiancée in England.
Ever since Hadley’s Dad had left herself and her Mum she has had a rocky relationship with him but after weeks of persuasion she finally agrees to go to the ceremony. However she is four minutes late and by chance she meets Oliver, a handsome, witty, British boy who has his own reasons for travelling to England.
This is the story of their journey to England as they uncover each others’ reasons for their journey and their feelings for each other.

First of all, this is not my type of book, I personally try to avoid any romance books wherever possible so this book was already doing quite well to be in my hands and being read.

I thought the characters were very plausible and their different personalities and clashing opinions were really well written in the book and constant throughout.
I think Hadley was the sort of person that you could really empathise with and I found that I would have reacted in a similar sort of way to her Dad if I had been in her situation.
There was a good range of characters in the book however I personally thought that Oliver may have been a bit more upset on the plane journey throughout instead of just when a direct question was asked about his parents.

I found the plot very readable and there was always enough to make me want to keep reading meaning it wasn’t a struggle to persevere to the end like it is with some books. I thought it was very well planned and although I find it hard to believe that Hadley would have been able to find Oliver at the church at all I don’t think it took much away from the story.
The only complaint I’d have with the plot was the fact that there seemed to be endless flashbacks after they had got off the plane and I found that I could skip whole pages without it taking much away from the story, I think it would have been better if they were a bit more evenly spread out in the book so we can gradually learn more about the characters like that.

I thought it was written really, really well. Smith got across the characters personalities and feelings perfectly and it the romantic bits were good because they were neither over the top or boring.

I also found this story makes the reader think about several different issues and shows how they can affect people and what people do about them in real life, such as: love, divorce, the importance of marriage and family and, again, I found myself emphasising a lot.

Overall, although this isn’t ‘my sort of book’ I can see exactly why many people would love it and I don’t regret reading it. The plot was in some ways predictable but I think there was always enough to keep the reader hooked.
I think Smith perfectly demonstrated how well she can write and I would be very tempted to read any other of her books in the future.

Nathan Dumpleton, Year 9

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

By Jennifer E. Smith

Hadley Sullivan lives with her Mum in America. Her Dad lives with his new fiancé in England. Right now they are not exactly the best of friends, but, after weeks of persuasion, Hadley has agreed to travel to London for her Father’s re-marriage. This story follows Hadley’s day as she misses her flight by four minutes, meets an English boy called Oliver, and falls in love over 50,000 feet up in the air. As Hadley struggles to accept her Dad’s future, Oliver has his own secrets and, not exactly by chance, they meet again in England. But will Hadley’s new found romance last or will she be left flying solo once again?

I really enjoyed this book and found it near to perfect. It is the kind of book you could read again and again and never get bored of! It follows Hadley, a normal American teenage girl, as she struggles to come to terms with her Dad’s fiancé and his new life in London. As Hadley’s day becomes a roller coaster with ups and downs, she misses her flight, landing herself into what she at first thought was trouble, but turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. She meets Oliver, a boy from London, studying at college in America and they sit next to each other on the plane. Hadley soon realises that what she feels for Oliver is not just gratitude, but love.

The characters in this book are very realistic and well formed. At first you think they sound almost too perfect but, by discovering their personalities and delving deeper into the book, you soon see they too have their faults. Smith has created Hadley, and, by giving her these everyday faults, she is easy to relate to. She seems just like a normal teenager and I believe this would connect with many readers, especially girls, and encourage them to read the novel too. Oliver is a handsome but intelligent boy and is constantly coming up with things to make Hadley smile. He has a jokey attitude but we can see that underneath he is very focussed on his studies.

My favourite character is Charlotte who, although not a main character, plays an important part in the novel, being in fact, Hadley’s Dad’s new Fiancé. Before she flies to England, Hadley has never met Charlotte, but has received numerous ‘girly’ emails from her filled with gossip and the latest trends. She immediately assumes she will hate Charlotte and that the whole classic ‘evil Stepmother’ story will commence. However, when we finally meet Charlotte, we instead find she is a kind, caring, down-to-earth woman, who is eager to meet and embrace Hadley into her family. By the end of the novel Hadley and her Dad are closer and have forgiven each other for all their misdoings. Hadley is even becoming friends with Charlotte, Smith leaves the novel open, all the loose ends are tied up, but, somehow, you’re still eager to know what is happening with Hadley and her family a few months or so later.

Another big theme in the novel is panic attacks. Hadley is scared stiff of flying in an aeroplane. She has to force herself to get on and is constantly trying to think of ways to get out of going. In the past she has had panic attacks due to pressure and worry. When this has happened her Father has always told her to look up at the clouds and feel free, she has used this trick every time, but it’s a totally different situation when the clouds are below you and you’re 50,000 feet up. When Hadley discovers her and Oliver are on the same plane she confides this fear to him and he keeps her occupied during the long flight. Coming up with crazy questions, interesting stories, and rubbish jokes. He refuses to let Hadley’s mind wander back to her fears. It’s in this way that the two main characters really get to know each other and it’s in this way they discover they have a real spark together. By adding this theme Smith has given another dimension to the book which makes it more interesting and gives the plot a new level.

Throughout the book Smith has narrated it from a third person point of view which I think also helps as it allows you to see how both characters are feeling and reacting during each chapter. It lets you get an outsiders view and think about the situation in your own way as the text is not biased to any individual point of view. Smith has been able to incorporate lots of detail for all the surroundings and characters by choosing this way of narrating as it does not leave one character, namely the person narrating, out like so many other novels do.

The other aspect of this novel which I really liked was the fact that it was set over just one day and night. It really allowed you to connect with the storyline as it felt as if it was in real time and not the make-believe time line of most fiction books. Chapters picked up after a few minutes instead of your normal few days or even weeks. This unique setting was enhanced even more by the fact that I read this book over just a couple of days as well and couldn’t wait to reach the end!

To conclude, I can safely say that I loved this book and would definitely read any more that are released by Jennifer E. Smith. The characters are really well created and you can relate to them easily. Although the plot is classic and a little predictable it is never boring as it includes the other theme of Hadley’s fear of flying. Smith has used an ingenious way of narrating giving you the outsiders view on everything meaning it is much easier to picture what is happening. Also, the description and techniques used in this book were very good and I loved the setting of just one day as it made it seem more like real life. Overall, a really fantastic read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a fun, charming, light novel that will grab their attention and their heart!

By Eleanor,
Year 9

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

By Jennifer E. Smith

This book is about a seventeen year old girl who is (against her will) forced to go to her father’s wedding. Her father had left her and her mother about 1 and a half years ago after meeting a lady in England. Hadley is very angry with her Dad and has spent as long as she can to avoid him but now she must face him. Not only does she have to fly all the way to England for a wedding she doesn’t want to go to but she has to fly whilst having a fear of claustrophobia! Who would’ve thought that one boy would brighten up her day?

I thought that both of the main characters were very likeable. I thought that Oliver was quite believable as you think he’s perfect at the start but you get to see the other side to him towards the end – the more human side! I found the Charlotte (the Dad’s fiancée) a bit predictable because in most plot lines where someone gets a stepmother they think the stepmother will be horrible but she turns out to be nice. This is the same for this book, however I did like her character. Perhaps because all the characters in the book were likeable it would’ve been nice to have one unlikable person to make it stir up the plot a bit.

I absolutely loved the plot line! I think it was a great idea to set most of it in a plane, it makes the love between Hadley and Oliver seem more magical. I thought that I would’ve liked a little bit more dialogue between Oliver and Hadley because we only hear a few clips of them talking and I think it would add to the big picture to see how they talk to each other (relaxed, tense etc.). I loved the twist at the end with Oliver I think it makes the story line fit together nicely.

Overall I would happily read this book over and over again, it’s very easy to read yet its gripping and I enjoyed it thoroughly. My favourite part was when she poured out her troubles to her Dad; you finally know that everything will be ok between her and her Dad. I think this book would make a great film, it has the right plot line and feel to it. I would recommend this to any girl who wants a light hearted, romantic read.

By Louise Year 9

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

By Jennifer E. Smith

When a boy and a girl meet, who knows what the result will be? When Hadley and Oliver meet in an airport, there is something special going on between them. Could it be love at first sight?

The characters in this book were very believable as they were well described and you could feel all of their emotions. As this was written in third person, it helped to give the view of a spectator and this allowed the author to describe more clearly how the characters were feeling.
This story gripped me all the way through as it ran very quickly and most of the scenes were full of action. The more calm scenes were full of emotion and this kept you reading on too. This book did begin to get obvious towards the end and I could guess what the ending would be. This meant that, for me, the ending was not as powerful as it could have been.
I think that the author wrote this book very well and was especially good at the description and the romance scenes. This was helped by it being in third person.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think that other people could really enjoy reading this book too.

By Ben Mason, Year 9

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

By Jennifer E. Smith

Hadley Sullivan was on her way to London for her father’s re-marriage, when she misses her flight by four minutes. She has to wait at the airport for the next flight, after which she will have to go to the wedding straight from the airport.  While waiting at the airport, she meets Oliver, an English boy who will be sitting two seats along from her during the flight.
Let’s start with the characters. I thought both the main characters, Oliver and Hadley were really well developed. Something I find with most fluffy romance books like this is that the two main characters, especially the female one, are so PERFECT. It really annoys me. But Jennifer has managed to show there flaws, but still make them likeable people. It makes the book a lot more realistic, and by the end of the story I ended up relating to Hadley, feeling her pain and her happiness along with her. Smith has also managed to show Hadley’s changing opinions on the characters, and this manages to change your opinion on the characters too.  All in all, while reading this book, I felt like I experiencing everything just like Hadley was, and that can be difficult to write.

 The plot was a tiny bit predictable, but it was still gripping, and ran at a good pace. By the end of the book, all of the loose ends were tied up neatly. In the last few chapters I felt myself squeaking several times at the sheer cuteness of the storyline. It’s like a sort of modern day fairytale but the characters make more mistakes, and have more regrets, which makes for a more interesting read.

The book is set over the timeline of just a day, which is interesting but works really well, especially as I read the book in under a day. It keeps the story fresh, and has the impression of time running out, which keeps the tension.

In total, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a fluffy, sweet romance that would be perfect for holiday reading, or anyone looking for a light read. I think this book would appeal more to girls as it is told mainly from a girl’s point of view, but I think boys could enjoy it as well.


By Elle, Year 9

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ready, steady, SQUEE!

The rights for Chaos Walking have been sold!  Lionsgate can make a film.

I'm not sure if this is exciting or scary, I have such a clear image of what these characters look like, how they act, how they move.  I know what they sound like, and I know you do too! So, can our expectations ever be met?  I've started a thread on this in the Forum, so head on over and let me know what you think.  Who would be your idea casting choices?  Who on earth could play the Mayor?!


Well done everyone, your reviews for the Guardian Young Critics competition have been submitted, now we just have to sit back and see if we have any winners.  Many of you have asked if we'll be judged as a group or if they'll be looking at individuals, when they'd announce the winners and when the trip would be if we won.  

I don't know!  

But I do know that your work on the longlist was amazing, and they have now announced the shortlist from that selection (yeah, I know, their idea of a longlist wasn't terribly long...) 

The four shortlisted books are: 

My Name is Mina by David Almond

Return to Ribblestrop, by Andy Mulligan

Moon Pie, by Simon Mason

Twilight Robbery, by Frances Hardinge

I know I was very surprised to see that My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece didn't get through, but what do you guys think?  

Read the announcement from the chair of judges, Julia Eccelshare, here.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout

By Andy Stanton

Young Polly and her old friend Friday are forced to save Lamonic Bibber once again when Mr Gum and his evil cronies cook up another scheme to pollute the town and conquer the world. The ‘Department of Clouds and Yoghurts’ investigates the funny smell, behaviour of clouds, and disappearance of meat to try and find Mr Gum before it’s too late. But will Polly save the day…?

This book was interesting in places but I personally found the plot a bit predictable. I think it is more suited to younger readers as I think they would enjoy it more. In this series of ‘Mr Gum’, Stanton has created a group of fun and classic characters who all follow suit and give you a great children’s story. I didn’t have a favourite but I thought Friday was really fun as he was your traditional old man.

In places this book was funny with mild, humour, but mostly I didn’t really connect with it. The illustrations added another dimension to the book which I think would really help more inexperienced readers to picture what’s happening.

Overall I didn’t really enjoy this book as I think it is more suitable for younger readers.

By Eleanor,
Year 9

Small Change for Stuart

By Lissa Evans
Small Change for Stuart is about an unusually small boy called Stuart, whose great uncle was a famous magician who mysteriously disappeared many years ago. When his family move to the town where his uncle was born and lived, Stuart discovers a note left for his dad many years ago. He follows an intricate trail of clues to discover the truth of his great uncle’s disappearance, with a determined businesswoman and a hopeless magician out to stop him.
It was a strange book, and a lot of the things that happened seemed to be mostly of coincidence, but I really enjoyed it. It was written very well, and I don’t get bored once!
My favourite character was Leonara, because she helped Stuart even though she was blind and didn’t really know who he was. She rescued him, protected him from Jeannie, and freed Clifford. She was a really kind, generous person. It was a shame you didn’t find more about what happened to her at the end, but you do know she is happy.
I really like this type of book, and this is a perfect example why.9/10!
Molly  (Year 8)

Twilight Robbery

By Francis Hardinge
Twilight Robbery is set in a world where the time of your birth dictates what type of person you are. Mosca Mye and Euponymous Clent were thrown together before the book starts, and live on money earned from trickery and deceit. They uncover a plan to capture Beamabeth, a mayor’s daughter, but they discover that Beamabeth is not all she seems.
This book was really interesting, but at first I wasn’t sure what was going on, and it took a while for the main plot to develop. I really liked the way the book highlighted stereotyping and I thought that the idea of the Beloved and all of the Guilds was really clever.
As much as I hate her, I think that my favourite character has to be Beamabeth. She was so smart and cunning, and I had no idea what she was really like, until Mosca explained it to everyone. Even though she was completely evil, I felt so sorry for her at the end and I think that’s a really hard type of character to create.
I would recommend this nook to all of my friends, but it wasn’t perfect. 9/10!
Molly  (Year 8)

Moon Pie.

By Simon Mason.

Martha has big responsibility’s at only the age of eleven. Already she looks after her family, including her brother Tug, and her father, who is a forgetful man. Martha manages to do all of this as well as the things eleven year old girls should do... when she gets the time. When Martha starts finding alcohol bottles all around the place, she realises that some thing isn't right with her dad. Martha has to take control. But it isn't as easy as she thought it would be.

I really loved this book as I thought the characters were amazing and so 'down to Earth' and realistic. I loved Martha and her continual need to help people. It opened your eyes as you could really connect and understand the way children must feel in these circumstances. I really loved Tug, he is the mischievous brother that everyone needs!

I thought this had a really interesting plot that it actually believable! The way in which Mason has told the story really gets through to you and makes you want to constantly read on! Mason has put the right mix of everything in the book, humour, sadness, and adventure.

Overall a fantastic novel!

Jess year 9.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Small Change for Stuart

By Lissa Evans

When Stuart moves house to Beeton, he is not happy or excited. In fact he is miserable, until he discovers that his Great Uncle who lived here was a great magician. Armed with just some three-penny bits, a photo book and the help of his new neighbour, Stuart must follow the clues and solve the mystery of the disappearance of his Great Uncle Tony.

I really liked this book as I found the element of magic fun. This was the only book out of the 8 that had a slight fantasy genre and I thought it was excellently placed throughout the novel. Evans has created a fun mystery which is sure to enchant all children! The plot was fantastic and the ending was great and unexpected. I couldn’t stop reading it or put it down!

The characters were very well described and you could easily picture Stuart trying to look interested as his Father lectures him! I particularly liked April and her sisters as I thought they were interesting and it was fun to guess which of the precocious triplets Stuart was talking to.

Overall I thought this book was excellent and very well written. Moving, moreish, and definitely magical!

By Eleanor,
Year 9

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece

By Annabel Pitcher

5 years ago Jamie’s big sister Rose was killed in a terrorist attack. Jamie was too young to remember and seems to have moved on, even Jas, Rose’s twin sister, seems less upset. It’s only Dad who can’t really accept it. When Mum walks out and the rest of the family move house, Jamie struggles in his school and is bullied by everyone except Sunya. But Sunya is Muslim, and Muslims killed rose. Will Jamie be able to keep his friendship with Sunya a secret…?

I really loved this novel as I could connect with the characters. Jamie and Sunya immediately strike a friendship, playing super-heroes, which Jamie hides from Dad- scared he will freak out about Rose. Jas is my favourite character, so different from her family, yet always there for her brother if he needs her.

Pitcher has created a believable and realistic storyline that relates to a normal family life. This is a story of acceptance, remembrance and forgiveness, all of which the author portrays well. There is a mix of emotions which work well with the interesting plot. Overall I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to others! Alive, amazing, and awesome!

By Eleanor
Year 9

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Small change for Stuart

By Lissa Evans.

When 10 year old Stuart moves to a completely new historical town called Beeton, he finds out that there is a reason for him being there. As the book moves, he finds out all about his family history and his mysterious Uncle Tony who was a magician, who one day disappeared with no reason or explanation. It is up to Stuart and his new neighbour to find Uncle Tony with only a letter and some coins, from this point onwards, it seams like Stuart will have a mystery to solve.

This is a very typical children book, what with the way in witch the hero has clues and has to solve the mystery, and the continual twisting and ever more thickening plot, but that is what makes it so wonderful!

Stuart is a very obscure character and even towards the end of the novel you know very little about him. However, throughout the book, you are given clues not only about finding Uncle Tony but also about Stuarts personality and character. I think this adds depth to the book and makes it even more beautiful.

Over all a fantastic action packed book with great characters that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Jess year 9

Moon Pie

By Simon Mason

Martha is an eleven year-old girl with big responsibilities. She looks after her lovable but unruly younger brother Tug, takes care of her crazy and forgetful father, and at the same times stays on top of her own life! But, when Dad starts acting ‘strange’ and mysterious bottles of alcohol are found around the house, Martha must once again take matters into her own hands. This book follows Martha throughout her struggles in life. If only all problems could be solved with pie.

I really enjoyed this book as I thought the characters were the most realistic out of all the books. Martha faced problems that lots of young children have to deal with and I could really connect with her. Mason has described Tug well and given him the exact qualities of a five year-old boy. He is constantly making trouble but is always there if Martha needs him.

The plot is believable and interesting. It grips you as you want to know what happens to Martha. Mason has found the right mix of humour, sadness, and adventure to make this novel one you won’t forget. Overall a fantastic book, I really enjoyed it! Clever, connecting and definitely complete!

By Eleanor
Year 9

Friday, 23 September 2011

Return to Ribblestrope.

By Andy Mulligan.

From the start trouble is on it's way for Millie and her friends. Before the book really starts, Millie had already hitch hiked, set fire to a hotel, lived through a car crash and who knows what else! During the book, the children in the so-called boarding school, learn about the history of Ribbletrope and what is hidden inside. This is certainly one of the most action packed, mad books I have every read!

I love this book and was immediately hooked with the opening page, even paragraph! The way it starts and the type of language makes it un-put-downable! The characters are so intriguing and quire they make you want to read just so you find out more about them. The book flowed beautifully and at the right pace so you fully understood what was going on but didn't get board. Someone looking over my shoulder reading a random page may say the book was boring and had a obvious plot, but is couldn't think they were more wrong! The book is like one of those woodland paths you go on, with the continual twisting and turning!

Overall, one of the funniest, mad, unexpected books I have come across!

Jess Year 9

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My Sister lives on the matelpiece

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

5 Years ago Jamie’s sister Rose aged 10 was killed by terrorists. Jamie was too young to remember her and when his mother walks out it’s just him his dad and rose’s twin sister Jas. When they move house Jamie starts a new school he is bullied by everyone except one girl Sunya. Sunya is Muslim and Jamie can’t decide when to leave the pain of losing a sister behind and become friends with Sunya or stay remorseful and hate filled for ever which will he choose……………

I thought the book was brilliant and I really sympathised with Jamie. He was my favourite character as I just felt really sorry for him. I thought the characters and the plot were all really well thought out, especially Jas as she was really supportive of her brother and was always there to comfort him and make him feel better.

It’s a lovely book and I thought it added a lot of tension and also sadness when Jamie’s mother walked out. This book has displayed a very true picture of what sometimes happens and how the families have to deal with it. Overall I loved it.

By Yasmin

Monday, 19 September 2011

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece.

By Annabel Pitcher.

In September, five years ago, Jamie’s sister, Rose age 10, was killed by terrorist Muslim bombers. Jaime try’s to grieve but he never really understands why. He was too young and couldn’t remember Rose. When Jaime’s mum walks out on, him, his dad and Roses twin sister Jas, they all move to the north to start a new live. But they can’t leave Rose behind. When they get there everyone bullies Jamie, except one, Sunya, the only Muslim girl in the school. Torn between a live of mourning with his family and a happy life with Sunya, Jamie doesn’t know what to do or think.

I loved this book and the characters. Although, my favourite character is Jas, Jamie’s older sister as she is so kind and dose everything to help Jamie and make him feel better about their family situation.

I thought this book was really smooth and an easy read. Pitcher had really thought about the individual characters and they all have such unique personalities. The actual story line was moving and realistic.

Overall I thought it was a beautiful book that has so much depth and warmth through the story line as well as the fantastic characters.

By Jess year 9

My Name is Mina

By David Almond

‘My name is Mina’ is about a creative little girl called Mina. She constantly writes in her diary up her favourite tree which she shares with a family of birds. Thought out the book we learn about Mina’s thoughts and dreams as well as her past life where Mina gets up to all sorts.

I think this is a truly beautiful book what with the birds, inside thoughts and the way Mina turned words in a notebook into a fantastic piece of art. The way Almond has laid out the book is amazing. The way the fonts change and the page layout is done to full effect and makes the diary seem more realistic.

Mina is an amazing character which I think David Almond has done to her full potential. Her crazy little stories and they way she looks at life can only make you smile. Mina is so lively and feisty, and yet when she spills her emotions onto a page she seems so vulnerable and hopeless. Perhaps she would put it as she is a little egg in a nest that has no one to go to.

Overall, a fabulous, touching book, unlike one I have ever read!

By Jess year 9.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mr Gum and the secret hideout Andy Stanton

Mr Gum and The Secret Hideout are set in a small town called Lamonic Bibber. Mr Gum and Billy William the Third are always out to destroy Lamonic Bibber no matter what. So it’s up to a small girl named Polly and her friend Friday to stop them. There is also a surprising appearance of a man named surprising Ben he pops up here he pos up there and is a funny addition to the story.

Overall I quite enjoyed Mr Gum it is a funny interesting story that keeps you entertained with weird language and eye-catching cartoons. As a book that is aimed at smaller children the author has done so perfectly and no matter what their reading ability is they are sure to enjoy Mr Gum.

The characters are imaginatively created and are always doing and saying funny and stupid things. The character Friday O’Leary is particularly interesting and he is constantly talking about his love of yogurt and sometimes and ignoring Polly whilst doing so.

It’s not particularly well written but the book is aimed and small children so it doesn’t really matter and sometimes it goes off the plot a bit. However I still enjoyed it.

By Yasmin

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Momentum Saci Lloyd

When Hunter witnesses a boy death he begins to realise how deadly the kossak soldiers really are. Hunter and Uma must work together to keep some special codes away from the kossaks although they may not like each other much at the start this is a matter of life of death.

I found this book really hard to get into and really hard to understand. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I think Lloyd knew what she was writing in her head but she just didn’t get it down in the book.

I didn’t like either of the characters (Hunter, Uma) because I thought they were both quite self centred when you first meet them but as you learn more about them through the book you begin to like them more and more.

I thought the book was like an episode of the Simpsons because in the Simpsons nothing that happened in the episode before applies in the next episode. The book made literally no sense.

All in all I thought it was a very nice idea that just hadn’t been developed enough to make sense.

By Yasmin

Monday, 12 September 2011


Return to Ribblestrop- Andy mulligan

 Before the children even arrive at ribblestrop, they hitch hike, live through a car crash, set fire to a hotel,and get a man to  collect his traveling van of animals and bring them to school for a school circus project. This definitely sums up the of madness  of the book.

Millie and her orphan friends live at a boarding school, well I wouldn't really call it a school! Throughout the course of the book the children realize the treasures hidden in ribblestrop, which everybody wants. However it may seem like a boring, obvious plot but as the strangeness continues mulligan uses comedy wit and emotion to make this book addictive.

I loved the first section of the book, andy gets the reader hooked involved and interested by his strange occurrences and unique characters and it makes the first chapter seem like a story in itself. Throughout the book I was constantly laughing at the things going in and this humor makes the book more pleasurable to read. From reading this book I would not know that it was a series as it was well explained and didn't seem like other sequels you were reading half a story!

A faultless book, good for all ages loved it!!
Chloe year 9

Monday, 5 September 2011

Twilight Robbery.

By Frances Hardinge.

Frances Hardinge’s novel, ‘Twilight Robbery’ is about, a ‘black-eyed’ orphan girl, Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent who are both down to there last straw of luck. During the book they find themselves beginning to be tempted by a huge amount of money that that can earn for completing a risky kidnapping plan. While staying at a toll city a trapped Mosca needs to rescue a girl she detests with only a midwife, deadly goose and a knight to help her!

Despite the first fifth of the book being more difficult to understand, from that point onwards the book is possibly one of the best fantasy/action books I have read. The tension and constant roll of action makes the book ‘un-put-down-able!’

Mosca is a strong fearless, independent women who’s logic mange’s to resolve problems throughout the book. However, my favourite character has to be the goose, Saracen who, in my opinion, the ‘mystery solver’ in the book!

Hardinge, has created two separate worlds within the same town. It has been portrayed so well in this book that when two worlds combined it can cause mayhem.

With the crazy characters, thickening plot, it is overall a fantastic, gripping book!

Jess year 8.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


By Saci Lloyd.

During this book, Momentum, two main characters, Hunter and Uma are brought together by unusual circumstances, together they fight to protect everything they know, love and care about. This book is set in the near future where supplies are scarce. Hunter is very energetic and he lives in an upper-class society. However Uma has the opposite life, spending her time running from soldiers and living in the slums.

I think Lloyd has done particularly well joining these characters together as they both have so extreme backgrounds. The way the characters both have such different characteristics, yet still work together when everyone is in danger is done amazingly.

I think the book has a great plot, although it takes a while to pick up. However from that initial stage, the action keeps coming and you don’t want to put it down! Personally, I feel that Lloyd has added an extra section to the book. This is about the situation London may be in a few years’ time. This you have to read deeper into the book as it is an ‘extra’ to the book rather that the main plot. This insight has been done incredibly. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Jess, year 8.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Return to Ribblestrop - Andy Mulligan

Return to Ribblestrop is about a school full of orphans, a handful of fee-paying children, and only one girl. You first meet Millie, the only girl, and she is in a car with two priests joining the school when she crashes into Sam, Ruskin and his brother Oli. They then meet a wild animal tamer, Flavio, who used to work for a circus. He needs somewhere to look after his animals, but he has no money, from then on, the whole school is preparing to create Ribblestrop Circus!
I was surprised at how funny this book was, because, even though I enjoyed the first few pages, when Flavio was introduced, I got a little bit bored, until you got into the school term. I still haven’t read the first book, but it all made sense.
My favourite character was Professor Worthington, because she was the calmest of all the adults and she had a lovely relationship with her pupils. I couldn’t stop laughing at some of the things that she said, even if they weren’t all that funny.
This book was a work of genius, and I will definitely read the first book. 9/10!
Year 7

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Momentum - Saci Lloyd

Momentum is set it the near future, in a world where oil and electricity are hard to come by, and run out often. Hunter is an upper-class boy, who has many energy privileges. Uma lives in the slums, cheating the system and constantly hiding from the Kossak soldiers. Thrown together in a moment of panic, their mission begins.
At first when I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. I couldn’t get into it and had no idea what was going on, but as I continued to read, all was explained. By the time I was halfway through the book, I couldn’t put it down!
I thought that Uma would be my favourite character when I first read about her, but when Rose was introduced I was immediately drawn to her. When you find out that she betrayed Hunter and Uma for her brother, you immediately think that she is an awful person. Maybe she is. But her actions were realistic and I would certainly do the same thing for my sisters in that situation. I admire her for protecting the one she loved.
An amazing plot, but 8/10 because of the beginning.
Year 7

Return to Ribblestrop

By Andy Mulligan

Ribblestrop Towers is a school filled with boys who are either orphaned or unwanted. There is only one girl- Millie- who is the leader. She, Sam and Oli are brought together, just before the term starts, by fate. They meet an assortment of animals (and their keeper) and two strange monks, who all end up coming to their school. This hilarious novel follows the children as the term commences and the adventure begins.

I didn’t think I would enjoy this book, however, it surprised me- I found Mulligan’s tale irresistible and I had to finish it. The author has transformed boring school life into fun and mischief as Miles’ unexpected actions cause havoc throughout the building. The plot is clever and as the children were drawn deeper into the mystery of the sword and the monks I couldn’t wait to read on!

Each of the children have clearly defined personalities and Mulligan has done a great job making them all unique. My favourite characters were Millie and Oli as they were described so well and played a vital part in the storyline. I also loved the daft, blind, lioness! Overall I really enjoyed this book. Surprisingly super and stupendously strange!

By Eleanor Lavender
Year 8


By Saci Lloyd

Hunter and Uma are completely different but they soon prove that they are good team as they are forced together to help stop the Kossaks and protect the people of the Favelas. They fight for what’s right and as fuel runs out they must try and save everything they believe in. This novel follows the two brave teenagers as their love for ‘jumping’ and their determination carries them through their struggle to find the new keeper.

Right from the start I was drawn into this book as the plot was interesting and Lloyd grabbed your attention straight away. However it took a while for me to grasp the situation London was in. The constant action keeps your pulse racing and the storyline stays strong throughout the book. Lloyd addresses the issue of fuel running out and gives you an idea of what Britain could be like if we don’t change it.

Both Hunter and Uma were delightful characters with alarmingly different personalities. Uma, from the slums, is experienced and tough and although Hunter, from the city, is brave, he is sometimes caught out by his lack of knowledge regarding Uma’s life. Overall I enjoyed this novel, exciting, energetic and extreme!

By Eleanor
Year 8

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Moon pie by Simon mason

Moon pie

Martha Is an  11 year old girl with a lot of responsibility, including looking after her 5 year old brother,tug, and her newly alcoholic father. However her life suddenly spirals put of control when her drunken father takes it a step to far.Martha is a brave girl who can see the good in everything and everyone. Yet her younger brother tug is the opposite, a micheavous stroppy child who usually gets what he wants!

The modern and realistic storyline makes it easy relate to and understand and increases your knowledge and understanding on the subject. The author makes what could be a depressing or boring topic into a exciting interesting one. Making me laugh at times, the personality and quotes of tug and Marcus were very funny. Mason manages to make the deep connection in this family clear even throughout upsetting situations.

The storyline was slightly predictable at times, dragging down the plot.  I didn't really like The begging of the story as it was less exciting and unrelated to the main story.

I liked this book as it was a touching and bittersweet book and would recommend it! 
8/10 by Chloe yr 8

Monday, 8 August 2011

My Name is Mina - David Almond

My Name is Mina is about life from Mina’s point of view, a character you will recognise if you have read Skellig. It is a notebook kept by Mina up until the point where she meets Michael.
I thought this book was completely amazing. I loved the way Mina thought, especially about life and writing. It was beautiful the way she made words into art, a story out of gobbledygook and a blank page full of possibilities. It was really clever how, not only was this book a story about Mina, but it was full of Mina’s poems and her own stories. Even though it was just Mina’s thoughts and feelings, it still drew you in and I found that I couldn’t put it down.
Mina was an incredible character. She was so feisty, and yet she seemed so vulnerable when you read her writing. She poured her emotions out through words and it was beautiful.
I’ve never read a book like this before and I don’t think I ever will again. Some books stay with you forever, and this was definitely one of them. I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it. 10/10!
Year 7

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is about Jamie, a boy whose sister was killed by Muslim bombs in London. He finds it hard to grieve for her, because he never really knew her, but he feels pressured by the rest of his family to mourn. One day, after his mum and dad split up, he moves to the country with his dad and other sister, Jas, and befriends a Muslim girl. He doesn’t know what to do.
I thought this book was beautiful, and I found that I could really empathize with the characters. I felt really sorry, for Jamie when he met Sunya, and then felt he couldn’t be friends with her because of his dad and sister. I think it was written really well from a young boy’s point of view.
Sunya was definitely my favourite character, because of her carefree personality and determination to be friends with Jamie, even after he told her why they couldn’t be friends.
I thought that this was a very moving book, but I didn’t find that it gripped me, and I found it quite hard to get through it at some points. For that it gets 8/10.
Year 7

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout - Andy Stanton

Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout is about Mr Gum and Billy William the Third, who are always trying to destroy the town of Lamonic Bibber. In this book, they had a secret hideout where they were burning loads of meat to try and pollute the town. Polly, Friday O’Leary and Alan Taylor had to save the town.
I loved reading Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout. It was a funny, light read which was a nice change for me. The plot and the characters were very random, but that was part of what I loved about this book. It was unique, and even though it was seemed to be aimed for a younger age group, I could still enjoy it.
My favourite character was probably Surprising Ben, who I found really funny, but most of all, he actually was surprising. I also enjoyed the story, and how I never knew what was going to happen next, especially with Captain Brazil.
I would definitely recommend this book (and the rest of the series) and I give it a 9/10. I’m deducting one point because the size of the text and the waste of paper annoyed me.
Year 7

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My name is Mina - David almond

The book focused on the diary of a small quirky girl called mina, who is home schooled by her mum. She writes freely expressing what she is thinking and talking about the world and it's creatures. Mina is a strong minded and well knowledged  girl, yet finds it hard to make friends or be the same as other children her age.

I have read skellig and I liked reading the prequel afterwards, as minas life slotted into the story of skellig and you got to know more about mina and how she met Michael. I loved how mina expressed her thoughts and how she looks at things differently than I would, giving you a new view.

It was a change to usual, and when reading even though every page wasn't a cliff hanger I still wanted to read on.The book was quite subtly emotional and made you feel upset for mina, as her dad had died and I think this had changed her. Also you could see she did actually want friends, but didn't know how to make them, with her being the unusual character she is.

Loved the book, it was beautifully wrote and the pages seemed to skip by magically!

10/10! Review by Chloe  year 8

Momentum by Saci Lloyd

London, sometime in the future; the way which his everyone lives is dependant on oil and as the last drips of oil are slowly running out, It's a crisis. The gap between rich and poor is huge when all the country needs is teamwork.In all this teenager, hunter Nash, a citizen. Not into the virtual life, he free runs. Accidentally becoming a witness to a murder, he meets uma an outsider. They set off to find the keeper to some important codes that help protect an online network.

At first I wasn't really glued to this book, it seemed a chore to read it than a pleasure as it was difficult to understand. Yet I persevered and the plot got more tense exciting and I got to understand the quite complicated storyline.

 Lloyd is writing about a very important issue, while making it more exciting and readable with her characters and plot. She expressed her view on what she thinks is going to happen and it was very interesting to get an insight of what life could be like in the future.

I absolutely loved this book, It had my heart racing and felt like  watching a movie!

10/10! review by Chloe year 8

Friday, 22 July 2011

Small Change For Stuart

By Lissa Evans

Small Change For Stuart is a simply written children’s story about a little boy on a quest to find a magician’s workshop. The book is written in the same way as a typical children’s book- the hero has to follow clues to find the prize. This book was a fun read for me, and I would recommend it for, perhaps, children inn primary school.

It excited, puzzled and entertained me. This is not a very complex book so is easily understandable and readable for people of many different levels and age groups. The title didn’t really attract me to the book, as it gave me an image of a young boy earning money, but the cover of the book interested me, so I picked it up.

I am very glad that I read this book because after several depressing books I have read recently, Small Change For Stuart was an uplifting light at the end of the tunnel. My main views on this tiny wonder of a book are that it was a good idea with a classical structure; for an uplifting, light read.

By Mia, Year 7

Recommended age: 8-13

Last Day of Term!

It's finally here!  Six weeks of reading time!

Hopefully by now you've all got your summer loans sorted out (Jenna, I'm genuinely worried that I'm going to run out of books for you...) and you're all set to go. Don't neglect your public library if you get stuck!  Even if there's not much at Harpenden, the St Albans collection is pretty good and they have downloadable ebooks and audiobooks too.

Keep your reviews for the Guardian prize coming in, we've had some great ones already and they're a lot easier to write than the Carnegie ones! Sign up on the forums so that you can organise books exchanges and stay in contact.  Remember, I'm off to play with the hobbits from 11th August, so I probably won't be able to authorise new accounts after that - make sure you sign up before then, just in case!

Have a gorgeous break everyone, will miss you :)

Small Change For Stuart

By Lissa Evans

This book is about Stuart moving to the town where his Dad was born and finding out some mysterious things about his family. He finds clues and has to risk being caught to try and work out the secrets that have been left in his family for nearly 50 years.

I really enjoyed this book, even though it was easy to read and I read it very quickly. My favourite character was Stuart’s friend, April, because she was quite surprising. At the beginning of the book it was written in a way that made you dislike her, but as the story went on you grew to like her more.

I thought that it was unpredictable in the way that you didn’t know where he was going to go next and I liked how everything was described. I enjoyed it and found it a nice read, but it was too easy for me.

In conclusion, I thought this book was very good but I would recommend it for younger readers. Although I thought this I still enjoyed it.

By Emily, Year 7

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Twilight Robbery

By Frances Hardinge

Midwives, jewels, dead horses, geese, luck, heroes, and one extremely brave heroine! Toll is split in two, to which side do you belong?

This novel is the story of Mosca Mye and her friends. When debt and work problems send them to the strange town of Toll, Mosca, Clent and their remarkable goose Saracen are drawn into a thrilling plot that threatens to completely destroy the town- handing power to the locksmiths.

Hardinge has invented a whole new world that is believable yet totally crazy. It draws you in and you find it hard to put the book down! Hardinge has created two sides to the story as when the night town emerges a whole new set of characters take the lead. The plot is constantly twisting and turning and it entrances you straight away.

Mosca is a superb character who definitely has initiative and a mind of her own. Her antics seem absurd but they solve the problem in the end. Hardinge describes her so well and lifts her spirit right off the page. I also fell in love with Saracen who it seems was the answer to the whole mystery! Amazing ending, absurd characters, an absolutely awesome book!

Eleanor, Year 8

Moon Pie

By Simon Mason

This book is about eleven year old Martha, having to cope with family difficulties and looking after her family. She makes lists inside her head and the lists keep getting longer and more difficult.

At the beginning of this book I thought it was a sweet story about a girl trying to look after her brother, Tug and her Dad, but it turned out completely different. From reading the blurb you couldn’t tell what the story was about.

My favourite character was Martha’s friend, Marcus. This is because he was funny, enthusiastic, but serious at the same time. He always either cheered up or gave good ideas and he was unpredictable.

I found this book very easy to read (I read it in one day) and I think it is written in a way for younger children, but what the story is about is for older children. I liked the book, but I wouldn’t pick it off a bookshelf and read it.

In conclusion, I liked this book, but it wasn’t amazing. I would recommend it possibly to slightly younger children though.

By Emily, Year 7

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


By Saci Lloyd

This book is about Uma and Hunter who live two very separate lives but are brought together when escaping the cruel kossak soldiers. They work together to try and keep some special codes away from the kossaks.

It took me ages to work out this book. I didn’t find it particularly interesting and it didn’t explain things well at the start. But, the further on I got, the more I started to enjoy it. I finally understood what was going on and really felt for the characters.

It is a very violent book and it took me a while to get into, but once I had got into it I just wanted to finish it, to find out what happened. It was very unpredictable and I found myself asking questions in my head like where are they going to go next? It is cleverly written and the feelings of the characters and their personalities are put across clearly.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book, but to enjoy it as much as you can you must persevere to the end.

By Emily, Year 7

Monday, 18 July 2011

Mr gum and the secret hideout- andy Stanton

This is one of a series of books about the crazy cunning yet wonderful mr Gum  accompanied by his obedient assistant Billy William. Together the villains try and destroy the town of lamonic bibberand make life miserable for everyone!  When the 'department of clouds and yoghurts', made up of  thrill seeking Polly and Friday, come along there is a mystery to be solved...

I liked how this is a book like no others and defiantly doesn't lack excitement and imagination. With weird and wonderful written all over there is something hysterical on every page and it Certainly made me laugh! throughout the book onomatapeas and sound effects that brought the story to life!

However the plot was not very complex and was easy to predict what was going to happen next, apart from the odd talking gingerbread man showing up?! I would have enjoyed it more if something unexpected had occurred.

This is a unique book but i didn't enjoy it as much as when I started to get into it it had finished! Yet a change to normal and great for young readers to enjoy!

By Chloe benson year 8 
Age: 6-10

Friday, 15 July 2011

My Name Is Mina

By David Almond

This book is the diary of a young girl named Mina. She doesn’t go to school and is instead taught at home by her mother who is loving, tender and at the heart of Mina’s life. In her diary, Mina expresses her thoughts and opinions about life in general as well as drawing pictures and telling stories from her past. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I thought it was perfect in every way!

Almond really makes you think by creating such a charming character that is Mina. She is naïve and innocent but at the same time seems to know an awful lot about the world around her. As Mina watches the boy moving into the old house, gazes at the birds fascinated, or completes extraordinary art projects with her mother, you find yourself drawn deeper into the book.

Almond sets out this novel beautifully, the design is simple yet so creative. It looks just like a child’s diary and the content is spot on too- unpredictable, random, but almost heart-warming! Since this is the prequel to Skellig I think that anyone reading it who hasn’t read the follow on would love the cliff-hanger. Fantastic, fulfilling, and definitely flawless!!


Eleanor, Year 8

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Small change for Stuart- Lissa Evans

Guardian- small change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

A small ten year old boy, Stuart horten moves to a historical town named Beeton. Yet  he realises he had moved there not my choice; but by fate. As the story unravels stuart finds out about his great uncle Tony horten a magician who mysteriously disappeared. Left with only a letter some coins and a trail of clues stuart and his neighbour try to solve the mystery...

when I first started this book I thought the story line was a little predictable. Yet as the book went on twists  increased the ever changing plot and made the story into one I couldn't put down!

The little known about Stuart makes you intrigued about his personality, and throughout the book you feel like you get to know what he Is like, this is better than all being revealed at the beginning as it makes you want to read on!  I liked how all the clues fitted together and I think the author had been very clever in choosing these and where in the storyline they were to solve them and it didnt ever get boring. 

Great book, an easy read but still a imaginative plot and a magical happy ending! 
 8/10- review by Chloe benson yr 8
Recommended age 7-12:)

Mr. Gum and the Secret Hide Out.

By Andy Stanton.

Mr. Gum is a series about a ‘mischievous’ man, his friend Billy the butcher, as well as a little girl called Polly, a rather unusual man called Friday, and of course a talking gingerbread! (Who could have a child’s book without one?!) they all live in Lamonic Bibber

These characters get up to many adventures. However, this particular book, is about Mr. Gum and Billy trying to pollute Lamonic Bibber by burning all the meat from the town! As usual, Polly and Friday device a plan to stop this bad behaviour!

I have read all series in the past, so in a way, it was like reading about an old friend! I again had a few childish giggles and loved the way the chapters were laid out. However, I feel that this series of books is very repetitive, so I did not enjoy it as much as perhaps, I should have, if I had not read the rest of the series. Although, despite this problem I still thoroughly enjoyed this book although am unsure if others of my age group would (I have incredibly childish humour!) but I would certainly recommend it to anyone in the age range of 5-10!

Jess year 8

Thursday, 7 July 2011

My Name is MIna

David Almond

My Name is Mina was probably the most beautiful, thought provoking, faultless book I have read. It’s about a girl (Mina) who’s about my age, who is different from everyone else and evidently doesn’t fit into school life. She is homeschooled by her mother who Mina portrays as a loving and caring mother who is always on Mina’s side. Mina decides to write a diary where she will write about her life in whatever way she wants. She tells stories and events from when she was younger. Almond sets the pages out beautifully with a black background and white writing or huge letters that take up the whole page or even a blank page here or there. You wait in anticipation to see how the next page will be set out. It was a gorgeous book and made me think more than I have in a while and I saw aspects of the world in which I had never even thought about. For example Mina’s fascination in birds, she puts a whole new angle on them. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I would recommend this to anyone who wants to be inspired by the world! The cliff-hanger was pure genius.

Louise Year 8

Monday, 4 July 2011

Mr Gum and the secret hideout

Andy Stanton
There is not much good to say about this book, I declare it plot-less, pointless and paper-wasting (look at the page layout!). Maybe there was a few feeble laughs or childish grins, but it was a comedy right? No lol moments or hysterical gabbles. Just "ah that's mildly funny!". So your friend walks up to you and says, "hey, what book'ya reading, wotsit about?" Well, are you supposed to reply: "well, it's about two slightly evil guys who plan on making the sky fall down by burning horse spam... And it's up to a numbskull old man and a 9-year old girl who can't speak properly to save the day." What do they do? Well they back away slowly of course. I'm very sorry but was this book a joke? Let us all just hope there are no more additions to this dreadful and disastrous series, hope you will never read another book about a guy who has a chewy name and a psychopathic gingerbread-man, who thinks it's in his blood, (they don't even have blood they have flour and almond essence!) to eat cheerios. To end this sarcastic, hateful rage I'm going to call upon the name of the vague town our miss interpreted heroes call home... LAMONIC BIBBER! I rest my case.
Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout

Yr 8

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Well, it's goodbye Carnegie...

But it's hello to the Guardian Children's Fiction prize! 

You can get more information here and we'll be working through the shortlist over the summer.  There are some key differences with this award and what they're asking for from you. 

1. Your reviews should be 200 words or less.  (Sorry Jenna!)  This is going to be a bit of a challenge for some of you who have got used to writing your absolutely fantastic Carnegie reviews, but I think if you're a bit concise, you'll be fine.  Choose your words carefully! 

2. You might need to join the Guardian site and submit your reviews directly to them too.
I think.  At the moment the link that takes you to the application form is down, so I will chase it up and find out if this will be necessary.  My hope is that we'll be able to submit the blog as a whole. I will let you all know! 

The shortlist is eight books and should be really fun to read!  It looks as though we can only afford to buy two copies of each I'm afraid, but if you'd all be willing to do the 'everyone buys one book' thing, that would really help out.  

Here's the list:

My Name is Mina by David Almond
Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout by Andy Stanton
Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans
Twilight Robbery by Frances Hardinge
Return to Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan
Moon Pie by Simon Mason
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
Momentum by Saci Lloyd

There will be more details to follow, and I'll find out about the application.  Official launch tomorrow lunchtime!  Be there for 1.30pm.

You may have noticed a new look for the blog, which seems only right as we move on to our awesome new projects.  There's also a new page, which I'll talk to you all about tomorrow.  I though it would be really nice to have a forum so that you can leave each other messages and coordinate your efforts.  When the new school VLE comes in, we should be able to have one on there too, but for now, this is where you can start!  There are a few concerns about security issues etc so you can't access it yet, but soon...


My Name is Mina

By David Almond

My Name is Mina is about a small girl called Mina; the book actually doesn’t have much of a plot other than her life. Her life in a way is the plot; her thoughts observations, memories and dreams are the book itself.

My favourite character was probably Steepy, I’m not sure whether I liked Mina much. I liked her more towards the end of the book but I thought she was too reserved and too set in her opinions and observations to see other ideas and less complex ideas that are easier to think about. I thought she was a bit ignorant but that can be expected because of her age. However I do think she had some very interesting thoughts. This book is very thought provoking and although it does not have much plot I did enjoy it. It also makes you think of things far greater than everyday thoughts but the problem was I thought the ideas were too advanced and complex for such a young child to understand. ‘Weird’ children might indeed be that complex but it is not a general theory so I doubt it.

I think this book is quite hard to get into but once you do it as an interesting read. It wasn’t exactly a gripping story; the only thing that motivates you to read on is the interest in Mina’s thoughts. You had to do a lot of guessing and even at the end there are still things you have to guess. But I thought the ending was good; it could easily be cause for a sequel but it still had finality to it.

I think this book could easily be a reflection of the author’s thoughts and observations. If so this book is a very deep insight into is mind. I think in one way it is, after having read a few of his other books they all have similar characters in a way, or at east characters similar in the way their mind thinks; their logic. I would recommend this book to anyone that has insightful/unusual thoughts about anything in life.

Jenna Yr8

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Most Awesome Speech in the History of Awesome Speeches

Patrick Ness accepts the Carnegie Award.

Note - you'll need headphones if you're listening to this in the library. Otherwise Miss A. will hear it and will have to retreat to the office for a quiet little cry.

The Hay Festival

Hay is a HUGE literary festival, held every year. This year the line up was amazing and I was very disappointed that I couldn't go!  But Molly did, AND she got a ticket to the event that I would have pulled out a fingernail to go to...

 On the 28th May, I went to see David Almond and Patrick Ness at the Hay Festival with my sister Gwen. David Almond was talking about his new book, My Name is Mina, and Patrick Ness was talking about his new book, A Monster Calls. First, they started talking about where they got the idea for the two books from. Patrick Ness had the same agent as Siobhan Dowd, who had an idea, and a beginning. They asked Patrick Ness to finish the book. This led on to writing a book, and talking about having to let a book grow, and go whichever way it wanted to, while still being true to the story. David Almond talked about his book, and how Mina made words into pictures, and wrote a story where nothing happened, which was just two empty pages. We saw the artwork from A Monster Calls. Afterwards, some people asked questions that I can’t quite remember.
Overall, I really enjoyed this event and it was great to see Patrick Ness and David Almond talking about their books!

  Patrick Ness's autograph to my sister Gwen! 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

And the winner is....

Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness!

To quote the man himself, huzzah!

I did quite a lot of squealing and jumping up and down when I heard the news, sat at my computer desperately clicking away on Twitter to refresh the feed.  The plan was to do a group announcement at 1.15, so that everyone would find out together, but Will, Ellie and Jess's poor Maths teacher made the mistake of teaching them in the ICT room today and so the massive majority of their time was spent refreshing the news page until they found out who the winner was and sent excited emails back and forth.  Apparently they got told off quite a lot.  Worth it.

The rest of the Shadowers gathered to hear the news and let out a massive cheer.  They then demolished the huge, delicious and highly decorated three tier Carnegie cake that Jenna and Louise made.

It was amazing!  The cake, I mean.  Well, the devouring was pretty impressive too.  Within five minutes there was NO CAKE REMAINING.

Hopefully there will be a video of the ceremony up on the site soon, but for now, do have a look at this Guardian article which reports from the awards.  I love what Ness has to say about the importance of libraries and the absolute idiocy of declaring a wish to improve literacy while reducing access to books.

And our congratulations also go to Louis, who is quoted on the official CILIP press release of the award.  Good work Louis!

Quote of the day: 'Miss, there seems to be a lot of cake in this whole Carnegie thing.'
Why, yes.  Yes, there does.  \o/

Carnegie Day

It’s all coming to an end!

Yes, it’s Carnegie announcement day, which means that all of this joy is coming to an end.  But there’s been so much wonderful stuff happening this year!

Last Wednesday we were visited by the Shadowers at Sir John Lawes school across town.  It was fantastic to hear some new opinions on the books, and though some of the discussions were heated, we made some excellent new friends and are really looking forward to doing more with them in the future.  Hopefully they will join us in becoming Nerdfighters! Many thanks to Ms Warman for arranging their visit and piling them all into the minibus.

Then yesterday we had an amazing Shadowing meeting and took part in something very new to us – a Twitter interview with Patrick Ness!  We all settled down with tribute doughnuts, went through the inevitable ICT emergency (why block Twitter school?!  Why?!) but were all set and ready to go at 1.30.  Will and I typed in questions and queries, and Patrick answered them all, giving us an insight into his writing.  The tweets have been archived here, so if you’d like to have a look at our questions, please go ahead!  We’d like to say a huge thank you to Patrick for giving us his time. 

And now, the day is here.  Thursday 23rd June.  Carnegie Day.

At 12.30, they will announce the winner of this year’s Carnegie medal, and we’ll know if our Shadowing vote matched that of the judges.  So I guess it’s time to announce our own winner.

The RPS Readers Carnegie Shadowing winner for 2011 is…

Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness. 

This amazing book held us captivated right the way through as the war raged.  Our sympathies were pulled tight across all sides at one time or another and many returned from reading this book with shredding nails!  Those who read it as a stand alone enjoyed it and appreciated the story for what it was enough that some of these readers were among those who voted it their winner.  And those who read the whole trilogy were bowled over by the complexities and involvement that they felt with the characters, all of whom we came to love or admire in some way.  Yes, even the Mayor.  He may be the most wonderful villain ever created. 


The Death Defying Pepper Roux

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Death Defying Pepper Roux

This book is about a boy called Paul Roux, whose death had been predicted at the age of 14; however when he is 14 he decides it is not his time to die.

I think this book had an interesting concept but I didn’t like it. Pepper Roux just seems to change too much. I know the idea is that he does but I don’t think the transitions are smooth enough. He doesn’t try recreating the people; he just fills in their life with his personality and presence.

My favourite character would have to be Duchess. He seemed the most developed and sincere character. He is the sort of person I’d like to believe most people were like. Just because he seems to care about what happens to Pepper and he sincerely cares about more than just money. Which is what most of the book was based on I believe, money, jealousy and disappearing. I think Pepper would have been better if he stayed in one place longer. During the whole course of the book I think time only moved forward just under a year. I think he should have stayed in different places longer just so he could increase the emotions and relationships between Pepper and the other characters. I think that would have made the whole book stronger.

I also found sometimes that the book was a bit vague, most of the world was left to your imagination. Sometimes I find this really effective but in this case it happened with too many scenes. I don’t remember everything. It wasn’t an amazing book and I found it difficult to get into but I can see why some would like it. I did think this book was thought provoking but only when it was pointed out.
‘People see what they expect to see, don’t they?’

Jenna Year 8

Monsters of Men

By Patrick Ness

Monsters of Men

This book carries on exactly where the last book, The Ask and the Answer, left off. War; and Todd and Viola are stuck in the middle.

I did think that this was good but I didn’t like the way they chose to separate the story in the separate books; I thought the places chosen to start a new book could have been planned better. The Chaos Walking trilogy is definitely worth reading; the suspense and tension. The emotion behind the book was incredible. You tell and easily understand how much it must have taken to write this series.

My favourite character changed a lot throughout the series but in Monsters of Men I did like the Mayor, I think he was one for the most developed characters and he was very passionate. Monsters of Men I felt was one of the best of the series and I loved almost all of the ending (but that is because I’m really exact about details) but I think the ending it did have suited the book perfectly and tied it all together.

I have to admit this series I would recommend to everyone; however I could see why some would not like it. Indeed I thought it was an incredible book; I even have signed copies on my shelf! But I have only read them all once and I am not currently feeling the urge to read them again. The trilogy was fascinating and I could not put the book down but I thought sometimes it may not be something you necessarily want to read about (it is rather graphic).

Jenna (year 8) 

Out of Shadows

By Jason Wallace

Out of Shadows is about a boy who is sent to a boarding school soon after the War ended and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.

I thought this book would be more intense than it was. I was fully expecting to cry in this book…but I didn’t. The book was still good; I enjoyed it (despite some of the plot being rather cruel). My favourite character was probably the main character just because by the end of the book you felt closest to him. I’m not sure I would have liked him if I had known him in reality. He is only likeable because he feels regret and wishes he could change what he does as he is pressurised into it. However I think from another point of view you would not see this and he would come across as a cruel bully. 

I think the fact that the book was written in first person increased the emotion in the book. You felt a lot closer to the character. However I still thought there was a certain extra which should have been added, something small that would just increase the depth and complexity of the main character.

Out of Shadows I found didn’t have much description; just enough to set the atmosphere and the scene. Lots happened during the book and it was generally very graphic. This book didn’t especially stand out to me, it was  what I would consider a light read with some very cruel people. The characters weren’t especially well developed; they didn’t seem to have much character outside of their outlines.

Jenna, Year 8 

Fan Fiction - Monsters of Men

By Ben and Nathan

I sit down on the  bench. I place my bag on the floor and take out my notebook and check that I’m alone.  As usual, I am.
Just me and my thoughts.
I open my book but immediately slam it shut as I hear a babble of Noise coming down the road towards me.
Amongst the mess of thoughts I hear something about me,

What a weirdo.

I ignore it. You can’t take thoughts personally here.
When I’m sure they’ve gone I open my notebook once more. On the first page is a title:
My notebook by Felicity Blackwell
After that it’s mainly mess. My thoughts. My Noise written down on paper. However if you skip to the back there is a page with just one thing written on it. A single question. A single word.


The question everyone is reluctant to answer. But I’ve never asked. Not once. I wonder about everyday. Sometimes I’m up all night just thinking about it.  About life here before we arrived.  About the Mayor and the Mistress.  About the Spackle.  About Todd and Viola and how they changed the world. About how we can only live in peace now because of what Todd and Viola did and are still doing today.
It’s time for some answers…

*          *          *

I walk hesitantly into our living room. Nan is by the window. I stand and watch her for a full couple of minutes. I watch, working out in my head how to ask that question.
“Ouch!” my Nan suddenly cries out. She’s knocked her band against the oak windowsill. She turns around and begins to walk forward. Her head is bent down studying her arm so much so that she almost walks into me.
“Oh hello dear,” she says surprised hurriedly pulling her sleeve over her band, “I didn’t see you there! I didn’t even hear you come in. What can I do for you? Would you like a drink?”

I don’t know what to say for a second I don’t want to ask but then I suddenly splutter out, “Why do the women wear bands?”
My Nan looks at me, almost sympathetically, she looks unsure. Then uncomfortable. Before finally, “Why don’t you talk to your mother about this?”

I reply ‘no’ almost immediately. For some reason I was uncomfortable around my Mother, she made me feel as though I shouldn’t ask the questions I wanted to. Besides she hadn’t even been born in then times of Todd and Viola and the bands.

She sits me down.
“Right the first thing I should probably warn you is that the story isn’t nice and it will be hard to understand why some of the people in it did some of the things they did.” My Nan soothes.
“Ok, ok. I’ll be fine.” I say.
“Then I will tell you. It all begins in a town called Prentisstown.”
“Oh yeah I’ve heard of that.” I interrupt.
“Anyway in this town there were only men. There was a war after some of the women stood up for themselves. They were all killed. The Mayor of this town was Mayor Prentiss.

We now skip forward several years to the days of New Prentisstown ruled again by Mayor Prentiss. Already you know the events that lead up to this. The Mayor wanted control over the Spackle because of a war long which had happened long before.  He made Todd and his son Davy, along with others, brand all the Spackle with a band.”
“Wait, Todd helped brand the Spackle. I thought he was the good one in all of this!”
“My dear girl you did not live then. Mayor Prentiss was manipulative. He could control people with his noise. He used it as a weapon. Viola couldn’t understand it at first but after she came to understand that the Mayor had convinced Todd to so something so cruel but she could forgive him because of what he did after and his regret.”

My Nan reclines into the chair and I do the same. I feel a spring which has been knocked out of place. I’m about to adjust my position but my Nan continues the story so I sit tight.

She continues to tell me about the cruelty of the Mayor and his desire to kill all the women. I learn that he put a slow acting poison in the band to kill them and to this I burst out, “What why would he do that! Have you still got the poison in your band? Are you ill?” I cried images running through my head.
“No, not at all don’t worry! I was one of the first ones to take the cure that the Mayor gave out-”
“Wait a minute, the Mayor gave out the cure, I thought he wanted to kill the women?” I interrupt.
“Fliss, dear I said it was confusing, but you have to understand that the Mayor was actually doing a lot for Todd. For the Mayor, Todd had become the son he had always wanted. Brave, clever he had all the characteristics that the Mayor had wanted Davy to possess.”

I picture it in my mind and I see now why the Mayor would have helped. I had seen Viola with her band even in her old age now and I know Todd would want to save her. I sit there in silence. What can I say?
It’s hard to come to terms with it. Life seems much less complicated now. Before I had thought that it was only the violence and the war they had to deal with but now I see it must have been very difficult to choose a side and to do the right thing or to even no what was the right thing. I actually find tears welling up in my eyes. Real tears.

My grandmother sees me and says, “I’ll tell you what though, I personally have seen Viola’s caring side and I know that she would never do anything which she considered not the right thing to do.”
“What do you mean? Have you met her or something.”
“Once but she won’t remember me. It was a long, long time ago. When she worked with Mistress Coyle I was one of the girls she treated at the healing house and she was very good. After that things got very complicated but she really developed herself and her character. And if there is one thing you should ever, ever remember about Todd and Viola is that it is they should be two people you always look up to because they were the only two people who others could trust.”