Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Midnight Zoo

 In this book two boys and a baby have to survive on the own when there parents are captured. They have traveled for a long time until they reach a desolated village. Suddenly bombs begin to drop and hey take refuge in an abandoned zoo. When the bombers have gone they realize they are not alone. They are surrounded by animals in cages. The animals tell them there story about how there owner left with some of the lions and never came back. Towards the end of the book a girl comes into the zoo as if she was the boys mother but instead she is the animals.    

I thought this book was good. It was told brilliantly and I enjoyed the animals story's.I would give his book 9/10.

 by Laura Bayne 

The Midnight Zoo

By Sonya Hartnett

            The Midnight Zoo is about two brothers, Andrej and Tomas, and their struggle through life along. They must find food and shelter for them and their very young sister, Wilma. They are only children themselves and already they must take on responsibilities that many adults can not cope with. Then, one night when they are looking for sources of food, money and shelter, they stumble across a dark secret.
            I did not like this book. I felt that it took ages to get into the story and that it was quite a childish theme. I also felt that it kept leaping from one extreme to another, changing subject all too quickly. I feel that far too many subjects were covered in this book as well. And that there was too many big stories both realistic and not. There were a lot of characters to try and keep track of as well.
            So, I think that the idea for the book was very good, but it needs to be simplified, there was far too much going on at one time. I could not put this book down because if I did I would lose track of everything that was happening and have to read from the beginning again.

By Jodie yr8

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Small change for Stuart

This book is full of adventurer and mystery. Stuart is moved by his parents in the middle of the school holidays to his fathers home town. He knows nobody. When he finds his out his family used to own a toy factory he sets out on a quest to find his uncles lost work shop. This means he must break in to town museum to use some old toys. When he finds the workshop. It does not go to plan

This book was OK. But laked the last bit of umph. I would give this book 7/10.

Laura Bayne

My Name is Mina

by David Almond

            My Name is Mina is a book, almost like a notebook, from the point of view of Mina, a very fast thinking, intelligent, young girl. Her father died when she was young, and a few years later, she left her school, to be home schooled by her equally imaginative mother. Mina offers a very different view to the world around us.
            I didn’t like this book, I felt that it was little too random and did not add anything to the story ‘skellig’. I think that it is a good idea to have a book from the point of view of Mina. But, I feel that the way6 he wrote it was a little too random and there was not really much purpose or even a basic storyline or adventure in the book.
            So, I felt that idea for the book was good, but that the way in which it was written could have been better and it could have done with a story like Mina going on an adventure, not just remembering some.

By Jodie yr8 

Small Change for Stuart

This book is about a boy called Stuart whose small for his age but is looking for a big adventure! His mum is a scientist and his dad stays at home. During the summer holidays they move away to his dad's birth town, all seems boring until he finds out about Teeny-tiny Tony Horten and his workshop of magic and wonder... This book was so amazing I couldn't put it down! It gripped me into it Stuart's world and made me want to know more.

Eleanor Widdowson yr7

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My sister lives on the Mantelpiece

Ten year old Jamie has net cried since it happened. He knows he should have cried Jasmine cried, Mum cried, Dad stills cries. This book is about Jamie who sister dies in the terrorist attacks in London next thing he knows his Mums left and they move to the countryside. He makes a friend called Sonya a Muslim who his Dad hates. When his cat is run over by a car his dad finally has the courage to scatter Rose's ashes which he has been trying to do for 5 years. When he goes to a competition in Manchester his Mum turns up but suddenly disappears as though she was never there. Having broken friends with Sonya he makes her a card and leaves it in the snow. At the end of the book his dad becomes sober and lives start to go back to normal. 

I would give this book 9/10

Reviewed by Laura Bayne

Everybody Jam

Danny lives in the Australian out back on a ranch. Last year his brother (Jonny) died in an accident but nobody ever mentions him. It is time for the annual muster but with Jonny dead and his sister (sissy) pregnant. He is on his own. When he is given a pet, buzz, they become instant friends. With all the new calves the pommies (servant from England) has to help out. She and Danny become great helpers and look after all the calves together. To finish sissy has her baby and every one is happy. 

I enjoyed this book and read it in less than twenty-four hours. I would give it 9/10.
Reviewed by Laura Bayne

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Between Shades of Grey

It was difficult to pick up this book. I was in the middle of a great book and I wasn't really sure I wanted to read the Carnegie short-list. However once I had started reading it was even more difficult to put it down.

I was hooked from the start, right from Lina, a 15 year old Lithuanian girl, being cruelly taken by the Soviet Union to be transported in cramped, unhygienic and dark conditions in the first section of the book right until the last few pages in the workhouses in Siberia.

I was also impressed by the writing style because I didn't notice it. At no point in the book could I imagine the author writing the text in front of me. Lina was telling me the story and it was totally believable.

However my favourite aspect of this book was the characters, my favourite being Jonas watching him grow in his character as well as develop maturity and a sense of calm from being someone who was very scared and naive at the beginning of the book. I also loved how Lina took her own view on the characters she crossed paths, for example only referring to one woman as 'the grumpy woman'.
I also loved the character of Lina and Jonas's Mother. She was a very calming influence and not only did Lina and Jonas rely on her to keep the family together and alive, but I relied on her to keep the family together and alive. I had become so attached to the characters that I was genuinely fearful for them.

The plot and description was also faultless. It was described so well that I could picture the settings in my mind and, along with the plot, it kept me captivated and some bits I found genuinely shocking. I had to keep reminding myself that this had once happened and that made it all the more scary.

The only aspect of the book that I didn't like was the ending. Without spoiling it for those who haven't read it, I felt that the ending came very abruptly and that it didn't tie up as many loose ends as I would have liked. I also felt that the characters changed their views too quickly to make it an appropriate ending.

These events were based on real accounts from people who experienced the horrors in this book. It was set whilst World War One was going on so people often forget about what else what was happening in the world. Overall I thought that this book was an eye-opener, something unique and amazingly written. I would not hesitate in recommending it to everyone.

9/10 Review by Nathan Dumpleton

Thursday, 10 May 2012

my sister lives on the mantlepiece

My sister lives on the mantlepiece is a book about sorrow and happiness all rolled into one. Pitcher uses first person and pulls the reader in with her incredibly gripping story. James hasn't cried since Rose was blown up by a bin bomb when she was playing with some pigeons. He has a cat called Roger and a sister called Jasmine who dyed her hair pink on her 15th birthday. I laughed and I cried and I filled up with anger as I read this book.

Eleanor Widdowson yr7

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Everybody Jam

By Ali Lewis

This book is about Danny, and his family, who live on a cattle farm in Australia. His 14 year old sister, Sissy, is pregnant, his younger sister, Emily just doesn’t understand and his brother Johnny died in an accident. This year is their first ‘Muster’ on the farm without Johnny, and is Danny’s last one; he wants to make it a good one. But lack of rain causes some serious problems; the drought is getting worse…

I really liked the character ‘The Pommie’, their sort of Nanny. I thought how she acted was very realistic- a bit bewildered and confused, and I think if I had been her I definitely would have been. I also liked the character Danny, he had such a mixture of feelings and I loved reading about them. I thought it was sad that he felt he couldn’t talk to anyone about Johnny and the fact that he felt no one listened to him, everyone else was more important.

The storyline was great and even though I had no idea what a muster was, and what a lot of the things in it were, I still understood everything going on because it wasn’t just about the muster, it was about the characters life, within the muster and out of it. I learnt a lot from the book and thought the way everything was explained to the Pommie helped the reader to understand it too; I thought that was very clever.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was great. It was gripping in places, sad, happy and unpredictable, making it a really good read.

By Emily B, Year 8

Trash By Andy Mulligan

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Raphael, Rat and Gardo are just three boys who spend their days sifting through trash at the Behala rubbish dump. Until one day when Raphael finds a bag which turns their lives upside down soon they are on the run from the police trying to uncover a secret which will free them forever but will the police get there first.

I absolutely loved the book and thought it was really interesting. It was exciting and tense all the way through and I never knew what was going to happen next. I liked the way it was narrated by different people at different points and how so many characters narrated it. I also though it was great how you got everyone’s opinions in the story not just the ones of the main characters so you saw how people felt. The story had a great story line and I don’t think there are any other books at all like it. I thought that Mulligan wrote through the eyes of a child really well as the writing was quite child like and it did not sound like an adult. I thought the characters were all quite abstract and interesting and they were all very different to each other. However I think the ending could be a little different as I don’t really like the way it ends as it’s a little to fairytale for me and looks like it didn’t really have much thought in it. But overall it was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone aged 9 to 16 as some of it can be a bit upsetting so small children may not like it.

By Yasmin Year 8

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Everybody Jam

By Ali Lewis

Danny used to be an ordinary boy. He had an ordinary life living in the outback of Australia on his family’s cattle station. However, in the last year, things have changed. His older brother Jonny was killed in a tragic accident leaving his whole family grief stricken, it hasn’t rained in the outback for months and it’s nearly time for the annual muster, and now Sissy, Danny’s sister, is pregnant and the new house maid has arrived all the way from England. An emotional story of family life, family love and family troubles, this novel follows Danny in the upcoming months to the muster as he struggles to cope with the future and accept the past.

I really liked this book and thought that Lewis got the perspective just right. It is told from Danny’s point of view and gives his thoughts and feelings. This makes it perfect for teenagers as they can connect with the narrator immediately. The plot was gripping and you always wanted to know what was to come. I thought that the storyline was never boring and never predictable. Lewis mixes the normalities of family troubles with the unique qualities of the Australian outback and the surprising twists of the Dawson’s life creating a believable story which is both interesting and emotional.

The mix of feelings in this book is varied and when reading it you experience a rainbow of emotions. Firstly, you can easily connect with Danny and the frustration he feels when no one talks about Jonny. Secondly there is always a sense of excitement in Danny’s words as he counts down the days to the muster. Thirdly, and finally, you can feel Danny’s bewilderment as he tries to come to terms with all the changes in his life, whilst all the time acting grown up and trying to fill Jonny’s shoes.

The characters in this novel were brilliantly created and always thought through. Every single one was unique down to the finest details and the portrayal of each person through Danny’s eyes was spot on. Danny himself was created very well too and he almost has a split personality. There is the way others see him- as a collected young man who is struggling with changes but doesn’t want to talk- and also the way he talks about himself and his problems- a confused boy wanting to appear bigger than he is who’s trying to remember and be like, his honoured older brother.

My favourite character was Liz as she was the classic newbie. Hated at first by Danny she opens up and the two become good friends as the novel progresses. She and Danny could connect as they were both feeling out of their comfort zones and both had problems and new challenges. Liz was portrayed through Danny’s eyes as the odd one out- the ugly duckling always making mistakes. However what I really enjoyed in this book was you could see their friendship progress. As the story went on less of Liz’s mistakes were mentioned and more of her successes.

Lastly, Ali Lewis is an Australian author as you may have guessed by the setting of this book. It was very different for me when reading this book as Lewis used some Australian slang words. Liz was constantly referred to as a ‘Pommie’ which was interesting and different. The title of the book ‘Everybody Jam’ was slang for apricot jam and although this language was different and unexpected it fitted with the context and the rest of the novel and I soon got to grips with it all.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought it was a great novel. The plot was interesting and it was easy to understand the common yet unusual problems Danny faced. The setting was different and this coupled with the Australian slang and charming characters made the book unforgettable and unique. I would definitely recommend the book, it was super!

By Eleanor Lavender, Year 9

Friday, 4 May 2012


By Andy Mulligan

Raphael is an ordinary boy, well ordinary for someone who lives on the side of a trash heap. He spents all day, every day, searching for anything valuable amongst other people's rubbish that he can sell and make just enough money to get buy on. One day he finds something, a bag with a wallet inside, a little money, and some seemingly random items. However, when the police turn up looking for a bag of the same description, Raphael knows he has found something extraordinary. Together with his friends Gardo and Rat, he follows the trail of clues left behind, all the time chased by the police as they race to find what is hidden at the end...

I thought the plot was brilliant for this book, and I love how everything fits together like a jigsaw. It was difficult to predict what was going to happen next and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen. Everything all makes sense at the end, and I love how such a simple trail seems so clever and complex when the clues are a mystery. The only part that I was disappointed to was what happened to the characters at the very end in Chapter 6 of Part 5 - I thought it seemed too good to be true and too unrealistic. If Mulligan had finished a chapter earlier and still kept the Appendix, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. That being said, I loved what happened in Chapter 5, Part 5, and I thought it was a brilliant way to tie up the narrative - if only it had finished there!

The characters were all excellent and each had their own personality and a certain feistiness that made them very likeable. I thought the relationship between Raphael and Gardo was very realistic and convincing, especially how one was dominant over the other - exactly how two boys who are practically brothers should be.

The writing was also very believable, and Mulligan's choice of so many narrative voices was a huge risk but it definitely paid off. Each voice is completely unique and easily recognisable, and together they complement each other and help to build up a more three dimensional picture for the reader. In many books I sometimes wonder what the other characters are thinking, so it was brilliant to be able to get into almost every single character's mind at the key moments and understand how and why they act as they do.

Overall I thought this book was excellent and despite my disappointment at the end, I loved so many aspects of it.

Rachel, Yr 12

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Midnight Zoo

The Midnight Zoo
By Sonya Hartnett

This book is about two brothers who are escaping across a country destroyed by war. They end up at a village which has been turned to rubble and is deserted, except for the zoo. Cautiously, the brothers explore the zoo and discover the magic that lies at the heart of it, and the help that it desperately needs...

I thought the idea for this book was excellent. It was unusual and put a different twist on the standard wartime story; I think the setting in another country also helped. The plot was very good as I really wanted know what happened, and I loved how everything was carefully woven together so it all made sense in the end. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the ending as I found it too predictable and not satisfying enough, but the rest of the book was still very good.

Another thing about this book that I didn't quite get on with was the writing. It took me quite a while to get into the book because I found the style didn't flow very well with me, but I think it depends on your own opinion. Once I did get into the writing style I was able to enjoy the book a lot more, so it was not a lasting problem.

On a more positive note, I thought the characters and their back-stories were all excellent, especially the relationship between Andrej and Tomas. I loved how Tomas was the innocent younger brother and Andrej was the older one who carried the burden and was protective of his family. I also thought all the animals made believable and realistic characters - I liked how each one had its own personality and unique voice, particularly the Boar.

In spite of some issues with this book, overall I still enjoyed and felt it was a worthwhile read

Rachel, Yr 12

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys

Between Shades of Gray By Ruta Septeys

Lina is a young girl who lives with her parents in Lithuania. She is like every other girl her age.  But in 1941 when Soviet guards come to arrest her mother and Father her life is turned upside down. Through the eyes of a young girl we see the true wrath of Stalin during the Second World War. Through her suffering she decides to make pieces of art in the hope that one day her father will see them. Lina and her family fight to survive with very little food in the freezing cold. All she wants is to see her family again but will she?

I loved the book and thought it was a brilliant example of the suffering that occurred in the Second World War.  The problem with most books about this time is that they focus on the effects of Hitler and the holocaust however this book tells a completely different story: the story of a young girl struggling under Stalin’s cruel hand. I thought the characters were not at all “fairy tale” and I think that this was really good. I enjoyed how the story was told and the format of the book.I would recommend it to anyone aged 10 and up because I think you must have some maturity to truly understand the book.

By Yasmin Year 8

My Sister lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

            James was very young when Rose died, in fact, he can hardly remember her. His parents think that there is something wrong with him, because he has never dried over Rose’s death. But how can he be sad for someone that he never knew. When Dad, Jas (Rose’s identical twin) and James move to the country James has to start over and make new friends, but that means that he must chose between friendship and Rose.
            I loved this book, it gave a very different view of someone that lost one of their family as a result of the 9/11 bombings. Instead of being a child that lost their parents, it is a child that lost a sibling who was only a child themselves. And this book was more than just trying to cope with their death, and trying to overcome the grieving. It was the complete opposite it was a young boy trying to find a way to mourn the death of a sister that he can’t even remember.
             This book also covered stereotypes, it showed how a young boy who had been raised with the opinion that all Muslims are evil and spend their lives planning to kill people. And it shows how James learns that stereotypes are not always true.
            Overall, I loved this book and it covered some very hard topics very well.

By Jodie, Yr 8

Between Shades of Gray

By Laura Bayne

That morning, my brothers life was worth a pocket watch... Lina is an young Lithuanian girl who is taken by Stalin's froces during world war 2. She is put on a train and taken to a village where she works on  a beet farm. She makes friend with a boy called Andrius who helps here survive. Until she is taken in to the arctic circle to die. She loses her mother and many of her friends but she survives along with her brother. In a letter at the end she says that...

This book is amazing and really makes me feel  what it was like for her and her brother. I found it surprising that one of the army officers seems bad but turns good and help them in the last chapter. I would  give this book 10/10 as I really enjoyed it.