reviews 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued
can search for prey more effectively in deep water.
Objects’ has excellent diagrams of a piano, a camera and a toilet. The ‘Did you know?’ circle informs us that there are more than 7, 500 working parts in a piano. Younger children than those in the suggested age range above – perhaps from about age six or seven - are curious about the world they live in and this book with its huge reach of subject would enlighten them about many things of interest and importance. While the Internet has become a useful source of information to answer children’s questions and help with homework a book like this one has something different to offer – not least its tactile qualities and its offering of a sense of ownership not possible with an on-line
well-deserved place on a child’s book shelf at home or in the reference part of the primary school library. MM
The Great Fire of London HHHHH
Emma Adams, ill. James Weston Lewis, Wayland, 978-0750298209, 48pp, £12.99 hbk
‘London’s burning, London’s burning, Fire, fire! Fire, fire!’ So runs the nursery rhyme, but in the early hours of 2 September 1666 something stirred in London that would change the city forever. This dramatic visualisation of the Great Fire describes the very different face of 17th-century London, with its crowded streets and wooden houses, so
neighbours could lean out of windows and touch the opposite building. After a long hot and dry summer, even the Thames was running low. The fire that began in the baker’s shop in Pudding Lane soon took hold, fanned by strong winds.
destruction of the city with drama and pace, as the fire licked at thatched roofs and pitch, pushing south towards London Bridge. Quotations from Samuel Pepys’ diary punctuate the story as houses are blown up to create a firebreak and important buildings succumb to the flames. James Weston Lewis’s bold stylised illustrations paint a vivid picture – golds, yellow, oranges and blues, with flickering flames and pattern-like shapes silhouetted against the glow of the fire. The final pages show London rebuilt from the
Emma Adams recounts the close together that resource. It would have a ‘Inside Everyday
ashes, St Paul’s Cathedral designed by Christopher Wren rising above the city, and nearby The Monument, close to the site where the fire broke out. A dramatic and visually exciting book, and a fitting commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
Kate Pankhurst, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 978-1-4088-7698-5, £6.99 pbk
This author/illustrator, a descendant of
young readers with an introduction to thirteen women - including writers, political activists, spies, explorers, athletes, artists and scientists- who achieved remarkable things in their field. There is a serious point to be made: a person’s gender should not stop them from ‘following their hearts, talents and dreams’. The book shows the courage women often had to muster to receive equal treatment with men. Mrs Pankhurst found the only way to persuade people to take the suffragette cause seriously was to use deeds and to protest; sometimes
Rosa Park also had to endure arrest when she refused to give up her seat to a white person while taking the bus home in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Then there is the achievement and resourcefulness of Sacagawea, a young girl who became an adventurer by joining a party of men aiming to map the uncharted west
impressive because Native American women were generally regarded as the property of men in their tribes and yet she managed to earn male respect because of her knowledge of
calmness in challenging situations. Even Jane Austen struggled at first, relying on her family to support her until her books became appreciated. But while recognizing the injustice and difficulties many of the women endured on the way to success, Kate Pankhurst’s book is lively and life enhancing. Each spread is a multimodal feast with lively pictures, cartoon like speech bubbles as well as blocks of explanatory text. The book is an inviting first port of call for learning about each of the chosen women’s achievements but perhaps could have offered a short booklist for suggesting further reading.
MM Cats and Curses HHHH
Elen Caldecott, Bloomsbury, 240pp, 978-1-4088-7604-6, £5.99 pbk
Page-turning, contemporary mystery stories starring a group of refreshingly normal kids, Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries have
Road gang, three girls and two boys, and the set-up is certainly reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five: in each
growing band of fans and are real favourites with Books for Keeps. There are five members of the Marsh
an ever different languages and her of the USA. Her bravery is led to imprisonment. this Emmeline Pankhurst, provides
to keep young readers entertained. The superb
illustrations by Jim Field bring out the sinister elements of the story, as well as the humour. Visually appealing, completely bonkers and huge fun! LT
The Accidental Pirates Voyage to Magical North
Claire Fayers, Macmillan Children’s Books, 338pp, 978 1 4472 9060 5, £6.99
Treading a well-worn path this fun and warm-hearted adventure does not disappoint.
magicians, adventurers, abandoned children, librarians and even a baby dragon – all you could possibly want in a story… Found abandoned in a boat and
book the kids discover something unusual going on and by sleuthing and their detection skills work out what dastardly adults are up to, bringing in their friendly local bobby at the very end to take the villains off to face the music. This story has something of a supernatural element as the children’s friend, an antique shop owner, receives a strange Egyptian cat mummy that seems to bring a curse with it. There are adventures all around, the books seem to tell children, you just need to keep an eye out for them, and even when the kids are facing real danger, there’s a sense of playfulness and fun that keeps the books light and reassuring reading. At the same time, however, Caldecott always touches on some of the issues children face today and in Cats and Curses, her character Andrew is particularly keen to solve the mystery because of the effect it is having on his mum, gradually recovering from the shock of being involved in a fire and reliant on him for daily care. There’s a particularly lovely scene in which he cheers her up by giving her a special hair-do – impossible to imagine Dick or Julian ever doing anything like that! LS
Invisible Inc. HHHH
Steve Cole, Illustrated by Jim Field, Simon and Schuster, 264 pp, 978 0 8570 7876 6, £6.99 pbk
Who doesn’t love a crazy inventor living in a dilapidated old manor house, devising a zapping ray gun to render everything invisible? Noah Deer (no idea – geddit?) is the crazy inventor’s son, and he’s having to deal with some very strange goings- on, not least a floating tin of baked beans and weird text messages on his phone. Noah’s mother Trudi is kidnapped
and Noah gets zapped by the BRIAN (Beam Removing Intricate Atoms in Nanoseconds) joining a 19th century scientist Baroness Jemima Smyth, and a medieval knight and his horse, in a world of invisibility. They all have to work together to defeat the worst baddie of all, Seerbright and his band of
enhanced chickens). This book by Steve Cole is fast-paced and hilarious, with lots of great puns and silly details
poultry-geists (evil killer metal- by a dastardly villain,
the children take to the seas to avoid being sold by the magician but they are
Cassie and the crew of legendary pirate ship, the Onion. So begins their adventures to outwit Cassie’s nemesis, the dastardly magician Marfak West and to find the magical north that nobody is quite sure exists. They soon find Marfak West masquerading as the great-grandson of famous adventurer Aldebran Boswell and manage to imprison him in the Onion.
sure he is plotting something but Peter begins to fall under the magician’s spell with the promise of learning some proper magic.
following in Boswell’s own footsteps noted in his books as he is the only person who might have found magical north. They visit the library island for more information where all the books of the world are looked after by the book sisters. No males are allowed into the library but Brine soon spots an anomaly; Tom girl who shows her around the library is actually a boy. Tom is rumbled and joins the crew of the Onion and they set sail on their quest. But it is not long before Marfak West escapes and starts to control everything with magic. There
readers to enjoy. There is almost too much going on at times as the plot moves along at breakneck speed. Plenty of humour and witty dialogue along with the gently eccentric but not too exaggerated characters give the story life and energy.
is much here for young The Onion is Brine is picked up by intrepid captain Some years later There are pirates, comic-book style
wearing a necklace of starshell, a substance magicians require to make magic, Brine Seaborne is brought to live with a magician and his irritating apprentice, Peter.
the ship’s cook Trudi who serves up gourmet meals made from seagulls, fish and whatever else is to hand which all backfire and taste terrible. Both the adults and the children learn a lot about themselves from working together and encouraging each other to find their true selves. The whole novel is just as much about the power of
transform one as about a piratical adventure. Each chapter is prefaced with a pertinent
important historical tome and Marfak West’s ultimate desire is to rewrite history by destroying all the books and turning himself from villain to hero. The satisfying conclusion leaves room for more adventures.
JC Books for Keeps No.220 September 2016 25 quote from an storytelling and imagination to
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