reviews 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued

Football Superstars: Ronaldo Rules


Simon Mugford, ill. Dan Green, Welbeck, 128pp, 9781783125333, £5.99, pbk

Simon Mugford and Dan Green’s new non-fiction series is perfect for young football fans, and this edition focuses on the most popular footballer of all. Ronaldo’s

and, despite he

fascinates young football fans, having achieved legendary status through his incredible haul of achievements at club and country levels. This book equips children with everything they need to become the complete authority on CR7 and to win the popular

versus Ronaldo. There are plenty

The Cure for a Crime HHHH

Roopa Farooki, OUP, 282pp, 978 01927 73593, £6.99 pbk

Twins Tulip and Ali have noticed that their mother seems to have become particularly

sleepy and distracted

ever since her boyfriend Sturgeon moved in. They decide to run away to the hospital where their mother works as a doctor but are rumbled on the way there by their grandmother Nan- Nan while they are assisting a lady who has collapsed. Having acquired basic medical know-how from their mother the twins know exactly what to do but are surprised to find their grandmother Nan-Nan has discovered their whereabouts so quickly.


returns the girls to school much to their disgust. She often looks after the twins while their Mum is working but she has a mysterious past and the twins are eager to find out more even though Nan-Nan is evasive. Back at school several of the

teachers begin to fall asleep too and the twins become suspicious


this seems to happen when Sturgeon has been at the school, supposedly conducting a research experiment. Convinced he must have something to do with the mystery malaise, the twins together with sidekicks Zac and Jay, and Nan-Nan who turns out not to be quite as she seems, set out to solve the mystery. The witty repartee between the twins

is particularly well-done and Nan-Nan is comic genius. The plot zips along, perhaps a little too mad-cap in places but it all makes for an accessible and enjoyable read. And the story is just as much about intergenerational and family relationships as it is a mystery to solve. A feel-good and lively mystery which offers a slightly different take on the usual detective genre. There are plenty of medical facts sprinkled throughout the story too and a helpful glossary at the back of medical tips. JC

playground debate: Messi of aspects of

Ronaldo’s fame to be explored, be it his goals, or his charity work, or even his personal hotel, and this book leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to seek out all the top Ronaldo secrets. There are chapters that are very loosely based around a theme, and the book succeeds in arranging an immensity of Ronaldo trivia in a way that is engaging, eye catching and fun. Pages are bursting with Christiano cartoons and calligrams, alongside

lots of imaginatively

displayed stats and graphs. The book is designed in such

a way that budding statisticians could pour over every page, happily memorising facts and figures, but it can also be flicked through more leisurely. It is easy to imagine it being passed

around playgrounds, friends pointing out their with favourite

sections to one another. The choice of information is good, too, with just enough information about Ronaldo as a person to add some interesting context, without getting in the way of all the juicy football facts! Football is often sought as a hook

to get reluctant readers into books, and the accessibility of this series will make it very popular with children who find longer, fiction stories challenging. However, it is also essential reading for super fans and football trivia lovers, who will enjoy the challenge of collecting the entire set. SD

Forgotten Fairy Tales of Brave and Brilliant Girls


Foreword by Kate Pankhurst, various, Usborne, 208pp, 978-1474966429, £12.99 pbk

Fairy tale princesses don’t around in towers waiting to

all sit be

rescued by princes as this lively collection demonstrates. The female leads in these stories (four princesses and another handful of less elevated heroines) are all different but all driven by a desire to make their own decisions and lead their lives on their own terms. In a number of cases this

spy supporting abolitionists seeking to end slavery once and for all and she went on to become an inspirational speaker about her life and experiences of slaves and also on women’s rights as well. Harriet’s amazing story is

fame is unparalleled playing abroad,

interspersed with information about life as a slave, rules and roles on plantations, the secret codes contained in songs, how to find your way and escape detection on the run and the broader historical context including the build up to the American Civil War. This is an interesting


introducing a significant figure. It is one of a series of biographies from

leads to them rescuing princes who have fallen under spells, but don’t expect that their happy endings see them walking down the aisle. Indeed, my own favourite, Rose Red, walks out of a palace saying goodbye to friends and family and into a life of adventure: ‘For all we know, she is exploring still ….’ Even in the 21st century, and with

Frozen bringing feminism (or at least a form of it) to Disney, we still need stories

like these to balance the

weight of tales that define princesses by their beauty and passivity rather than their ability to wield a weapon or tool (the first princess in this book has her own tool belt). As the introduction points out, there are thousands of fairy tales, far more than the ones we know best and which were gathered by those who like the Brothers Grimm have shaped ideas of what fairy tales should be: ‘As these tales became famous, they overshadowed all the others… The brave and brilliant girls were hidden from view.’ Not so in this story collection, where the girl who, Rapunzel-like, is trapped in a tower manages to dig herself out. The tellings are accessible– the

story is all here – and fun too and should inspire readers to create their own adventures, both metaphorically and literally. There are illustrations throughout and the added bonus of an introduction by Kate Pankhurst reminding readers that it’s within their power to be as brave and brilliant as the girls in this collection or the girls and women whose stories she tells in her non-fiction. LS

Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman - A Journey to Freedom


Sandra. A. Agard, ill. Manhar Chauhan, cover artwork Luisa Uribe and George Ermos, Stripes Publishing Ltd, 170pp, 978 178895 222 4, £6.99 pbk

In this short volume young readers are introduced to the remarkable life of Harriet Tubman, a fearless activist who was instrumental in securing the release of many slaves as a conductor on the underground railway; the secret network of safe houses on the road to freedom. Later she was enlisted as a

Stripes Publishing entitled

Trailblazers celebrating the lives of pioneers, past and present, from all over the world. Other trailblazers are Neil Armstrong the

astronaut and

Jane Goodall the primatologist. Written in an accessible style with

a varied layout and black and white illustrations throughout, this text

Rebel Girls HHHH

Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code Corinne Purtill, ill. Marina Muun, Rebel Girls, 128 pp, 978 1 733176187, £9.99, hbk

Madam. C.J.Walker Builds a Business Corinne Purtill, ill. Marina Muun, Rebel Girls, 128 pp, 978 1 733176187, £9.99, hbk

Building on the success of the

hugely popular Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls with its brief illustrated biographies of significant women, these two chapter books are the first of a new series from the Rebel Girls franchise with each focusing on a particular individual. With this format there is the opportunity to give a fuller account of their development and the experiences which shaped them to success and achievement in different fields. Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code

describes Ada Lovelace’s life story and how, despite childhood illness and her early death she became a key figure in the development of computer programming. Readers learn about Ada’s fascination with Science and Maths as a young child and the individuals who helped shape

her development including

her mother, inspirational tutors and mentors. Her collaboration with the inventor Charles Babbage triggered her interest in creating algorithms to instruct machines. However, her achievements were largely hidden in her lifetime due to the prevalent view that women did not have the mental capacity to comprehend mathematical ideas let alone create them. Written in a lively style throughout


illustrated provides and

an accessible, highly readable

this book attractive

insight into

Ada’s life. Her enthusiasm, personal difficulties and achievements are

Books for Keeps No.240 January 2020 25 is

engaging and easy to navigate. It includes a useful timeline, glossary of key vocabulary as well as an index. SMc

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