OOOH what a rollicking read this book is. My advice would be don't start it late at night (like me!) otherwise you'll be reading into the early hours to find out what happens next. The story is set in the always fascinating Victorian era. The story starts with a prologue where a man knocks on the door of a workhouse and demands 'I'm here for the boy'....when told there are lots of boys he says 'THE BOY'. The man is a showman and the story then begins to rapidly move on as THE BOY starts the next part of his life as part of a freak show at the Travelling Fayre.
He is treated very harshly and is trying to escape his life when he unwittingly sees a murder. He, along with a circus acrobat are forced to go on the run amongst the grimy, sinister streets and underground passages of London and quickly become the most wanted people in the whole city. They then have to prove their innocence and use the different skills they both start to appreciate they possess as 'The Wild Boy of London and the Fairground Fiend Clarissa Everett'.
It is a very atmospheric, thrilling story-fast paced too. It is also a discovery of what it means to be different and how we cope with feeling different and using our often hidden talents to the best ends. A bit gory at times as there are more murders and hunts of bodies that readers of a nervous nature might not like. 10+ if you like a Sherlock Holmes style gritty action paced murder mystery.
Having just done some drama activities with EYFS/1/2 using the wonderful 'Voices in the Park' by Anthony Browne I felt the need to remind everybody else about what a fantastic book it is on so many levels. As we looked at it together there were so many things for the children to spot, so many ideas, so much feeling and so much unspoken but alluded to-it gave us lots and lots to work on and EVERYBODY saw something in it that I hadn't seen before. Don't you just love that when it happens?
'Imagine' by John Lennon is not new of course but this beautiful hardback book is published by Hodder for the always powerful Amnesty book collection. It's a reminder of the power of this song and the pages show the journey of a young pigeon spreading the message of peace and love-one that we seem to need more than ever.
'Do you Speak Chocolate' by Cas Lester is a pertinent, moving book for our time (10+). It's moving, funny, spot on in terms of girl friendships and just the book every Yr 6 upwards book corner should have IF NOT the book that should be read aloud at the end of the day. It's about the arrival of Nadima who speaks no English and is thrown in at the deep end in Yr 7. Jaz makes friends through sharing a square of chocolate (hence the title) and the story roll-on quickly. We learn much more about Nadima but also about the other girls and the things they face and how barriers can be broken down with kindness and understanding. It's important, it's relevant and it's written in a very 'down to earth' easy to read style which makes you want to read on.
'The Legend of Podkin One - Ear' by Kieren Larwood (9+) is my bed time reading at the moment. It's a great action fantasy read. It seems to move on really quickly as, to celebrate special festival a storyteller arrives at a warren...he tells the story of Podkin One-Ear from the start. Everyone listens, rapt, as they are drawn in to this rabbit legend and consequently we get drawn in as the reader too. It's a fast paced read and very enjoyable. It's not all lovely cute rabbits - there's a merciless iron clad group called 'the Gorm' who gradually turning all the warrens into evil. It is up to some very young rabbits to try and stop them. I can't wait to read more when I've stopped blogging!
This has been on my reading book pile for such a long time I'm ashamed to say. Bought it at the wonderful Forum Books Kids Bookshop in Corbridge with the lovely reading Hinchcliffe family in the Easter holidays. As I was choosing it the author came into the bookshop at the same time-a lovely bit of serendipity. Then travelled home, other books took over but sub consciously think I was saving it for a holiday read and I was right to do so as it's started the holidays with that reading joy you get from a jolly good read.
The language, the characters, the context is all so cannily written it feels 'just right' throughout. It's very touching and human. A great book for 9+ it's really worth a read for anybody at all. If you were using it as a class reader there's a mighty lot of issues you could discuss from the book none of which are forced. This is about a family, friends and coping-life really and the way we get through it together if we're lucky.
Billy sees his life through his hero David Attenborough so events in his world have an Attenborough commentary alongside. He's a real water baby-the sea is where he feels at home. This is where the sprinkle of magic comes in...he is swimming one day when a little fish swims up to him and calls him 'FISH BOY'. From then on he is drawn in to an underwater world of family too.
It's such a thoughtful book, the words on the page are there to be enjoyed and really felt-it is a touching read. I read it over two days and couldn't put it down - felt drawn in to Billy's surface world and underwater family world.
The illustrations by Richard Jones really add to the feel of the book and there is a very handy 'fish speak' page at the end too if you were worried you don't know fish so can't read this book....
YOU REALLY MUST - you will know fish by the end of it, I can guarantee it and you will get that heart warming glow you get when you've read something special and spot on.
' Mr. Cram's Magic Bubbles' by Michael Bond but I would like to give it a space as Michael Bond has passed away. Obviously Paddington is the great star of his writing family but this book has always tickled me. It's a beautiful book with these very interesting illustrations and it always makes me smile. I'm not sure we would be allowed to use the original teaching techniques today-Mr. Cram makes his pupils wear dunces hats as he despairs of their mathematical skills. However he comes up with a magical way of teaching them about number by making a special bubble mixture. Every time I read this book (and I do, in every different school I've been in, it sits in my office right now!) I think about how I could do this.....it's so charming and delightful you feel like you could go and do it too. There's a beautiful surprise at the end too so if you need uplifting of course pick up a Paddington book but don't forget this one either-it's a charmer.
Here are some rather marvellous reads for the coming week and weekend if you haven't already discovered these. They are an eclectic mix of funny, mystery and charming and a little bit silly.
'Little Lemur Laughing' By Joshua Seigal is a riotous romp of different poetry forms which are bound to make children laugh. Poetry is also a great way in for reluctant readers AND it is really made to share and say out loud so there's lots of opportunities from just a little Lemur laughing book here.
'The Song of Seven' by Tonke Dragt who is a Dutch writer. She interestingly became a writer when she had been imprisoned in a Japanese camp and begged some paper so she could start to write.
'The Song of Seven' is a tale about a teacher who discovers that others around him are not what he seems and embarks on an adventure which he then starts to share with his class. He becomes a tutor for a young boy who lives in the 'house of stairs' in the care of his uncle who is otherwise known as the 'fiendish foe'. It's a gentle read just like her other books-I've enjoyed all that I've read so far. The story is an adventure story peppered with humour and a depth to it which you have to think about-which is real and which is fantasy? There's lots of tradition in the story too and it's rather good 8+.
Lastly is this little beauty 'The Cherry Pie Princess' by Vivian French. This is so funny and will raise a smile -it's a read that has many layers. It's helpful to know the basics of fairytales as you'll get more out of it if you do but it's a funny story with well written characters in it but also has elements that really make you think and lots of very dry humour so it's a great read for EVERYBODY. Princess Peony loves reading, is good, kind but sassy and curious and sticks up for people. Her family are pretty much the opposite-her Dad puts everybody in prison if he doesn't like them, her mum is a little bit fey and her sisters are interested in themselves and clothes... a bit modern celebrity really! So it's up to Princess Peony to save the day when her little brother is about to be christened and the wicked old with is NOT invited to the christening-ring any bells? Lovely bit with the good fairies who haven't done magic for a while and are a bit rusty. It's not just a girly book-it has some good messages in so don't be put off by the princess title, there's more to it than princess and girly.
It's about just that-royal rabbits who exist underneath the palace and protect the palace from PAPA RATZ I. One little rabbit is a bit of a fiddler and is always left out by his brothers and sisters. He makes his way to London with a special code for the Royal Rabbits and uses all his own skills to save the day. Rather lovely pictures and as you can see from the front cover it's a right royal read I think for about 8+.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk READ all about Storyshack's reviews in the wonderful BOOKS FOR KEEPS. Link below for those and MANY MORE.....
Take a peek at STORYSHACK'S PRIMARY ED article......books below are all those mentioned but Book Recommendations has an even longer book list too :-)
Avid reader, sometimes a headteacher AND founder of Story shack. A place where you can release your imagination and see where it takes you....
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