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Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz

2015, first published 2004  

This is the fifth of the Alex Rider books. Alex goes over to the dark side. He joins the Scorpia agency which specialises in contract killing and other dark actions.  He has found out that his father used to work for this agency and was killed whilst in service.

However, all is not how it seems. By the end of the book he finds out the full truth about his father and mother.  

Although only a few months have gone by within the books, Alex has matured much in that time and the reader perhaps even more so.  As well as being fast-paced the book deals with some complex emotional issues. Alex wants to know more about his parents. We also see him a little closer to Jack, his young guardian.  

There is a huge cliff-hanger at the end of the story.  Is this the end of Alex? Well we know that it is not as there are another five books.  However, when this book first came out the ending must have been shocking for fans.  For the current reader, the ending just invites us to read the next book so that we can see how Alex gets out of this situation.   

The book is 362 pages long, - considerably longer than earlier books - with blocked text and an adult but simple font. The chapters are a quite long.  There are no illustrations.


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Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales

2017, fluent reader, Key Stage 2, ages 9-11, upper primary
Here are some familiar fairy stories though the titles may fool you: Rapunzel becomes The Tower and the Bird, Rumpelstiltskin becomesStraw into Gold, and Cinderella is Roses Around the Palace. We are also offered some rather interesting details about some well-known stories. The mayor of the town with the rats tells us how the children who replaced the lost ones were much more amenable than the ones who were piped away. A young girl has a sliver of the looking-glass that once belonged to a wicked queen.Whilst the girl has chickenpox her grandmother tells her Snow White’s story. It is true she assures her granddaughter. How does she know? Because she is Snow White. Hansel and Gretel tell the story of what they did in their holidays.
There is perhaps an assumption that the reader will be familiar with the original stories. Certainly they are amusing and not just for the young reader.Adults can enjoy them too. 
This is quite a …