Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Bruno and Frida by Tony Bradman



hi-lo,  ages 9-11, 10-13, upper primary, Key Stage 2, Lower Secondary, Key Stage 3, Bradman Tony  historical, World War II, Nazi Germany, refugees, Rex Tania,     

The story is set at the end of World War II as the Russians start to occupy Nazi Germany. Bruno’s mother is killed as the Russians attack. Bruno is befriended by the dog Frida, and by an old lady who takes him in for a while.  Frida is a suicide bomber dog and Bruno’s first task when he meets her is to remove her vest.

As the Russian occupation takes hold, Bruno has to move on and try and find his grandparents.  He has to leave the old lady behind. He never sees her again and he never finds out what happens to her. He writes to her daughter but she does not reply.

Bruno finds his grandparents and goes on to live a happy life.  He marries, becomes a doctor and has a family.  His granddaughter interviews him about being a refugee.  The family are sympathetic towards the Syrian refugees.     

This is a Barrington Stoke book and created for less able readers. It is printed on yellow papers.  The text is ragged right and the font  is  plain with simple ‘a’s and ‘g’s.  Paragraphs are indented and there is a line between them as well.  The chapters are short. There are a few monochrome illustrations that help with understanding of the texts and also expand the story. It is 72 pages long.  

 Barrington Stoke claims “Our books are tested for children and young people by children and young people.”  Usually they commission a known writer to create the text and their own editors then work on it to make it suitable for the target reader.  

Tony Bradman offers an historical note at the end and also points out how German attitudes have changed since the end of World War II.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Boy who Stepped Though Time by Anna Ciddor


The story is set in the modern day in France, and in the same place in Roman times.  Perry gets whipped back in time to the villa the ruin of which he is visiting with his family. He has to learn to become a Roma slave.  

There he meets the girl whose coffin he has seen; she would die very soon if he and his fellow slave Carotus doesn’t save her. He has found a way of getting back to his own time but he postpones this in order to help Valentia, the daughter to his master.

We get a good insight into the Roman way of life both for the nobility and for the slaves. We find out how they were educated, what they ate and what their homes were like.  There ae some surprises; Perry and Carotus go to school with Valentia. At the feast of Saturnalia, a little like our Christmas, the masters become the slaves and the slaves the masters.

Perry gets back to his home time and has not been missed at all. He is not able to tell his family of his adventure in Roman times.  However the label on Valentia’s coffin now says she lives to be 55. He is quite surprised to see who she married.  

The book is 309 pages long –though the text is double spaced.  I uses a young reader friendly  font: 12.25 Bembo though it is serifed and has difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s.  There are a few line drawings at the beginning of the book which give an impression of what the two homes look like and how some of the young people looked. Each chapter has what looks like a coin with a Roman numeral on it, as part of the chapter heading. There is also an ordinary number and a title for each chapter.  

At the end of the book there is a glossary of terms, notes from the author and notes from the researcher.  We also have bios for the author and the researcher.   

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

  2012   teen, upper secondary   Key Stage 4, ages 14 -17, Dashner   James, science fantasy, thriller This is the second book in the Maz...