Sunday, April 30, 2023

Mr Men Adventure with Knights Roger Hargreaves



The Mr Men are invited to Sir Lance’s castle where they enjoy a banquet, take part in a jousting tournament and put out the dragon’s fire. Thus they interact with some well-known fairy tale tropes.  

This is a small book and would be easy for a young child to handle.

There is rather more text than is conventional in the average picture book. The pictures however do the normal job of telling more of the story. They use mainly primary colours and are simple. The characters are typical of cartoon and comic books and the young child may also need to learn how to read the facial expressions on the character.

The font is plain and contains simple ‘a’s and ‘g’s.

The back inside cover contains some snippets of information about knights, tournaments, castles and jousting.

Monday, April 24, 2023

My Life on Fire by Cath Howe


Ren and her family come home from visiting friends to find their house is on fire. They have to move out first of all to a very uncomfortable B & B and then on to Gran’s house which is only slightly more comfortable;   Ren and brother Petie share Gran’s spare “brown” room. Mum and Dad live in the caravan on the drive and have little time for the children; they are busy working on a contract for their business and in putting in the insurance claim for the fire.    

We also get Caspar’s point of view; he is Ren’s class mate though at first don’t know her all that well.  We get to know her a little better as he has also moved house to the same area of town where Ren’s gran lives. His dad and Ren’s gran now share the school run.

Visiting artist Jake works with the children on building boxes about their lives. This is very hard for Ren; most of her possessions were also in the fire. She starts to steal things just because it gives her a thrill. This includes a replacement Sofite, a teddy bear, for Petie.

Caspar realises what has been happening when he finds the stolen items in a trunk at Gran’s house. As he tries to help Ren to put it right, Jake finds out what is happening. However, this young artist becomes complicit in covering up Ren’s crime.

All of the items are put where their owners can find them. This includes Jake’s special art pen.

Life becomes better again.  The insurance claim is accepted for the house, her parents get their contract, Gran softens and allows them one evening week to be just a family and Caspar and Ren become good friends.     

The style is a little unusual for this reader: there are two first person narratives. However, they do work well here.  

There are acknowledgments from the author and a very short author bio at the end of the novel.

The paperback book is 289 pages long with blocked text. It uses a serif font for Ren, who in fact has more of the text. Caspar has a plain font. In both cases the font is a little larger than it would be in a book published for adults.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green


Alex is gay and never been kissed.  He lives with his dad and his dad’s new girlfriend, Kendra, a property developer with exacting domestic standards.  

After a freaky accident, Alex manages to secure a job at the run-down amusement arcade, Wonderland. But the establishment is in trouble; owner Maggie keeps getting final demands for unpaid bills and the bailiffs actually turn up in one scene. There also seems to be some sabotage going on; Maggie also keeps getting threatening letters.

Who is behind it all? A rival from the pier? A local property developer? Could it even be Kendra? Is it an insider? Just as Alex is beginning to get on really well with his new found friends and even embarking on a relationship with Ben, he comes under suspicion as being the insider.  Kendra, though, gives him the proof that he isn’t involved and he manages to persuade his friends that he is innocent.

Alex and his friends try to help Maggie.  They work on relaunching the arcade. However, with the press present at the reopening a fire alarm goes off and the place burns to the ground. They also discover that the doors are locked in the mirror maze and they have to rescue people from inside.

Maggie had been behind with her insurance payments.  However, the council agree to buy the land; she is able to pay off all of her debts and move to Ibiza.  Alex and Ben are back on. Kendra and his dad take a break. Life looks promising again.     

We never do find out, however, who was behind the sabotage.        

There is a lot of humour in the book. The paperback is 387 pages.  

Find your copy here 

Note, this is an affiliate link and a small portion of what you pay, at no extra cost to you,  may go to Bridge House publishing.  

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...