A Beginner’s Guide To Ruling The Galaxy By David Solomons
Rating: 5 out of 5.
A Beginner’s Guide To Ruling The Galaxy is a humorous Middle Grade book for ages 9 plus and already a hit with some “reading teachers” in schools for reading for pleasure times. David Solomons has also won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Thanks firstly to Nosy Crow for accepting my request to review.
A brilliantly funny story for 9+ readers about what happens when a galactic princess moves in next door and almost brings about the end of the world, from the bestselling, award-winning author of My Brother is a Superhero.
Gavin’s got a new neighbour and she’s really annoying. Niki follows him everywhere, bosses him about, and doesn’t care that her parents will obliterate Earth with their galactic warships if she doesn’t stop running away from them.
Can Niki and Gavin sort out the alien despots (aka Mum and Dad) and save the planet? Possibly.
Will they become friends along the way? Doubtful…
A hilarious new story from the author of My Brother Is a Superhero, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Industry Awards Children’s Book of the Year. Perfect for fans of David Baddiel and David Walliams.
A Beginner’s Guide To Ruling The Galaxy is humorous with much hi-jinx in a fast-paced sci-fi adventure. Children will find it fun finding out about Gavin, who is generally quite a private person and his strange new neighbour, Niki. The quirks and adventure is the type of fun that children can really get stuck into. There is a lot to like in this packed-full book. It’s a book that is great for reading for pleasure alone and with an adult together as there are certain quips that adults would appreciate but children would see very differently, much like in family films, there’s something for everyone.
The book makes me remember tv drama My Parents Are Aliens and Third Rock From the Sun but with the quick humour of the likes of David Walliams. That aside, the book has its own originality too with its own blend of relatable characters, who are interesting to discover more about, throughout its themes of family, friendship and kinship. The premise of aliens walking among us is always going to be fun, but with the way this is written, the author has nailed it!
Libby and The Highland Heist By Jo Clarke Illustrated By Becka Moore
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Libby and The Highland Heist is a middle-grade book for ages 8-12, set in the Highlands of Scotland and its capital city – Edinburgh. Thanks to Firefly Press, I have been able to write a review on my blog. First, steal yourselves down to the blurb and then my review below.
After a tumultuous term in Paris, Libby and Connie are looking forward to a quiet holiday at Connie’s family home. But before long they find themselves caught up in another mystery, this time set against the dramatic backdrop of the Highlands and Edinburgh.
Not having read and reviewed the first in the series, I don’t think it matters too much if children jump in on this second in the series or read from the start. Middle-grade readers will soon get to know Libby and Connie and how they travel on adventures.
It’s mysteriously atmospheric with a Scottish castle that holds secret passageways and priceless paintings, that are stolen, which in-turn gives the two very good friends a mystery to solve. The book is full of friendship, puzzle-solving and mystery.
There’s plenty of entertainment for young armchair detectives to let their imaginations go wild within, aided by mystical illustrations and the fun cover.
About the Author
Jo Clarke is an award-winning book blogger and primary school librarian. Her blog, BookloverJo, enables her to indulge her love of reading children’s books. She is actively involved in the children’s book community and has been a judge for both the British Book Awards and Alligator’s Mouth Book Awards.
Growing up she liked nothing better than reading mystery and boarding school stories by torchlight, when she should have been fast asleep.
She lives in Hampshire with her husband, two daughters and three cats.
Becka has been illustrating children’s books since 2012 and has over 60 books published. She has a real passion for design, and reading as many books as she can get her greedy hands on.
She lived in Wales for a time studying Illustration for Children’s Publishing at Glyndwr University, before returning to Manchester where she currently lives with her partner and two cats.
Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde Illustrated By Arthur Lin
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Best Buddies is a picture book that tells a story of a boy with downs syndrome, the bond with his dog and starting school. Find out more in the blurb and my review below. Thanks firstly to Raintree Publishers for a review copy.
Best Buddies introduces a boy-and-dog duo who are BEST FRIENDS and who do EVERYTHING together! So how will they manage being apart when the boy heads to school for the first time? Find out how a clever boy with Down’s syndrome and his loyal pet find the perfect way to feel close even when they can’t be together. A sweet, inspiring story that will ease concerns about the first day of school and other big changes for kids.
Boy and dog have a special bond and don’t ever want to apart from each other. The time comes for the boy to start school and it’s tough because it means leaving the dog behind. They literally do everything together. All is not lost though as slowly but surely they both find ways of coping and getting used to a new routine. By the end, the boy and his dog discover having to part for awhile isn’t all bad. The loyalty remains and they will reunite after school.
It’s a sweet story with fun illustrations and one that can be red for the joy of it and also to prepare for starting school, either in a new term, after a holiday or if you suddenly get a new pet and child and pet have bonded.
We are All Neighbours By Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
We Are All Neighbours is a great story with great illustrations that can also be great as a conversation piece as well as a book to simply read for pleasure. Thank to Bloomsbury for giving me an e-book to review, which you can see below. First, find out more in the blurb.
Let’s go walking down our street.
Friends and neighbours here to greet.
Oh so many folks to meet.
We are all neighbours here.
Welcome to a neighbourhood where everyone is welcome. A neighbourhood where children of every culture play together, sharing food and laughter, and learning from each other’s traditions. A neighbourhood where diversity is a strength.
From the creators of the no.1 New York Times bestselling All Are Welcome comes a triumphant picture book that celebrates diversity, kindness and the power of community. Here, we are ALL neighbours!
Everyone belongs and lives somewhere and neighbours are not all the same as you. Everyone is unique and diverse in one way or another, This is the focus, that everyone is different but can still live along side by side each other. The book promotes peace and harmony and illustrates that no matter where you come from or lived in a place all your life, have a disability or are able-bodied, have a different religion or perhaps have similarities to all of that list, you can still play, eat and drink, learn and laugh and generally have fun together.
This is an important book for children to read with adults. It shows kindness and compassion, something that sometimes lacks amongst, not just children, but adults too as communities expand or change in demographics. I say this as children and adults can be unaccepting of others for their own personal reasons, sometimes even coming from a different part of a village/town/city is enough for some people. So, although this is a children’s book, I think adults could also takeaway something positive from this book too.
All in all, this is an upbeat book about society working and playing alongside each other with a focus on neighbourhood. It’s bright, colourful and engaging for children, whether in the home or classroom. It has many benefits from giving a sense of belonging, learning something, putting things into practice, endorphins from reading such an uplifting book for pleasure. I recommend this book as it could be part of individuals and communities having a positive impact towards those around them.
I reviewed a number of children’s books right across the ages from 0 to teenagers. Here are some I highly recommend. Starting with young children’s books, working up in age range. I have also provided links to the blurbs and full reviews as you wok you way down.
The Picture Books – 0 to 6 years
Trains, Trains, Trains! Is a fun-packed picture book that works on different levels. It encourages thought, speech and language as kids choose their favourite trains. It also has fun with counting and speed and provides children, including babies with a certain comfort in its train like rhythm of the words. It’s a book that adults can have fun with reading to children. Here is the link: Trains, Trains, Trains
Tilda Tries Again By Tom Percival was recently on CBeebies, read by Rob Burrows. It has fantastic illustrations, which really goes towards aiding the story along. It’s a positive, encouraging story that takes children into Tilda’s world, where it’s okay to give things another try. Here’s the link to the blurb and full review Tilda Tries Again
David’s Bathtime Adventure By Sue Wickstead is great for kids who love or dislike bathtime alike. It’s full of imaginative fun. It’s also got great tips for adults after the story too. Here’s the link to the blurb and full review: David’s Bathtime Adventure
The Fairy In The Kettle By Pauline Tait is a sweet story about friendship. It is also fun with a fairy who lives in a kettle and plenty goes on in this short adventure. Check out the blurb and review here: The Fairy In The Kettle
What The Ladybird Heard at Christmas By Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks is full of adventure and trepidation in this fun poetic story. Find out more in the link here: What The Ladybird Heard at Christmas
Daddy’s New Shed By Jessica Parkin sees him needing a new one, but who will get to use it? It has much humour. Here’s the link to the review and blurb: Daddy’s New Shed
Where Is My Smile? is charming and about a boy who has lost his. Is there a solution that can be found? The book promotes talk of feelings and wellbeing. Here’s the link to the blurb and review: Where Is My Smile?
The Middle Grade Books – 7 plus years
The Ultimate Guide to Growing Dragons by Andy Shepherd shows you too can grow dragons. The book is great for the adventurous and for young gardeners and the curious. It’s part of the excellent The Boy Who Grew Dragons series. This one also has fun pages set out like collection cards and so much more, as well as the story. Find out the blurb and full review in this link: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Dragons
Benji And The Gunpowder Plot By Kate Cunningham gives children a great time travelling adventure to the time of Guy Fawkes. It’s the first book in The Time Tumblers series. Find out more in the link for the review and blurb: Benji and the Gunpowder Plot
Jump By J.G.Nolan is a football story where old and young come together. They each learn something about football and a particular footballer. Here is the blurb and full review: Jump
Dread Wood By Jennifer Killick, author of the successful Craters Lake, is middlegrade horror at its best, on a par with Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. It’s atmospheric and twisty with mystery and dark tunnels… also a detention to boot. Why then is a teacher underground and a caretaker acting strangely? Here is the link to the blurb and full review: Dread Wood
Which Way To Anywhere By Cressida Cowell – author of How To Train Your Dragon and Wizard of Once, is exhilarating with a terrific cast of characters, including a robot assassin and trees not being quite how you would expect in this new magical world. Here is the link to the blurb and full review: Which Way To Anywhere
Young Adult/Teens -12 years plus
Being is Better and Beyond Invisible is a duology of books. Meet Amber and her friend. Both have quite different backgrounds and yet find each other. The book highlights teenage loneliness, grief, parental divorce, health issues, friendship. It is relatable and essential reading for teens/young adults. Here is the link to full blurbs and reviews of both books – Being Is Better Duology
Sometimes it’s good to try something new and different with a child, to feed into their imagination and widen their choice of books. The middle-grade book – The Keepers of the Arkle does exactly that. The author has previously written a middle-grade book previously called The Puddle People that’s adventurous with a touch of science. He also has novellas for adults, such as The Midas Cat.nNow he is back with a second book for children aged 9/10 years olds plus . Discover the blurb and review below.
Twelve-year-old Kevin Latimer is being followed. Whenever his adoptive parents move him to a different part of the country, weird old Mrs Warwick always shows up in the same town. The morning he sees the old woman pull a wooden nose from her bag, he’s intrigued. When it sneezes, though, his life changes forever. Follow Kevin and his best friend, Megan Davies, as they uncover a shadowy world of immortal pensioners, corrupt authority figures, and a secret that could bring down the monarchy and start a civil war.
Set in Wales, Kevin Latimer, aged 12 is the character children are going on an adventure with to discover what the Arkle is, and then also join his best friend – Megan Davies. As they read, children will pick up some little nuggets of knowledge along the way. Fictionalised books that have a historical reference or person named, if the child enjoys it, tend to remember it for a lifetime, in my humble experience.
The short chapters give it a fast pace with plenty to explore in a mysterious, fantastical world where pensioners are immortal and a clockwork head is so magical, it can talk. It all started with a sneeze and life changed for the 2 best friends, all in 52 pages. This makes it involving for children who want a new adventure and a good size for those wanting a quick read or can be used to encourage reluctant readers.
Reading further, it gets a bit darker. All is not well in this world, with conspiracy rife and corrupt authorities are around. There’s also a secret to uncover that could be deadly. There’s a lot at stake to keep children on tender-hooks as they explore and intrigue and intensity heightens. It’ll certainly keep children entertained and full of adventure.