Reading Force book of the month…

/Reading Force book of the month…
Reading Force book of the month… 2023-11-15T20:30:41+00:00

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Reading Force book of the month…


Do you have a book you would like to be book of the month?

We’d love to share your favourite books and give other readers some ideas on books they might enjoy.

They can be children’s or adults’ titles, and we’d love to feature your favourite books.

Email with your suggestion for book of the month and tell us what it’s about.


November 2023

Whale Boy by Nicola Davies

Michael is a schoolboy living with his grandma on the small island of Liberty in the Caribbean. He’s always dreamed of owning his own boat and being out on the sea everyday, not to mention meeting a whale. When a mysterious stranger comes to town and offers Michael everything he’s ever wanted for little to no price, Michael is eager to take the deal. He would give anything to be free out on the ocean in his own boat. Michael accepts the stranger’s deal and sets out on the boat the stranger, who is called Spargo, gave him. Out on the water he meets a whale who he names Freedom, but holds back from telling Spargo about it. Something about the stranger and his boss JJ is sinister, so Michael resigns his job and continues to investigate. It turns out that Freedom and his entire family are in danger. Can Michael find them and save them before it’s too late, all while his grandma is ill?

There’s a place where the water runs so deep that you can lose the highest mountain. That’s where the whales come, so many you can walk on their backs…

This book is a wonderful read, and the plot unfolds very well. The character development is also good. I liked the theme and clever plot. I didn’t dislike much about this book. I would rate it 5/5 stars, and for readers aged 8+.

This is great for people who like Gill Lewis and Nicola Davies.

Hamish, age 10

October 2023

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo is an orphan boy living alone as a clock master’s helper in Paris, in the times when the city was a haven for artists, writers, musicians and inventors. He has always been fascinated by clocks and machines. His life is plunged into mystery when it suddenly interlocks with the invention of a lifetime. He meets a girl and her grandfather who runs a toy booth, and his undercover life is jeopardised. Can he solve the mystery that his late father started? And who are the mysterious people getting involved with him?

This captivating story is half written, half drawn, leaving the reader to interpret what they like. The wonderful writing and beautiful illustrations tell the story well, and this book is a page turner.

I liked the wonderful illustrations. I disliked that it can be hard to understand the story through pictures sometimes. This book is unlike any other book that I have ever read.

I rate this book 4/5 stars, and give it a 8+ age rating. It is by Brian Selznick, who has also written some other books.

Noah, age 11

September 2023

The Moomins by Tove Jansson

These magical books feature all sorts of wonderful characters, the main ones being the famous Moomins. The Moomins and their eccentric friends are all nature lovers. The books are set in their own fantasy world, and the stories feature different feelings, kindness and adventure. Throughout the stories, the characters embark on different quests and adventures, all the characters playing their own unique role.

These books are perfect for little children and parents, and any other nature lovers. They can make all ages smile with their wonderful illustrations and heart-warming stories. I would recommend these books for those wanting a relaxing and calming read, as they have almost no action. I rate these books 5/5 stars and give them an age rating of 4+.

I liked the nature-loving vibe and unique characters in these books.

Skylar, age 10

August 2023

The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor

Sinbad is a porter working hard for not much pay. He accidentally stumbles into a wonderful palace, where he meets rich Sinbad the sailor, who tells him all about his seven extraordinary voyages.

Set in the middle east, this book was originally part of the 1001 Arabian Nights. It has been rewritten many times, but I’m reviewing the copy with wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake. The illustrations are packed with detail and tell the story well. It is quite a fun and entertaining read, also being the perfect length. You can also read it in the wrong order, as the main stories are just seven different voyages. This was a wonderful book to read.

I would rate this book4.8/5 stars, as sometimes there can be a little too much detail and description. Other than that, I really liked it, especially the illustrations by Quentin Blake.

I would give this book an age rating of 7+.

Jude, age 8

July 2023

Beast Quest A-Z of Beasts book

This book is an encyclopaedia of Adam Blade’s fantasy world – Avantia. It is filled with beasts, wizards, heroes and magic. It includes all the beasts from Anoret to Zepha. These wondrous creatures are all included in the book, as well as wizards and heroes and villains. It is an enticing read, good for almost all ages.

Even if you don’t know anything about Avanta, or the hundreds of short books Adam Blade has written, it is still a great book to read. Younger children will prefer this book because it is simple. It’s also great to re-read over and over again, or to share with friends.

You will read this book extremely quickly, so you should also consider the price before buying it. I like the detail and information about it. I rate this book 4.9/5 stars, because it is a real page turner

I would give it an age rating of 5+.

Marvin, age 10

June 2023

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl

The whole time I was reading this book I was on the edge of my seat. The thing I liked most about the book was the creativity of the writing, and the many layers and plots of this story. It changes worlds quickly.

Henry Sugar is a rich, self-centred gambler who enjoys nothing more than having more money than everything else. One day at his friend’s house, after being excluded from a betting game he stumbles upon the diary of a doctor from the past. The doctor’s diary is set in Bombay, India, and Henry Sugar is intrigued by the wonders of the story, and he discovers something truly magical that will change his gambling life and make him richer than he ever dreamed of.

This brilliant book is great to share with family and friends. Additionally, I didn’t dislike anything. It is part of a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl.

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did, and it is great for fans of Roald Dahl, David Williams.

Age rating: 9+ Star rating: 4.8 out of 5.

Raphael, age 12

May 2023

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

This book is written by Katherine Rundell, and is set in Paris. The book begins in London, where a mysterious child is washed up on the shore in a rotting cello case. She is taken in by a rather eccentric man called Charles Maxim, who brings her up in odd ways. But when Sophie is old enough, they want to separate her and Charles, because of his methods of upbringing that Sophie has always loved.

Think of night time with a speaking voice. Or think how moonlight might talk, or think of ink, if ink had vocal chords. Give those things a narrow, aristocratic face with hooked eyebrows, and long arms and legs, and this is what the baby saw as she was lifted out of her cello case and up into safety.

Charles and Sophie cannot live apart, so they run to Paris, fleeing from the authorities and hunting for Sophie’s long lost mother, who went missing when she freed Sophie from a shipwreck a long time ago. While searching for her mother, Sophie finds a boy called Matteo on the moonlit rooftops of Paris, and learns to navigate the grooves and buildings. Together can they find Sophies’s long lost mother?

I would rate this book for ages 9+, and a 5/5 stars. I liked a lot of things about it, but I only disliked that the ending was quite abrupt. Katherine Rundell has written many other books for children and adults.

Leona, age 12

April 2023

Divergent  by Veronica Roth

Divergent is a Science Fiction book in which Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions – Abnegation ( the selfless ) Dauntless ( the brave ) Erudite ( the intelligent ) Candor ( the honest ) and Amity ( the peaceful ). In her faction, life is dull, and she longs for excitement, finding it hard to fit in. She does not want to be factionless, which is the equivalent to poverty in her world. Her choice will shock everyone, and even herself.

Beatrice is originally from Abnegation, but her faction test results, which determines what faction you are in, say something different. She must make a painful choice between faction and family, but what will she chose?

In her new world, she must be always on the lookout for dangers, because she has a dangerous secret to hide, and people want to hunt her down. Can she survive initiation and hide her secret?

This book is written in present tense and first person, which I have not encountered much before. I liked this book because of the unique setting and character building. There was not much I disliked about it. It is quite well written and has a complex, good plot.

I would rate this book 5/5 stars and give it a 9+ age rating. This is suitable for fantasy or science fiction readers.

Amelia, age 13

March 2023

Frankie’s Magic Football: Team T-Rex by Frank Lampard

It is about a boy called Frankie and his friends Louise, Charlie, and Max the dog.  They have a magic football, and it teleports them to the prehistoric age. A T-Rex is trying to eat them while they are trying to rescue a baby pterodactyl.

I love the book as it is about football, and I love football! I would love a talking dog too.

I gave the book 4 out 5 stars, because I like Frankie’s Magic Football: Frankie Save Christmas.

Austin, aged 7

February 2023

Twitch by M. G. Leonard

Do you like adventure books? Well, if so, I can already tell that this is the perfect book for you. Twitch is full of adventure, action, and mystery. It has an amazing yet gripping plotline that everyone will love. Nevertheless, it doesn’t give anything away until halfway through the book, so you then don’t know the ending before it happens. Twitch keeps the suspense perfectly and almost always gives you a cliff-hanger to cling onto. Twitch makes you want to keep on reading even when you are told to stop. It is a great length book and I do recommend it. It is a one of a kind book and one of the best books I have ever read. 10/10

Lauren, aged 10

January 2023

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Skandar Smith is a young boy from England who idolises unicorn riders and aspires to become a one. But disaster erupts when the Weaver, a mysterious spirit wielder, threatens the mainland at the Chaos Cup, a famous unicorn riders championship, and everyone is panicking. But when Skandar is not allowed to take the Hatchery test (which tests if you can be a unicorn rider), a mysterious rider discreetly takes him to the Hatchery Door on the island. Joined by 42 other young riders, his life in the Eyrie, where riders train, becomes increasingly difficult. While hiding the fact that he is an illegal spirit wielder and searching for his long-lost mum, he is also trying to stay in the Eyrie and make friends. But threats from the Weaver sends the whole island into a panic.

As Skandar digs through his family history and the Weaver’s, he realises that they are intertwined. When he finally meets his mum, he is shocked at her secret.

I like this book because the writing is the right pace, and the plot is creative.

I disked this book because … nothing.

When I bought this book, a bookstore employee commented on how it was their favourite book.

I would age rate it age 9+ and 5/5 stars. I very highly recommend it. Also, I think fans of J.K. Rowling will like this.

Albert, aged 11

December 2022

The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis & Rebecca Cobb

Nearly ten years old, this is one of my favourite Christmas books of all time! It features twin girls Sam and Charlie, and although they are identical in appearance they behave quite differently to each other – Charlie is supposedly naughty. On Christmas Eve the whole family is slightly and quietly worried that Santa may not fill Charlie’s stocking – given how mischievous she has been all year, and Santa’s good-bad-o-meter will certainly be able to tell if Charlie should have her stocking filled or not. We read this story every Christmas Eve and every year it delights – I don’t think kids can be too old for this book! The illustrations are gorgeous and it’s a lovely story about what’s really going on in sibling relationships and what only a good-bad-o-meter may pick up.

Reading Force’s Hattie

November 2022

What is Politics, Why Should we Care? And Other Big Questions by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young

This book’s aim is to raise questions about politics and it is written for children who don’t know about politics or “aren’t into it.” It helps those people to understand politics. Politics is all around us and we can’t ignore it; it’s on the news, the radio and everybody talks about it. The questions this book raises are questions like “what forms does politics take” and” can you be non-political. It also features experiences of the authors – Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young. It tells us about their experiences as well as the experiences of other political people. This book incorporates lots of questions and facts about society. 

This book is for ages 8-14, but younger children might find it a little complex as the way it is written can sometimes be slightly boring. I liked the questions that they ask, as they make you think about different things. I disliked how boring it is as sometimes it can seem like they’re not really saying anything. I would rate it 3.7/5 stars. Readers such as people who like knowing about the world will enjoy it. It does include political situations in history. Thanks for reading!

Douglas, age 11

October 2022

You Can Do It by Marcus Rashford

This lovely book by the famous footballer Marcus Rashford, consists mainly of him sharing the lessons he has learnt in life, as well as a few of his interesting experiences sprinkled in. I love the way it is laid out, with all sorts of fun fonts and pictures. It never gets boring with all the fun ways the text is presented. At 200 pages but with fairly large text, I recommend it to junior readers, especially as the overall messages of the book are important for every youngster.

A few of the messages in YOU CAN DO IT:

Taking breaks – Marcus encourages being kind to yourself, and strongly supports making sure you rest when you need to.

Being kind – An expert in this field, Rashford talks through his experience of his anti-food poverty work and explains how you can make somebody’s day just that little bit better.

Working as a team – He also gets across his view that we are all part of a huge team, working together without even knowing it.

I recommend this book to any readers and reluctant readers out there from 7-12 years old, especially if you enjoy football! It has some fantastic messages in, and is definitely worth a read. I would rate it a good eight out of ten. Happy reading!

Letitia, age 12

September 2022

Resist by Tom Palmer

Resist is a story set in the 1940s occupied Netherlands and follows a brave young hero codenamed Edda, her real name Audrey. She knows it’s dangerous, but she can’t help herself applying for various jobs for the Resistance. When the British and French invade, war rages in the innocent city of Velp, their home and they must cower in the cellar. But when her family hosts refugees and she discovers an injured parachutist, she knows things are getting serious. As the fighting presses in, they are unsure if they’ll make it out alive . . .  A page turning novel based on war survivor and famous actor Audrey Hepburn, this is a story that readers of Michael Morpurgo would enjoy immensely. It is a short book, with only 208 pages

Rating on page turning: 9/10 Rating on plot: 7/10 Rating on length: 5/10

Overall Rating: 87/100

This book is published by Barrington Stoke publishers, who specialise in books for dyslexic readers and reluctant readers.

Albert, aged 11

August 2022

The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius

The Murderer’s Ape is an amazingly well written book which features many characters, many of which have funny and well built personalities. They build the story in which Sally Jones, an adventurous young gorilla, is dragged through mercilessly. Her endless adventures have you constantly wanting to know what happens. This amazing page turner also has its very own highly distinct style, which is shown in wondrous illustrations that fill the gaps. It features many countries and places, from shady alley taverns to the Maharajah’s palace. The story has a complex plot, and the writer is crazily innovative and creative. The style of writing helps you visualise the images in your head. This story is mainly set in Portugal, where there is quite a lot about music. Sally Jones usually takes up jobs on ships and in ports. I think this book is for people who like Anthony Horowitz’s books, and action and suspense. I rate this book 5/5 stars and say that it’s for ages 8+.

Chosen by Saffron, aged 10

July 2022

Press here by Hervé Tullet

You get to press buttons on it that you can share and take turns to press with your little sister. That’s why you get different colours on the spots, so I get the red as that’s my favourite colour.

My favourite bit is when the buttons make a rainbow!

I also like it when it has big buttons, they get bigger and bigger and you get to clap together really really superly loud. When you’re clapping the big spots make colours together because red and blue make purple you see. At the end you tap the white dot and it all goes small again.

By Maggie age 4 – but I’m very nearly 5!

June 2022

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

When the unusually tall 12-year-old Liam ends up in a new theme park – the Infinite Possibility – Liam must compete with other actual dads to go to space. He wonders if he did the right thing to pose as a dad with a daughter. Either way, Liam thought that this was cosmic. When Liam gets put in charge of a rocket (costing 10 billion) he starts to regret it. They finally landed to a surprise, or maybe two. All this for fame? I don’t think so. That is for you to find out if you read the book.

I love this book, I rated it 9/10. I think you will like it if you like adventure books.

Chosen by KH, age 9

May 2022

Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson

The Moomins are fun loving creatures that fill the books with excitement, even though there is not very much action. These books contain wonderful philosophies and life lessons. The world of the Moomins have numerous uncountable details, such as the uncle of the hairy thing that hides under the sink, and the family of three befriend many characters. There is much confusion about which book to read first and in what order, and it seems it doesn’t really matter what order you read them in. With strong personalities and creative characteristics, these characters will surely be similar to at least one person you know. These books are good to read with an adult.

Chosen by Lola, age 9

April 2022

Ingo by Helen Dunmore

When Sapphire’s brother Conor is disappearing for hours on end, always near the sea, she is enticed into finding the cause of this strange absence. She meets Faro, a merfolk boy, and he explains many things to her. One day, her father goes missing, and is never seen again. The adventurous girl must calm the power of the sea, also known as Ingo by the merfolk, to rescue her Dad. A series of strange occurrences lead to Sapphire staying in the sea for longer each day, until one thing she sees pulls her over the edge. After what she’s seen, does she want to calm the sea’s rising powers?

Chosen by Omar, age 10

March 2022

The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas

I like how it makes each emotion into a colour. My favourite is the yellow for happiness because now when I see yellow it makes me happy. The book has helped me with my emotions because it teaches me how the emotions feel.

Chosen by Ethan, aged 6

I like to get him to read this book out loud when he is feeling a bit stressed and mixed up with his emotions as it helps him to calm down and often afterwards is more willing to discuss how he is feeling or what has happened to make him “feel funny”.

Jane, Ethan’s mum

February 2022

One by Sarah Crossan

One is a book written in verse, as a 400-page poem about conjoined twins, Grace and Pippi, sentenced to live and die side by side for eternity; or a least as long as they will live – not long, everyone seems to be expecting and sadly some hoping. How they manage to survive, how they manage to retain the will to live – their troubles are never ending, with an ungrateful sister, a dad that drinks, bullies at school, extreme money shortages, and the fact that the mere sight of them disgusts the majority – it’s astonishing how they manage to get by every day.

Many troubles pass them by as the book progresses – friend betrayals, family arguments, and the fact that Grace is wildly in love with their new friend. When money shortages become too pressing, the twins are forced to scrap their dignity and go through public exposure.

What depresses both Grace and Tippi so deeply is the fact that when they need surgery, it is deemed a success if one of them lives. For a while. The surgeons do not care about their lives. Only about success. Success in their eyes.

Although One is a good book, do not be fooled by its length. The ‘verse’ aspect of the book is questionable. It is just a bunch of new lines and indents, so in fact the book is fairly short. In terms of language and ‘poeticness’, it is not at all like a poem. But the story is interesting, insightful, and moving, as well as sad near the end.

Chosen by Joseph, aged 12

January 2022

The Secret Animal Society by Luke Gamble

I don’t normally read about magic but I did for this book and it was surprisingly good. There was a girl whose uncle looked after fake animals (like yetis). Edie, the main character, could hear what animals say. I would recommend it overall because it was kind of a good read.

Chosen by Bethany Proctor, aged 11

December 2021

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is a normal boy, apart from the fact that he’s never gone more than one school year without getting expelled. When he accidentally causes his teacher to evaporate on a field trip, he realises he is a Greek demigod.

 In the school holidays, he and his mother take a trip to the beach and get away from Percy’s shifty stepfather. When his mother almost gets killed by a minotaur, he travels to Camp Halfblood, where Poseidon claims him as his son. He makes friends with a girl called Annabeth, who is a daughter of Athena, and a satyr called Grover, who was disguised as a boy in his old school.

 At camp, there are twelve cabins: one for each Olympian’s children. One day, his former friend, Luke, tries to kill him with a pit scorpion and warns Percy that the Titans are planning war…

In the camp, there are stories of a girl called Thalia who founded the camp years ago with two friends: Luke and Annabeth. The rumours say that the children were fighting monsters when Thalia sacrificed herself to save her friends.

Percy, Annabeth and Grover venture into the Labyrinth, The Sea of Monsters and Mount Othrys (the titans lair). The book is written in first person of Percy.

You will like this book if you like Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
Chosen by, Willow, aged 10

November 2021

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

This book had me on the edge of my seat. There are so many twists and turns in this book. The Dark lord plays a massive part in this book and he’s so scary. He will stop at nothing to get to Harry Potter. He even sends his death eaters to get him. Harry has to find the horcruxes and try to destroy them to stop the dark lord.

If you want adventure, mystery and scary things then I suggest you read this book.

Chosen by, Amelia Gilbert, aged 8

October 2021

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book has intrigued many people – and become an international bestseller – perhaps because it’s so different. The main character is at times infuriating and yet also invites our sympathy. One wills her on to understand what went wrong – and learn to make better choices in future. The wider cast of characters lead to a range of situations that surprise – and we can all learn from. Above all, it’s really funny – and stays in your mind long after you’ve finished.

Readers have been longing for a sequel ever since. To date they’ve been disappointed.  What do you think happened next?

Chosen by Alison Baverstock

September 2021

Pigheart Boy by Malorie Blackman

We take being able to walk, to run, even to be able to get up the stairs easily for granted. We should be able to. But one boy, Cameron, has a problem with his heart, since a viral infection he caught two years ago, and has worsened ever since. It stops him from swimming, diving, playing football – and of course he is an easy target for bullies.

The infection grows to a point so terrible that he has at most a year left to live – no one will talk to him, they look away when he attempts to talk about his lifespan. On top of this, his caring parents are always arguing about what is best for Cameron. Although he knows they mean well, it is almost impossible to life with.

And then his Dad invites a doctor, specialising in transgenics, the transplantation of one animal’s organs into another. He says Cameron could have a chance to live, if he accepts a dangerous, controversial, never-done-before plan. To have a heart transplant. But not a normal transplant. Cameron decides to have a pig’s heart switched with his infected one.

He only tells one friend (Marlon) – he keeps it secret from all the others. But will Marlon be able to keep his promise? – or will he tell everyone, exposing Cameron to the relentless press, and ruining his relationships with people that think the pig heart will change him.

This book is good, the language is simple – it is all about the story. It also teaches good life lessons – I rate it four stars. Definitely worth a read.

Chosen by Stanley, age 12

August 2021

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is a fantastic book set in a fantasy land. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a lazy life, not often travelling further than his wine cellar.

However, one day, the wizard Gandalf visits, followed by a company of dwarves. They have a plot of slaying Smaug, an evil dragon who killed their ancestors. Along the way, they battle many ferocious monsters and endure many hardships in mountains and forests. They come across trolls, goblins (who ride on wolves) and wood-elves. They ally with the men of Dale, who live near Smaug’s mountain and the wood-elves. It is Bard (someone from Dale) who kills Smaug.

It is quite a slow plot with a few boring parts. However, many very exciting parts make up for that. The language is old and difficult to understand in some places. The characters are 13 dwarves, Thorin (a dwarf king), Bilbo and Gandalf.

The dwarves consider themselves heroic, but really, they are fat and Gandalf keeps saving them.

The series is based around a magic ring, and it appears in the Lord of The Rings books. You will like this book if you like Philip Pullman.

Chosen by Albert, age 10

July 2021

Macky Monster’s Daddy Works Away by Stacie Wildney

We loved this book for explaining why Daddy’s away, the monster was very appealing to my three year old who loved how he looked. Macky does activities that relate to our children such as a watching tv with mummy which is a nice reality as we don’t always have lots planned or fun educational activities to do! It’s a lovely book to read together and we thoroughly enjoyed it! We like to read it over and over.

Chosen by Ayshea (Mum) and Lincoln, aged 3

June 2021

The Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

[Warning – Minor Spoiler Alert]

Possibly Katherine Rundell’s best book, a close competitor to The Explorer – it is written to perfection, with a complicated and interesting story. Sophie, a baby girl washed up to the shore on her first birthday, was found floating in a cello case by an eccentric and kind man named Charles Maxim. He raises her with a strange and unusual lifestyle, with not much money, but plenty of joy and wisdom. As Sophie grows up, she is convinced that her mother survived from the few valuable memories she recalls from the shipwreck. Everyone tells her she is wrong, that there is no hope, even Charles tells her that there is almost no possibility. She still investigates though, in her spare time. And then the social services arrive. They insist that Sophie is not being raised properly, and demand that Charles quits as a father. So the two of them hatch a plan; her cello case came from France, so that is where they head – to find Sophie’s mother. From then on, it’s a run from the police, and a series of interesting encounters with a young boy living on the rooftops. As the stakes are raised, the question presses – will Sophie find her mother? Or did she drown on the day of the shipwreck?
In my top ten books, I rate Rooftoppers six stars!

Chosen by JG, aged 12

May 2021

More Than This by Patrick Ness

In my opinion, More Than This is Patrick Ness’s greatest book. The story follows a sixteen year old, Seth Wearing, through his life as it is distorted in strange ways, beyond his own imagination. It begins with him drowning. Helpless. The sea’s plaything, he is rammed into a cluster of rocks, breaking his shoulder, the second time his skull, splintering into his brain. He dies. There is no possible recovery. And then he wakes. Starving, thirsty, restrained from moving, but alive. In a haze of disbelief, unconsciousness falls on him again – this time, when he comes back to reality, he is outside a house, cuts all over him, and overcome with such tremendous fatigue that he is afraid standing will kill him. Looking around himself, Seth realises that his surroundings are vaguely familiar. As time passes, more and more images are recalled, and flashbacks of his life come to him as disturbingly realistic dreams. The story unfolds – Seth meets a hostile figure, clad in black, hunting living things. He finds two teenagers, as surprised as he is to meet them. And as he explores his strange second life, he must make a decision – is this his imagination – or real life?

Chosen by JG, aged 12

April 2021

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

Torak is a stone-age boy who is tall, taller than his friend. He has fair hair and a fringe. The best at the skill of tracking, he can follow almost any path. Likeable and good at befriending people, he has many friends. He’s loyal to his companions, as well as helping anyone in need. Torak carries his mother’s medicine horn, made from a bit of the antler of a god, and his father’s blue flint knife. Clanless, but taken up by the Ravens, he travels and stays in different places. Torak finds adventure, new people, different culture, and learns new skills in every one. He took up many hardships to track down and defeat the Soul-Eaters whose fiendish, terrible ambitions involve many people getting killed.

  • Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver
  • The story takes place six thousand years ago during the Middle Stone Age, and tells the story of Torak, a boy who can talk to wolves

Chosen by Albert, aged 9

March 2021

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

This has apparently been the fastest-selling debut crime novel in the history of British publishing: the author is well-known from his appearances on BBC Countdown. The setting is really original – a group within a residential community for the elderly who have a weekly get-together to solve crimes. They emerge as sprightly and fun, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is the sense it offers of what lively places these can be. As a crime novel, however, I found the machinations of the various suspects both too complicated and unconvincing. Murder-mysteries can offer a really satisfying read – we are taken into a complete world, and all the ends are tied up. While Osman may give reader a taste for further adventures, for me this is not a patch on PD James, Val McDermid, Dorothy L Sayers or Agatha Christie.

  • A celebration of life in residential accommodation for the elderly – and it looks far more fun than you may have imagined
  • This is your chance to think about how you might end up using the skills accumulated over a lifetime. I enjoyed the backstories of all the characters.

Chosen by Alison Baverstock

February 2021

The Island by Victoria Hislop

This book has sold 5 million copies and, although published ten years ago, continues to attract new readers. Right now, it feels startlingly relevant as it’s about a group of residents on an island to which they are banished because of their leprosy.

It’s a well told story of small-community gossip, local intrigue and long-term relationships, where no amount of good luck or monetary privilege can hide who you really are from those who live alongside. Hislop is a born story-teller and I found it absorbing. This was my first experience of her writing; several other books are now available.

  • If you’ve ever holidayed on a Greek island, this is a great way to learn about what life was – and is – like there all year round, from temperature and food to relations with the mainland
  • Living in a close community requires tolerance and generosity. How would you cope?

Chosen by Alison Baverstock