Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres

Why the kelpie breeders who bred Koko, the famed star of Red Dog ...
A Red Cloud Kelpie, just like Red, the dog in this book.

Follow the adventures of Red, the red cloud Kelpie, who lives in Australia. Red lives in a community and is not owned by anyone. He hangs out with different people, but eventually chooses to live with John the bus-driver. Red has an adventure in every chapter. He steals sausages, gets shot and befriends a cat. He is also well known for his really smelly farts!

I think that the author describes places and characters with a depth that really helps you to imagine you are there. I feel that the book is relaxed and gentle – not a fast-paced adventure. The book is told from the point of view of the dog, so I got a real insight into dogs and how they behave, and the reasons for their behaviour. There is also some sadness in this book.

Louis de Bernieres has also written a very good prequel to this, about a different dog, called Blue Dog. BJMN

The House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

I really liked this sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle.

Chermain, the main character, is a distant relative the Great Wizard Norland, the King’s Wizard. She looks after Wizard Norland’s house and loves reading books and eating yummy food her father bakes.

Wizard Norland’s house is the House of Many Ways. There are certain steps you must follow to get the room you want to. Chermain befriends a dog called Waif, and Peter, Wizard Norland’s apprentice. Then she gets a job at the King’s Library, sorting out documents.

Magical guests arrive at the Palace (Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle). Whilst the King and his daughter are distracted by the guests, Chermain, Waif and Peter discover that the heir to the throne is really a monstrous being. Sophie and Howl also discover this and they make a plan to stop the monster becoming King; Chermain, Waif and Peter get involved.

I really liked the characterisation of Chermain, Waif and Peter. I can’t imagine meeting beings Chermain, Peter and Waif, but the language the author uses to describe them, helped me bring them to life.

“They both look across the parlour to where Mrs Bakers’ daughter sat, deep in a book, as usual, with her long, thin body bent into what sunlight came in past Mrs Baker’s geraniums, her red hair pinned up in a sort birds’ nest and her glasses perched on the end of her nose.”

Wizard Norland is always very friendly, like a jolly grandfather.

Even though this is a sequel, you can read it without having read Howl’s Moving Castle. BJMN

Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

Easy-to-read, great characters and magical.

I was looking for a book to read in my sister’s bedroom. That’s when I found Dragon’s Green, probably one of the best books I have ever read. Joanne Harris said “The most exciting debut in children’s fiction since Harry Potter. Playful, warm and yet thrilling too”. I agree.

The main character is Effie. She is a “true hero” – a magical person in her universe. There are many types of magical people, a true hero, a scholar, a healer or a witch (witches can talk with animals). I would like to be a healer or a witch! Effie finds out that there is an evil organisation trying to destroy the universe. She has to travel to a different world to find secrets to save the universe.

Effie has four friends she works with on her adventures, each of them has a different power. AMMN

Element Girls – The Lost Goddess, by Giulietta M. Spudich

Picture

This book is about four girls who are very good friends. During the story they discover that they each have an elemental power. In the Lost Goddess, Amelia is kidnapped by her evil father and taken to a cave on a Hawaiian island. He wants her to mine “the dark” – an evil substance in a stone. Amelia discovers that there is a goddess trapped in the walls of the cave and she decides she must free the goddess. Her friends discover magic and their own powers and go to Hawaii to help Amelia.

I like this book, because it is about magic and a goddess, and I really like the way that the author uses dreams to explain important parts of the story. I found that the story is exciting and gripping, and I wanted to keep reading until I had finished it. I appreciated that the author talks about the girls’ feelings and the reality of their relationships.

BJMN

Rose Raventhrope Investigates: Black cats and butlers, by Janine Beacham.

Rose lives in Yorke with her beloved butler Argyle. After Argyle is murdered in Rose’s house, she is determined to discover who did it and why. On her journey she uncovers some secrets about Argyle and his butler friends. She makes friends and a very dangerous enemy.

I love this book and I think it is a very good mystery book. I found it so exciting and gripping it made my heart beat fast. It is also a little bit funny, tickling me inside. Thank you Amber for lending me this book. BJMN

Lady Mary, by Lucy Worsley

“A great test is coming, my love… You will be stretched until you think you might break in two. “

Lady Mary is Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. The book starts with Mary as a 9 year old and the book ends when she is 20 years old. This book is about Lady Mary growing up. She is sent away from court after her parents’ divorce. Alone for the first time in her life, with hardly any friends around her, Mary has to tread carefully and fight for what is hers.

Lady Mary

I think this book gives you a good glimpse into the life of a Tudor princess. I was gripped by this book and wanted to read to the very end to see if Lady Mary is OK. BJMN

The Adventures of Splodge Pig, by Sally Sheringham

Image result for Adventures of Splodge Pig, by Sally Sheringham

Splodge lives on Lemon Tree farm, but then he crosses the hot white desert to go to live in a jungle full of wild animals.

This book is a bit funny, but that isn’t the main thing about it. I like how everybody thinks Splodge can’t do anything, because he’s just a fat lazy pig. He has quite a few narrow escapes and every time he tricks the other animals. It’s a good story.

Splodge has got a satchel, and he has lots of unusual stuff in there, like a balloon, and all of his things help him to rid the jungle of tigers.

One thing that is not so good is that there is no information about the story on the back cover.

I like all of the drawings. I also like that the pictures go from black and white to colour and back to black and white and so on. AMMN

Poppy, by Avi

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At the very edge of Dimwood Forest stood an old charred oak where, silhoutted by the moon, a great horned owl sat waiting. The owl’s name was Mr. Ocax, and he looked like death himself.”

This is a story about a mouse called Poppy. I like the way she has a ginormous family. She is determined to prove that she can help them move house. To do that, she has to fight against Mr. Ocax, who calls himself the ruler of Dimwood Forest, where they live.

Nobody really supports Poppy, apart from one of her cousins and a porcupine. Mr Ocax says porcupines eat mice, but actually they don’t. And he also says that he protects mice from porcupines, but actually he’s scared of them himself!

It was really nice and I think it was a good book. AMMN

Dear Olly, by Michael Morpurgo

“Matt wouldn’t look at her as he spoke.
‘I’m going to be a clown, Olly, I mean a real clown. And I know where I’m going to do it. I’m going where my swallows go. I’m going to Africa.'”

This is a story in 3 parts, and they all fit together. The first part is about Olly, who has a brother called Matt who is brilliant at making people laugh. He sees children in Africa who are sick, injured, orphaned and lonely, and he decides he wants to go and make them laugh, make them happy. Whilst he is away, Olly looks after his swallows.

The second part is about one of Matt’s swallows, called Hero, who goes on an adventure to Africa, braving all sorts along the way. The third part is about Matt’s time in Africa, where he makes friends with a boy called Gahamire and his life will be changed forever.

When you read this book, it feels like the characters don’t know what’s going to happen. This makes it feel real, just like in real life we don’t know what will happen tomorrow or next week.

It’s not my favourite Michael Morpurgo book – that is Sparrow, the story of Joan of Arc – but I love the way he tells stories. He gets inside characters and describes feelings and emotions. In this book I could feel what it would be like to be a swallow, and it was interesting to think about what it would be like to be an orphan. I would particularly recommend this book – and Michael Morpurgo’s other books too – for animal lovers. BJMN

Jacky Daydream, by Jacqueline Wilson

“I was more than a fortnight late for my own birth.”

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I like Jacqueline Wilson’s books. And I like this book because in it she tells you about her own life – from a baby up to the age of 11. It tells you about when she was really young, before she could even probably remember.

At the end of each chapter, it shows you the link between the story of her childhood and her books. Each chapter finishes with a question asking you to make the connection between what you’ve read that chapter and one of her books.

For example at the end of a chapter when she tells the story of one of her childhood Christmases, she aks: “There’s a Christmas scene at the start and end of one of my books. Which do you think it is?” The answer is Clean Break – and she then includes a bit from that book.

The book also includes photos of her as a child, which I like.

If you like Jacqueline Wilson’s books, this is a good one to read, because it’s about her, and she talks about her own feelings, which I like.

“Then I started running all the way down the zigzag path for the sheer joy of it, still wondering if wishes ever came true.”

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AMMN