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Lower Key Stage 2

Fortunately, the Milk... by Neil Gaiman

(available on Borrow Box)

Mum has gone away and left dad in charge leaving him a long list of jobs that he has to do. One of the most important things he has to do is get milk for the children's breakfast cereal. However, when dad pops to the shops to buy the milk, very strange things happen to him...


This book is bonkers! Dad manages to turn a simple walk to the corner shop into an epic adventure featuring dinosaurs, pirates and famous jewels. It is quite a short book/quick listen so is a great one if you don't fancy a longer chapter book. I laughed a lot but also felt bewildered by how dad was managing to get himself into such scrapes when he just wanted to buy some milk. But the big question is, did he manage to get the milk home in time for breakfast?! Neil Gaiman books are always full of exciting adventures and fun fantasy characters so if you like books that take your imagination soaring to new heights, this is definitely worth a read.


The Iron Man by Ted Hughes 

The Iron Man takes you on an extraordinary journey into the world of a mysterious metal giant. The story begins when a gigantic iron man emerges from the depths of the Earth and starts wreaking havoc on everything in its path. As fear and confusion spreads among the people, they try to contain the iron giant. However, the people of Earth are faced with an unexpected challenge - a fierce, space-dwelling dragon. Will the Iron Man join the dragon, or will he choose to help the people of Earth who have captured him?

The story shares a similar blend of fantasy, friendship, and larger-than-life characters with Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’. As the story progresses, the message of unity and cooperation spreads, promoting a sense of shared responsibility.


If you enjoy fantasy and science fiction, look no further! This book is for you. It’s bursting with imaginative storytelling, memorable characters, and magical elements, bringing the story to life. Once you finish, be sure to read ‘The Iron Woman,’ a sequel that delves deeper into the adventures of the iron characters. 


The Boy Who Biked the World - Part One: On the Road to Africa by Alastair Humphries

This is a story about a boy called Tom who dreams of being an adventurer. In order to achieve his dream, he decides to embark on a journey around the world on his bicycle. This story is based on the real-life experiences of the author and is full of interesting characters and descriptions of spectacular landscapes.


This book is unusual because it doesn’t follow one particular genre exclusively. Although it is an adventure story about Tom’s journey from England to the southern tip of Africa, it also has sections that are written like a diary and non-fiction parts which include maps and true facts.


I think you will enjoy this book if you are interested in finding out about different countries and customs. The best thing is, if you enjoy this book, there are two more books in the series that complete Tom’s journey around the world.


Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig

Evie is obsessed with animals! She loves reading about animals and discovering endless interesting facts. However, her connection with animals goes much deeper than that as she is able to read animals' minds! She has the special skill of being able to hear what they think and have conversations with them without even opening her mouth. Evie is desperate to have a pet but her dad is very against the idea and even forbids her from talking to animals but never actually explains why. Eventually she discovers that her mother, who was killed in the rainforest by an animal, also had had 'The Talent' and found herself involved with a nasty animal thief called Mortimer J Mortimer. A year after this major discovery, Evie too has to come face to face with Mortimer J Mortimer and his wicked deeds.


I really enjoyed this book as Evie's skill makes her an extremely interesting character. She is such a good person who wants to make the world a better place and her actions are very inspirational. I loved the fact that she lives in the town of Lofting as this is a little nod to Hugh Lofting, the author of the children's classic 'Doctor Dolittle', another well-loved character who can talk to animals. If you care about animals and are interested in their thoughts and feelings, then this is the book for you. Will Mortimer J Mortimer manage to steal all the animals or will Evie save the day? You'll have to read the book to find out!


I was there…Step back into the Battle of Hastings 1066 by Jim Eldridge

It’s 1066 and Edwin, a 12 year old knight in training, longs to join his father in battle.  The story begins at the battle of Stamford Bridge and the defeat of the Viking hoards led by Harald Hardrada. What follows is a lively history of the period told from a young man’s point of view.  Edwin’s friend Osric longs to be a monk, to read, learn, and find out about the world beyond England.  Edwin’s father has a decision to make – does he let Edwin fight?  King Harold thinks Edwin would make a great spy. England faces an uncertain future. Will anyone actually survive the battle?


The author claims you will be able to imagine you were actually there. This may be an extravagant claim. However, the book is a vivid first-person account of a turbulent time in England’s history and well worth a read.


Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Mr and Mrs Banks of Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane are looking to employ a nanny to look after their four children. This makes Mrs Banks very worried Mr Banks very cross because the prospective nannies will line up outside the front gate and cause problems for the traffic. Therefore, when Mary Poppins turns up unexpectedly stating that she will take the job, Mrs Banks doesn’t take much persuading to give it to her. Mary Poppins is full of surprises right from the start. Her curious carpet bag seems to be able to hold all manner of items that shouldn’t be able to fit inside, she can understand what dogs are saying and a shop selling gingerbread mysteriously appears when she is around. Whilst always maintaining her dignity and her no-nonsense approach, Mary takes the children on several adventures including shopping with a star, a midnight party at the zoo and travelling all the way around the world using a magic compass. Life for the Banks children will never be the same.


If you have seen the film of Mary Poppins and think you know the story, then think again. Although the magical nanny is the same in principle, she is a lot more distant from the children in the book and she certainly doesn’t sing. She is actually quite vain and stops to admire herself in shop windows. Every chapter contains a different adventure for the Banks children, so it never becomes dull. I am very familiar with the film – it’s one of my favourites – so it was good to return to the original text to remind myself that Disney’s version of Mary is not quite the same as that of P.L. Travers. I recommend this book if you like a touch of magic and mystery.


A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

The original story of the bear from Darkest Peru. Paddington Bear, named after the railway station where he was discovered, is now a major movie star. However, the story was first published in 1958 and originally animated and televised in the 1970s. Paddington had travelled all the way from Peru, stowed away in a lifeboat and living on marmalade, when the Brown family first met him and named him at the station. Since then, their lives have never been quite the same. The most ordinary things (eating sticky buns, having a bath or a day at the seaside) become extraordinary when accident prone but lovable Paddington is involved. Paddington is so earnestly nice and always has the best of intentions, that one cannot help but like him. Even the fierce housekeeper, Mrs Bird, and the irascible neighbour Mr Curry (my particular favourite) can’t stay angry with him for long.


The novel, which is the first in a series of 11, is entirely readable and retains its universal appeal despite the passing of time. Old-fashioned maybe, but never out of fashion, this book deserves its place in amongst the classics.  


Operation Gadgetman! by Malorie Blackman

‘Operation Gadgetman’ refers to the mission that Beans (whose real name is Beatrice) sets herself when her father is kidnapped. Beans’ dad is an inventor. Some of his ideas are pretty unusual, including his animal crunchie biscuits that actually cook (or explode) as they are propelled through the air! Beans admires her father but sometimes grows weary of his wacky ways. However, she gets the shock of her life when she returns home from school one day to find her dad has disappeared and has left her a coded note – he’s been kidnapped! With the help of her two best friends, Ann and Louise, and a spy kit that her dad invented, Beans is determined to find her father before it’s too late.


This is a great book. Beans and her friends are likeable characters and, as a reader, I was really impressed with their detective skills. It’s not a particularly challenging book, but it’s good fun and really gets your brain working to try to spot the clues and solve the mystery. Enjoy!


The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop

This is a quirky tale. It tells the story of a girl with the unusual name of Property Jones. She was left in a bookshop as a five-year-old and found by Michael Jones. He didn’t know what to do with her, so he put her with the lost property. She ended up staying with the Jones family who refer to her as Property. Now eleven years old, Property is still living in the bookshop with the Joneses but she has a secret…she can’t read! She has managed to keep this a secret from them by pretending to read a book to herself. Netty, Property’s Mum, and her brother, Michael, love books and are always reading them but Property doesn’t know how to join in. The Joneses bookshop is in trouble as hardly anyone buys a book, so Netty enters a competition to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, which is supposed to be the most amazing bookshop in the world. To their great surprise, the family wins the raffle and think all their troubles are over. But, of course, it never works out quite like that…


This is an entertaining story with likeable main characters. Although Property is unable to read, it doesn’t mean that she can’t use her skills and know-how to try to save the family from a disastrous situation. It goes to show that everyone can make a contribution and no-one should be underestimated. There is also a message of being wary of what is being offered to you until you are entirely sure of all the facts. 


The Blitz by Henry Brook (In association with the Imperial War Museum)

Why do we love history? Isn’t it just a bunch of dead kings and queens? Not in this collection of thrilling true stories it isn’t! The Blitz is a selection of tales telling how ordinary people survived their country’s finest and darkest hour. From Ray Holmes – a fighter pilot – battling the Luftwaffe’s “Flying Pencil” to Barbara Nixon, the would be actress who just wanted to do her bit, and spent the winter of 1940 volunteering as an air raid precaution warden, these stories are full of humanity and a marvellous humility. My particular favourite is the story of the four men who battled in vain to stop Coventry’s majestic cathedral being destroyed by incendiary firebombs. 


The most amazing thing about the German air war against Britain was that it failed.  Even after months of nightly raids, London remained a working city. The ‘spirit of the blitz’ is captured in this book but it never lets the reader forget that the relentless bombing of civilians, by both sides, during the Second World War was a vicious and pitiless chapter in 20th century history.


The Royal Rebel by Bali Rai

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh lives on an enormous estate in Suffolk. Her father has tuned it into an Indian palace with ornaments, exotic plants and animals including a bad-tempered baboon. Her grandfather had been a maharajah and ruler of the Sikh Indians and had fought off British invasion. However, things have started to go wrong for the family. Father is having to sell items from the house as he is in danger of being declared bankrupt and Mother won’t come out of her room. So Father decides to take the family to India. When they discover that they are not welcome there, they have to return home without Father but, with their beloved estate now sold to pay off debts, they have a turn to a rich relative for help – Queen Victoria. Despite her help, Sophia’s life goes from bad to worse. The once privileged young princess grows up to see the injustice that exists in the world and wants to do something about it - she becomes a suffragette.


I thoroughly enjoyed this story which is based on a real-life person. It was easy to read and moved seamlessly through the different periods of Sophia’s life to give an oversight of the hardships she had to endure despite her background. She is a really brave and strong character to have coped with all she had thrown at her as well as fight for causes she felt were right. She stood up for those people without a voice and left me feeling full of admiration for her.


The Queen’s Nose by Dick King-Smith

Harmony is a solitary child who sees people as animals. Her mother is a fussy Pouter Pigeon, her father a gruff Sea Lion and her sister Melody, a sleek, vain Siamese cat.  Harmony’s best friend is her old stuffed dog Rex Ruff Monty with whom she spends all her time and has insightful one-way conversations. Mostly, Harmony wants a pet, an animal of her very own, but Harmony’s parents are not animal lovers. Enter Uncle Ginger (a silver tip grizzly) with a little bit of magic about him. Ginger notices that Harmony spends a lot of time wishing. He sends her on a treasure hunt, which disappointingly ends in finding a 50p piece. As you can imagine, this is no ordinary coin. It has the power to grant wishes. If only she can figure out how it works and, more importantly, what to wish for.


Dick King-Smith is recognised as the master of animal adventures; however, this is not a story about animals. In fact, Anita the rabbit is the only creature to feature before the final chapter. Harmony’s penchant for seeing people as animals is an endearing quality as is her fierce, independent single-mindedness. She knows what she wants and she knows what to do to get it. However, as the story progresses, the message changes from ‘wishes do come true’ to ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Ultimately, this is a story about growing up and learning that there may be more to people than meets the eye.  This tale will please fans of Dick King-Smith and the uninitiated (like this reader) alike.


Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

This is the first book in The Famous Five series. Julian, Dick and Anne travel to the coast to meet their cousin Georgina. However, Georgina – who likes to be known as George – certainly does not want to meet them! George is unfriendly and only wants to spend time with her dog, Timmy, and visit ‘her’ island – Kirrin Island. However, a storm reveals a secret that leads the Five on a hunt for treasure – will they find it?


The Famous Five series is a stalwart of children’s literature. This book was written 75 years ago and reflects a time when children had a lot more freedom and certainly no electronic devices to help them. The Famous Five have to rely on teamwork, intelligence and courage to meet their challenges. If you like adventure stories, then this is a great book for you – and there are also twenty more books! The story is well-paced and the setting of an island on a rugged coastline make it interesting.