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Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman seems like your average 10 year old boy. He likes playing X-Box, riding his bike and eating lots and lots of ice cream, except there's something different about him. August was born with a facial disfigurement. He knows that people are always going to stare and his face, he knows there are going to be double takes in the street and he knows that people are going to want to ask questions. But the most important thing about August is he doesn't let that affect him. After all, isn't it good to be different when everybody else is the same?
One of the main things I loved about the book was August's attitude towards life: his ability to cope, to be genuinely happy and make a comedy out of his situation is amazing for anyone to read. August faced many mixed reactions when starting secondary school; there were lots of supportive people and an equal number of not so supportive people but he never let that stop him. Like anybody, August had good days and not so good days. I also love how the story was told from different perspectives of the different children in August's class; you could see how the other children perceived his disfigurement, and some never mentioned the issue and others have burning questions which they are not sure how to ask.
I would highly recommend this book to both children and adults. It is called Wonder because it makes you wonder – if you were him, or them how would you behave?
Sherlock Holmes – Baker Street Boys: The Case of the Disappearing Detective by Anthony Read
This book is what used to be called ‘a right rollicking yarn’. It features, Wiggins, Shiner, Beaver, Sparrow, Queenie and Gertie – The Baker Street Boys of the title - although they’re not all boys - a group of street children employed by Sherlock Holmes as irregulars. They are his eyes and ears in the murky underworld of Victorian London and are often one step ahead of the great detective. In this story, It’s Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the boys are engaged to keep watch on a sinister American. Holmes’s arch enemy, Professor Moriarty, returns with a fiendish plot to blow up the Queen at Windsor Station. The great detective goes missing and it’s up to Wiggins and the ‘boys’ to save the day.
This is a fast-paced story full of typically Victorian characters. If you’ve never heard of Sherlock Holmes it won’t spoil your enjoyment of the book and it’s one of a series so there are plenty more adventures to get your teeth into. The game is afoot. Enjoy it!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
When the story starts, Maia has been living in a school in London for two years since the death of her parents. One day, she receives news that a distant relative has been traced and that she is to live with them – in Brazil! Maia starts by researching the River Amazon, which she discovers is known as ‘The River Sea’ and realises that where she going is very different from what she has known. The story follows her journey to another part of the world and her feelings as she tries to settle with the Carter family. In Brazil, she meets new friends who will need her help and will lead her on new adventures.
This is a really interesting book as it challenges the viewpoint that family, or ‘blood’ are always the right thing for us. Maia, and the friends she meets, haven’t always had a happy time with family and we, the reader learn that it doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, family can still influence our lives in many ways. It’s not the sort of exciting book where something happens in every chapter, rather it is a plot that develops over several chapters and really hooks you in.
A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo
Michael, known as Poodle, lives with his mum, Christine, who is enigmatically beautiful. They live in London not long after the end of the Second World War. Michael encounters casual racism on account of his dark skin and the fact that he is half-French, but he rises above it and manages to turn the tables on ‘Les Rostbifs’. Michael has never known his father and when word gets out that his dad was a war hero, shot down in his spitfire, the boy becomes a focus for pride, sympathy and even envy. Michael has two aunties - Pish and Snowdrop - who live in Folkestone with their dog, Jasper. On interminable weekly visits to the aunties for tea and rock cakes, the dog fascinates Michael, as does the photo of his father wearing his uniform kept in a silver frame. It is not until that silver frame and that photograph come into Michael’s possession that the story really sparks into life. Learning about his family changes Michael’s life completely.
You have probably never heard of Walter Tull. He died in March 1918 and, like so many other soldiers killed in the First World War, his body was never recovered. He was the first black footballer to play for Spurs and the third ever black professional footballer in the U.K. He was also, despite the racial bias of the authorities at the time, the first black combat officer in the British Army. Walter was, it seems, gallant, resourceful and cool in a crisis. He was recommended for the military cross. However, the medal was never awarded and no official record of the recommendation remains. Walter Tull is not Michael’s missing father. However, the spirit of Walter Tull, the wastefulness of war and the racism of a bygone age permeate this book. At a time when the struggle against inequality has never been more relevant, this book is a timely reminder that black lives do indeed matter.
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
This is the first book in the Alex Rider series. Alex’s life is turned upside-down after the death of his adoptive uncle, who has been like a father to him. He is suddenly thrown into a world of spies, mysteries, secret identities and adventure. Alex is recruited my MI6 to investigate a man, Herod Sayle, who has created a computer called Stormbreaker. Sayle wants to give a computer to every secondary school in the country but is this act of generosity everything it seems?
This is a fast-moving book. Something exciting happens in every chapter and, as the reader, you really root for Alex and want him to succeed in the environment in which he has reluctantly found himself. The book is very much in the James Bond genre, so if you like mystery and adventure, then this book is for you.