It’s time for the Summer Reading Challenge 2019 Reviews! We asked our members to read and review a minimum of five books that they chose as a challenge to themselves over the summer holidays. The results see some old favourites and some great new titles to explore. Thank you to everyone who took part. Let us know how you get on with these recommendations – and visit Summer Reading Challenge 2018 and Summer Reading Challenge 2017 for more titles.
This year we also asked our members to write about a book that they don’t like or have struggled to read and several of them have taken up that challenge – the titles might surprise you! You will find these reviews coloured orange.
Danesh B. Aged 5
Katherine Starke Looking After Cats and Kittens
This book is about how to look after a kitten, what they like and how many times to feed them and how to carry them around. I really enjoyed reading this book.
Rob Lloyd Jones Usborne Look Inside: How Things Work
It is a very heavy book! It is all about how every mechanical things work. I love the illustrations. It is my favourite book and I have read some parts over and over again.
Caitlin Watson Marvin and Milo Adventures in Science
I loooove this book. A cat and a dog try to do many scientific experiments to understand why things fly and float and fall. I used some of the ideas and did several experiments at home. It was so much fun and I learned about Newton’s Laws.
Roald Dahl George’s Marvellous Experiments
This book has many funny illustrations and experiments. I learned about chemical reactions. Some of the reactions make bangs – just don’t jump!
Alice James Usborne Lift the Flap Periodic Table
I dooooo LOVE chemistry! This book is all about elements of the periodic table of chemistry. From small atom like Hydrogen to exciting Gallium, that can melt in your hand, are in this book. I liked this book with all its flaps. I learned many new facts about elements.
What book don’t I like? I don’t like fiction book! I love facts and books about science, cats and machines. I don’t like books which don’t have illustrations and pictures as well.
James C. Aged 6
Dave Lowe My Hamster’s Got Talent
Rated: 4 Stars
Jinks owns an incredible hamster that can talk and has to win a competition for the most talented pet. He had to compete against a parrot, a dog and five mice. I liked it because it made me want to have a pet like that. I liked the language. I thought they could make it more exciting.
Dave Lowe My Hamster is a Genius
Rated: 4 Stars
A boy called Jinks gets a pet hamster and he can talk and tells Jinks the answer to his questions. I liked it because the language was right for my age group. I liked it because it was mainly words. I have read another one in the series but it was after this one.
Dave Lowe My Hamster is a Parrot
Rated: 4 Stars
A nine-year-old boy discovers five carat diamonds. I loved it because the setting was at a beach as it was sunny. I loved it because it was exciting and was so good that I wanted to read it again and again and again. It came with a summer for My Hamster is a Detective.
Enid Blyton The Secret Seven
Rated: 5 Stars
Four boys and three girls discover a mystery in an old house in the cellar. What will they find? The seven children find interesting tyre marks and footprints. They showed the clues to the police and the crime was solved. I liked when they dressed all in white. I thought they could say what colour the horse was.
Michael Morpurgo Mudpuddle Farm
Rated: 5 Stars
This book contains two stories: The first one is a pig who thought pigs could fly but a buzzard taught him that pigs can’t fly. The second one is called Jiggers Day Off which is about a dog who made sure that a combine harvester gets all of the corn. I like it because it’s funny and that is because the animals can talk and there is a very, very, very, silly sheep!
Ariana M. Aged 6
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Rated: 5* Challenge: Length and Peril
This is the story of Harry’s third year at school and how his parents actually died. The main heroes are Ron, Hermione and Harry. They go on lots of adventures including to Hogsmeade. I loved this book. The best bit was the end – (without giving away the ending) Harry gets to go to Hogsmeade and Ron gets an owl. You HAVE to read this book.
E. Nesbit The Railway Children
Rated: 5* Challenge: Length and Vocabulary
This is about 3 children whose father is taken away. Their mother and the three children have to move to the countryside. At first they don’t like it because it was dark and scary. The next morning, they discover the railway and make lots of new friends and have adventures. They save a train from crashing. My favourite part is about their father at the end of the book. I really liked this book, it made me feel happy and sad.
Valerie Wilding The Road to War – A First World War Girl’s Diary
Rated: 4* Challenge: Subject matter (First World War) and Genre (written as diary entries)
The main character is Daffy the little girl. The book was about a little girl and her lost brother at war. My favourite part was when Daffy becomes a FANY. I loved it, but it was sad. I think it’s better for older children.
Parent note – deals with war in detail, including death and injury. Parental guidance recommended.
Anna Sewell Black Beauty
Rated: 5* Challenge: Content and Vocabulary. (read an abridged version)
This book is about Black Beauty, Merriweather and Ginger who are all horses. Black Beauty and Ginger are sold to a rich and mean family. The lady tightens their reins too tight and it hurts them, but she thinks looking good is more important. Black Beauty has to go and work in London. It is hard work. There is a terrible fire, and lots of horses die. My favourite part is when the horses are together and happy and Merriweather is playing with the children.
This book made me sad when people were unkind to animals, and happy when people and animals worked together. I think people should read it to think about animals.
Parent note – even this abridged version didn’t shy away from animal cruelty
Lou Kuenzler The Return of the Railway children
Rated: 5* Challenge: Length and Maturity
This book is about the Railway Children – Robert, Phyllis and Peter when they are grown up. There are now new railway children – Edie (Phyllis’s daughter) and her friends (Gus and Greta) who are evacuated from London during the Blitz. They rescue a German airman and have to hide him. They also stop a train from crashing. My favourite part was when Greta named the twin piglets the Twiglets and a nanny goat Mr Hitler (who she thought was a llama). This book was hilarious in lots of places. It also made me realise not all the Germans were bad. You should read it if you want to laugh and feel happy and sad.
Philip Ardagh The Secret Diary of Thomas Snoop Tudor Boy Spy
Challenge: read a book that you think you won’t like
I thought I wouldn’t like this book from the cover and because it is about a boy spy. I actually ended up liking it so much I got the whole set of books for my 6th birthday. My favourite book of the series is the Secret Diary of Jane Pinny, a Victorian House Maid. You should read them if you love history.
Jesse C. Aged 9
Katherine Rundell The Good Thieves
I really enjoyed this book! It is author Katherine Rundell’s latest book, and, in my opinion, one of her best! (I have also read Rooftoppers, The Wolf Wilder and The Explorer.) It was a challenge because the plot was quite complex, and it is rather lengthy. I liked that the main character, Vita, is very ambitious and that she has had a bad injury which has a long lasting impact, and affects her throughout the book, but doesn’t hold her back. It is about a young girl called Vita whose grandfather’s home, Hudson Castle, has been stolen by a businessman who plans to illegally burn it. Vita sets out on a mission to be a ‘good thief’ and steal it back.
Katherine Patterson Bridge to Terabithia
I liked this read because it teaches me about things in life such as friendship, imagination and feelings. It was a challenge to read because it was a very sad book (however, it’s also happy at the end). I like that the main character, a boy called Jesse, is scared, as being scared can save your life! I also like how it is very realistic, as in other books, the main character is having a hard time, but doesn’t let it affect them whereas this book shows Jesse’s feelings. The book is about Jesse and his friend Leslie and the things they go through. It is very sad, and one day, tragedy strikes, so Jesse has to find a way to fix it as best he can.
Cornelia Funke The Thief Lord
This book was very exciting, and it really hooked me. It was a challenge because it has a rather complicated plot and it’s also quite lengthy. It is about a boy called Prosper, and his brother, Bo. They have run away from home and travelled all the way to Venice, where they meet the “Thief Lord” and his gang, who live off the money they get from the goods that the Thief Lord steals. But one day, the Thief Lord‘s gang find out what the real him is like. Even worse, he is asked to steal something which a man is willing to pay 4,000,000 lire for! The gang then find themselves hooked onto stealing it, which in turn leads them out of Venice, and towards one of the islands beyond… I would recommend it to people who like adventure!
Lauren Child Take Your Last Breath
I really enjoyed this book! It was really gripping and it kept me reading. It is one of the books in the Ruby Redfort series. It was a challenge because it is quite long – about 450 pages. I enjoyed it because the plot involves the main character figuring out a jigsaw puzzle – some of the pieces are missing, and some are from another puzzle. The book is about a girl called Ruby who is super, super, super smart. Her speciality is in code breaking. In one of the other books, she joins secret agency Spectrum as their ace code breaker. In this book , she prevents her great- great-great-great-great-grandmother’s rubies from being stolen by famous, evil villain, the Count von Viscount. Along the way, she also has to avoid a mysterious monster of the deep… Recommended!
Richard Adams Watership Down
I couldn’t put this book down! It was incredible! It was a challenge because it was also very long – over 600 pages. I enjoyed it because it was the kind of book that finishes all the chapters in just the right places – where it is super tense. It is about some rabbits who leave their warren because of a very gifted rabbit having a hunch that something bad would happen. They set off, and have all sorts of adventures, looking for a new warren, befriending a bird…. Seriously recommended to people of all ages!
James Patterson Max Einstein
This book was absolutely amazing! It was a challenge because it was also rather long. I enjoyed it because it was just very exciting in every way! It is about a homeless girl called Maxine Einstein who is super smart and has lots of brilliant ideas! She is one day taken to a children’s home, but really, a bad, bad organization called the Corp are after her, as they want her to build a quantum computer for them to make them rich. But, she is taken by some more people who want her and a team of other super-smart kids to help make the world a better place. Brilliant read if you are into S.T.E.M.!
Giang N. Aged 9
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Rated: 4/5 Recommended Age: 9+
This book is adventurous and scary because Harry went on a very exciting journey where dragons tried to attack him or sea mermaids annoyed him under water. Like the other books in the series, Harry still has an invisible cloak which he can use to discover a number of secret places in Hogwarts and outside the castle. The scariest part is when Harry and Lord Voldemort are duelling. This fighting has been described violently in the book.
Roald Dahl Matilda
Rated: 4.5/5 Recommended Age: 8+
Matilda is very smart and intelligent but her parents and brother are very dumb. They always like watching TV apart from Matilda, she likes reading books. She would go to the library and borrow some books and read with a cup of a hot chocolate. When Matilda starts school, she realises she can move things with her eyes to control things. I really enjoyed this book because it is very funny and a lot of made up words. I definitely recommend this book.
R.J. Palacio Wonder
Rated: 5/5 Recommended Age: 9+
This book is about a boy who had a serious face problem and had to be home schooled. After many treatments, his parents decided to send him to middle school. He was so nervous and scared because everybody at school kept staring his abnormal face. He gradually made friends, overcame his shyness and lack of confidence about his appearance. One of the special things that I like about this book is the organisation of the other characters’ opinions to form a story. At the first time, I did not understand the story, which is a bit challenging to read. I tried to read the second time, and I understood more. Now, I managed to read it a third time, so I highly recommended this book.
Cece Bell El Deafo
Rated: 5/5 Recommended Age: 8+
This is a true story of an author, but she used rabbits as the characters of the story and set it in a comic way. It was about a rabbit/girl that was deaf. She started school nervously because she felt she looked weird with her phonic ear. Then people start to communicate with her by signing. She has time to develop her friendships at school. This book is about friendship and communication. It is a very interesting comic book.
Enid Blyton Summer Term at St Clare’s
Rated: 5/5 Recommended Age: 8+
This book is about the twin girls in a boarding school, St Clare’s. Unfortunately, the twin’s friend – another girl had been kidnapped. The twins help to find this girl, and from now on the twins start their adventurous journeys…. I really enjoyed reading about those adventures.
Vinayak V. Aged 11
Jules Verne Around the World in Eighty Days
Rated: 4.5/5 Recommended Age: 10+
Set in Victorian England and about Phileas Fogg, an eccentric, mysterious, rich, cold, brittle man with a timetable in his head that he follows. Fogg slowly shows the heart inside him as the story goes on. Then he wagers twenty-thousand pounds that he can travel around the world in eighty days. This comes as a huge surprise to his new servant Passepartout. About a week before that, there had been a bank robbing and when Fogg became famous, the Metropolitan Police felt that he fit the description of the robber in every way so they decide to tail him. In front of him is a Metropolitan Police chase, delays, dilemmas, fights and more.
James Patterson I Even Funnier
Rated: 5/5 Recommended Age: 10+
This is set in present-day USA and is about Jamie Grimm, a person in a wheelchair who dreams of becoming a professional stand-up comedian. His parents and little sister died in the accident which forced Jamie into a wheelchair. He lives with his uncle, aunt and cousin Stevie Kosgrov. His cousin is a bully who bullies Jamie as well as his friends Joey Gaynor, Jimmy Pierce and Gilda Gold. He also has his other uncle, Uncle Frankie, who Jamie likes a lot more and owns a restaurant. His mission is to become the winner of Planet’s Funniest Comic, at the start of the story he has just won the regional round and is onto the next round in New York.
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
Rated: 4/5 Recommended Age: 12+
This is set in a racist America with a bit of mature content but a good book all the same. There are deaths in the book, but they won’t necessarily give you nightmares. There are rumours about Boo Radley, that he is a murderer and he is insane. It is mainly from Scout’s point of view and her big brother Jem Finch is a big character along with their dad Atticus and the kid that comes to their neighbour’s house every summer, Dill Harris. Atticus is a lawyer and is defending a black person called Tom Robinson who has been accused of rape. The jury decides that Tom is guilty but everyone knows that it was a lie and it was just a way for Mayella to get away with what she did. There is a lot of prejudice and ignorance and it is a brilliant book to read.
Derek Landy Skulduggery Pleasant Kingdom of the Wicked
Rated: 5/5 Recommended Age: 11+
This is set in Ireland where magicians (usually called sorcerers) are hiding magic from the public. It’s Stephanie (known as Valkyrie in the magic world) and Skulduggery’s job to stop the public from finding out about magic and stop magical crimes. In this book, magic becomes a disease and starts spreading around the public randomly. Then Kitana and her friends make the problem even worse by murdering people and threatening them; they have become corrupted and there’s no one to stop them tearing Ireland apart except Valkyrie and Skulduggery. The Sanctuary then gets the problem of ‘The Supreme Council’ which consists of other Sanctuary representatives from other countries. They are truly being overloaded with problems which is why Valkyrie and Skulduggery step in and help out.
Jeff Kinney Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid
Rated: 4/5 Recommended Age: 8+
This is set in modern-day America and is a kind of follow-up series to Diary of a Wimpy Kid from Rowley Jefferson’s point of view. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the main focus is Greg Heffley, but in Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid it’s Rowley Jefferson. The storyline is similar but there is obviously more about Rowley than Greg. Rowley acts more like a role model than Greg and Greg also takes advantage of Rowley’s gullibility.
Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows
Rated: 2.5/5 Recommended Age: 12+
Absolutely terrible. If reading this you will need a dictionary by your side. Good to read if you’re into classics but today’s children will not understand a word of it. I had difficulty reading it and I like reading classics. This is just a bore of a book for me, would never recommend unless you knew big and old words. It was like a building that was being built and when it was opened to the public, they realised that it had no foundations.
Regina P. Aged 12
Heather Butler Us Minus Mum
I would rate this book a 3.2 of 5 stars as it was sad and i don’t like sad books. The book is about a boy named George who’s mum is suffering from cancer and he talks about life slowly adjusting as his mum gets weaker and weaker
Virginia Clay Warrior Boy
I would rate this book a 3.5 of 5 stars as it was factually incorrect but real thrilling to read. The book is about a boy named Ben who is half – Kenyan and scared of blood. He gets to go to Kenya and he tries to face his fears and it works and he is a changed man…I mean boy!
Alice Broadway Ink
I would rate this book a 4.7 out of 5 as it had me hooked for a very long time! This book is about a futuristic society in which every significant event gets tattooed on you. The protagonist of the story named Leora dreams of inking down people’s stories… until she gets caught up in her own.
Jess Butterworth Running on the Roof of the World
I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5, as I was reading this for days on end! This book is about a Tibetan family who gets separated by religious conflict. The protagonist of the story, named Tash, tries to find them… with a little help on the way.
Scott Westerfeld Imposters
I would rate this book a 4.99 out of 5 as I was addicted! This book is about another futuristic girl named Frey who has been taught since the age of 7 to protect her twin sister. But when her city is under attack… Can she hide her identity for longer?
J.K.Rowling The Harry Potter Series
I don’t enjoy the Harry Potter series as I find it too mystical and I really struggled to get into it. I would rate it a 2 out of 5 as the books are quite consistent compared to other books (The Hunger Games).