THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Paperback, borrowed

Genre: Young adult, history

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Joey is a warhorse, but he wasn’t always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed. Albert’s father sells Joey to the army where the beautiful, red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off of battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns and slogging through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?

This is the first book by Michael Morpurgo that I have read. Ladies I work with have seen this at the theatre and loved it, and I thought before I watch the film I will read the book. I have to say, I don’t like horses – they scare me a little bit – but I did enjoy this book, despite that.

The story is narrated by the horse, Joey – which I wasn’t expecting. He tells the reader of his experience at the farm where he is raised by Albert, his experience in France during the war and of the friendships he makes along the way. He sees some awful things in France, a fair amount of death and hurt, but what shines through this book is love – he has people care for him and he develops lovely friendships with many people in the book. He has Albert, the boy who raised him and trained him on the farm; Topthorne, a fellow horse in war with him and Emilie, a little French girl who looks after both him and Topthorne whilst they are camped at her grandfather’s farm. Friendship is the key factor in this book, and it can clearly be seen throughout the book.

This wasn’t a difficult read as it is aimed for young teenagers. The language is simple and it is not a long book – only 182 pages. That said, I did enjoy it and wanted to know what was going happen. This is a good read – it has everything you would want in a book – love, friendship, adventure and gripping story. I don’t think Morpurgo hides the horrors of war. The quote on the back of the book is:

” I saw the grey soldiers ahead of us raise their rifles and heard the death rattle of a machine gun…”

This book does have death and hurt in it, and the effect and reason of war is considered by soldiers and civilians alike. I know this book is read in school and I think the chance to look at war and consider the effects of it is important.

There were some aspects of the books that amused me. I did chuckle about the fact that not only Joey understood English, he also understood German! What a clever horse! Just the fact the story was narrated by the horse entertained me as well!

There were some parts of the story that I didn’t believe. The fact Joey turns up in no-mans land and a German and a Welshman walk out to resolve who will take him I struggled to believe; and Albert finding Joey in France during the war also seemed unrealistic – however, both did make for good reading.

This was an enjoyable and quick read. This is a lovely story of friendship, which a hint of adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing what this is like as film. This book is well worth reading. The good outweighs the bad and I recommend this book.

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Addition: Review e-book

Genre: Children’s

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Willie Wiggles hates his slippery feet. He just slips, slides and spins all over the place. But what he hates even more are the special shoes that have been made for him that will help him to walk just like all the other kids. Willie thinks that they are the “stupidest, ugliest shoes in the whole world.”

Discover how sometimes we worry about things about ourselves when actually there is nothing to worry about in the first place.

This is a story about Slippery Willie – the boy who slips and slides everywhere. In an effort to prevent this, his Mum buys him very secure shoes. Willie, however, thinks the shoes look ridiculous and doesn’t want to wear them. He gets so upset about the shoes that he has a nightmare that everyone, including planes overhead and buildings are laughing at him. All is resolved once he wakes up and speaks with his Mum.

This book is only 24 pages long, and is fully illustrated. As an adult, I enjoyed the book, and could even relate to the worrying! This was a fun book that children will engage with. The story is simple but teaches how worrying about something achieves nothing but makes you sad and scared.

I thought the illustrations were lovely. They didn’t dominate the story but they added to the story. They added an element of humour to the book too:

The only problem I had with this book was the constant use of the word “stupid”. I felt that was unnecessary and I’m not sure I would want my child speaking like that. Other than that, this was an enjoyable book that I think children will have fun reading and laughing along with.

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Synopsis from Librivox:

What Katy Did is a children’s book written by Susan Coolidge, the pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey. It follows the adventures of Katy Carr and her family, growing up in America in the 1860s. Katy is a tall, untidy tomboy, forever getting into scrapes but wishing to be beautiful and beloved. When a terrible accident makes her an invalid, her illness and recovery gradually teach her to be as good and kind as she has always wanted.

I remember having this when I was little, simply because my name is Katie too (although note the different spelling) and I don’t think I ever read it. That all changed when I decided to read some of the Wordsworth Children’s Classics. I liked this book and I will read the next two, although this has not been my favourite from the classics.

The story follows Katy Carr as she does some serious growing up. At the beginning of the book she is carefree, and although not inconsiderate, she thinks more about fun than looking out for others. Then she is struck down by what at first seems to be a cold, and it finds her bedridden for over a year. There are some big changes in the house while she is ill and all this leads her to grow up and accept more responsibility.

This is a nice story and liked the subtle changes in Katy’s character. This story starts full of fun and adventure and as the story progresses there is a lesson in how to deal with what life throws at you and about how to step up and stop wallowing in self-pity. There is a good message in this book and I think children will learn from it.

As an adult I liked this. It wasn’t the best I have read but it is worth reading. It is an interesting story with some lovely characters and I think parents and children alike should read this book.

I downloaded this book from: http://librivox.org/what-katy-did-by-susan-coolidge/

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Synopsis:

When Sara Crewe, the seven-year-old daughter of a rich and loving father, arrives at her new school in London from India, she is nicknamed the Little Princess by her classmates. She has all the comfort and fine things she could want, but she also reveals a kind and loving heart, a lively mind and a rich imagination. When her father dies, bankrupt, Sara is suddenly reduced to a life of poverty and is forced to live in a cold, damp attic, with only her dreams to support her. But will they be enough?

I remember seeing this film when I little with my Granny, and I remember really enjoying it (and also it making me cry!) I was excited to read this book, having such fond memories of the film – and I must say, I loved the book! I listened to it – a download from Librivox, and it was well worth downloading.

The story is fairly well known: little Sara is beloved by her father but sent to a school in England, away from him. He dotes on her and makes sure she has all the luxuries she needs. That is until he dies and it becomes clear that his latest venture into diamonds had not paid off and he was left bankrupt. Sara soon finds herself an orphan who is living in awful conditions in the attic of the school working as a servant. But her luck is set to change, thanks to her mysterious next door neighbour.

This is a touching story of a little girl’s endurance. I loved Sara. She included others and made them feel loved. She was able to persevere through life thanks to her amazing imagination and her ability to face whatever is thrown at her. And I loved her friends. Even when Sara was banished to the attic she had girls come up and visit her – she was still a princess to them. They are a lovely bunch of girls.

This is a great read. I find that I love Frances Hodgson Burnett and the stories he conjures up. He jumps right into my imagination and I am transported to another world. A Little Princess has love, warmth, hardship, poverty and happiness, it is a real delight to read.

This is a children’s book and I imagine I would of loved this when I was little, like I loved the film. As an adult, I really enjoyed this story and am happy to recommend it to adults as well as children. Top marks from me!

Download: http://librivox.org/a-little-princess-by-frances-hodgson-burnett/

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Waterstones Synopsis:

Life’s no fun unless you’re pretty in pink! All Jillian wants is to be like the princess-y girls who rule her class. What she doesn’t want is to hang out with a load of dork boys. But it’s only when her plans go hilariously wrong, that things start turning unexpectedly right…

This is a book that is aimed at young teenage girls but I enjoyed it. I assure you, I would have loved this when I was around 12. As a school assignment the class have to keep a diary for a year. this is Jillian’s diary. She is a girl who is on the fringe of school society – she doesn’t really fit in anywhere, but she would love to be a popular girl. This record of her year follows her as pursues her wish.

This was an easy read and fairly entertaining. This is a perfect book for teenage girls. Jillian has a life-changing year with many ups and downs along the way. She was a nice girl to read about and she really matured and grew throughout the book. I liked how her attitude changed and she became the girl to be friends with.

There were some fun events to read about – such as her garden party  and the trouble with her brothers. I wouldn’t say she reminded me of me when I was her age but the brother trouble I could relate too! I think she is a normal girl who wants to fit in and a lot of girls will relate to that. I think they will find this book encouraging but also fun to read.

This is definitely a girly book and a quick book to read. I read it in an afternoon. It was a simple, pleasurable book.


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Waterstones Synopsis:

During her lonely childhood in Shanghai, Adeline Yen Mah wrote adventure stories to escape from her terrible step-mother and cruel siblings. The characters she created often became more real to her than her own family. In Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society, Adeline tells the story of Chinese Cinderella, a young girl who, after being thrown out of her home, has no choice but to go out and seek her own destiny. Soon she meets up with a group of children, all orphaned but each from a different background, who live with an old lady called Grandma Wu. Chinese Cinderella, or CC for short, decides her future after consulting an ancient book which helps to show her the way forward. And her choice takes her on a mission to save the lives of others. Based on a true-life incident during World War II. CC and the others bravely rescue a group of American pilots whose plane crashed after a bombing raid on Japan. Although her father is looking for her, CC knows that she can never go back to live with her cruel stepmother, and now there is no turning back.

This book follows CC, a girl whose step-mother makes her life miserable and whose father never seems happy. She frequently finds comfort in visiting Big Aunt, but she has to return to her home to care for a sick elderly lady. CC is lost, and by chance stumbles upon a circus act. One of the performers hands her his business card and the following day she seeks this group out. What she finds is The Secret Dragon Society – masters of kung fu and lending a helping hand. With intense lessons and training, CC is about to enter a whole new world: one where she ends up helping American soldiers hide from the Japanese.

This is a children’s book, but I enjoyed reading it. It didn’t take long to end and the story was engaging. I liked CC and her perseverance, and I liked Grandma Wu. She was wise, but comforting and loving. The family she had formed from the orphans was lovely to read about.

This is a book full of imagination and action. The description of the kung fu is wonderful, and just reading it I was left in awe. It seems to take such talent and Yen Mah caught the essence well. I liked that she explored how kung fu was more than fighting, and looked at the mental aspects of the skill as well.

It seemed that a lot of research went into this book. There are fairly long sections explaining things such as Buddhism, and the how The Society functions and makes decisions.  These were important to the book but I did sometimes feel a bit bored reading them after a while. I thought they were perhaps a bit too long-winded.

Overall, this is not a bad read. Even though it is a children’s book I think adults will enjoy it too. There is adventure and action in this book, as well as family love and friendship. It was not a hard read and I enjoyed it.

3/5

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holidays at brighton

This is not a long book, only 160 pages, but it is full of information. The book is presented as a fiction book for children, but every conversation is full of facts. Oliver and Edward have arrived in Brighton on a holiday, and are later joined by their cousin Helen. They go exploring the town and its surroundings and as they embark on their adventure they are full of questions, which conveniently their parents are able to answer. The questions are historical and scientific, and the answers are very detailed.

To be honest, this was not an exciting book. I felt that it was a book for older children but it was so full of facts that I just couldn’t get into the story. I found the children pompous and was mildly annoyed by their parents, who knew everything. It wasn’t realistic, it was just frustrating. However, it will be useful for my dissertation. Aside from that, I didn’t enjoy this book too much.

4/10

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inkheart

Synopsis from Amazon:

Meggie is the daughter of a revered bookbinder called Mo whose peaceful existence is one night shattered by the arrival of Dustfinger–a shadowy man with a mysterious link to Mo’s past. Mo and Meggie are soon on the move, running from something that threatens everything they hold dear. But the past inevitably catches up with them and Mo is forced to reveal to his daughter for the first time his terrible secret. He has the ability, or curse, to breathe life into any story he reads and make the characters come alive. Just such a character, the sinister Capricorn, is after Mo to ensure that he stays alive and is never returned to the pages from which he was sprung. And, of course, he’ll stop at nothing to guarantee success.

This is the first book in the Inkheart trilogy, and enjoyable enough that I will be reading the next in the series. This book was full of adventure and excitement. I love the idea of being able to read characters out of a book, and I enjoyed seeing how the said characters developed in the real world.

This book is classed as young person’s book, but I found it very readable and gripping. Funke writes a great story with twists and turns and some great characters. I loved Meggie’s great aunt best. I would love a book collection as big as hers and she just made me laugh!

I didn’t read this quickly however. I was enjoying the book but it was a slow read. However, that didn’t put me off the story at all. I loved the concept, I loved the quotes from other books at the beginning of each chapter, I loved all the characters – even the ones I didn’t like; this was a good fun read that I think adults should read as well.

8/10

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