It has been a fantastic year of reading over here and we are conquering our “to be read” piles at an alarming rate… so expect a load of book reviews from us!!! I thought I would begin with a post of ten of the latest and greatest kids reads from Jonathan Ball Publishers… there is really something here for everyone.
10 Fantastic Reads from Jonathan Ball Publishers
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
A deep confession from the house of books: This is the very first Harry Potter Book that we actually own. Yes, my kids are the ones that wore out the series in the library, but I have never actually bought any of them. The beauty of it is that we have been listening to the audible series and Stephen Fry is the narrator and he is fantastic, just fantastic. As we reached Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the audible series, so we received this book in our review pile.
A couple of Harry Potter books into the series, and we are all quite familiar with Harry and his sidekicks. In this book he finds himself at the centre of an ancient competition, between rival schools of wizardry. Everyone is depending on him. Everyone. The more he tries to avoid the limelight, the more he tries to escape all the attention… “Powers that Be” place him right in the middle of it.
It is absolutely astonishing and we will be saving to buy the illustrated series series. Because these books are incredible, the illustrations lift the story off the pages. Jim Kay is an illustrator extraordinary. and a big story requires a large format book. It is literally a large coffee table book and you have to, climb right into it to read it. Every page is a work of art and at this stage, and because everyone has read these books so many times, you can open the book anywhere and just read away.
I warn you though, if you open the cover of this version of the Goblet of Fire, you will be lost for hours. Every time I pick it up, for just a little read I find myself totally consumed by it all over again. Honestly, if you are at the stage in your parenting where you are thinking about reading Harry Potter to your kids, then make the investment in the illustrated versions. Slow and steady book by book these are just magnificent, must have reads. This book will stand proudly, front and centre on the coffee table for months and months as it is the proud centrepiece of our kids’ library right now.
Love from the Crayons by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers:
Every home needs a little book of love and this has to be it. This is one of those picture books, that parents and their babes will love equally… it is the perfect gift that says “I love you” loud and clear… pages of sweetness and the heroes of the story are crayons… that’s an absolute win for me!!!
Every colour in the box has a reason to love and be loved, there is a colour for every mood… “Love is yellow and orange… because love is sunny and warm.” Or “Love is brown… because sometimes love stinks.”
My favourite has to be every colour… I just LOVE it!!! There are a lot of truisms in the pages of this book, and the kind of little book that demands it’s own space, to be read and re-read, and then read again!!!
Hubert Horatio by Lauren Child
Lauren Child can do no wrong in the world of writing, she has been nominated the Children’s Laureate for a reason, we adore her books… all of them. We were thrilled to discover Hubert Horatio How to Raise Your Grown-ups. This book has been on my desk for a couple of days only, and already it has had several readings… it is a chapter book with a difference… you can actually dip into it anywhere and just read from where you are… it is amazing, it is fantastic and fully illustrated with the most descriptive illustrations.
What I most love about Lauren Child’s books is that, while they are entertaining for the emerging young reader, they are just as entertaining for the adult who is reading to the child… In this story we are introduced to Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton Trent, who is absolutely adored by his frightfully wealthy parents.
Hubert’s adults seem a little disorganised, unreliable and in need of a little assistance with everyday life, not to mention a rather large extended family that he has to deal with. The stories within the story are delightful, the turn of phrase provides lots of amusing surprises… all in all a load of fun.
Floodworld by Tom Huddlestone
A dystopian adventure story for middle schoolers and it’s good! Set in the not too distant future in a world that has been flooded, most likely because of climate change. Kara and Joe live in the swampy slums, they are kids that are used as treasure hunters… they dive underwater looking for sunken treasure. The sell these little finds to “eek out a living” on the streets… Meanwhile, on the wealthy side of the world, in a walled off London, live folk who are completely out of reach, but somehow always a threat. And then Kara and Joe discover a map, not just any map. Kara and Joe are suddenly on the run. Every turn they take appears to be more dangerous than the one before… it is very exciting reading. There are some wild watery chases… think James Bond style, as Kara and Joe discover the relevance of their map, so the adventure gets more and more exciting. Compelling reading for the middle grade set. Not my typical read, but I enjoyed it… feisty adrenaline all the way. I am guessing this is a movie in the making.
Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl who went on strike to Save The Planet by Valentina Cameri , translated by Moreno Giovannoni and illustrated by Veronica Carratello.
I don’t think there is anyone on earth that hasn’t heard about Greta Thurnberg. This is the story behind the girl, written especially for kids. Again a beginner chapter book, with short punchy chapters and illustrations to spur your young reader on. A great way to learn issues of the day is to read a biography and the issue of the day is very much Climate Change and Global Warming.
This girl has quite an incredible story and it will appeal to school-age children everywhere. Greta decided to boycott school to raise awareness of Global Warming. Folk of all ages and stages joined her movement. Greta’s intention was not just to raise awareness but to inspire people to find solutions.
There is an appendix, explaining Global Warming to young children, as well as a list of easy to implement ideas that we can use to make positive change in our homes. It is an easy reader with short punchy chapters, and would be great for a young person interested in the topic, or who needs to research and learn more about Greta and the Climate Change problem.
The Kid who came from Space by Ross Welford
This is our first read from Ross Welford, and we may well have found a new author to explore. This is not your ordinary read. The cover made me think it would be a slightly wacky, somewhat amusing book. It isn’t, in fact it is a lovely real life kind of book, except this real life contains aliens… really. The main players are twelve year old twins Tammy and Ethan. Tammy is transported into outer space, leaving behind her cosy and “ordinary life” in Northumberland. Ethan, is sure she is alive and finds himself caught up in the swirl of intrigue. Meanwhile, Tammy is in a zoo on an alien planet, with aliens stopping by to look at the “human female.” Amongst all the aliens there is but one that has feelings and that would be Hellyann, who is determined to find a way to return Tammy home. This is a lovely down to earth adventure… the heroes are heroic, and there is a great mixture of fantasy and fiends… and of course alls well that ends well. Solid chapter book reading for middle graders, definitely going to look out for more from Ross Welford.
TBH, This may be TMI by Lisa Greenwald
To be quite honest, only my tweenage daughter could read this, text writing is appealing to nobody else in the the family… but the themes are strong and true. All that being said this book runs just a little deeper than the angst and drama of your typical grade 6 classroom chitter chatter… and it tackles harder themes than texting in class, and who your latest crush is, like bullying, cyber bullying and the like… it is presented in a very readable way for tweens… this is their language, this is their world… if you want to get an idea of what is going on in their heads, then this book is a good place to start. It is a very quick read and worth sitting on the couch, if only to discover a whole ‘other (middle school) parallel universe that exists alongside ours. What can I say, it has a certain appeal, there are some sweet kids in the world… and yeah… some trendy kids, who are fluent in text speak, are going to absolutely love this.
The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey
This is an interesting read, and I think an important read… it is a very safe place for your middle school kid to learn about the lives of all the players in what is becoming a fairly common scenario amongst their peers. This is the story of Shane Woods, a boy at a new school, where he loves baseball and hanging out with his best friend Josh. He has a crush on a girl called Madeline. Everything is going along smoothly, when the class bully threatens to reveal that at his previous school Shane was a girl… this book goes right to the top of the charts for raising empathy and it demonstrates just how Shane and the people surrounding him feel. Shane lives with his mum, who is very supportive of him, and his dad lives on the far side of the country, who is really conflicted. You get to see the story unfold through the eyes of his parents, his best friends, the class bullies, his team mates… and his counsellor and support group. This is an excellent read for curious kids, who want to be more understanding of their friends… it is a gentle introduction to what could be an awkward topic. Certainly your kids are talking about this amongst their peers and coming into contact with it more and more, they do need understand all the feelings involved, and they do need to know how to relate to this. This book is very factual, in non-preachy way… no-one says “you have to think this” or “you should think that” the story simple unwinds… it is the story of Shane, and it is a good one.
I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak
A Feel good book about a dog and his family, folk might call this heartwarming… but it is more than that. This is a middle grade read about a troubled family, whose dog really wants to make everything right… and he does in an “Emotional Support Dog” kind of a way. It is written from the perspective of the family dog, an optimistic golden retriever called Cosmo, and he loves his family unconditionally and devotedly… as a family dog should. While Cosmo is disturbed by the impending divorce, he manages to keep the story light with his natural optimism. This book is a great way to talk about what could otherwise be a really difficult topic, and not a lot of books are written about parents and their impending divorces and yet, unfortunately, it is a topic that is really relevant to so many children. Cosmo has fond memories of times gone by and more than that, he is not afraid to dance… It is a lovely read, dog lovers of all ages and stages will enjoy it. But dog lovers, who are just discovering chapter books, and going through a difficult time, will really really love it.
Icarus was Ridiculous by Pamela Butchart illustrated by Thomas Flintham
Beginner Chapter Book Reading for Mythology lovers: Large print, richly illustrated and has a comic book feel to it, so a definite winner for emerging chapter book readers. There are four stories in this book, which is part of a series of books under the auspices of the British Museum. The four stories might be familiar to us, but to youngsters they are a new take on ancient stories and they will come away familiar with: The story of Icarus, Narcissus and all the Selfies, The Wooden Horse Trick and King Midas’s Mega-Bad Decisions. It is a purely fun read and a great introduction to the Greek Myths for the younger set.
Amazon Affiliate Links for All the Books Mentioned in this Post
Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers for supplying this fabulous collection of books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are as usual my own.