Book Reading Recommendations

December 19th, 2018

Here are some book reading recommendations for your pupils, put together by Rachel Fox, our Improvement and Development Adviser.

Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5/6) 9-12 years

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton

With shades of an Agatha Christie ‘whodunit’ and a JK Rowling magical adventure, this first novel in a series from Nicki Thornton, is a fast-paced thrilling read with a host of fantastical characters and a poor orphan boy at its heart. It will draw readers in and keep them hooked with wizards, spells and a locked-room murder mystery.
The setting, an old hotel in a glade full of glow-worms, creates an enchanted picture in the reader’s eye. This is further enhanced by colourful characterisation of both the mystic guests that arrive at the hotel for a mysterious ceremony in a locked room and the loathsome Bunn family who take delight in their mistreatment of the novel’s main protagonist (and chief murder suspect) Seth.
The reader is encouraged to feel empathy and sympathy with Seth, as he seeks to prove that he was not responsible for the murder whilst discovering a myriad of secrets about The Hotel, his past and the world of magic along the way.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and children will enjoy making connections with other genres that they have read in the past. With short chapters, it is ideal as a class read, and will leave children guessing what will happen next. Winner of The Times Children’s Fiction Competition.

Lower Key Stage 2 (Year 3/4) Age 6+

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer

This amazing non-fiction read takes the form of a fold-out journey to the centre of the earth and is a fascinating exploration of geology for children aged 6+.
Cleverly constructed, this concertina double-sided format allows you to unravel the story of the ground beneath our feet or unfold the whole book on the floor for a hands on exploration. On one side we learn about everything that happens beneath the city street from electricity cables, to underground trains all the way right down to the very core of the earth. Flip the book over and we see the contrasting side in our journey through the different layers in the countryside. Here we discover badger sets, dinosaur fossils, metamorphic rocks and minerals. It is packed with fascinating facts from Charlotte Guillain, which will excite the most inquisitive child, and is also visually stunning, with wonderful illustrations form Yuval Zommer. With so many intricate details to spot, you can spend hours pouring over this book and it is bound to be enjoyed over and over again. Managing to make complex information interesting and engaging, it’s perfect for newly confident readers; captivating whilst still being accessible. Younger readers can enjoy exploring the illustrations, it’s ideal for sharing and discovering together.would make a perfect book for any child who loves to ask questions and devours information books, it’s an absolute joy to read!

KS1 (Years 1/2) Age up to 8 years

Once Upon A Wild Wood by Chris Riddell

This imaginative and beautifully illustrated reworking of a traditional fairy tale, is an entertaining twist on a classic, featuring beloved characters old and new. The book contains more text than the average picture book, and is written in Chris Riddell’s usual clever and amusingly detailed manner.

Existing fans of Riddell’s books for younger readers (such as the Ottoline books) will recognise the style of storytelling and the kind of characters that are portrayed. The story’s protagonist is a young girl, vastly more sensible and practical than the traditional Little Red Riding Hood, prone to solving problems but also demonstrating kindness and thoughtfulness – a great role model, in other words.

Each page is a feast for the eyes; the illustrations are filled with intricate details to engage and entertain the reader; the sort children pore over and return to again and again. Amusing details and accurately drawn facial expressions provide excellent opportunities, along with the text and the plot, for adults and children to discuss the book at great length, making this a perfect book for parents or teachers to share. Funny, feisty and filled with fairytale magic, a real classic in the making.


Cannonball Coralie and The Lion by Grace Easton

Grace Easton’s delightful debut picture book for all ages, creates wonderful and lovable characters, full of gentle humour and warmth. This lovely little story is about empowerment, bravery, friendship and love, all subtly depicted in the beautiful illustrations and wonderful expressions. This book can be read on many different levels, together for younger children, or alone for more able readers.

Coralie is funny and brave and silly and strange. But where she lives in the woods there’s no-one to see her juggling squirrels or standing on her hands, until one day a crowd of acrobats, trumpeters and jugglers come marching through the woods, led by a lion.Coralie and the lion become firm friends, and Coralie joins the troupe, despite the grumpy Man in the Big Hat’s disapproval.It’s his idea that Coralie become a Human Cannonball, but it’s the lion who gives her the confidence to do it. There’s a lovely message about the importance of friendship and of being yourself, and Grace Easton’s stylish, vibrant illustrations are full of life and character showing why it is ok to live by your own rules and always best to follow your heart.
The design is good; the double-page spread of Coralie, her eyes shut tight as she is shot from the cannon, is shown as if from the roof of Big Top with hundreds of faces in the audience open-mouthed below, and text is used imaginatively throughout. This picture book would be fun to share or to read aloud, whilst examining its many themes.

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