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Frankenstein

Stretch your teen with this school syllabus favourite on its 200th anniversary

‘The monster is the real hero of the novel. Discuss.’ One of the many thorny essay questions set to this perennial school syllabus favourite.Written at the dawn of science fiction, crackling with horror, and strikingly ‘fettered to grief,’ 2018 marks 200 years since Frankenstein’s publication, an ideal moment to review this illuminating young students edition. Read full Review

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Blame My Brain – The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed

An entertaining guide for teenagers and their long-suffering parents

Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannise their teachers.

Or so said Socrates. If the great philosophers were moaning about teenagers 2500 years ago, this surely indicates some curious features that are timeless and universal in the adolescent brain. Nicola Morgan takes a humorous and non-patronising approach to revealing the science behind the subject. Ambitiously aimed at both teens and their parents, it may be just what you’ve been waiting for.

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Astrid the Unstoppable

A resilient heroine sparkles in this prize-winning Norwegian tale

Astrid feels it is extremely important to sing when you’re skiing. Also a fearless ‘sledge pilot,’ Astrid spends many happy hours whizzing gleefully through her home valley of Glimmerdal. But her exuberance masks a brow-furrowing problem. There are no children to play with! Not only that, she lives unfortunately close to the ‘quietest holiday camp in Norway,’ run by an irascible gentleman who despises noisy children. What is the ‘little thunderbolt of Glimmerdal’ to do? Astrid the Unstoppable is Maria Parr’s second novel, and the 2009 winner of several prestigious prizes in her home country of Norway. Finally translated into English, it’s a must-read for fans of feisty girl adventurers.

Astrid is lucky enough to have a best friend, even if it is Gunnvald, a 74-year-old man with eyebrows like ‘two worn-out toothbrushes.’ His workshop is like a second home, where they construct endless grand projects together. Gunnvald is warm and wise, but often melancholic. He is harbouring a heartbreaking secret, which is set to test the very limits of their friendship.

As unstoppable as the book title suggests, Astrid attempts to deal with Gunnvald, her own lonely moments, and the sheer bad luck of being a boisterous child living next to the quietest holiday camp in Norway. The tone shifts considerably throughout. Astrid’s fizzing bravado leads to many funny moments, but there is also pain.The world of adult secrets and mistakes is hard for her to understand. The setting is vivid, with its hunting of deer for venison stew, whispering spruce trees, and candles to chase away the darkness.

I’ve never read a book that contained so many sledging scenes, but it was delightful. Picture Astrid whizzing down the snowy slopes, her hair ‘…blown back along the sides of her helmet like go-faster stripes,’ singing at the top of her voice.

Astrid the Unstoppable is published by Walker Books, 320 pages.

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They Both Die at the End

Tissues at the ready for this emotionally charged YA novel

Is it true? Do they really die at the end? Well, the Grim Reaper certainly stalks through this book, but it’s also very much concerned with big, bold, shining life. Teenagers Mateo and Rufus inhabit an alternative New York City, one in which an agency known as Death-Cast informs citizens when their demise is near. Death will occur within 24 hours, exact means and time unknown. When this dark fate befalls Mateo and Rufus, they embark on one last grand adventure, to live a lifetime in a single day.

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Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of The Wizard of Oz

Toto the dog's charming version of events on the Yellow Brick Road

The Wizard of Oz is surely the most famous of American fairy tales. L. Frank Baum’s band of merry characters and their epic journey of discovery, is now enshrined in our popular culture. In this quirky re-telling, we examine eventsfrom the perspective of Toto, the dog. What is his uniquely canine take on this world of Munchkins, witchery, and magical shoes?

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Brand New Ancients

Electrifying performance poet finds the majestic in ordinary life

Calling every teenager that thinks poetry is boring! Shelve your prejudices and open your mind to Kate Tempest, who honed her craft ‘rapping at strangers’ on night buses and all-night raves. In Brand New Ancients, she has created a poem in the tradition of the epic myths, and fused it with a tale of urban angst in south east London.

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Bad Dad

High energy antics with a soft heart

BANG! WALLOP! CRUNCH! Bad Dad greets the reader with noisy fanfare. The hotly anticipated new book from David Walliams tells the story of a father and son’s struggle to escape the clutches of a local crime lord, and right ashameful wrong. A riot of car chases and madcap schemes, does it deserve its runaway success at the top of the bestseller charts?

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The Snow Queen

The loveliest of Christmas gifts

First published in the 1840’s, The Snow Queen has come to be known as one of our best loved fairytales, and its author Hans Christian Anderson as a master of the genre. The story of young Kay and Gerda, their friendship torn asunder as Kay is kidnapped by Her Icy Highness, and Gerda’s subsequent long journey to rescue him, has spawned many versions and translations over the decades. This particular edition is one of the loveliest I’ve ever seen.

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The Girl Who Saved Christmas

Charming and funny homage to festive Victoriana and the power of hope

Once upon a time in Victorian London, very few children believed in magic. As we all know, magic blossoms from hope, and there was very little of that in those bleak times. Little Amelia Wishart is the exception. Plucky and spirited, with hope in her heart, Amelia is called upon to save the very magic of Christmas. She rises to the challenge, along with a stellar cast, comprised of Father Christmas, Queen Victoria, and the very embodiment of Victorian Yuletide himself, Mr Charles Dickens.

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Wonder

Savour this paean to kindness before its big screen release

The upcoming cinema release of Wonder, provides an ideal opportunity to consider the charms of its literary predecessor. We meet Auggie, who’s living with Mandibulofacial Dysostosis, a rare and severe cranio-facial abnormality. ‘I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse’. Previously home-educated, Auggie’s parents have decided it’s time he went to school. At the tender age of 10, he must learn to confront the prejudices of an often hostile world.
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