Double Down is Book 11 in the global franchise that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has become. Presented as part text, part cartoon, it’s the very amusing and irreverent diary of 12-year old Greg Heffley. In this instalment, Greg’s mum sets about ‘improving’ his mind. She gives him $20 to spend at the school book fair.
For parents looking to inspire young daughters, this book is a joy. It celebrates the lives and achievements of various women over the ages, not only those with trailblazing careers but also those women whose principled actions changed society. Rosa Parks’ dignified stand against racial segregation is one example, also Emmeline Pankhurst, the formidable suffragette, who happens to be a distant relation of this book’s author, Kate Pankhurst.
A couple of years ago, I geekily set out to read a sizeable stack of Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling children’s books back-to-back. Why? I wanted to work out why this author in particular had me in tears with every single story I read. I was dying to know if he had some kind of formula, and if I could work it out. Actually, I think I did spot a few patterns, but it seems a bit cynical to go into those here!
This is a seriously bizarre children’s book. It reminds me of an activity I do with children to help them get ideas for a silly story. They pull a main character, setting and plot out of a hat, then try to weave them together into a story that makes some kind of sense.
My pupils and I have been waiting for Chris Riddell’s sequel to Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, and here it is, cleverly launched in time for Hallowe’en. At my local Waterstone’s, copies of the chocolate-box, gilded hardback are displayed with cobwebs and spiders and fairy cakes (the latter not traditionally associated with Hallowe’en, true, but all will become clear).
Winner of the Blue Peter Book Awards 2014, this is a fantastic adventure story with a speedy plot, keeping children hooked till the very last page. It’s full of life-affirming messages: ‘Never ignore a possible’ is young Sophie’s war cry as she battles to find her real mother – we have to fight for our dreams, she shows us.