August 2021 review round-up book covers
Book Reviews

Libraries 4 Schools 2021 Review Round-Up 3

Looking for something to read this bank holiday weekend? We’ve got you covered, in our most recent review round-up! A great selection of books for older and younger readers, we’ve got something for everyone!

The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori (published by UCLan Publishing)

The Weather Weaver Review Round-Up

Returning to Shetland to stay with Grandpa, Stella knows it won’t be the same since Gran died, but at least she will see the puffins and have adventures.

But Grandpa is strangely reluctant to even go out exploring with Stella, and as the days pass tension mounts between them until finally a simple accident sends Stella fleeing from the house.

Outside on the hillside she runs into Tamar, who is ‘catching clouds’ – but can you ‘catch’ clouds? All Gran’s magical stories about the island fill Stella’s head. Could they really be true?

And as the storm clouds gather and something stirs in the deep, Stella finds herself in an adventure beyond her imagining.

This was a wonderfully evocative tale; I could smell the sea and feel the brisk winds blowing.

Stella is a likeable, feisty, strong-willed 11-year-old, while Tamar feels as if she is part of the island and as old as time, full of wisdom and knowledge.

The story deals with grief, family love, friendship and above all trust, and is a really cracking magical adventure.

Rumaysa: A Fairy Tale written by Radiya Hafiza and illustrated by Rhaida El Touny (published by Macmillan Children’s Books)

Rumaysa A Fairytale Review Round-Up

Rumaysa has been imprisoned in a tower by the witch Cordelia for as long as she can remember. There she spends her days spinning straw into gold; her only friend and link with the outside world is Zabina, an owl.

After Cordelia destroys the few books Rumaysa has, she becomes determined to escape, and when Zabina brings her a new hijab as a gift, a plan starts forming in Ramaysa’s mind.

I found the three short stories in this book captivating in a way that breathes new life into several well-known fairy tales.

Ramaysa is a determined, creative character who I took to immediately, perfectly capable of dealing with the situations she finds herself in.

You do get a prince in the stories, but Ramaysa has no need to rely on him (well, except he does have a very useful flying carpet!) which is a good twist on the original tales. With dragons, witches, evil step-mothers, sleeping princesses and royal balls, this is a book packed with fantasy, fun and lots of magic.

Solve Your Own Mystery: The Monster Maker written by Gareth P. Jones and illustrated by Louise Forshaw (published by Little Tiger)

Solve Your Own Mystery Monster Maker Review Round-Up

And now for something totally different: a story with hundreds of paths for you to choose from – and you can’t die!

You have been hired by the yeti detective Klaus Solstaag to be his assistant, and although Haventry seems a quiet, ordinary town, its Shady Side is very different – home to all sorts of mythical beings.

When Dr Franklefink’s Monster Maker disappears, it’s up to you and Klaus to return it and catch the culprit!

With a birthday party full of unusual guests to interview, there’s a lot to be done and you get to choose who you meet, where and when.

The illustrations are fantastic and really bring the characters to life, and the Suspect Case File at the back of book gives you an instant lowdown on all the possible perpetrators.

With a cast of vampires, witches, goblins, ghosts and many more, I had a brilliant time solving the mystery again and again, without a dead end in sight!

We also have some great books for younger readers:

Panda at the Door by Sarah Horne with Anna Wilson (published by Chicken House Books)

Panda at the Door Review Round-Up

It’s Callum Campbell’s 9th birthday, and it should be a day full of fun, cake and (hopefully) Lego. But instead, when he arrives home his parents are arguing again and his birthday present is…an adoption certificate for a panda.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh Zoo, star attraction Pudding the Panda is watching her favourite film, Mary Poppins, and dreaming of life with a family.

When Pudding answers a call for help and Callum answers the front door to someone who is definitely not his dad, life for both of them will never be the same again.

A story full of warmth and fuzziness, with gentle characters and wonderful illustrations, open this book and let Pudding into your heart.

(Note: this book explores themes of childhood anxiety, family break-up and bullying.)

Genie and Teeny: Make A Wish by Steven Lenton (published by Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Genie and Teeny Make A Wish Review Round-Up

Grant is a genie that loves hats but isn’t very good at making wishes come true. After one particularly bad attempt, he finds himself banished to Earth.

Alone and friendless, Grant meets Teeny, a friendly lost puppy, and decides to help Teeny find his way home.

But things are not that simple, and when they are kidnapped by purple-loving Lavinia Lavender for the ‘Big Dancing Dog Show’, it seems like Teeny will never see his home again…

A rip-roaring, rollicking story full of fun and friendship, with humorous illustrations that help the adventure race along.

As the first in a new series, Genie and Teeny are sure to become firm favourites with younger readers.

News Hounds: The Puppy Problem written by Laura James and illustrated by Charlie Alder (published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

News Hounds Puppy Problem Review Round-Up

Gizmo the dachshund and Granny are moving to the country and Gizmo is not too sure about it. After all, the city is neat and tidy, unlike the garden he finds himself in. But Jilly the Irish wolfhound who lives next door is friendly, and Gizmo soon starts to feel at home.

But Jilly has a problem; her litter of puppies are going to be sold and may end up far away. Can Gizmo help her find a way to keep them closer to home?

With colourful illustrations that capture the characters of the many doggy breeds that live in Puddle, it shows what can be done if friends work together.

I’m sure adorable Gizmo and his new friends will be loved as much as Laura James’ Pug series.

Indigo Wilde and the Creatures at Jellybean Crescent by Pippa Curnick (published by Hodder Children’s Books)

Indigo Wilde and the Creatures at Jellybean Crescent Review Round-Up

11-year-old Indigo Wilde and her little brother Quigley are home alone while their world-famous explorer parents are away; left in charge of the myriad of strange and magical creature that inhabit No.47 Jellybean Crescent.

As well as keeping the creatures happy, they also need to keep them away from the prying gaze of Madame Grey, head of the local Neighbourhood Watch.

But when a new arrival from their parents goes missing, how long will it be before disaster strikes?

I have to say that I fell in love with this book as soon as I saw it. The illustrations are bright and leap out of the pages, and the story positively zings with energy, dashing along at a breakneck speed.

Indigo and Quigley are clever and resourceful, and the fantastical creatures who share their home are beyond imagination – I particularly liked Graham the llama-corn, Fishkins the purrmaid, and Queenie the goblin, to name but a few!

I can’t wait to visit Jellybean Crescent again and join in the pandemonium of life at No.47.

Hopefully this will be enough to keep you going, but if you find that you’re running out of things to read you can always check out the suggestions in our first and second 2021 round-ups!