children’s literature

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – OCTOBER READ – Nightbirds On Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles #3) – Joan Aiken

Published November 4, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Having had enough of life on board the ship that saved her from a watery grave, Dido Twite wants nothing more than to sail home to England. Instead, Captain Casket’s ship lands in Nantucket, where Dido and the captain’s daughter, Dutiful Penitence, are left in the care of Dutiful’s sinister Aunt Tribulation. In Tribulation’s farmhouse, life is unbearable. When mysterious men lurk about in the evening fog, the resourceful Dido rallies against their shenanigans with help from Dutiful, a cabinboy named Nate, and a pink whale.

What did I think?:

This novel is the third in The Wolves Chronicles books by Joan Aiken that I’ve been steadily reading with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads for our Kid-Lit challenge over the past few years. We absolutely adored the first novel in the series, The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase and quite enjoyed the follow-up, Black Hearts In Battersea so were both intrigued to see how the series was going to continue, particularly with the emergence of beloved character Dido Twite. Sadly, I’m not sure if the books in this series are getting weaker or if it’s just when I read them as an adult, I seem to have lost some of that old childish magic/sparkle that would ordinarily keep me gripped within an adventure story just like this. There are of course some wonderful things that would appeal to a younger audience in this novel and at some points, it really feels like a classic piece of literature, giving me all the old Blyton “feels” that I used to experience every time I cracked open a Secret Seven, Famous Five or Faraway Tree book but unfortunately, I didn’t feel the plot was as strong compared to Aiken’s previous novels in the series.

Joan Aiken, author of Nightbirds On Nantucket, the third novel in The Wolves Chronicles.

In this third book in the series, we see the triumphant return of fan favourite, Dido Twite who was first introduced to us in Black Hearts In Battersea and for a short time, I felt incredibly irritated by until the story developed further and she became more endearing than annoying! In Nightbirds On Nantucket, after the dramatic (almost cliffhanger events) of the second novel, Dido finds herself on a strange ship bound for an isolated island. She is tasked with taking the Captain’s anxious daughter, Dutiful Penitence under her wing, bringing her out of her shell and encouraging her that living part-time on the island of Nantucket with her Aunt Tribulation wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, when the two girls reach Nantucket, they realise that things aren’t all they seem to be. A plot to overthrow the King Of England, a mysterious pink whale and some very shady characters are just some of the things Dido and Pen must deal with if they are to convince the local community of the dangerous plans afoot.

One of my favourite things about this series is the gorgeous illustrations by Robin Jacques.

This series has everything going for it, including fantastic characters, classic villains and real, “feel good” endings. I enjoyed the inclusion of the pink whale and the development of Pen as a character in particular. She went from a terrified little girl who was afraid of her own shadow to a determined and loyal young friend that found some admirable inner strength when people she loved were in trouble. I think Nate, the cabin boy that Dido and Pen meet had the potential to be a good character and an interesting side-kick for the girls but wasn’t explored as much as he could have been. Plus, his eternal singing kind of got on my nerves a little bit! Nevertheless, I think Aiken choosing to focus on two female leads was a work of genius, especially considering how much bravery and fight they displayed when times got tough.

Joan Aiken has legions of fans across the world for this series and I can definitely see why – it’s packed full of adventure and mystery with the addition of the lovable characters I mentioned earlier. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t connect with this book as much as I have done with the previous stories in the series, there was just something about the plot that I couldn’t quite get on board with. However, I can one hundred percent understand why it continues to have such appeal and holds a special place in people’s hearts.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP IN NOVEMBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Number The Stars by Lois Lowry.

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – SEPTEMBER READ – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Published September 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Living with his little brother, Fudge, makes Peter feel like a fourth grade nothing. Fudge is never far from trouble. He’s a two-year-old terror who gets away with everything–and Peter’s had enough. When Fudge walks off with Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle, it’s the last straw.

What did I think?:

Apologies for the smaller image than normal regarding the book cover but I couldn’t resist including this particular cover as the headline picture for my post as I’m pretty certain this was the actual cover I owned when I was a youngster! For anyone who might not already know, I love Judy Blume with every fibre of my being. She was such an important part of my childhood, she taught me so much about adolescence and how to cope with it and I was even lucky enough to meet her in person a few years ago when she attended YALC, a young adult’s literature convention that happens in London on a yearly basis. Chrissi has had to put up with my gushing admiration for Blume over the years and luckily for me, didn’t get too embarrassed at YALC when I came face to face with my idol (and made a fool of myself by dropping down into a curtsey, I was so overwhelmed with happiness!). Yes, the less said about that the better I think.

Her Royal Highness Judy Blume, author of Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing. Your majesty…

Chrissi was also incredibly gracious when I begged her to let me put some classic Blume on our Kid-Lit list this year and I’m so very glad that we did. Jumping back into her writing was so wonderfully nostalgic it made me feel all warm and cosy inside. Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing is probably written for the younger readership, i.e. middle grade fiction but the enjoyment I got from it was second to none. I think I might have mentioned in a previous post that when Chrissi and I were growing up, our father was in the army and we lived in Germany for about thirteen years. At one point, we didn’t have access to many English bookshops – in fact, there was only a very small one about half an hour’s drive away and we went there about once a month to spend our pocket money. The rest of the time we had to make do with the local school library or re-reading the books we currently had so we spent a LOT of time doing that. As a result, my Blume collection was unsurprisingly very well thumbed, dog eared and a bit worse for wear from the amount of times I re-entered the world of Peter, Fudge and company.

As I started to read Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing as an adult, all the old feelings I had about this story came rushing back and some of them were truly precious. I remembered whole incidents that I had completely forgotten (for example, the little girl who wets herself at Fudge’s birthday party) but what was most remarkable to me is how little my views had changed on the characters since I read it as a child. Reading it back then, I remember being exasperated almost up to the point of tears with the character of Fudge. I felt terribly sorry for Peter as he struggled with his painfully annoying younger sibling and even went so far as to question his parents love for himself after, initially, Fudge appears to be blatantly getting away with everything. I wondered if as an adult, I would feel more sympathetic towards Fudge and understand his predicament slightly better – in other words, he’s a small child and doesn’t have the skills yet to realise the consequences of his actions. Of course, I DO realise that but I have to admit….I’m still team Peter. There’s something about Fudge that really irks me, I can’t put my finger on it.

I sympathised with Peter, being the oldest sibling myself and can remember those times in my childhood where the responsibility of looking after my two younger siblings seemed occasionally to be quite a huge cross to bear. If you’ve been there, you might be familiar with the frustration of being blamed for something your sibling does because as the oldest: “you should know better/you should have been looking out for them.” Maybe this was why I connected with Peter so much? Anyway, this is a beautiful little tale about the scrapes Fudge gets into, how it affects his older brother and how one devastating incident with a pet turtle called Dribble ends up bringing the whole family closer together again. I smiled, I groaned, I got emotional and I loved every minute.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN OCTOBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Nightbirds On Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles #3) by Joan Aiken.

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – AUGUST READ – The Creakers by Tom Fletcher

Published August 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What silently waits in the shadows at night? What’s under your bed, keeping just out of sight?

Do you ever hear strange, creaking noises at night? Ever wonder what makes those noises?
Lucy Dungston always did.
Until, one morning, Lucy discovers that all the grown-ups have disappeared – as if into thin air. Chaos descends as the children in Lucy’s town run riot. It’s mayhem. It’s madness. To most kids, it’s amazing!
But Lucy wants to find out the truth. Lucy lost her dad not long ago, and she’s determined not to lose her mum too. She’s going to get her back – and nothing is going to stop her… except maybe the Creakers.

What did I think?:

This is the first children’s book I’ve read from former McFly musician turned author Tom Fletcher although I’ve been aware of his work for a little while, particularly The Christmasaurus which Chrissi and I are now kicking ourselves for not having chosen as our December read this year. I was SO very pleasantly surprised by The Creakers and can now understand why Tom is becoming so highly regarded in the middle grade fiction world. The Creakers has everything you want in a novel aimed at younger readers, a bit of mild peril, fantastic lead characters, laugh out loud moments and a wonderfully happy ending that really warms your heart.

Tom Fletcher, author of The Creakers.

This fantastic, exciting and innovative story features a cracking female lead in Lucy Dungston who wakes up one morning and discovers her mum has completely disappeared. Things get worse when she discovers that ALL the grown-ups in their small town seem to have vanished and no-one seems to know where they have gone or, even more frighteningly, if they’re ever coming back, especially when they find a note stating that the chances of them returning are very remote. The younger children automatically look to Lucy for what they should do next (after they’ve stopped running riot, jumping on sofas, eating tons of sweets and getting themselves stuck in inappropriate places of course!). Yet the plot grows murkier and murkier when Lucy discovers that the reason for the adults’ disappearance may lie with some strange creatures she discovers under the bed and an even stranger land called Woleb where everything runs backwards and horror upon horrors, the adults may not even want to come back!

Two of the creatures known as Creakers, from the pen of the super talented Shane Devries.

Tom Fletcher has let his obviously huge imagination run wild in his tale of The Creakers. I loved everything about it, from the brilliance of his female lead Lucy, to the artful way in which he has plotted a very unique kind of creature that thrives on rubbish and is utterly disgusting but give them a chance, you might end up feeling a bit differently about them by the end of the novel. The illustrations by Shane Devries compliment Tom’s words marvellously and funnily enough, were exactly how I pictured everything in my head even before I saw the graphics! I can imagine children of middle school age absolutely devouring this book – it’s such a fun and exciting read that not only could I imagine reading it to my nephew one day, I chortled along as if I were a child myself.

Tom Fletcher has a clear and undeniable gift for writing books for children, he gets the balance of humour, action and pacing perfectly and seems to really understand or tap into how kids would think and behave in certain situations. I’ll certainly be reading more books by him in the future and look forward to watching his development as an author, I’m sure he will only go from strength to strength.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN SEPTEMBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

Banned Books 2018 – JULY READ – Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Published August 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the seventh banned book in our series for 2018! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

AUGUST: I Am Jazz– Jessica Herthel
SEPTEMBER: Taming The Star Runner– S.E. Hinton
OCTOBER: Beloved -Toni Morrison
NOVEMBER: King & King -Linda de Haan
DECEMBER: Flashcards Of My Life– Charise Mericle Harper
For now, back to this month:

Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George

First published: 1972

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)

Reasons: unsuited to age group, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  Sigh. As I’ve mentioned in past Banned Books posts, sometimes I can see why people have issues with some of the books we review for this feature. Not that I think they SHOULD be challenged/banned but I can see why they might be offensive or problematic. Then there’s other books that we read and throughout the book, I’m struggling to see how anybody could have a problem at all, especially when I look at the reasons behind the challenge. Julie Of The Wolves was one of these latter books for me, I read through it thinking: “Aha! NOW I’m going to find out why there are issues!” And nope, I didn’t. Not even once. Even when I think about back in the early seventies when this was first published – could there have been reasons then? You’ve guessed it – no. I normally like to try and guess the potential reasons and I’m always, always wrong. With Julie Of The Wolves, I couldn’t find a single one!

CHRISSI: I am genuinely confused as to why this book is challenged. I didn’t find it at all offensive. I really am stumped with this one. As for one of the reasons being violence? Really? Children see more violent things on the news which is actually happening in day to day life sometimes so close to them. Video games are a hell of a lot more violent too. I really didn’t see this book as particularly violent. Hunting and death do occur within the story, but it makes sense to the story and most people could rationalise that…

How about now?

BETH: This book is now over forty years old and as it was only challenged/banned in 2002, I don’t believe attitudes have changed much either in the years post publication or since 2002 to the present day. Particularly with these reasons they are giving – I mean, come on! Unsuited to age group?! Where were the unsuitable parts, please someone tell me because I feel like I’m going mad. Seriously. It’s marketed as young adult (possibly even middle grade fiction) and at no point did I feel like this was either too traumatic or indeed too violent for the younger audience. There is hunting and death, sure but it’s necessary for our character to survive out in the Arctic conditions for goodness sake. I honestly think there are many more children’s books (hello Watership Down!) that are more emotionally affecting than this one. *rolls eyes.*

CHRISSI: Definitely not. Again… I’m baffled why this book is challenged. I don’t mean to repeat myself too much but I think the hunting and death in the story is relative to the plot. Children aren’t precious snowflakes. I’d say that from middle grade up they can handle a story like this when worse things are happening in the world that they constantly see, read and hear about.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I thought it was an okay read! I enjoyed Julie’s relationship with the wolves (as a big fan of White Fang when I was younger) and the description of the harsh environment she had to survive in was beautifully done. It was a quick and easy book to get lost in and I thought the illustrations were particularly lovely but I felt Julie’s time spent with her people wasn’t as engrossing or as well written as the parts when she has to get by on her own.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t captivated like I wanted to be. I really liked the illustrations and thought that was a nice touch to the story. I actually wish there were a few more illustrations because I didn’t think the writing of the setting was as evocative as it could have been, especially if we are thinking that children are the target audience for this book. I’m glad that I read this book but it’s not one that will particularly stick with me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Maybe!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- I wasn’t captivated but I could appreciate the story!

3 Star Rating Clip Art
Coming up in the last Monday of August on Banned Books: we review I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – JULY READ – Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Published July 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

What did I think?:

I’ve had this middle grade novel on my TBR for a long time now, wondering when on earth I was going to get round to reading it. Then I thought I could suggest it to Chrissi as part of our next Kid Lit list, of course! So on it went and I’m so pleased it did. Everything about this book is so appealing, from the eye-catching cover design to the clever title but most importantly, the story within is so charming and utterly delightful that I was captivated throughout. This is the sort of book that obviously isn’t marketed towards someone of my age range but if I had read this as a child I would have fallen head over heels in love with it and would probably have begged my parents for the next one in the series immediately. I have a very small, hardly worth mentioning niggle but it’s nothing to do with the writing and is purely because of my own individual experience with attending boarding school from the ages of 11-16.

Robin Stevens, author of Murder Most Unladylike.

This is the story of two young girls, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells who attend Deepdean School For Girls in 1930’s England. The two become fast friends and decide to set up a detective agency to solve mysteries – even if their most exciting case so far is their dorm-mate’s missing tie. However, things are about to get a whole lot more interesting when Hazel finds the body of Miss Bell lying in the gym, only to disappear when she runs to get help. As Watson to Daisy’s Holmes, Hazel’s job is to keep meticulous notes about the evidence they manage to collect, their suspects for the horrendous crime and any motives they might have for killing the Science teacher. Thus, the two girls begin their mission to crack the case and bring the perpetrator to justice, not realising that their investigations could be proving very dangerous for themselves if they are discovered with a murderer on the loose.

An example of a dormitory in a boarding school – looks kind of familiar to me!

One of the most endearing things about this novel was how similar it felt to the boarding school stories I used to read as a child by Enid Blyton. It reminded me of the Malory Towers/St Clare’s adventures (I’m not sure if anyone else remembers them?) and it was these tales that made me desperate to go to boarding school in the first place. However this was also my tiny little niggle. Boarding school is often given the representation in fiction as being all “jolly hockey sticks,” midnight feasts and sharing bedrooms with your best friends but unfortunately, the reality of being away at school is quite different and often a very difficult experience, especially if you have troubles whilst at school i.e. bullying and are unable to escape back home on a nightly basis. For this reason, it was why I had mixed feelings. On one hand it was lovely and comforting to be taken back to a more innocent time fictionally speaking, but on the other hand, having lived through that experience myself, I couldn’t quite believe in it as much as I wanted to (and certainly as much as I did when I was a child) because I’m all too aware of what really goes on behind closed doors.

Saying that, if you’re after a fun, easy and exciting reading experience for your middle grade reader, especially if they’re a budding detective, you can’t go wrong with this novel. It’s got everything you could want from a mystery story plot wise, and also has the advantage of having some terrific female lead characters for children to enjoy and connect with. There’s nothing but pleasure to be had for youngsters from this entertaining, well-written series and it deserves a spot alongside Blyton’s Malory Towers as an excellent boarding school adventure story.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN AUGUST ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Creakers by Tom Fletcher.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens was the fortieth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – MAY READ – The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket

Published May 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

What did I think?:

I think I was a little bit older when the Unfortunate Series Of Events books first came out so they kind of passed me by. This is why I love doing the Kid-Lit challenge with Chrissi though, I get to re-visit old childhood favourites and discover ones that I missed. The Wide Window is the third in the series so if you want to check out what I thought about The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room I’ll link my reviews in the book titles. I initially fancied suggesting this series for our Kid-Lit challenge as I had always been curious to check them out and also to watch the Netflix series at some point which looks equally brilliant. So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying my adventures with the Baudelaire orphans and although life treats them abominably, I’m always intrigued to discover both what mishap might befall them next and how they manage to overthrow the wicked Count Olaf’s plans each time he turns up.

Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, author of The Series Of Unfortunate Events stories.

In the third outing of this series and the dramatic events that led to the Baudelaire children being removed from their Uncle Monty’s house, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny are sent to live with their Aunt Josephine in a house on the top of a cliff overlooking Lake Lachrymose. As soon as they get there, the children begin to have worries about their new guardian. She worries about everything – not just ordinary anxieties but things that affect her life drastically. For example, she won’t turn radiators on because they might explode, she won’t answer the telephone in case she is electrocuted, she won’t cook anything hot in case the stove catches on fire and she stacks tin cans by the door of each room so she can be alerted by anyone trying to burgle the house. Of course, as you might have suspected if you’ve read the previous books in the series, Count Olaf returns, once again in disguise as Captain Sham to flatter Aunt Josephine and persuade her by any means necessary to give up her claim on the children, his motive being to access that huge Baudelaire fortune.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in the Netflix series.

Once again, this is another gripping episode of the misfortunes of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. I adore that each child has their own personality and talent, Violet for inventing things, Klaus for reading and learning and Sunny for er….biting. It does come in handy I promise, especially when dealing with that dastardly Count Olaf. Yes, you could say that each story follows the same old pattern; i.e. Count Olaf appears in disguise, nobody believes the children when they tell a responsible adult that it’s him (especially Mr Poe who is starting to get on my wick a little bit) and eventually, after an exciting incident, the children foil Olaf’s plans and he runs away to lick his wounds rather than getting captured and imprisoned for his crimes. But at the same time, I think the repetitive nature of the plot works in its favour too. As the older reader, we are always kind of aware of this formula but the younger reader can delight in the blessed relief of Olaf being defeated once more by some very industrious children.

I’m definitely going to continue with this series, after all, I do have that little glimmer of hope that the villain of the piece will be vanquished eventually and it’s always fun to see the unique way in which the children manage to get themselves out of a sticky mess time and time again.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP IN JUNE ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Face On The Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket was the thirty-third book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – APRIL READ – Ratburger by David Walliams

Published April 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The fifth screamingly funny novel from David Walliams, number one bestseller and fastest growing children’s author in the country. Hot on the heels of bestselling Gangsta Granny comes another hilarious, action-packed and touching novel – the story of a little girl called Zoe. Things are not looking good for Zoe. Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she gets Zoe to pick her nose for her. The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head. And now the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers is after her pet rat! And guess what he wants to do with it? The clue is in the title…From the author that is being called ‘a new Roald Dahl’, Ratburger is not to be missed!

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I have made no secret of the fact that we love David Walliams’ writing for children and we’ve covered a few books now of his in our Kid-Lit challenge, so it was a bit of a no-brainer whether we would be putting another of his books up this year for discussion! Ratburger was another absolute joy to read and as before, the illustrations by Tony Ross were just the icing on the cake. In fact, if I consider all the David Walliams books we’ve read so far, I’m struggling to pick a favourite. This is a line up where each book is special and individual in its own right, each one has a host of glorious characters of heroes to adore and villains to despise, and Ratburger is another wonderful treat easily comparable to all the others.

In this story, our protagonist is a small girl called Zoe who lives with her beloved father and (evil) stepmother, Sheila who is addicted to prawn cocktail crisps and treats her step-daughter abominably. Zoe’s father has retreated into himself immensely since her mother died and soon after, he lost his dream job in the ice cream factory. Now he spends all of his days drowning his sorrows in the pub, reluctant to hunt too hard for another job. One of the only perks of Zoe’s life is her new pet rat, Armitage (DON’T ask how she gave him his name but if you do know, have a good giggle with me in the comments!). Like her pet before him, she starts to teach him tricks and dreams of the day when she can leave the bullies at school behind and start her own performing animals show.

However, this wouldn’t be a David Walliams book without a bit of trepidation, an unfortunate incident and a dastardly villain and our poor heroine happens to come across a very nasty individual who has grand plans for Armitage. Zoe then ends up in a very precarious situation where she must rescue her pet rat from a dangerous and hugely gruesome ending at the hands of a very odd man who makes very “special” burgers for a living.

This book is perfect for your average middle grade reader and like every other book I’ve read from this author, the humour is just right for that age group and perhaps even for a slightly immature adult like myself? Themes like death, bullying, being a bit different, chasing your dreams and family dynamics are introduced for the younger reader very delicately and at no time did I feel it was “too much,” or inappropriate. There are a couple of ruder bits but I promise you they’re incredibly tame and are more likely to make a child chuckle rather than scarring him/her for life! I’ve heard this described on Goodreads as more of a boy’s book but I one hundred percent dispute that statement. I can’t even imagine why the reviewer thought it was aimed more towards the male sex, I think both boys and girls would enjoy it equally. And hey, a brave female lead is ALWAYS appreciated here on this blog so thank you David Walliams for giving us Zoe, a determined, dreamy young girl who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing until she gets it despite the hardship she may suffer along the way.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT UP IN MAY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket.