Title: Friday Barnes: Girl Detective
Author: R. A. Spratt
Publisher: Random House Australia
About the book: When 11-year-old Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country.
Friday is shocked to discover that the school is full of crime. Soon students are paying her to investigate everything from missing memorial clocks to a Yeti running around the school.
What I thought: I thought that this book was a very interesting, easy read. I could relate to the character of Friday because I, too, love detective novels. The story seemed to move along and there were no boring bits.
This is an entertaining, enjoyable read for both boys and girls of 9+ and fans of Encylopedia Brown will like it. There are six books in the series, with book 7 due out later this year.
Buy Friday Barnes Girl Detective.
Title: Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Yearling (Random House)
About the book: Kyle has never loved libraries, but he has always loved boardgames. When he discovers that the world’s most famous game maker has designed the town’s new library, and the winners of an essay contest will get to stay overnight in the library on opening night, he is determined to win.
During the lock-in, he will need all of his smarts, courage and determination to escape from Mr Lemoncello’s library.
What I thought: This book had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what would happen next and how the clues fit together. It’s a mystery and an adventure all wrapped up together. I particularly liked the character of Mr Lemoncello because he reminded me a bit of Willy Wonka.
I also liked the literary references scattered throughout the book. Let’s just say, the book was so interesting that I struggled to put it down and read it very quickly.
I would recommend this book for ages 11+. If you like mystery stories, adventure stories and puzzles, you will love this book.
Buy Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library.
Title: The Doctor
Author: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
About the book: Have you ever wondered why alcohol makes you speak louder? Or how to tell which part of a movie the audience is watching – without looking? Well, Dr Karl is your man.
This collection of random science facts and questions, answered in an easy-to-read and understandable format, is sure to amaze you and leave you awestruck!
What I thought: I really loved how approachable this book was. It is not set out like a textbook or a big boring scientific volume. Instead, it is set out in sections, with each describing and explaining one concept.
Dr Karl has brought his signature humour to an otherwise not-very-funny subject, making it entertaining and informative. He is one of my favourite non-fiction authors, alongside Adam Spencer.
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as younger readers may find it hard to follow or be disinterested in the subject matter. If you’re looking to learn something new, or you just love science, you will enjoy this book.
Buy The Doctor.
Title: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Little, Brown/Hachette
About the book: Newt Scamander is on a trip to America with a case full of magical beasts. When some of the animals from the case escape, it is up to Newt, his non-magical friend Jacob and Tina from the American Ministry of Magic to find them.
This screenplay is about what happens next.
What I thought: I thought that this screenplay flowed very easily, although I didn’t think it would due to its format. J.K. Rowling has brought many of her famous writing elements to this screenplay, making it truly feel like another wonderful Harry Potter story.
I read this before I saw the movie, and it felt like I’d read a Harry Potter book and then watched the movie, not like the whole story had been given away in advance. I think that doing this showed me how much a filmmaker’s imagination develops the story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, as younger readers may find the story and format a little bit confusing.
Buy Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
Title: The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee
Author: Deborah Abela
Publisher: Random House Australia
About the book: India Wimple watches The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV every Friday night. When India’s family suggests that she enter, she is nervous and shy, but throughout the course of the Bee she gains confidence, makes new friends and learns that sometimes you need to take risks.
What I thought: I thought this book was funny and interesting. I liked the voice of the book, which made it feel real. I liked the character of India because she reminded me of myself and my friends. Some of the spelling words were quite challenging.
I think this book is a good, easy, entertaining read that boys and girls would both like. I would recommend this book for ages 8+.
Buy The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee.
Title: Wordburger: How to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites
Author: David Astle
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
About the book: This book is about the English language. It teaches you how to understand and solve cryptic crosswords, and how to think outside the square when it comes to English.
What I thought: I really loved this book because I didn’t really understand cryptic crosswords until I read it. It taught me more about lots of interesting things like palindromes – sentences which read the same backwards and forwards (eg, poor Dan is in a droop) – and how to look at cryptic crossword clues in a different way.
This book is easy to understand and is a funny, entertaining and educational read. The little illustrations throughout make it feel like it’s not too serious, and there are lots of opportunities in the second half of the book to practise what you’ve learnt, with puzzles and mini-puzzles to try.
I would recommend it for ages 10+, as younger children may not understand some of the more complicated things in the book.
Buy Wordburger here.
With Christmas fast-approaching, it won’t surprise anyone to know that I’m hoping for books this year. Lots of books.
As I do every year.
These are the six books at the top of my wishlist this year – and, yes, it was hard to narrow it down to just six!
• The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
I saw the movie Hugo, which is based on this book, and would like to see if the book is as good as the movie. I think The Marvels by the same author also looks great.
• The Fever Code by James Dashner
I read the rest of The Maze Runner series and really enjoyed them, so I would like this prequel.
• Brotherband #6: The Ghostfaces
John Flanagan’s writing style is so engaging and I would like to see where this next book takes Hal and the gang.
• Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them by J.K. Rowling
I read The Cursed Child, a script based on a story by J.K. Rowling, and now would like to read a screenplay actually written by her.
• Adam Spencer’s World Of Numbers
Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers is my favourite non-fiction book, so I would like to add to my collection.
• The Amateurs by Sara Shepherd
I don’t know much about this one, but the description is so intriguing that I cannot pass it up! And it’s book #1 of a new series, which is always good!
Title links will take you to Booktopia (see ‘About This Site’ for details).
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
About the book: Pax, a fox, and his boy, Peter, are inseparable until one day when Peter’s father goes to war and insists that Pax is left by the side of the road. Much to the heartbreak of both Peter and Pax.
Peter then goes on a journey to find his fox, while Pax goes on a journey of his own to find his missing boy.
What I thought: I thought that this was a beautifully touching book about an amazing bond between human and animal. The language in the book made it feel soft and engaging, even though it has moments that make you gasp. I think this book has the air of a classic, like ‘Call Of The Wild’ by Jack London.
Pax, the fox, reminded me of my own dog and reading companion, Book Dog, as they share many of the same qualities. This made the story feel even more real to me.
I also really loved the cover and other illustrations throughout the book, which added to the old-fashioned beauty of the story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, as it feels too old for some younger readers. Anyone who likes animal stories will love this book.
With Christmas coming, I thought it might be helpful to share some books I think would be good to give as gifts. Book Boy Junior is my nine-year-old brother, and these are some books I think would be good for him, or any other nine-year-old boy.
Click the title link to read more about the book at Booktopia.
•The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela. My blogging friend Jazzy reviewed this one and it sounds really good.
•Danny Best: Never Wrong by Jen Storer and Mitch Vane. I’m actually not going to give him this one because he’s already reading it to review for the blog, but he’s liking it so I think that other little brothers would also like it.
•The Turners: Camp Freakout by Mick Elliott. Book Boy Junior loved the first book in this series (his review is here), and this is the second.
•Space Demons by Gillian Rubenstein. I read about this book on Children’s Books Daily, which is a website where I sometimes review books. Lily, who reviewed the book, made it sound really interesting, so I think I would give it to Book Boy Junior so I could read it myself.
•Adam Spencer’s Number Crunchers by Adam Spencer. If you read my review of Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers, you would know how much I like this author. This new book has lots of games and puzzles in it and I think Book Boy Junior would really like it.
•The Unforgettable What’s His Name by Paul Jennings. I thought that this book would be perfect for my brother because it is funny, clever and imaginative, much like all of Paul Jennings’s other books.
Other books that little brothers might like that we have already reviewed (click links for reviews):
Artie and The Grime Wave by Richard Roxburgh
The 78-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
The Other Christy by Oliver Phommavanh
Ranger’s Apprentice: The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan
My Life And Other Massive Mistakes by Tristan Bancks and Gus Gordon
Countdown To Danger: Shockwave by Jack Heath
The Impossible Quest by Kate Forsyth
Tiny Timmy: Soccer Superstar by Tim Cahill
Weirdo 3: Extra Weird by Anh Do (and Jules Faber)
Title: Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers
Author: Adam Spencer
About the book: This book contains all the weird, wonderful and wacky facts about the numbers 1 to 100. It includes quizzes and problems so that you can test your maths skills as you learn.
What I thought: I thought this book was brilliantly surprising and funny. Yes, funny. Maths can be funny. I really thought that the addition of quizzes was helpful as it helps people to learn if they actually do it for themselves. This is the best non-fiction book that I’ve read.
I would recommend this book to everyone, although it would be helpful to be a little bit older (10+) as some of the problems are difficult. If you really like numbers, or you’d like to know more about them, you’ll love this book.
Younger readers may like to start off with Adam Spencer’s Enormous Book Of Numbers, which is aimed at the 7+ age group.
Buy Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers