BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
We love Barrington Stoke's super-readable fiction! With short engaging chapters and a compact length (less than 100 pages), these brilliantly accessible reads from well-loved authors and illustrators are pitched to appeal to reluctant readers in KS2 or those with a lower reading age. Our Review Panel members tell us more about some of the latest titles in the collection...
1. Ellie and the Cat
Malorie Blackman & Matt Robertson
Ellie and the Cat is a funny and lively story about a girl called Ellie who has to go and stay with her grandma when her father is away for work. Ellie doesn’t like her grandma at first and is rude to her. Ellie’s behaviour is so bad it drives Grandma to teach her a lesson by using her magic powers to swap Ellie’s body with Jolly the cat. Trapped under Grandma’s curse she sets out to break it to avoid being eternally trapped as the cat! To succeed she has to overcome a variety of challenges and find Grandma’s wedding ring - with the help of some new friends.
Malorie Blackman’s excellent story entertains with humour, perfectly matched with Matt Robinson’s illustrations which superbly bring Ellie and her animal chums to life.
There are themes of friendship, resilience, self-belief, problem solving. The inter-generational relationship between Ellie and her Grandma develops into something quite heart-warming too.
Published by Barrington Stoke, on cream paper in a dyslexia friendly font, this is pitched to appeal to KS2 children with a younger reading age. The short engaging chapters and overall compact length (75 pages) make this a brilliant accessible read.
Reviewed by: Kate Gieler, School Librarian
Book publication date: Jan 2019
2. Laura Norder, Sheriff of Butts Canyon
Guy Bass & Steve May
Laura Norder is the self-appointed Sheriff of Butts Canyon, feared by outlaws and townsfolk alike she keeps the town in order, which in the lawless land of the wild west is no mean feat for a 10-year-old. Bent on enforcing her Golden Rules, Laura thinks she has the town finally under control, but the rule-breaking Duncan Disorderly rides into town…
What starts as a wild west story turns into a “whodunit?” as Laura tries to track down and capture Duncan Disorderly. The final two plot twists allow an early opportunity for prediction in lower key stages. With large well-spaced font covering just 65 pages (including several whole page illustrations) the book should entice even the most reluctant reader to give it a go. Clever use of a play on words for the character names, short punchy chapters and fun illustrations also keep the interest of struggling and reluctant readers and the use of clear text on buff paper by the publishers may help those with scotopic sensitivity or dyslexia.
Reviewed by: Jane E, Class Teacher
Book publication date: Feb 2019
You can order Laura Norder, Sheriff of Butts Canyon online or from your local bookshop or library.
3. Into the Bin (and Out Again)
Anne Fine & Vicki Gausden
This is a gentle story set in a school – a school that could easily be any school up and down the country. The story begins with the head teacher, Mrs Carter getting annoyed (in a very gentle way!) about the state of the cloakroom. Things had been discarded on the floor, bits of PE kit and general school debris. The class teacher Mr Frost and the class recognise that it really is rather a state and the story quickly links to the class bin, a rather unstable plastic bin that is continuously knocked over by accident. This sparks Mr Frost into action, vowing to purchase a new more solid bin.
Georgia suggests that her mum would be happy to have the old one in her charity shop, as there was nothing wrong with the bin, it just didn’t suit the demands of the classroom. This leads to the children bringing in unwanted items from home. Each following chapter is about one of the items: each has a story and reason for it no longer being needed. These stories all have a message – whether the message is about how to manage worries or highlighting past behaviour. The end of each chapter sees the item heading for the ‘red bin’ only for another child in the class requesting to have the item for themselves, a friend or for a particular task. By the end of the story everything is ‘recycled’ including the red bin itself which finds a use as storage in the cloakroom, solving the problem that the head teacher Mrs Carter, at the start of the story identifies.
The messages are clear and simple, from the importance of recycling and not wasting things, to the simple morals that are revealed as each item for the waste bin is introduced. What I like about this book is its easy readability in terms of language, message and structure whilst retaining a worthwhile storyline. I would also commend Vicki Gausden for her images of the children and the teacher in this story: where people of colour are depicted not because of their ethnicity but because they represent ‘the everyday’ of a modern day classroom.
This is a perfect ‘read alone’ book for a young reader, new to chapter books
Reviewed by: Jane Carter, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education
Book publication date: April 2019
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copies of these books and to our panel members for reviewing them.