Summer Reading Challenge 2020 – The Reviews

It’s time for the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 Reviews! Each year, we ask our members to read and review five books for us that they have chosen as a challenge to themselves over the summer holidays.  Thank you to everyone who took part. The 2020 challenge has brought some great titles, great reviews and great inspiration for further reading. For more titles why not see reviews from previous years in our blogs Summer Reading Challenge 2019Summer Reading Challenge 2018 and Summer Reading Challenge 2017.


Danesh B. Aged 6

S. Aged 6

Nico S. Aged 6

Xander B. Aged 8

Pedro S. Aged 12

Vinayak V. Age 12

Regina P. Aged 13

book covers

Danesh B. Aged 6

Eddie Reynolds, Matthew Oldham & Lara Bryan. Money for Beginners
Rated: 4/5 Stars
I highly recommend this book if you like to learn about the history of money and its uses. It has seven chapters about how money works, earning, and borrowing. This book explains money really well.

Lesley Tierra. A Kids Herb Book
Rated: 5 Stars
This book describes the uses of herbs for: medicine, food and old stories. In the corner of some pages there are boxes talking about each herb’s uses as medicine. It’s useful, and I like reading it, but you might not find all those herbs in your garden. I give the book 5 stars as songs and piano scores about herbs are included.

David Melling. Hugless Douglas
This is a funny story book about a brown bear who was looking for someone to hug. I like the pictures and the funny text. It is for little children. My favourite part is the end: it shows all the different types of hug in the book. Read it and see if you can keep a straight face. That’s the challenge.

Rosie Dickins, Benedetta Giaufret & Enrica Rusina. Lift-the-Flap Fractions and Decimals
This is about fractions and decimals. It explains them in an easy and fun way. For example, mice dividing a round cheese to smaller wedges. It has flaps to lift with the answers under, and facts in the corners of some pages. I chose this book to challenge myself to learn fractions and decimals without any help.

Georgina Andrews, Kate Knighton, Jane Chisholm. 100 Science Experiments
Rated: 5 Stars
This is an instruction booklet with 100 experiments for children. It explains what is going on in each experiment and has internet links to more information and experiments. It has clear instructions and also equipment lists. I like this book. This book deserves 5 shiny stars.

book covers

S. Aged 6

Laura Owen and Korky Paul. Winnie and Wilbur (12 book set)
Rated: 12 Stars
Reading 12 books was a challenge but I learnt lots about Winnie and Wilbur. My favourite book was the first book I read which was Winnie Spells Trouble, where they were dancing on the book cover.

David Walliam The World’s Worst Parents
Rated: 7 Stars
I thought it was funny because Supermum was a cleaner. I thought it was challenging because it was so long. It had 307 pages.  David Walliams is my favourite author.

Roald Dahl. George’s Marvellous Medicine
Rated: 5 Stars
This was a challenging book as I read it with my friend and completed worksheets every weekday. I learnt about conjunctions and connectives and made a new cover for the book and designed my own medicine. My medicine was called Horse Medicine Magenta Liquid. It’s for poorly horses which make the sound “oink, oink”.

Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Rated: 4 Stars
It was a challenging book as it had lots of chapters and lots of difficult words in. I enjoyed the challenge. I want to read other books by Roald Dahl.  Roald Dahl is my second favourite author.

Frozen – Book of the Film
Rated: 4 Stars
It was a challenge as it was a book of a film and I learnt new things about the characters and it made me laugh.

book covers

Nico S. Aged 6

Terry Pratchett Truckers
Rated: 4 and 3/4 Stars
The book is about gnomes leaving their home because it’s going to get destroyed. “Truckers” was challenging because it had really long chapters and it was very long plus it had no pictures at all, it was just pages of small writing.

My favourite scene: “Big-fella Store him go Bang along plenty soon enough chop-chop?” said the Thing, hopefully. The nomes watched one another’s faces. There didn’t seem to be any light dawning. The Thing cleared it’s throat again. “Do you know the meaning of the word ‘destroyed’?” it said. “Oh, yes,” said Dorcas. “That’s what is going to happen to the Store. In twenty-one days.”

Enid Blyton. Five on a Treasure Island
Rated: 5 Stars
The book is about four children and one dog finding gold on and island. It was challenging because it used old-fashioned words I didn’t know and had to look up in the dictionary.  Would I recommend it to others Yes!!!!!!!! because it’s funny and fun.

Julian Clary The Bolds to the Rescue
Rated: 5 Stars.
The book is about animals pretending to be human. It was challenging because it was quite long. Would I recommend it to others Yes!!! because it’s got loads of funny jokes.

J.M. Barrie Peter Pan
Rated: 5 Stars
It is about a boy with NO parents, and pirates and fairies.  It was was challenging because it had really long chapters and it was very long. Would I recommend it Yes!! Because it has fun bits in it!!!!!!!

Tom McLaughlin. The Accidental Secret Agent
Rated: 5 Stars.
The book is about a kid being a spy and swapping with a real spy. It was challenging because I had already given up reading it once because it was a bit boring at the beginning – as “boring as a banana”!! Would I recommend it to others Yes!! because it’s funny!!!!!!!!!

drawing of the Accidental Secret Agent by Nico S. aged 6

book covers

Xander B. Aged 8

David Walliams. The Midnight Gang

Rating 5/5  Challenge: Quite the adventure, but really sad in places
Tom wakes up to find himself looking up at a very strange face. At a school cricket match, he was hit on the head by the cricket ball.  Now he is on a trolley in The Lord Funt hospital and on his way to the very top floor where the children’s ward is.  Tom doesn’t quite realise that he is about to have the adventure of a lifetime and make some unexpected friends along the way. Everything that Tom and his friends, Amber, George, Robin and Sally do, must be kept secret from the grownups.  Especially Matron who is evil and really does not like children – heaven only knows why she became a nurse – because her mission really  is to make their lives miserable. But they are helped in their mission by someone very mysterious. I liked this story because it taught me that sometimes the person you least expect to can become your friend.

P.G. Bell . The Train to Impossible Places
Rating: 4/5    Challenge: Scary subject matter
Fletch a troll has put down magical train tracks in Suzy Smith’s house.  Suzy has no idea what to do about this, until she hears the trembling roar of the ‘Belle le Doin’, a mystical express train. Jumping onto the train she is led on a magical adventure where she discovers how difficult life is in the impossible places. Along her journey she discovers that a parcel she has to deliver to the wicked witch Lady Crepuscula, is actually an enchanted snow globe with a Prince stuck inside.  But along the way she finds out that Prince Frederick is not really who he says he is. This is a great adventures story, and is quite scary in places, but I faced my fears and carried on reading. I am glad I did because I discovered that the book has a lovely ending.

Chas Newkey-Burden. 64 Geeks
Rating: 4/5   Challenge: Biographical, complex vocabulary and technical language
64 Geeks is a fascinating book about really intelligent people who helped change the world for the better. This book is not easy to read, but I liked that you could start anywhere in the book, because you are reading about different people. The book is also fascinating, because it covers a time period of about 2500 years. You can learn a lot from reading this book, and all of the people in it are amazing in their own way.  I really liked learning that even really clever people can struggle in school. Some of my favourite people were Yuri Gargarin, who was the first man in space.  Ada Lovelace who created the first computer program in the 1800’s And Albert Einstein, famous for the theory of relativity and the equation E=MC2.

Alan Temperley. Harry and the Wrinklies
Rating: 5/5    Challenge: Complex vocabulary
After his parents are killed, Harry is sent to live with his Great Aunts. Harry is surprised, because even though his Aunts and their friends are really old, they get up to a lot of mischief. Serious mischief!  When his Aunts are sent to jail, Harry discovers that his neighbour’s girlfriend is the horrid Nanny ‘Gestapo Lil’ who used to look after him when his parents were alive. Gestapo Lil and Beastly Priestly (the neighbour) lock Harry up in their house. Luckily the Aunts used to be a gang of criminal masterminds when they were younger, so it is not long before they hatch a plan to escape and rescue Harry from the dastardly neighbour.  I really liked this book (even though I didn’t think I would).  It is really funny and you would be surprised what a group of old ladies really get up to.

J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Rating: 5/5    Challenge: Number of Pages – 604 (That’s 272 more than Prisoner of Azkaban!).  Mature themes.
I really like reading the Harry Potter series. Each book gets better and better and The Goblet of Fire is brilliant! Hogwarts has decided to host the Triwizard Tournament.  You have to be over seventeen to enter, but somehow Harry’s name comes out of the goblet of fire.  He didn’t put it there.  But he now has to take part in this terrifying event and complete all the challenges put before him. He could die, but his best friends Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley are there to help him through (secretly).  This is a long book but very exciting, and a fantastic adventure story. There is also kissing and killing in this book so I would not recommend it to anyone under seven. Harry finds out at the end who put his name into the goblet of fire and it is someone who is not all he seems to be.

book covers

Pedro S. Aged 12

Matt Haig. A Boy Called Christmas
Main Characters: Joel the Woodcutter, Nikolas, Miika.
Setting: Lapland, The Far North
Plot: Nikolas is a poor boy who lives in a town called Kristinaankaupunkii. The only two family members he has are his dad, Joel, and his nasty Aunt Carlotta. One day, his dad Joel has some news. He will be going on a tough expedition to the far north, to Elfhelm, and if they find proof of elves living there, Nikolas will be rich for the rest of his life. His dad said he would be fine for 3 months, and that his sister, Carlotta, would take care of Nikolas. During this time, Nikolas feels even more alone, and he suffered because his Aunt Carlotta is very cruel. He began to worry, because his father said 3 months, and he still hadn’t come back. He takes the tough decision to escape his Aunt and try and find his Father. On the way, he finds a reindeer called Blitzen, and together, they go North. After o few days of travelling, Blitzen and Nikolas feel very bad, and then, they fall asleep…  Nikolas wakes up in warmth and an unfamiliar place. Elves have taken care of him. This is where all the excitement begins. Nikolas has to prove to the elves that humans are good, but that will be difficult since his dad did something very very evil.
My Chosen Topic: My Topic was the Motive. I chose this because the motive is about believing in yourself and spreading the joy around to your friends and family.

Michael Morpurgo. The War Horse
Main Characters: Joey, Albert, Zoe, Emile, Captain Nicholls
Setting: World War II
Plot: Joey is a 6 month old colt who is being sold at the auction house. A little boy called Albert looks at him and seems to like him, and pleads with his mum and dad to buy it for him. As his dad was drunk on the day, he bought the horse without thinking, and so he treats the horse very roughly. However, Albert treats the horse very well. and decides to call him ‘Joey’. Time passed, and Albert trained Joey to be a really good horse for the farm. As World War II was approaching, Albert’s dad needed money really badly to keep hold of the farm, and very reluctantly sold him to the army. Albert, clearly distraught, tells the Captain to take care of Joey, and that one day they will be reunited again.
My Chosen Goal: Complexity of the Topic.  I have chosen this as my topic because the book is based around World War II, and it is challenging to keep up with what is going on and most importantly understand what is going on, so therefore I have chosen this as my topic.

Claire Barker. Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog: The Last Circus Tiger
Plot: The animals that live in Starcross Hall are ghost animals, and only Winnie can see and interact with them. Winnie’s parents decide to turn Starcross Hall into a Hat museum. The ghosts and Winnie all agree that this is a bad idea, and that they would do everything to intervene. When the reporter arrives for the Local news, the ghosts start jumping and biting him, but as the reporter can’t see the ghosts he goes wild and runs away. The next morning the local news comes out and describes Starcross Hall as a haunted house, with some lovely hats. Instead of making people not want to visit, it attracted lots of visitors and eventually world wide attention… including a circus with a ghost tiger.
My Chosen Topic:  Vocabulary
Twiddling, ferreted, ushered, undeterred, guffawed.
Twiddling: Twist, move or fiddle with something.
Ferreted: Rummage about to find something.
Ushered: Guide someone somewhere.
Guffawed: Loud and hearty laugh.

C.S. Lewis. Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew
Main Characters: Digory, Uncle Andrew, Polly
Plot: Digory and Polly are two children who start to go on adventures together in the summer. One day, they are going through a passage underground, attempting to reach the house that no one lives in and see what is there. However, they get their measurements wrong and end up in the forbidden place where no one is allowed in, Uncle Andrew’s Study.
Digory has a very strange and peculiar Uncle named Andrew, and they begin to discover the secrets of the outer worlds. Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into touching a ring, and when she touches it she vanishes. Digory persuades his uncle to let him to go and help Polly, and his uncle reluctantly agrees.
My Chosen Topic: Complexity of the book. This book is a challenging read as it uses more old fashioned words and phrases, which can be perplexing for the reader.

Cressida Cowell. Fury
Setting: Island of Beserk
Main Characters: Hiccup, Camicazi, Alvin the Treacherous, The Witch, Toothless
Plot: This book is a continuation of the last book, so it starts with Hiccup, a young and weak Viking who has banged his head on an oar of a ship and now wakes up, forgetting everything and in the middle of a difficult fight with dragons. The story is his journey on being Crowned King of The Wilderwest, and all the pain he goes through while he keeps trying to remember… This book is extremely exciting and lots of suspense as you don’t know what happens next.
My Chosen Topic: Theme. I chose this topic because this book has a really exciting theme, and about mythical creatures such as Dragons. It’s also very interesting because it is based upon the film, How to Train your Dragon, so therefore it has lots of features that resent to the film.

book covers

Vinayak V. Aged 12

James Patterson. Ali Cross
Rated: 5/5
I think that this is a good read because it is about a child who is about 12 years old who is going through a rough patch. One of his friends are missing and his Dad who is a detective has a trial coming up because he’s been accused of Police Brutality. Since his dad can’t do the detective work, Ali decides to do some detective work himself, which leads him into some hot water. One time when he and his friends are playing ‘Outpost’ they think they’ve found a lead to the find Gabriel Qualls (the missing child)…

James Patterson. How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli and Snake Hill Rated: 4/5
This is a good read because it is all about a child who’s been sent to a Summer School Camp because he is behind at school and is bullied. Rafe is all for breaking rules, his thinking is that rules are made to be broken! But this lands him in a lot of trouble which sends him to a Summer School camp. Rafe lands himself in the ‘runt’ group which everyone bullies. Rafe was confused why no one stood up for themselves which is why he gets in even MORE trouble.

Anthony Horowitz. Alex Rider: Scorpia Rising
Rated: 5/5
I really liked this book because it is one of the books in the Alex Rider series and all of the books about Scorpia are really interesting. Alex doesn’t want to be used by MI6 but MI6 always find a way to convince him to take part in a mission. Alex has to stop the Elgin Marbles from being returned to Greece where Greek billionaire Yannis Ariston Xenopolos thinks they belong. Alex thinks that Scorpia ordered a sniper rifle to shoot at his school so that Alex wouldn’t interfere as he had multiple times before. He has to uncover what happens all on his own with only a few gadgets to help him…

James Patterson. Unbelievably Boring Bart
Rated: 3/5
This book is very interesting but takes a while to start up the actual storyline. It just explains how boring he is and how annoying the people at his school are, and that he has a secret plan for a decent amount of the book. Once you reach the middle or so, it explains his plan which is pretty cool. I recommend this book to kids who like video games and do not get too bored with books. I would put “great role models”, but Bart thinks too low of himself, saying he is “boring” and other things.

Jo Simmons.  I Swapped My Brother on the Internet
Rated: 4/5
This was a great book (especially because sometimes I feel like I want to swap my brother on the internet) as it showed that sometimes your family is the best even if sometimes you don’t like them. This book reveals many parts of sibling friendship and a strong bond between Jonny and Ted. They brought me to laughter many times. I really liked the part with King Henry the VIIIth’s ghost.

book covers

Regina P. Aged 13

William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet
Rated: 3.5 Stars
I was first introduced to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet during my English classes. The mesmerising writing of the play almost made me hate it. The love story seemed completely unrelatable and, because I struggled so much with the writing, I missed some of the clever, but subtle, written works. I honestly really wasn’t much of a fan of this play when I first read it. I thought that the story was basic, a little dull, and really overdramatic.

Martyn Bedford. Flip
Rated: 4 Stars
Flip by Martyn Bedford is an amazing book. The plot is thrilling and the characters are superb. I absolutely adored this book although I think it would be infinitely improved by being written in the first person as it makes the story harder to grasp and understand and a few more reads. However, despite that, I still find it a must-read for anyone who enjoys fantasy, sci-fi or generally good books!

Chris Priestly. Anything That Isn’t This
Rated: 5 Stars
I really loved the style, the setting and atmosphere and above all the young couple striving to find something worthwhile in a dull grey world. A little bit dystopian, a little bit love story, Anything That Isn’t This captures the confusion of teenage feelings the world over, is about challenging the normality and searching for hope in a dull grey world.

David Levithan. How They Met, and Other Stories
Rated: 2 Stars
18 stories about all kinds of love. From the aching for the one you desire for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness. When I picked up this book, I wasn’t expected it to be about gay relationships (there are some straight stories though), but I felt like I shouldn’t put it down. Reading the story’s, I usually had to wait until a page in to figure out if the narrator was a boy or a girl, which made me realize how love is love and a crush is a crush no matter your preference. While there were some parts in the book where I cringed, there were others where I laughed.

Yomi Adegoke, Elizabeth Uviebinene.  Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible
Rated: 3.5 Stars
The book does a great job of taking the reader through a range of milestones in a Black British female’s (my demographic) life. From the shared experience of having immigrant parents, being overlooked in high school etc. However, none of the information I read was new. For the first few pages, it was great to see my experience’s so clearly reflected on the page but that got old very quickly. It was pages and pages, anecdote after anecdote and chapter after chapter. But after a while, it just became depressing. It felt like reading an article.

Angie Thomas. The Hate U Give
Rated 5 Stars

This book has made me feel every single possible emotion at the same time. It was truly incredible and I have SO MUCH to say about it. In all honesty, the book has made me realize just how simply clueless I was as to the continuing day-to-day actuality of systemic racism in America. Khalil’s story is one I will never forget, just like I won’t forget all the real stories this book has opened my eyes to.

Become a Member

Families benefit from access to our advice line, our electronic resources and our Focus newsletter.

Schools benefit from access to our advice line, online resources and the High Learning Potential Best Practice Award.

Chat with us
Chat with us
Questions, doubts, issues? We're here to help you!
Our chat is open Mon 8-10pm, Wed 9.30am-12pm, Thu 9.30am-12pm & 8-10pm and Fri 9.30am-12pm during term time.
Our operators are busy. Please try again later
Have you got question? Write to us!
This chat session has ended
Was this conversation useful? Vote this chat session.
Good Bad