It’s review time for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021! 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 for sharing some great reviews and suggestions of titles for others to read.  For more titles why not see reviews from previous years in our blogs Summer Reading Challenge 2020  Summer Reading Challenge 2019Summer Reading Challenge 2018 and Summer Reading Challenge 2017.

5 book covers

Robert. Aged 5

Guy Bass. Spynosaur
Rated: 3/5 Stars
Spynosaur is a dinosaur spy. He has to save the world from the baddies with help from Amber. There were Ninja Snowmen in it! I found it a bit tricky to read as it has comic writing bits in it and some words I didn’t know. I liked reading it because it was about a dinosaur, but I didn’t like the main baddie as he called people “stupid” and that is not nice. I would recommend it for people who are ok with words that aren’t nice.

Nick Sharratt. The Cat and the King
Rated: 2.5/5 Stars
A dragon takes down the castle and the king has to go and live in a house with the cat. Funny things happen as he isn’t used to living in a house. It was quite a big book for me to read and I had to work out where on the page to go next as there were quite a few pictures. I would recommend it as it is quite funny.

Jill Tomlinson. The Owl who is Afraid of the Dark (Unabridged)
Rated: 4/5 Stars
It is about a little owl who didn’t like the dark with Knackety Knees and he liked the dark in the end. When I read the book, I tried to put a different voice on for each character and how they would say it. I would of course recommend this to someone because it is funny and I want to read it again soon.

Steve Cole. Astrosaurs – Riddle of the Raptors
Rated: 5/5 Stars
It is about dinosaurs in space and raptors with ransom demands. Captain Teggs has to save the day, but can he? It does not have an even number of pages. It was a bit scary but I liked scary sometimes. It is also funny, Teggs started eating the side of his spaceship! If you like scary books I would recommend this.

Ali Pye. The Adventures of Harry Stevenson
Rated: 5/5 Stars
There is a guinea pig called Harry Stevenson who gets up to mischief, but he comes back in a pizza box! It is a very big book and took me quite a while to read it but it was definitely worth the effort if you like reading of course! If you like a funny story from an animal this is for you!

5 book covers

Evie T. Aged 5

Julia Donaldson. Poems to Perform
Rated: 5/5 Stars
It has quite a lot of funny poems

Enid Blyton. Naughty Amelia Jane
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Amelia Jane is just too naughty for the other toys to play with!

Enid Blyton. Twelve Silver Cups
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Jeffery is a splendid runner and he’s got twelve silver cups at home!

Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet. Keith the Cat with a Magic Hat
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Keith the cat is very funny because the ice cream plops on Keith the cat’s head, after that he doesn’t know it’s an ice cream, he thinks It’s a magic hat!

Stan and Jan Berenstein. The Bear Scouts
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Dad says he know everything but it ends like dad was reading the guide book.

5 book covers

Bethany R. Aged 6

David Walliams. Slime
Rated: 5/5 Stars
My rating of Slime is 5 stars because it is funny and describes the characters well. Slime is about a boy who accidentally makes a slime blob but it turns out to be ok. One thing I like is that the book teaches you that it is fine to make mistakes. The challenge for me was looking up new words and what they meant as there were lots of words to describe slime that were new for me.

David Baddiel . Future Friend
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Future friend is about two very different children who meet and become best friends. One of them comes from the future and the other comes from the present. The book taught me that even if you are different it does not mean you cannot be friends. It was challenging for me to read the number codes that were used for the names in this book. I enjoyed the book because I was excited to discover what would be on the other side of the time portal. I would recommend the book to people who want to find out what it’s like to live in the future.

Cressida Cowell. How to Train a Dragon 1
Rated: 5/5 Stars
The book is about Vikings that catch Dragons and there is someone called Hiccup who catches a tiny Dragon which he names Toothless. The book is about Hiccup and Toothless going on big adventures. The challenge for me was to try and keep reading even though there was danger. I would rate this book 5 stars. I would recommend the book to people who like dragons.

David Baddiel. Head Kid
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Head Kid is about a headmaster and little boy who swap heads. Funny things happen as the headteacher with the boy’s head starts making up new rules. My favourite part was when the two schools had an argument  about whose school was the best. The challenge for me was that it was a long book. I would rate the book 5 stars and recommend it to children who like exciting stories.

Daisy Meadows. Unicorn Magic, Quickhoof and the Golden Cup
Rated: 5/5 Stars
In unicorn magic two children go an adventure to a magical land to get a special keyring back. With this book I challenged myself to read it in one day. I think this is a lovely book for people who like unicorns and magical fairy stories.

5 book covers

Danesh B. Aged 7

Katherine Rundell Rooftoppers
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Rooftoppers is about a girl who is lost and looking for her mother. It is set mainly in Paris, where – at night – she hops from roof to roof looking for her mother on the streets. It is an exciting adventure story with a small number of characters who are very well described.

This book challenged me because it includes some French words, which I have just started to learn at school. It is also one of the longest books I have read independently.

Roald Dahl. George’s Marvellous Medicine
Rated: 5/5 Stars
George’s Marvellous Medicine is about a boy called George who makes a fantastic medicine to kill his grumpy grandmother. He mixes all the resources he can find on his Father’s farm to make the medicine, which he gives to his grandmother – the effects are amazing! I enjoyed George’s Marvellous medicine because of how funny and exciting it is.

This book was a challenge for me because Roald Dahl’s writing includes a lot of onomatopoeia and made-up words.

Ben Ffrancon Davies and Junaid Mubeen (DK). What’s the Point of Maths
Rated: 4/5 Stars
This book is about the history of maths and how it has been used in the real world. It contains many facts and stories about famous mathematicians. I enjoyed it because it is very informative and descriptive, the background story to one of my favourite subjects.

This book challenged me with new mathematical concepts I had not heard of.

DK. Super Simple Physics
Rated: 4.5/5 Stars
Super Simple Physics is a GCSE physics text book with excellent explanations and clear images. I have given it only 4.5/5 because it shows the incorrect set-up for a Liebig condenser, with water being flowed in from the top of the cooling jacket (not the bottom)!

I particularly enjoyed reading the section on electricity, and was challenged by the new equations and theory.

Paul Cookson. The Very Best of Paul Cookson
Rated: 4.75/5 Stars
The book is a collection of poems written by Paul Cookson, who I met at a Potential Plus Zoom course during lock-down in 2020. The poems range from funny to cosy, and all have very good rhythm that makes them great for performing out loud. My favourite poem is “Crazy at the Zoo”.

This collection challenged me because it introduced a lot of new vocabulary and sentence structures that are very different to normal books.

5 book covers

Nico S. Aged 7

Philip Ruskin Krindlekrax
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Ruskin is a child who is small and thin. When the mysterious Krindlekrax threatens Lizard Street, Ruskin is the hero of the day! This book was a challenge for me because it has been sat on my bookshelf for ever and I have never read the full book before. I enjoyed it and I would really recommend it to my friends. I gave it five stars, because it was excellent.

C.S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Susan, Edmund, Lucy and Peter step through a wardrobe into the land of Narnia. The white witch has made it is winter and NOT Christmas, but not for long…!  This book was a challenge for me because it has quite a lot of chapters and there are not many pictures.  Also all the pictures were in grey so I couldn’t understand what the characters were feeling by looking at the pictures (because with colour illustrations if someone is sad, for example, that often has a blue outline and I would understand how they were feeling). I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone. I gave it five stars because it was excellent! This was my favourite of the five books I read.

Enid Blyton. The Twins at St. Clare’s
Rated: 4/5 Stars
Isobel and Patricia O’Sullivan are twins and they go to a new school called Saint Clare’s. Are you ready for double trouble? This was a challenge for me because I have never read any of the books in the series before, it had no pictures in it at all and while it was a thin book it had loads of words because none of the word spaces were taken up by pictures. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to a friend.

Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Robinson Crusoe sales away from home to an island and lives there. I enjoyed this book and I’d recommend it to a friend. It was a challenge for me because it was a very thick book and was written in old-fashioned language.

Rudyard Kipling. The Jungle Book
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Mowgli is a man cub in the forest but a tiger is on the loose! This book was a big challenge to me because it was a short book but it had lots of different stories in. It did surprise me and I would recommend it.

5 book covers

James. Aged 8

Anthony Horowitz. Alex Rider:Stormbreaker
Rated: 4/5 Stars
When teenager Alex Rider is hired by MI6 his mission is very dangerous; his first assignment may well be his last…He has to train with the SAS and overcome the prejudice against him and the rude remarks. Can the villain be stopped before the time runs out and millions of people lose their lives? And why was Ian Rider murdered?

I would recommend it to those who enjoy peril and are okay with shooting, it was exhilarating! It was a challenge for me because it had more peril than I was used to and someone was trying to kill other people and that is not nice.

Hugh Lofting. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Rated: 5/5 Stars
In this groundbreaking novel the Doctor John Dolittle and his new apprentice travel to Spidermonkey island but will they ever get there? Along the way he is faced by danger and new friends. It starts in a village called Puddleby and then they journey south to Spidermonkey island.

I would recommend this book to those who love mystery and magic as it involves the Doctor talking to animals and seeing life from their point of view. It was challenging because the sentences were more descriptive but this made it more interesting.

Tamzin Merchant. The Hatmakers
Rated: 4 and 9/10ths Stars
When the door opens in the evening and Lord Witloof says that Prospero Hatmaker and his crew have been lost at sea will Cordelia ever find her father? It is set mainly in London but during the end moves to the middle of the English Channel. This takes you on a magical adventure involving magical hats and clothing accessories that can do spectacular things. Someone is using the “maker magic” to start a war.

Cordelia gets mixed up in trying to stop the plot whilst trying to find and save her father. And an ancient rivalry between the maker families is threatening to the surface. Can Cordelia save her father and stop the war?

I found it a bit slow to start so had to keep going, but once it did get going the challenge became that I didn’t want to put it down!

M.G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman. The Highland Falcon Thief
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Harrison Becket and Uncle Nat are enjoying a ride on the last trip the Highland Falcon will do when a thief strikes. Can Harrison and his new secret friend find out who is responsible before the end of the journey and the thief escapes justice and an innocent person is blamed? While the other guests are lounging in the rest of the train he scurries in cabinets, climbs out of windows and clings on the train in this action packed adventure. I loved it!

I have never read crime fiction before so I didn’t know if I would like this style. I would recommend this to inquisitive children who want to find out what happens and who was to blame.

Katherine Woodfine. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow
Rated: 5/5 Stars
Welcome to Sinclair’s department store when on the night before the opening some jewels are stolen. Who could be responsible for such a crime? Can Miss Sofie Taylor and Miss Lillian Rose along with their friend porter Billy solve the mystery and bring the robber to justice? Miss Taylor, a shop girl in the millinery department of the store sets out to solve the crime and claim the £100 reward. She desperately needs the money as all her money goes to her lodgings. She teams up with Miss Rose, who models the latest fashions for the store. Their investigations take them to a west end actor’s house, a restaurant called The Marble Court and the theatre. The book is set a while ago so it was a little tricky to start with to imagine what life was like but the author was very good at putting a lot of detail in. It was a fantastic book and I can’t wait to read the next ones in the series.

5 book covers

Xander B. Aged 9

M.G. Leonard. Battle of the Beatles
Rated: 5/5 Stars
This is the third book in the Beetle series. Friends, Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt, join forces with Novak to help each other defeat her mother, the wickedly evil Lucretia Cutter, who is three-quarters beetle and one-quarter human. Inside her secret laboratory – the Biome – deep in the Amazon Rainforest, Lucretia has built a Pupator to enable her to mix beetle DNA with human DNA. Aided by Motty, an old friend of Darkus’ uncle, the children fly to the Amazon Rain Forest to rescue Darkus’ dad and stop Lucretia, who is planning to starve the world with her crop destroying beetles. This is a great adventure story with a lot of scientific detail about entomology. I recommend reading Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen first otherwise the story will not make sense.

Arthur Ransome. Swallows and Amazons
Rated: 5/5 Stars
One Summer’s day, four children board their small boat, the Swallow – laden with supplies – and waving goodbye to their Mother, set sail for Wild Cat Island. John, Susan, Titty and Roger are planning to live on the island during their summer break, only returning to the mainland when they need more supplies. They set up camp and begin their quest. One day returning from a fishing trip they spot another boat, the Amazon, belonging to the Blackett sisters, Nancy and Peggy. The two groups agree to a challenge to capture each other’s boat. Battle tactics are decided and so a magnificent summer adventure begins as the Swallows and Amazons fight, play, work, and band together as they try to outwit each other to victory. This is a perfect book to read on your summer holiday and be lost in your imagination.

Ben Brookes. Stories for Boys who Dare to be Different
Rated: 5/5 Stars (10 out of 5 really)
This is a really inspirational book about ordinary boys and men who achieved extraordinary things. One of the things that I liked about this book is that it shows that anything is possible if you really set your mind to it and try hard enough. I enjoyed reading about an Inuit called ‘Uyaquq’ (1860 -1924) from the Yup’ik tribe, who in five years, created a language all by himself, so that his people could write their own stories. Boyan Slat invented an ocean cleaner that collects plastic when he was sixteen, because he wanted to help get rid of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of America! There are 103 really inspirational stories, some of the people are really famous like Barack Obama – the first African American President of the United States – and the actor Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter – but many are not, and I liked reading their stories and then researching more about them on the internet.

Trenton Lee Stewart. The Mysterious Benedict Society
Rated: 5/5 Stars
An amazing story about four really bright children: Reynard Muldoon, George Washington, Kate Weatherall and Constance Contraire, who each have an extraordinary talent. They are handpicked by Nicholas Benedict and his two adopted daughters to take an entrance test to attend The Boatwright Academy. However, the are not really going to the academy, because the test is just a ruse to test the character of the children. Turns out, Mr Benedict chose them because they have empathy and he wants the children to undertake a secret mission at LIVE – The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. The Mysterious Benedict Society is actually named by Constance, who is a two year old super genius! Full of mystery, adventure, daring and suspense, this book is a real page turner that keeps you on your toes until the last page. The follow on books in this series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey and The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Prisoner’s Dilemma, are also just as good.

Frank Cottrell Boyce. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
Rated: 5/5 Stars (12 out of 5 really)
This is a story about an ordinary family, Jeremy, Lucy, Little Harry (who is always right) and Mum and Dad Tooting. Dad has lost his job, so starts renovating everything in the house driving everyone crazy. Mum buys him an old camper van to fix up instead. Jeremy helps his dad to install an old engine that they found, but they need spark plugs and as the family head off to the scrapyard, strange things start to happen. The camper van begins to take on a mind of its own and takes the Tooting’s on a spectacular journey in search of more parts. Before long the family realise that there is nothing ordinary about their campervan, it is actually a Paragon Panther in disguise and they are flying over the English Channel. Soon they are famous, which is when a sinister character known as Nanny appears and wants to give them a good time on her fantastical island. But all is not as it seems. This is an awesome story that I could not put down. I also carried on reading the two follow up books as well which are Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Race against Time and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon, which are just as awesome! After all, who wouldn’t want to go time travelling back to the age of dinosaurs or walk around the moon?