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. Thanks to everyone for taking part. We have some great reviews and suggested books to read – and I love it that some of our members started to use fractions on the ratings because they wanted to show which book just topped the others – but that they were all great books!

For more titles from previous years see

Summer Reading Challenge 2021
Summer Reading Challenge 2020
Summer Reading Challenge 2019
Summer Reading Challenge 2018
Summer Reading Challenge 2017

Covers of books being reviews Summer Challenge 2022

Robert C. Aged 6

Shane Hegarty. Boot, Small Robot, Big Adventure
Rated:  5/5 stars
It is about a robot called Boot and he is trying to find his owner called Beth. He was going to be scrapped and is now lost in the city! He has found a funfair and a friend called Tag who is going to help him find Beth. Tag goes out each night in the city so he knows every place in the city. There are sad bits in it and some thoughtful bits, it is a mixture but it is very funny as he calls himself silly names as he has word problems, “I am ..Ploppy.. Unicorns” “I mean Buckets! Oh my words are very pyjamas” !

It is quite a big book so there is a lot to get through but I never want to stop reading when I pick it up. If you like robots you might like Boot, Small Robot, Big Adventure!

Andrew Matthews. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Shakespeare Tale
Rated:  4 ⅗/5 stars
It begins in Athens and love never goes how people would expect it to go.  Helena loves Demetrius but Demetrius doesn’t love Helena. Hermia and Lysander are in love with each other. Oberon King of the fairies and Puck an elf, get involved. Puck tries to go to the queen of the fairies Titania but gets confused and goes to Hermia and Lysander. Puck puts the juice of a special flower in Lysander’s eyes which makes him love the first thing he sees.  The first thing he sees is Helena! The story is about how it is sorted out with funny things happening.

When I was doing the review I found it very hard to put the story into words.  I really like it because everything turned out how everyone wanted it to be in the end. I didn’t like the start as Demetrius was in a grump with Helena.  For people who like donkeys, Bottom’s face turns into a donkey!

Rob Lloyd Jones. Usborne – See Inside Ancient Greece
Rated:  4 ¾/5 stars (Myths and Legends page is 5 stars!)
It tells you about what people believed in Ancient Greece. The Minotaur is a legend of Greece and the island of Crete.  It shows you what a great temple would look like and what happened in the Greek Olympic games.  The first page shows you where the myths came from.

There is a lot of information to go through for quite a small book. I really liked learning what the Greeks believed happened.  If you are interested in the Ancient Greeks, you might like looking at the myths and legends page and you might want to look through to see how the Greeks fought.

Steve Cole. Astrosaur – The Space Ghosts
Rated 4¾ /5 stars
It is the 6th story in the series, the Astrosaurs are on a planet called Creepus and are trying to find out why at night ghosts come out all over the planet. Tegs (captain of the DSS Sauropod) goes out into a cave which they call D4. What Tegs does is goes deep into the cave and he hears a roar which startles him and he falls down into a tunnel with cubes of red light nicknamed the cursed treasure!

It was a bit scary at some points in it as it creeps you out in some bits and I was reading it at bedtime to myself!  For those who are interested in dinosaurs, you don’t have to have read all the other books, you can just jump in!

Rex Stone. Dinosaur Cove – Catching of the Speedy Thief (book 5)
Rated: Definitely 5 stars
I have challenged myself to read all 24 Dinosaur Cove books and so far I am at number 18. This one is the best so far. You can read them out of order or just one of them. In the book the main characters are Tom and Jamie and they have found a smugglers cave in Dinosaur Cove and if they go into a certain passage they find 5 pairs of Wanasaurs footprints. If they step in each single one of them in order they will be magically teleported into a world of living dinosaurs!  Tom and Jamie’s friend Wanna (a dinosaur) follows them around the place keeping them company, eating stinky Ginko fruit and banging his head on tree trunks! A velociraptor steals their Fossil Finder and runs off with it to its den. Tom, Jamie and Wanna try to chase the velociraptor back to its den to get the Fossil Finder, then they have to try and get back again and they are already out of breath.

This book has my favourite dinosaur in and is good for those who like fast things and velociraptors.

Covers of books being reviews Summer Challenge 2022

Alice W. Aged 7

J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Rated: 5/5 stars
The title of the book I read is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The main character is Harry and he is the most popular student in his school. I liked the book because it is funny and magical but you never know what will happen next. My favourite part is when Harry turns Aunt Marge into a huge balloon. The story is set in Hogwarts castle. Lord Voldemort (you know who) follower Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban (wizard prison) and he’s on the run. Sirius is trying to kill Harry (the boy who lived). Can Harry kill Sirius before he kills Harry? I would recommend this book to 9-45 year-olds. It took me ages to read it!

Daisy Meadows. Yasmin the Night Owl Fairy
Rated: 5/5 stars
The title of the book I’ve read is Yasmin the Night Owl Fairy. The main character is Yasmin the small fairy. The story takes place in Forest Camp. When Yasmin has lost her bag, everyone’s sleep gets muddled up. Do you think Rachel and Kirsty can get the magic bag of sleep dust back from the Goblins? My favourite part is when Kirsty has an idea to get the bag of magic sleep dust back from the mean Goblins. I’d recommend this book to 5-10 year-olds. I loved the book.

Jill Murphy. The Worst Witch Strikes Again
Rated: 5/5 stars
The title of the book I’ve been reading is the Worst Witch Strikes Again. The author of the book is Jill Murphy. The main character is Mildred Hubble. When Enid Night-Shade starts Mildred’s high school, Enid gets Mildred into a heap of trouble. Do you think Mildred will make to the end of the year without being expelled? The story is set in Miss Cackles’ school for witches. I’d recommend this book to 6-15 year-olds. The book was great.

Roald Dahl. Esio Trot
Rated: 4/5 stars
The book that I’ve been reading is called Esio Trot. The author is Roald Dahl. The main character is Mr Hoppy. The story is set in Mr Hoppy’s flat. My favourite part is the end, but it’s a surprise so I can’t tell you! It’s a short book but a little hard to read. The gist of the story is that Mr Hoppy is trying to steal Mrs Silver’s heart. I would recommend Esio Trot to 6-13 year olds. I enjoyed it.

Hannah Shaw. Unipiggle Witch Emergency
Rated 5/5 stars
The title of the book I’ve been reading is called Unipiggle. The main character is Unipiggle, who is a pig with a rainbow horn. I like Unipiggle because it’s a magical story with a big pig (who is a royal pig). The story takes place in a faraway land, in Twinkle Town Palace. When Unipiggle and Princess Pea find a magical spell book in Twinkle Town library, a young witch called Tahula Twist takes the book, so they’re in big trouble as the book is in the wrong hands! What will Unipiggle and Princess Pea do? I would recommend this book to children who are 8-10 years old because it’s quite a tricky book to read. I would give it 10 stars out of 10!

book covers from children's reviews

Mimi-Mirai. Aged 7

Hannah Gold. The Last Bear
Dear Hannah Gold, I am writing a short note about The Last Bear which I have recently read. Your use of vocabulary is provoking!  I love it when April takes Bear to Svalbard because she shows kindness and bravery. I love that Bear likes peanut butter! Do you write books for adults as well as children?

I will recommend this book because it shows that kindness and determination can go a long way to save the planet.

Emily Critchley. The Bear Who Sailed the Ocean on an Iceberg
This book evoked a mixture of feelings – happy and sad ones. The story is about a polar bear, a boy and friendship. Patrick finds a polar bear in his garage. It’s about fights and friendships in school and how, with his neighbour, Patrick takes Monty the polar bear to his new home.

This is a fabulous read and you can’t put it down. I loved this book because it has adventure and hilarious illustrations. I’d recommend it to all ages.

Gill Lewis. Willow Wildthing and the Swamp Monster
First in the series of the Willow Wildthing books. Based in the city and “The Wilderness”
Favourite quoteIt wasn’t so much that Willow had chosen Sniff but that Sniff had chosen Willow
This book is about Sniff the dog and Willow.  Fox, Raven, Mouse, Hare and Bear who are children known as “the Wildthings” steal Sniff, Willow’s one-eyed wonky-toothed dog, from the rescue centre. Although he is different to the other dogs he has a brave heart. Willow follows them, trudging through the thick thorns and brambles to the edge of “the Wilderness” where she stumbles down a slope…

This book was a page turner – you have to read it!

Gill Lewis. Willow Wildthing and the Dragon’s Egg
Second in the series of the Willow Wildthing books. Based in the city, The Wilderness and the Forest of Forever Night
In the Dragons Egg, things are mysteriously going missing, so the Wildthings set out to investigate and find the culprit. To set the trap, they put some biscuits on a log and hide so the thief cannot see them. However, the thief quickly pilfers the biscuits and scampers off, so the Wildthings go to the Forest of Forever Night…

I loved the book because it was full of mystery. You can never put it down!

Covers of books being reviews Summer Challenge 2022

Danesh B. Aged 8

David Macauly. The New Way Things Work
Rated: 5/5 stars
This book is about how things work, covering everything from the internal combustion engine to television remote controls and CD players. Even though it is called “The New Way Things Work”, it was published in 1998 and is therefore amusingly out of date (for example, audio tape recorders and VHS players!). I found it an enjoyable read because it was surprising to discover how some everyday objects work, and the pictures are sometimes humorous. The illustrations are mostly very clear, but I found some of the technical vocabulary challenging.

Jo Simmons. I Swapped My Brother On The Internet
Rated: 4.5/5 stars
This book is about a boy called Johnny whose brother Ted teases him all the time. One day Johnny saw an advertisement on the internet for a “sibling swap” website, so he exchanged Ted for different “brothers” (for example, a child raised by meerkats and the ghost of King Henry VIII). I particularly enjoyed the book because it is very humorous, and the characters and events are described very vividly. This is one of the funniest fiction books I have read for a long time!

Mike McGrath. Python In Easy Steps
Rated: 4/5 stars
The ‘In Easy Steps’ series of books covers a wide range of computing topics; this particular volume concerns the programming language Python. It covers from the very basics of Python through to advanced level coding, such as object-oriented programming. I find the book very easy to understand because it is in full colour, has clear explanations, and is well laid out. Helpfully, it also has end of section summaries and online resources to help with coding. I can recommend this book if you want to start learning to code!

Martin Jenkins. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver
Rated: 5/5 stars
Martin Jenkins’s retelling of Swift’s classic tale, Gulliver’s Travels, makes it easily accessible to the modern reader. It also contains beautiful and very interesting illustrations that really bring the story to life. I really enjoyed the story, which is about Lemuel Gulliver and his voyages in strange but entertaining lands. I found some of the vocabulary challenging to understand, but I could not stop reading it!

Onjali Q Rauf. The Boy at the Back of the Class
Rated: 5/5 stars
Rauf’s award-winning novel is written from the viewpoint of a nine-year-old girl called Alexa. One day a Syrian refugee joins Alexa’s class. Although Alexa is wary of Ahmet, she is kind and welcoming, and they eventually become good friends. As Alexa and her friends learn Ahmet’s story, they are full of empathy and support him as he adjusts to life in the UK. I really enjoyed the fact that the story is written in the first person, which was very different to the other books I have read: by simplifying the story, I was able to understand what life might be like as a refugee in a foreign country.

Covers of books being reviews Summer Challenge 2022

Nico S. Aged 8

Louise Fitzhugh. Harriet the Spy
Rated: 5/5 stars
Why was this book a challenge?: It was a book that was picked for me and wouldn’t have been a book that I would have chosen myself.  I find that challenging because I didn’t know I was ever going to read that book.
Review: This book is about three friends in the same school.  One of them has a notepad and writes down notes about people in her class. Her name is Harriet.  I really loved it especially a bit in it when a teacher chose people to be different vegetables in a play.
Would you recommend it to others?: Yes, because it is quite funny and there are loads of different characters with lots of different characteristics, like there is a doctor with a bright smile and wonky teeth and he likes to play board games with other people.
Age: 7-11

E.L. Konigsburg. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
Rated: 4/5 stars
Why was it a challenge?: It was a book that was picked for me and not one I decided to read.
Review: This book is about two young siblings running away from home to New York.  One of them likes to play cards and the other one is very observant.  They end up living in a museum and they find an angel statue and try to find out who it is by.  I liked this book because there was somebody who just saved up all his money and bought something really good at the end and I would recommend it for ages 7-13.

Russell Freedman. Lafayette and the American Revolution
Rated: 3/5 stars
Why was it a challenge?: It was a challenge because I don’t like non-fiction books as much as I like fiction books.
Review: It is a biography about le Marquis de Lafayette and him fighting in the American revolution.  It has pictures that are by all different artists. I didn’t like it as much as I liked the other books but I quite liked the pictures. I especially liked the bit where it said that Lafayette met Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens because I have watched Hamilton the musical, which is about them.
Would you recommend it to others?: I would recommend it to others because people would enjoy learning about the American Revolution.
Age: 9-14

Ingri D’Aulaire. D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths
Rated: 4/5 stars
Why was it a challenge?: It was a challenge because I don’t recognise the names as much as I recognise the names in Greek and Roman mythology.
Review: It is a book of different stories about Norse gods and I liked it because all of the gods are fascinating and I especially like Loki because he is cheeky like me.
Would you recommend it to others?: I would recommend it to others especially fans of Percy Jackson and Beast Quest because it has lots of monsters in it.
Age: 9-13

L. Frank Baum. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Rated: 5/5 stars
Why is it a challenge?: It was a challenge because it was quite a long book with not as many pictures as the other four books and I like pictures.
Review: It is a book about a girl and her dog who meet faithful companions on a journey to the Emerald City in the land of Oz to ask the Wizard of Oz to get them back home.
Would you recommend it to others?: Yes, especially the version by MinaLima with interactive elements and for people who have watched Wicked the musical.
Age: 7-14

Covers of books being reviews Summer Challenge 2022

James C. Aged 9

Robert Lawson. Ben and Me
Rated: 4.5/5 stars
It’s about Benjamin Franklin from the point of view of his pet mouse Amos. In it he tells the life story of Benjamin Franklin from a completely different perspective to what we think of him. Benjamin makes a deal with Amos who helps him with many of his crazy inventions, but Amos has a great fear of electricity. Amos gets cross at the experiments with electricity because he does not like being electrocuted and having a spine tingling sensation through his entire body. Amos refused to go out in a storm, so when Amos went to sleep, sneakily Ben took advantage of this and used him in an experiment that Amos did not want to take part in. Amos felt intense rage at this and decided to go on strike (it only lasted for a day!).
Challenge: It was challenging because it is written from the perspective of a mouse and I didn’t know much about Benjamin Franklin before reading this. I enjoyed that it was written from a different perspective than I am used to and it was humorous.

Walter Farley. The Black Stallion
Rated: 4/5 stars
Alec is on his way back home in the USA from his trip to India on a ship. At Arabia, a magnificent wild black stallion gets loaded onto the ship. Alec feels pity for the stallion because the ship’s crew whip him in an attempt to keep him under control. Each evening Alec leaves a lump of sugar for the stallion and every morning it is gone. Then one rough and stormy night the ship hits a rock and gets torn apart and starts to sink. Without thinking Alec lets the stallion out of its stall and clings to the halter it is wearing. The stallion swims to the safety of an island saving Alec’s life. Over time, on the island, Alec and The Black (as Alec refers to the stallion) develop a strange understanding between them. Will they get back to the USA? You will need to read it to find out!
Challenge: It was a challenge to read because it was extremely perilous at times. I really enjoyed the special relationship between Alec and The Black.

L.M. Boston. The Children of Green Knowe
Rated: 5/5 stars
Toseland (Tolly) is going to stay at his great grandmother’s (Granny Oldknow) house for the Christmas Holidays for the first time instead of spending it at his boarding school like has always done in the past. Granny spends their time together telling Tolly stories about their ancestors and the more Tolly gets to know about them the more strange things that happen around the place. He walks around the gardens and hears voices, there is a tree that moves, and a horse whinnies from an empty stable. What possibly could his grandmother be hiding?
Challenge: The book was written a very long time ago and the story is even further back than that. The language used was different to previous books I’ve read, making it tricky in places to read. There are several different characters with similar names which at times caused a bit of confusion. I found the descriptions very vivid so I could imagine myself in these places. The setting was beautifully described and is a place I would love to live in.

Lloyd Alexander. The Book of Three
Rated: 4.25/5 stars
Taran is a lowly assistant pig keeper, he lives in the land of Prydain. There is an evil sorcerer called Arawn who is trying to take over the entire land. He uses the Deathless Cauldron Born Warriors who are fearless, silent slaves to the sorcerer. Taren now faces his biggest threat yet, the evil horned king for whom death is a game and battles are delightful. Will an Assistant Pig Keeper really be able to overcome this? This is the first book in the Prydain series.
Challenge: From the description on the back of the book I would not have chosen to read this but it was part of another reading challenge, so I gave it a go. It had a lot of tension in it and I never knew what had happened to other characters until the end as it brought in the backstories of other characters later in the story. The tension in the story built so much I didn’t want to put it down. This is the first time I’ve been gripped by peril.

Kamill Benco. The Unicorn Quest – Secret in the Stone
Rated: 4.79/5 stars
This book is the second in a series of the story. It is about two sisters called Sophie and Clare who have gone into the magical land of Arden through a secret ladder in a fireplace. In this land there are four different guilds; Tillers, Spinners, Forgers and Gemmers that are very much in disagreement with each other. The magic of the land is weakening due to the hunting of unicorns almost to extinction. Sophie and Clare must find the one remaining unicorn and help it in its quest to bring more unicorns back to the land.
Challenge: I did not know that this book wasn’t a stand-alone until I’d started reading it. I found it difficult to start with to follow the story as I didn’t know what happened previously as it kept referring to past events. The story was so engaging that soon this wasn’t a problem. When I got to the end of the book it turns out that this isn’t the end of the story so I’ve been left on a cliffhanger which I find very challenging as I like to know what’s happened and I haven’t got the next book in the series! I love stories about unicorn’s and magical worlds and this included both of these.