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All reviews tagged with Barrington Stoke

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Aidan Abet Teacher’s Pet

Guy Bass, an award-winning author known for his series Stitch Head and Atomic!, is back with another hilarious and peculiar story where a very unpopular teacher’s pet takes on more than he can chew with the arrival of a new teacher. ‘Aidan Abet, teacher’s pet! Peed his pants and now they’re wet!’ These are the…

Billy Button, Telegram Boy

It can be difficult for today’s tech-savvy children to imagine a world without smartphones, let alone a time before any telephones or computers. Sally Nicholl’s book does a good job of explaining how telegrams work to a young, modern audience. I’ll admit that reading the story prompted a half hour on YouTube investigating telegraph systems…

Bloodline

Part of Barrington Stoke’s ‘Dyslexia Friendly’ series of books for teenagers, Bloodline tells the story of Finbarr, who is enduring a normal Saturday with his father, his granddad and ‘Grag’, his great-grandfather. As they eat chips and watch TV in silence, a girl bursts into the house. She has stolen cash and decides to hold them hostages…

Brock

In this old fashioned narrative, Nicholas (Nicky) has a brother Kenny depicted in the text as ‘simple’ and with ‘learning difficulties.’ Nicky is Mister Goodguy and has to be. Their Dad (not exactly a bad guy) is on parole for possession of stolen goods. A shedful of stolen goods actually: all prime DVDs. If the…

Cherry Green Story Queen

Have you ever felt like you were part of the wrong story? That’s exactly what it’s like for Mia, Billy, Juno and Kyle (who is a different story altogether). Stuck in a foster home, they all long for a different story to their lives… and they know they’ll just have to live with what they’ve…

Chocolate Moon

I am a big fan of Barrington Stoke Publishers. They are unique among publishers for children, specialising in books for reluctant and underconfident readers. They have a panel of young readers who comment on the manuscripts prior to being carefully edited to suit the required reading age level (in this case 8+). This is a…

Crow Girl

Lily is a loner. Bullied by the Parkway Girls at school, Lily’s only consolation in life comes from the sweets she consumes. One day she stops at the Wakeless Woods on her way home and is transfixed by the crows that congregate around her. Lily feels pulled to the crows, and begins to visit them…

Crow Girl Rises

Barrington Stoke is a publishing company that famously caters for young people who have problems such as dyslexia; the books are designed in a way that makes them easier to read with cream pages and clear spaced out font. Crow Girl Rises tells the story of a girl, Lily, who is being bullied in school. After…

Falling

Cat Clarke’s young adult fiction never shies away from exploring just how nasty teenagers can be to one another, and how sometimes it really is too late to do the right thing. Falling is a short read from Barrington Stoke, particularly targeted towards dyslexic and reluctant readers, but it is every bit as edgy and intense as…

Firebird

Firebird, by Elizabeth Wein, is an excellent crossover book for children looking to sink their teeth into something a little more involved than what they might be used to. Those with a knack for history are sure to find plenty to love about this gripping World War II novel. Nastia is a prodigy fighter pilot…

Ghosting

This is a genuinely scary story for young adults and reading it on Halloween night certainly added to the frisson for this reviewer! Originally published in 2008, it tells the story of Nat and his sister Sandy who communicate with the dead, carrying out séances to make a living. Generally it is a sham and…

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek is part of Barrington Stoke’s ‘Dyslexia Friendly’ series of books for teenagers. The story is one that would interest teens, while the book is printed on thick cream paper and in a particular layout and font to minimise any interference with reading the words on the page. It is a fast-moving tale of…

In At The Deep End

In At The Deep End, originally published in a different form as In Deep Water in 1993, focuses on Ben, a boy who has agreed to swim the first hundred lengths of a ‘Swimathon’, largely to impress two boys he aspires to be friends with, Jack and Harry. When they don’t show up for their…

Mad Iris

In some ways it is not fair to review these three books together, since each is good in its own right. I applaud Barrington Stoke’s policy of publishing books that are accessible to the less able reader, and I really like how this policy translates into the finished product. The books look, feel and behave…

Mariella Queen of the Skies

Mariella is a talented inventor, the only problem is that something is interrupting her thinking and inventing time… Eoin Colfer has created an engaging and witty story about the bane of every child’s existence – bedtime. Mariella spends most of her time coming up with ideas for ingenious inventions, but it always seem that just…

Mary’s Hair

Mary hates her hair, it’s bushy, big and full of bits! You wouldn’t be surprised to find a nest of swallows on it. Mary wants hair like all the other girls, blonde and straight and tame enough to go into pigtails or plaits. Mary is so fed up of her hair she decides that it’s…

Meet the Weirds

When my seven-year-old devours a trilogy over an hour or so, I know I'm on to a good thing. We've been here before with writer Kaye Umansky, whose creations include Pongwiffy, the polluted witch, and the bumbling Sir Quinton Quest who hunts the Yeti. This time, the theme is a twist on the classic Odd…

Moose Baby

When 17-year-old Jess gets pregnant, she and her boyfriend Nicky prepare for the worst. However, when the baby turns out to be a moose, the young couple are forced to deal with all sorts of unexpected problems! This book not only looks fantastic with its bright green and pink cover, it is brilliantly written and…

My Friend’s a Gris-Kwok

So first to explain the title – what is a Gris-Kwok? A Gris- Kwok has the ability to change into any animal, bird, insect or fish. Now, on to the story. When Mike goes to visit his friend Alex one afternoon and babysit little Polly together, Mike is in for a few big surprises. When your…

On the Edge

Dillon and Robbie’s Dad have not been allowed anywhere near them or their Mum for two yearssince he attacked their Mum. So when he rings up out of the blue telling he would like to take themout, Dillon ought to be suspicious. But Robbie’s not worried and keen to go on an adventure and the…

Pale

Right from the word go, the reader is swept along by the pace and action of Chris Wooding’s latest novel, Pale. I am willing to bet that this is a book that will be devoured at one sitting by even the most reluctant of readers. The Pales are an outcast group, the lepers of the era,…

Partners in Crime

Barrington Stoke specialises in publishing dyslexia-friendly books. To this end they use thick, cream-coloured, low-glare paper which is lovely to touch; grey rather than black print; and have a roomy text layout to minimise visual stress. The font, spacing and editing process are all geared towards making reading a pleasurable experience for dyslexics. The text…

Passing for White

This novel is based on the true story of Ellen and William Craft, as told in their memoir. It is by and large a very faithful account of their journey from slavery into freedom. The reason for the change of names to the fictional Rosa and Benjamin of the novel may possibly be explained by…

Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

When orphan Matthew Henson ran away from his violent stepmother to find a new life in the big city of Baltimore, no one could have predicted that he would become the first man to reach the North Pole. A little luck and a lot of hard work led to a life of adventure on the…

Revolting Records

Have you heard about the sneaky Western Australian Christmas Tree? Do you know where the delectable treat of deep fried Monkey Toes is enjoyed? Have you learnt the rules of Maggot racing? If by chance the answer to any of these questions is “No”, remedy this deficit in knowledge by reading Anne Rooney's Revolting Records. It…

Rose of No Man’s Land

This second time-shift novel featuring plucky Rosie Sands finds her transported to the trenches of WW1, where she meets Nurse Edith Cavell and learns how she aided British soldiers to escape from the Germans. The horrors and hardships of the trenches are effectively recreated and Rosie demonstrates inner strength and resources when needed. She grows…

Star Dragon

In some ways it is not fair to review these three books together, since each is good in its own right. I applaud Barrington Stoke’s policy of publishing books that are accessible to the less able reader, and I really like how this policy translates into the finished product. The books look, feel and behave…

Stars Shall Be Bright

Stars Shall Be Bright is set during the First World War, and tells the tale of three children who are left without their parents. Stuck living with the selfish, pious Mrs. Carter after their mother’s death, James, Belle and William are forced to go on the run to find their father. The book follows the…

Sterling and the Canary

Sterling Thaxton was the best-looking boy in the school – popular, sporty and with no shortage of admirers. However, he has a problem. He has fallen madly in love with Lizzie Harris, the new girl in the class but she is impervious to his advances. She sets him tasks that challenge his lack of academic…

The Big Fib

Robbie lives in a tiny, windy, sunny village by the sea with his mum, dad and Granny Knit. Robbie has been spending some time with his Uncle Poached Egg, who tends to tell tall tales and embellish his stories. These little fibs cause no harm, but what happens when Robbie gets caught up in his…

The Fall

The Fall is a perfect example of how to write for young adults who find reading a challenge while still keeping the story intellectually and thematically engaging.  McGowan refuses to compromise on quality, substance or the emotional challenges that he offers readers – there is no condescension or dumbing down here. The young adult reader is…

The Family Tree

Peet’s emotionally charged book is not one that will be easily forgotten. It is a story of family, specifically the breakdown of young Benjamin’s family. When Benjamin returns to his childhood home and sees the derelict state of his father’s old treehouse, he recounts to us the story of how his parents’ marriage broke down…

The First Third Wish

The First Third Wish is a beautifully-produced book for young readers, which is part of Barrington Stoke’s Little Gems series. It keeps the dyslexic reader in mind as does the entire Little Gems series, and contains dyslexia-friendly features including the use of thick cream paper, which means words and illustrations do not show through the pages,…

The Great Telephone Mix Up

Sally Nicholls’ picturebook is a warm and simple story. Set in a village and based on true events, it exposes the lives of the villagers to the reader and the listener. We learn that they (and we) all live very separate lives today and that we may be losing our community spirit. In the village,…

The Greatest

Persuading many teenage boys to read can be a challenge. Convincing them to read fiction rather than a biography or book packed with facts is often a step too far. The Greatest should attract all lovers of biography and facts but in doing so it may go a long way to proving to these readers…

The Jaws of Death

This short book tells the tale of the recently trained warrior Kwang-Su, who must undertake an almost impossible quest in order to win the hand of Ling-Ling, the girl he loves. The story is pleasingly old-fashioned in its telling and no surprise to find it based on an ancient Chinese myth. In many ways it…

The Last Days of Archie Maxwell

This is the first time I’ve read a book that is printed with a dyslexia-friendly typeface, lots of white space, a bigger font, and black text on a slightly yellow background. I wish more books were printed this way! Annabel Pitcher’s young-adult book handles complex issues deftly and with grace. Archie Maxwell is struggling with…

The Monster From The Blue Planet

Little Zaleb loves nothing more than her grandfather’s stories of faraway planets and the strange monsters that live there. Her favourite is about a beautiful blue planet called Earth. When she receives a small spaceship for her birthday, Zaleb takes off through space, determined to capture her own Earth monster and bring it home for…

The Monster From The Blue Planet

Little Zaleb loves nothing more than her grandfather’s stories of faraway planets and the strange monsters that live there. Her favourite is about a beautiful blue planet called Earth. When she receives a small spaceship for her birthday, Zaleb takes off through space, determined to capture her own Earth monster and bring it home for…

The Moonshine Dragon

Illustrated by Monica Armino, the jade and green cover of The Moonshine Dragon with its embossed purple title instantly attracts attention. The compact size makes it easy for young children to hold and read, especially when travelling. It also has front cover flaps with a ‘spot the difference’ game to add more interest; and the…

The Queen’s Tale

Wicked stepmothers sometimes get a bit of a hard time in fairytales, but in Kaye Umansky’s retelling of Snow White it’s difficult not to have at least a little sympathy for the vain yet charismatic narrator. Sure, she’s a little evil – she mixes poisons in her secret lair, spends all of her husband’s money on shoes,…

The Red Dread

Beware The Red Dread! Anxiety and terror reign in the forest as word spreads about a loud-thumping something that has apparently eaten Rabbit, allegedly devoured Chicken, and seems to be relentlessly pursuing poor Mouse with a thump, thump, THUMP! But is the threat a clear and present danger, or is it just FAKE NEWS? A…

The Tiger on his Back

Barrington Stoke specialise in books suitable for emergent, reluctant and dyslexic readers. Ashley utilises clear, vivid and succinct language to create a coming of age story which is brief and to the point. Though short, the text contains important themes such as self-identity, honesty and independence. When Sofia Drake decides to express her love for…

The Traveller

Sitting around the fire in a weather-beaten inn during a raging storm, an old man tells the tale of the mysterious traveller who sought out information on the cruel and murderous Lord Aleslan, whose castle lay to the West. Aleslan, the traveller was told, ruled over his starving tenants without compassion or pity, and imprisoned…

The Wickford Doom

Like all great ghost stories The Wickford Doom features an array of ominous events and an old legend, and is combined with a crazy old relative with a penchant for black magic and the occult. The story is set in a remote village with a history of rather unnatural and somewhat bone-chilling events during World…

Them

This book is from the already critically acclaimed stable of Barrington Stoke, a publisher dedicated to the production of fiction for ‘reluctant, dyslexic, disenchanted and under-confident readers’. This quote is of course from the website and not the blurb, as this book looks and feels every bit as cool as regular teen reads. The only…

Tudor Rose

Rosie Sands goes to sleep in her own home and wakes up in the royal palace during Tudor times, where she meets Queen Elizabeth 1, all because of a special watch. A great read from this innovative and important publisher which specialises in short books for older children who are reluctant readers, dyslexic or struggling…

Wild Song

Wild Song tells the story of Anna who has grown up on a remote island with her father. She has been sheltered from the world and longs to travel and explore and to meet new people, but her father has given her this impression that the world is a bad place and that it is out…

Wolf

Wolf is a short but perfectly formed piece of fiction that, despite its brevity, packs quite a punch. When Adam develops pains in his fingers, he thinks it’s because he’s been spending too much time playing video games.  When his hands turn to claws he realises that something far more horrifying is happening.  Donbavand takes…

Worry Angels

There have been so many changes in Amy-May’s young life. The family has separated from her wonderful, yet troubled artist Dad; they’ve moved house far from her lovely cottage with a garden and fresh sea air; and now, she is so filled with anxiety, she can’t go to school. It’s just too much for her.…

You Killed Me!

Toby is a normal boy who hates cricket and loves comics, but all that is set to change when Len Grimsby (deceased) appears in his bedroom late one night. It seems that Toby is a murderer – but he knows he didn't shoot Len! So begins a time-travelling adventure featuring ghosts, geeks, and a pretty…

Young Dracula

In some ways it is not fair to review these three books together, since each is good in its own right. I applaud Barrington Stoke’s policy of publishing books that are accessible to the less able reader, and I really like how this policy translates into the finished product. The books look, feel and behave…


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