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All reviews tagged with Irene Barber

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All About Hurling

This is a colourful presentation of the game of hurling. It begins with a brief but very enjoyable history of the game and moves on to outline, in some detail, the pieces of equipment used for playing hurling, before returning to provide a short history of the GAA itself. The book also provides information about…

Amazing World Atlas: Bringing the World to Life

If you are expecting just a volume of maps as the title might suggest, your expectations will be exceeded. The rest of the title gives a more accurate description of what to expect. This is an ambitious and engaging armchair guide to the world. Following on from the introductory section  (planet earth, time zones, climate,…

Barkbelly

Barkbelly is a wooden boy who hatched from an egg shortly after he fell to earth. He was adopted by Gable and Pumpkin Gantry. Barkbelly believed himself to be invulnerable and indestructible so he wasn’t affected by initial attempts of ostracise him. Looking after champion urchins (hedgehogs) proved the ideal job for a wooden boy…

Bobby Charlton and the Mountain

The plot revolves around the necessity to raise funds for a new football kit for Bobby in time for the queen’s visit to his school. Thanks to a resourceful sister, the kit arrives, but not in the way they anticipated. The story is readable for those at a ‘first chapter book’ level. It has an…

Boy Overboard

I read this book feeling nervous all the way through. This nervousness was brought on by two factors. First, Gleitzman puts us on notice that he has never been a refugee and is not from Afganistan so he may have got some things wrong – an honest approach but not one that instils confidence in…

Colour Young Hippo (Series)

‘Brilliant stories, irresistible characters’ goes the blurb. I’m afraid I cannot agree. The books look good: strong covers, colour throughout, text at an appropriate level and size and broken up on the page. Most of the ingredients are there, but for one very important item – a really authentic, engaging story. Reviewing is subjective, merely…

Comic Adventures of Boots

This is a collection of three stories, each told in comic strip form. ‘Operation Fish Biscuit’ recounts Boots the cat’s scheme to acquire sunbathing space on an overcrowded wall. This backfires quite spectacularly. In ‘Pleased to meet you Madam Quark’, Madam Quark the swan, teaches Boots to swim. This speaks volumes for the cat’s charm,…

Comix (Archie’s Amazing Game; Freddy’s Fox; The Goose who Knew too Much; Arf and the Three Dogs)

Described as ‘new paperback treats for children who are reluctant to read’, all four books have brightly illustrated covers and employ the clever device of including captioned mug shots of the main characters on the front cover. And then on the title page a character addresses the reader directly and sets the scene for the…

Dads, Geeks and Blue-Haired Freaks

This is Ellie Phillips’ first young adult novel and she certainly has what it takes. Thanks to the first person narrative, we are immediately drawn into teenager Sadie’s warm, supportive, chaotic Philippine-Jewish family in multi-ethnic Hackney. On her 15th birthday she receives a card from her father. Hardly surprising until we realise that her father…

Dogbird and Other Mixed-up Tales

This is a first ‘chapter’ book – but with three stories in one and 186 pages, it is rather bulkier that the normal fare for this age group. This is only a problem if it intimidates a tentative soul with just an experimental toe in the water, otherwise it’s good value for money. The three…

Don’t Pick on Me

Rosemary Stones is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and editor of Books for Keeps. She has had huge experience in dealing with bullying, but if you are looking for a magic formula to heal the hurt or make the bullying go away you will not find it here. neither will you find much new thinking on the…

Explore!

This is a solid, well researched, differentiated information book. The explorers (24 in all, 3 female) are grouped according to their spheres of exploration: polar, ocean, land, desert, sky and new frontiers (outer space and underwater).They range chronologically from Marco Polo to Ranulph Fiennes. Each explorer is carefully introduced with a snappy summary of their…

Hello, Sailor

Matt, a lighthouse keeper, pines for the return of his dear friend, Sailor. To the neglect of his friends, he keeps vigil for Sailor. ‘I’ll come back for you,’ Sailor had said when he left. ‘Then we’ll sail around the world together, just you and me’. His friends advise him to forget about Sailor but…

Kalpana’s Dream

Neema is a teenage girl living in Australia but of Indian origin. Two challenges present themselves to her. How to write an essay for her English teacher, Ms Dallimore, on the topic ‘Who am I’ and how to communicate with her newly arrived great grandmother, Kalpana. Images of flying abound. Ms Dallimore encourages her students…

Money in Sport

This information books is on of four titles in the series Ethics in Sport. The other three deal with performance enhancement, sportsmanship and sport and society respectively. These are physically robust books about topical and controversial issues. They fulfil all the requirements of the genre: table of contents, topics for discussion, glossary, end notes, bibliography and…

Scuabtha Chun Siúil

This rhyming picturebook reads as if it was originally written in Irish such is the skill and confidence of the translator, Gabriel Rosenstock. In this romp, the witch acquires such a coterie of benefactors that her broomstick collapses under their weight. Disaster looms when Donncha Dragan casts his fiery breath in her direction. Luckily her…

Sir Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: Pets

This is one in a series of eight by actor, comedian, TV presenter and political activist Sir Tony Robinson, who will be best known to many of us as the hapless Baldrick in the BBC’s period British sitcom, Blackadder. Other titles in this series are: the Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, British, Inventions and the two World…

Sport and Society

This information book is the second of four titles in the series Ethics in Sport. The other three deal with performance enhancement, money in sport and sportsmanship, respectively.  These are physically robust books about topical and controversial issues. They fulfil all the requirements of the genre: table of contents, topics for discussion, glossary, end notes,…

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is an extraordinary book. The narrator is a 15-year-old boy, Christopher, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The book opens with the murder of his neighbour’s dog, and Christopher sets himself the task of finding out who killed it. This is a daunting task for someone who knows a great deal about maths but very little…

The Ice Cream Swipe

‘You know that game where you and your best mate walk backwards down the street, and the first one to bump into a lamp post or a traffic warden, or a man with a mad Alsatian or something has lost? It’s brilliant!’ Well that’s Gavin’s idea of fun. Would you put him in charge of…

The Romans: Gods, Emperors and Dormice

‘What have dormice got to do with the Romans?’ you might well ask. Not a whole lot but on the first end page we are greeted by Dormeo Augustus, a gladiator dormouse, who will become our guide to the history of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Dormeo acts as a link between…

The Silver Stag of Bunratty

This adventure story is set in Ireland, in and around Bunratty Castle, in the early part of the 14th century at a time when the castle was held by the Norman de Clare family. Four children from diverse backgrounds find themselves thrown together: Maude and Matthieu are distant relations of Sir Richard de Clare who…

The Sleeping Army

Francesca Simon is well known to us all as the creator of the hugely successful Horrid Henry series. The Sleeping Army is for a slightly older audience and presents a more challenging read. Set in modern London but with a twist: Christianity as a cult died out at the end of the 34th century, AW.(after Woden) and now Anglo-Saxon and…

The Woman Who Won Things

In keeping with Ahlberg’s style, there is life and warmth and humour in this engaging story. There is a lovely balance in the exposition of the plot. Mrs Gaskitt, the woman in the title, accumulates prizes. Over the course of the book she acquires a year’s supply of Crunchy Mice, a houseful of furniture, a…

Tiny

Tiny the flea falls off one dog and waits for another one to come along. That’s it really, not much of a story line, you might think. But in the hands of such a creative illustrator as Korky Paul, this wonderful picturebook buzzes with quirkiness and novelty. Over the course of the narration, the artist…

Undercover Aliens, Oli & Skipjacks Tales of Trouble

Sixth in the Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Trouble! series, this adventure with aliens is an accessible chapter book. The action is fast paced with witty asides and engaging characters. An alien family, the Kuznets, is fleeing their despotic ruler, Zolberg Naphax. Naphax tracks them to Earth, but Oli, Skipjack and their friend, Dr Hamish…

Wilma’s Wicked Spell

I always wondered why the date stamp pages of Umansky books in the school library needed to be replaced so often. Now I know. She tells a great story. Wilma, a trainee witch with attitude, goes on work experience to Great Aunt Angria at the aptly named Starkacre. Angria is the Thirteenth Faerie, the one…

World’s Worst Jobs

This book looks like a cheap stocking filler, with its flimsy paper and small print. It comprises three to six pages of formulaic descriptions of the world’s worst jobs grouped under: dangerous (e.g. powder monkey), disgusting (e.g. gong farmer), poisonous (e.g. hat maker), gory (e.g. executioner) and just plain horrible (e.g. whipping boy). Black and white…

‘Living With’ Series

I strongly recommend this series on a number of counts. As a series of information books they work. Complex information is rendered intelligible. The page layout is uncluttered, the font size is appropriate and the photographs of real people lessen the ‘otherness’ of disability. A table of contents, glossary, further information and an index offer…

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