chosen by Class 5 students of Westfield Primary School, Barnes, London
Goodbye Buffalo Sky
John Loveday, Bloomsbury, 0 7475 2329 0, £6.99 pbk
The story is told by two children, a 12-year-old boy called Cappy and his friend Alice, so you have to remember to look at the top of each chapter to see who’s talking. It takes place in a settlement called Buffalo Sky in the American West in cowboy times. Cappy makes friends with an artist, Burkhart, and his Red Indian wife, Two Songs. Burkhart gets killed by a Sioux called Long Shadow and then the settlers make her leave Buffalo Sky because they are frightened of what Long Shadow might do to them. Alice and Cappy go with her and on the journey lots of exciting things happen to them.
Although the writer doesn’t use a lot of description, you can picture it in your head. It is easy to read because it has quite short sentences and chapters but that does not mean it is childish. It takes a while to get in to the real story but when you’re in it, it is excellent. There are some bloodthirsty bits in it as quite a lot of people get killed. I would recommend it to 11-year-olds upwards.
No Turning Back
Beverley Naidoo, Viking, 0 670 85996 6, £10.99, Puffin, 0 14 036948 1, £4.99 pbk
This hard hitting book is about Sipho, a young black South African boy who runs away from his abusive stepfather to live on the streets in Johannesburg. He joins a gang of ‘malunde’ where he finds friendship but also has to face up to the tough parts of life, like crime and glue-sniffing. Mr Danny, a shopkeeper, takes him to live with his family and work for him but he doesn’t get on with Mr Danny’s son and when he is falsely accused of stealing he runs back to the streets.
The book is based on true stories and it really hits you. It makes you realise how lucky you are, especially when you’re reading it at night tucked up in bed because the cold and misery of life on the streets is described so well. No Turning Back is intended for teenagers but younger children who can cope with quite a difficult read will enjoy it. I normally read ‘just for fun’ books but this one is more serious and I found it stayed with me when I’d finished it.
Thanks to Dinah Hall, parent governor, and Kate Massey, class teacher, of Westfield Primary School.
If your students would like to review their ‘good reads’, apply to the Editor of BfK.