chosen by Year 6 and 7 students of Lanesborough School, Guildford, Surrey
I am the Cheese
Robert Cormier, HarperCollins, 0 00 671766 7, £3.99 pbk
Firstly, this book has nothing to do with cheese, farms, vegetable fields or anything grown organically. In fact, this is an enigmatic and enthralling thriller.
It is extremely confusing at first and it takes a few chapters to sort everything out. The author builds up suspense wonderfully, with different stories going on at once.
As you read on, the ‘plot thickens’ considerably, and soon things become explained. However there are many loose threads.
Luckily, the imagination is not put to the test, as the scene is set in New England. The little, quiet, stereotypical town is very misleading. But, the story never travels to the far corners of the earth.
The main character, Adam, is extremely paranoid, and this annoyed me at first. However, I did get used to it. The majority of the characters are suspicious, but this adds to the suspense.
There is a shocking and confusing ending, and it took me a number of times to re-read the ending before I worked everything out. Yet it still took me two days before I realised that most of the incidents were connected.
This is a book for people of eleven years and upwards, as younger readers would not appreciate the book, and furthermore, would not be able to work out the ending. It is a classic!
Long Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela, Abacus, 0 349 10653 3, £8.99 pbk
This is undoubtedly the best book I have ever read. If I could give it 100% I would but I can’t, so I will give it 99% because it is nearly perfect.
A moving story of Nelson Mandela and his fight against race discrimination and freedom for blacks in South Africa. It tells about life in Johannesburg, his years in prison on Robben Island, near Cape Town and his release from prison and victory in 1990.
I liked the way he told his story. He was very modest. He always attributed his success to someone else. He used very useful and effective words and he included some African words, which made it more interesting and tense. He does not go rambling on, which is a hard thing to do when you are explaining laws and three-year trials.
I read this in just six days, which shows how much I enjoyed it. My advice is BUY IT!
The Shield Ring
Rosemary Sutcliff, Puffin, 0 14 034969 3, £4.50 pbk
This was the most exciting and interesting book I have ever read. Its length, 224 pages of small print, added to the fact that the language was tricky, to say the least, made it seem rather daunting at first but once I had read the first few pages I became ‘hooked’, reading forty to sixty pages per session! I hadn’t realised that I was reading for about an hour to three hours a day!
One of the things which turns a good book into a bad book is if it has a weak storyline, this one certainly hadn’t!
The story starts with a young Saxon five-year-old girl and a shepherd (and his sheepdog) fleeing from a Norman ransack of their village. They run to a Norseman ‘stronghold’ (a building with a hospice and fields adjoining) feebly holding out against countless Norman attacks. The battles are described in superb detail, especially the ‘last stand’, as I nicknamed it, where the Norsemen, heavily outnumbered, win in a rather ‘gory’ fashion, running under the Norman cavalry and stabbing all the horses.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves history and doesn’t feel sick with gruesome descriptions.
Jonathan de Quidt
The Spying Game
Pat Moon, Orchard, 1 85213 852 1, £3.99 pbk
A very moving story, about a thirteen-year-old boy’s life, just after his father’s death. One day he accidently sees his father’s killer, and then, he plans his revenge. First of all he starts with small things, like graffiti on his car and some threatening mail. But after the summer holidays he starts a new school, and he is put in the same class as the killer’s son.
I found this book very exciting, and, as I had never read a Pat Moon story before, I did not know what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that she made me feel that I was there, and my father had been killed. Her sentence beginnings varied considerably and everything was unexpected. I think that one of the only authors around who compares with Pat Moon is Michael Morpurgo. An extract from the book is:
‘“What would you rather be,” I ask. “Sucked slowly by a python or eaten by a giant spider?”’
This short extract shows that the book has a humorous side to it above the real meaning. I recommend this book to everybody of any age, as the story could really happen to anybody.
Thanks to Stephen Loubser, Head of English, Lanesborough.
If your students would like to review their ‘good reads’, apply to the Editor of BfK.