Chosen by Year 7 (11/12 year old) pupils of Stanchester Community School, Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset.
Thanks to Sarah Wilds, English teacher, and Siân Humpherson, Librarian.
My Family and Other Animals
Gerald Durrell, Penguin, 0 14 001399 7, £5.99 pbk
Gerald Durrell was a famous zoologist. He founded the Jersey Zoological Park in 1958 and in 1964 started the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. This book focuses on his childhood in the 1930s which was spent on Corfu after he and his family move there from Bournemouth. After a spell in a shabby hotel they move to the ‘strawberry pink villa’ with the help of taxi-driver Spiro, who then becomes their estate agent and friend. Gerald Durrell makes lots of friends both human and animal and the book tells of his adventures and discoveries.
I recommend this book to others as it is easy to imagine yourself in the sunshine on Corfu because the author paints a wonderfully colourful image of his carefree days as a boy.
Nina Bawden, Puffin, 0 14 030689 7, £4.99 pbk
Carrie and her younger brother Nick were evacuated to the country during the Second World War, where they had to stay with nasty Mr Evans and his sister, Auntie Lou. After school they would go down to Druids Bottom, to visit their friends: Hepzibah Green, who was supposedly a witch, the strange Mister Johnny and Albert Sandwich. But then Carrie did a terrible thing, the worst thing she did in her life …
This is a fantastic book. The characters are original and interesting. There are several other books set during the Second World War, but I don’t think you’ll find another with characters who speak ‘gobbledegook’, or have twenty nine ball-gowns! Carrie’s War is very well written. I found it difficult to put down because I wanted to see what would happen next. I understood how Carrie was feeling but even so, the ending was unexpected and thought provoking.
Philip Pullman, Scholastic, 0 590 66054 3, £5.99 pbk
Northern Lights is a thrilling book about a little girl, Lyra, who has only her daemon and an armoured bear called Iorek Byrnison for company. Lyra does not know it, but she is on one of the most daring and challenging quests of all time, to find out about Dust. Dust, or elementary particles, is one of the most mysterious things in her world, and she’s been chosen to look for it. Lyra’s world is the same as ours, but different in many ways, for example they have souls in the form of animals, called daemons, and they also have witches in Bolvangar, where Lyra belongs. Overall I think this book is very mysterious, but extremely well thought out, and written in a most outstanding way. I would recommend it to anyone over 12 years of age.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
J. K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, 0 7475 4624 X, £14.99 hbk
The three main characters in the story are Harry Potter and his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They are three students out of hundreds who go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to study magic and to become a qualified witch or wizard. The story is mainly about a tournament named the Triwizard Tournament, which is taking place during the school year and consists of three events. In each of the three events a champion from the schools Durmstrang, Beauxbatons and Hogwarts try to get the highest marks out of ten. The Goblet of Fire chooses the champions.
The main event is when the wizards from all the schools are seated in the great hall and the Goblet of Fire is positioned on the High Table. Then one by one the Goblet of Fire chooses the champions. Then when the last champion had been chosen the Goblet of Fire suddenly erupted with flame and Harry Potter’s name was chosen even though he was three years too young and he became the fourth champion.
I would recommend this book because it is very exciting in places and in parts it is funny.