Chosen by members of Bookworms, a book review and creative writing club for home-educated children.
Thanks to Kate Ferry-Swainson, Leader.
George Orwell, Penguin, 978 0 14 118270 4, £8.99 pbk
The animals of Manor Farm, encouraged by Old Major, rebel against their human master, Mr Jones, whom they drive out. Napoleon and Snowball take over as rival leaders and begin to run the newly named ‘Animal Farm’. A new law is made – ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’. But then Napoleon convinces the animals that Snowball is a traitor, and Snowball is chased away. They shouldn’t have done that…
This is a wonderfully powerful book. I like imagining what would happen if animals tried to be independent. I find Napoleon and his actions in changing the law at his own convenience eerily subtle, and I feel so frustrated when the animals let Napoleon delude them.
The book is skilfully written – it’s utterly believable. I could really get inside the story, and cared passionately about the animals’ fate.
Matilda Ferry-Swainson, age 12
Cat Among the Pigeons
Julia Golding, Egmont, 978 1 4052 2423 9, £6.99 hbk
Catherine ‘Cat’ Royal is an orphan girl who lives at Drury Lane Theatre with her friend, Pedro, a runaway slave. One day, Mr Hawkins, Pedro’s owner, suddenly appears, to ‘reclaim his property’. Cat determines to save Pedro but in doing so gets tangled up with her cunning enemy, Billy Shepard…
My favourite character is Cat because she is faithful, generous, determined and popular. Her allies are wealthy Lizzie and Frank, and Syd and his gang, a bunch of loyal street kids. The villain, Billy ‘Boil’, makes me grind my teeth, because he is untrustworthy, crafty and tiresome.
I really enjoyed Cat Among the Pigeons because the suspense is maintained throughout the book. The story is constantly nearly resolving but then plunges back into a new episode of the adventure. The excitement is so extreme that even adults would enjoy the book.
Maddy Pickering, age 10
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Wordsworth Classics, 978 1 84022 402 3, £1.99 pbk
This is an amazing, gripping book, which deals with the shocking subject of slavery. However, do not let the sorrow and violence of the book put you off, because it is a beautiful story about good people.
It is set in America in the mid 1800s. The main characters, Uncle Tom and Eliza, are enslaved people. I found reading about their lives very painful because they face many injustices and grief.
In her portrayal of the main characters as admirable, noble, Christian people, the author’s aim was to help her readers see slaves as humans with values and feelings. She hoped this would lead to the abolition of slavery.
I found this book a moving, touching, thought-provoking read and it made me think about how badly humans are still treated in today’s world.
Savanna van Mesdag, age 13
Philip Pullman, Scholastic, 978 0 439 95178 4, £6.99 pbk
Lyra is a girl on a deadly quest to find her missing friend, Roger. Her world is similar, but different, to ours – peopled by witches, armoured bears and mysterious people who aren’t always what they seem. Who is the enigmatic Mrs. Coulter, and what is her secret? Could Lord Asriel hold the key?
When Lyra and her daemon (soul creature), Pantalaimon, find that other children have disappeared too, the plot takes a grisly turn. Their mission leads them to the bleak and frozen North, where Lyra and Pan make a horrifying discovery and find themselves caught up in a thrilling adventure, where anything could happen.
I really enjoyed Northern Lights. It was easy to get into, and kept me engrossed all the way through with its exciting plot and great characters. When I had finished reading the book, I immediately started The Subtle Knife, to find out what happens next!
Summer Jeavons, age 10