Fiction for older children reviews – tales of the cities

London and New York both feature strongly in stories from both sides of the pond, while Room author Emma Donoghue makes her children’s fiction debutIn the UK, you wouldn’t want under-12s to have much contact with doormen – ours being burly negotiators who remove the ill-behaved from nightclubs. In New York, however, doormen are the guardians of gracious apartment buildings and, thus, civilisation itself. One such building is the star of The Doorman’s Repose, by Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka (Faber, £11.99), an urbane collection of New Yorker-ish short stories. It begins with a new doorman – who, disastrously, knows nothing about baseball – taking up his post. Otis, the elevator, plays matchmaker; Liesl, the boiler, loses her va-va-voom; the mice are into jazz and psychotherapy, and the humans in these droll, Lemony Snicket-like stories are only slightly less variegated. Continue reading...

Tilly and the Time Machine by Adrian Edmondson review – journey of discovery

The actor’s tale about a seven-year-old pursuing her dad through history is engaging and insightful Children’s publishing is awash with books written by celebrities. In the space of a few weeks this spring, Cara Delevingne, Dermot O’Leary, Alesha Dixon and George Galloway announced debut kids’ books. Meanwhile non-multi-tasking, professional authors complain about celebs cannibalising their marketing budgets and swallowing huge advances. So I felt a bit bad, after reading comedian-and-actor Adrian Edmondson’s enjoyable debut, for having been irked by the copy I received with its boastful cover stamp: “Very Important Proof”. Edmondson is not a novice with an unfair fame advantage: he has a career’s worth of TV writing credits (Bottom, The Comic Strip Presents… etc), and it shows in this sophisticated novel. Continue reading...

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans review – a riotously funny adventure

Recalling the magical escapades of Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll, this tale of a tyrannical toy rabbit is the first must-read children’s book of the yearChildren’s publishing is starting with a bang this year with the release of Lissa Evans’s latest children’s novel, a riotously funny adventure tale called Wed Wabbit. The story, ideal for readers aged 8-12, is about a girl called Fidge (short for Iphigenia), who lives with her dippy mother and four-year-old little sister Minnie. Minnie is obsessed with her furry red toy rabbit (the eponymous Wed Wabbit) and a picture book about the Wimbley Woos (an odd group of multicoloured creatures who speak only in verse), and the importance of these strange characters becomes more apparent as the plot progresses. When Minnie is involved in a car accident, Fidge is sent to live with her hilariously pampered cousin Graham, where she falls down some cellar ...

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – review

‘a fantastic book that made me laugh and actually cry. I loved it’ I loved The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey. It was very easy to get into the story, and even though a few of the words were a little hard to understand, it didn’t matter because it was so well written. I really liked that the chapters were written by different characters’ perspectives, because it made you empathise with them more. I hope there is a sequel. It does end on a cliffhanger, so I am assuming that that is what will happen, because if there is not another book, I am afraid I will rate this book lower than what I am rating it now. Continue reading...

The 100 by Kass Morgan – review

‘An absolutely fascinating read, I haven’t read anything similar’ During the nuclear war on earth, the Earth developed a radioactive surface, and for centuries afterwards what was left of humanity lived in spaceships above Earth’s surface. One hundred juvenile delinquents are to be sent to Earth to re-colonise and discover if it is possible to live on the thought-to-be-uninhabitable planet, but they are all expected to die. They survived. The ships had started to run low on food supplies and air, so they are hoping to inhabit earth once again. Continue reading...

And I Darken by Kiersten White – review

‘I need a sequel!’ Kiersten White seemed to pour her mind into And I Darken. The words and plot flow as though they didn’t even need editing! I find each new person introduced in this book extremely charismatic – whether they were written to be daunting and fearless or sweet and sappy. Every personality is unique and realistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the characters were at least partly based on real people. Continue reading...

Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley – review

‘The characters are very vividly imagined and are most entertaining’ Elizabeth Camperdowne lives in Tudor England with her father and very strict aunt in a crumbling castle: Stonetron Castle. Destined to be married off at a very young age, our red-haired twelve-year-old heroine has before her a future of an arranged marriage to a man many years older than herself, and looking after her children to continue the family line. Then her future husband turns out to be an 18-year-old drunk, who has secretly married a chambermaid. Elizabeth does not conform, and due to her bad behaviour, she is sent to Trumpton Hall, a school for rich young ladies to learn manners. There she meets her cousin, Katherine Howard. Continue reading...