Category Reading

Starred Book of the Month

KICK, Mitch Johnson

Winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award

Endorsed by Amnesty International

Publisher: Usborne

Mitch Johnson has crafted a page-turning, heart-rending tale of child exploitation pitted against the feisty optimism of his hero, Budi; Budi who has a plan. As he stitches sports shoes in the steamy Jakarta factory, he plots how he is going to play for the greatest team in the world.

A misplaced kick and a broken window, however, bring Budi into the clutches of the Dragon, the cruel local Boss of Crime.

Mitch Johnson makes a truly suspenseful children’s story out of the twists and turns of the intertwined backdrop against child labour and, brilliantly, a good yarn of villains and goodies. 

An Excellent 5 Star read: Morag Charlwood


Recommended Reads: For Serious Fun

Great story-telling with ethical themes

MILLIONS, Frank Cottrell Boyce

Publisher: Macmillan

Two brothers, Damian and Anthony, unwittingly caught up in a train robbery during Britain’s countdown to joining the Euro, have to make a decision on how to spend the cash before it becomes worthless.

This is a thrilling, heart-warming romp through coming to terms with life’s adversities.

An excellent 5 star read. Morag Charlwood



Winner of the 2017 Branford Boase Award 

Publisher: Chicken House

Darkus is miserable. His dad has disappeared and he is now living next door to utterly disgusting neighbours. A giant beetle, called Baxter, comes to his aid and together the boy and the beetle set out to find Darkus’s father. Soon they are pitted against some fine, old-fashioned villains and the gloriously evil Lucretia Cutter, who just happens to adore beetle jewellery. 

A rattling good yarn, full of lots of the traditional children’s story ingredients of absent parents, goodies and baddies- together with a fascinating and absorbing level of entomological information and serious environmental concerns woven into the plot. 

Unputdownable. Pure 5 star read. Morag Charlwood


Recommended Reads: Other Worlds

Great Story-telling with moral dimensions


Publisher: Scholastic 

Gregor and his much younger sister fall through a grate in the laundry room of their apartment block and tumble into an underworld where insects and rodents are as big as humans. What follows is a pacey tale of prophesies and battles between good and evil, and a quest to rescue the children’s long-lost father from the depredations of the evil below. On the way, Gregor, of course, discovers the truth about himself- that he is part of the fulfilling of the prophesy. 

Extremely readable, with charming and scary and disgusting parts. Highly imaginative, with nods to  the “Alice in Wonderland” tradition. 

Excellent. A 5 star read. Morag Charlwood



Publisher: Scholastic

London is on the move again. The city has been lying low, skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. The great town moves off after its quarry as events within the walls begin to take a sinister turn. 

For sheer imagination and poetic use of language, this is the most original story I’ve read in years. It is ideal for children on the cusp of adolescence, an old-style children’s adventure set in a futuristic landscape where preconceptions and self-knowledge have to be reconsidered and acted upon. A fantastic yarn and morally challenging. 

A truly magnificent story. 5 star plus! Morag Charlwood.

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