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Ofsted Outstanding School 2012 | 2013

Elite Reviewers Book Club 2017-18

The Elite Reviewers are a group of Key Stage 3 students reading a selection of five books from the Book Trust School Library Pack. The group of students meet regularly with Mr Todd and Ms Cole to discuss and compare the five books.

Book Review Blog

We would like to welcome you to the group’s blog pages, where students will be publishing their reviews of each novel.

Click here to submit your review.

Reviews of Pax by Sara Pennypacker

“This book is called Pax. It was written by Sara Pennypacker and was illustrated by Jon Klassen. Pax is a fiction book. There are two reasons why I chose it, and one is because of the cover. It seems to just catch my eye, a lone fox sitting in the opening of a forest looking over vast fields. The other reason is because of the blurb, because the storyline intrigues me.
The story is set generally in a country where the fresh smell of war is in the air. The story starts out at the edge of the woods on the road. Then settings separate: one perspective on a fox, who is in the woods, and another perspective on a boy, who goes over hills, through small villages and farms, and eventually back to the woods.

The main characters are Peter and Pax. Peter is the owner of his pet fox, Pax, and loves his fox dearly, so much that he will even travel miles for him (as you will see). Pax is the loveable fox who was rescued by his boy, Peter, when he was still a little kit. Pax thinks of his boy almost as his own mother. Other characters in this story include Peter’s father, who goes off to war and therefore forces Peter to kick Pax out of the house, Peter’s granddad, who was meant to be looking after Peter while his father was gone and Vola, the owner of a farm that Peter was passing through. Vola looked after and helped Peter while he was on the farm, despite the fact that she liked to be alone. Also, Pax has some foxy friends later in the story: a vixen called Bristle, who was skeptical at first about a fox that smells of human; Runt, Bristle’s playful brother and Grey, an old, wise fox.

At the start of the story, Peter’s father forces Peter to kick Pax out of the house due to the fact that Peter’s father is going off to war…

I love this book! My favourite parts of it are when Peter reminds himself of the things that Pax used to do, because most of the time it amuses me of how naive Pax is. My least favourite part is when Peter finds out that his father deliberately chose that spot, as it was close to the war space. Mostly, the reason why is because I feel sympathy to Peter and his fox, and I even almost feel angry to Peter’s father.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!”

Abel, Year 7

“This book is a great read. Everything about it is amazing such as: the length, the story and the emotion. I would give it a rating of 4.5/5. I recommend it to anyone who wants to get their nose stuck into a great book for a while.

Nevan, Year 7

“This is a great book because the book grips you so you want to read, and find out if Peter can ever be reunited with his fox. It’s an emotional book and Peter is so determined to get his fox that he would go to extreme lengths to do so.

It compellingly describes the two friends’ struggle to find each other and make things right. Plenty of bad things happen, from the death of family members to a crazy, senseless, war that destroys everything in its path.

The story, set in a nameless country, also offers positive messages about knowing yourself, doing what you know is right, and doing your best to fix things of others or if you yourself have done wrong. It is a very heart-warming story about a bond between fox and boy and proves that if you love someone, you will do anything for them.

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 10, because there is some stuff in the book that younger readers may find distressing.”

Jason, Year 7

“Pax is a story about a 13 year-old boy called Peter and his pet fox, Pax. The pair were inseparable until Peter’s father forced him to abandon Pax at the edge of a forest and move to his grandpa’s house due to the war which is advancing into their country. Peter leaves his grandpa’s house and goes to find Pax. However, Pax is 300 miles away. This book follows his journey and Pax’s experience without him.

Characters: Peter – 13 year old boy. Determined, kind and a baseball fan. Vola – War Veteran. Lost her leg. Lamenting, caring and skilled with puppets. Pax – Fox. Curious, naive and protective. Pax is set in a nameless country which is at war. It is mostly set in the countryside.

In my opinion, Pax is a good book. It is filled with emotion and has many moments that affect the reader. However, this book failed to grip me like some other books I have read. I think that this is because it lacked excitement. At one point in the book, a deer is killed by a landmine, but when a fox steps on one of these, he survives. This doesn’t make much sense. Overall, it is an enjoyable book, but I disliked how it ended and I feel like it could do with some more excitement.

I would give this book a 3 out of 5.”

Joel, Year 7

“This book is called pax by Sara pennypacker. It’s phenomenal and such a great book to read! The book is so heartfelt and atmospheric. The story of a young boy called peter and his best friend and pet fox pax. Pax goes missing and its Peter’s duty to go and find his destined best friend while embarking on an unusual but extremely exciting journey, making many friends along the way (same as pax). While they both search desperately for each other, an amazing reunion takes place and touches the hearts of many people to find out what happens next you’ll just have to read the book.
I would definitely recommend this book to someone and give it 5/5 stars!”

– Carxel, Year 7

Reviews of Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan

“I think that Stargazing for Beginners is an amazing book and I would definitely recommend it to other people. What happens in the book is a girl who is kind of a smart person and she keeps her head down because everyone bullied her. But then her mum dropped the bombshell that she was going to Myanmar to help underprivileged children and has to look after her baby sister Elsa at home all by herself. She has to tell lies that her mum is ill so that her mum wouldn’t get in trouble. But then she starts getting close with Ed King…

Five stars for this book!”

– Jason, Year 7

“I thought that this book was amazing. This book also included science facts which where correct as well. All in all I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a educational book or just want a book to get lost in.

I would give five stars out of five for this book!”

– Isobel, Year 7

“This book is called Stargazing for beginners by Jenny McLachlan. It’s a hilarious and very interesting book. A lovely story about the life of a young girl called Meg. It’s an amazing book I would definitely recommend it and give it five stars.”

– Carxel, Year 7

“This book is called Stargazing for Beginners. It was written by Jenny McLachlan. The reason why I chose this book is because of the blurb: it sounded very interesting.

For a start, there’s Meg. She’s the main character in this story, and she is obsessed with space. In fact, that’s a very big understatement. It’s her dream to become an astronaut. Then there’s her mum. She’s a bit of a hippy and loves to volunteer for charity work. Maybe a bit too much, as you will see. Meg’s grandpa is a professor with a home full of hamsters, chickens, home breweries and fur from a dog called Pongo. There’s also Elsa, her baby sister. Meg has a few friends from the school as well: Ed, who’s sciency but also a chatty guy, Annie, who is disabled and helpful in times of trouble. Friend, Rose, a very encouraging friend and others who grew a friendship with her along the way. Rose, Annie and Jackson came from the Biscuit Club.

The story is mainly set in three areas: Meg’s flat, that is very small, Grandad’s house, with, like I’ve said before, hamsters and chickens (among other things) and lastly her school, which is… well, like any old school.

The plot is based on Meg wanting to be an astronaut one day, which I’ve mentioned. But what I haven’t told you yet is that there’s a competition to make a speech about What Space Means To You. For the winner? He or she will get an exclusive trip to NASA in Houston. So it’s clear that Meg’s going to apply, no doubt about that, but things are going to get a lot harder with the fact that Mum has gone all the way to Myanmar on one of her ‘Big Important Causes’. Meg wasn’t even told in advance! And Grandad is irresponsible, too, so there’s not much help there. But what about school? Well, Meg isn’t really the social type. Nevertheless, Ed (the guy she’s competing with) is here to help, along with everyone at the Biscuit Club. Will she be able to do it? And will Mum come back in time? You’ve got to read to find out more!

I quite liked this book, especially the focus on friends helping each other. My least favourite part is when something goes badly wrong at Myanmar, meaning Meg has another worry to put on her pile of worries.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars!”

– Abel, Year 7

“Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions…”

– Amanda, Year 7

“The book Stargazing for beginners by Jenny McLachlan is a phenomenal, remarkable and exceptionally sensational book full of cosmic drama and starific adventures. The story ‘s main character is Science geek Meg [short for Megara] who’s only dream ambition is to become an Astronaut, work with Nasa and become like her Idol, Valentina Tereshkova [the first woman who has ever visited space in the universe] . But unfortunately, not all dreams turn out to become reality without a downside or a little bit of hope, faith and effort ; and this is the part when Meg ends up looking after her younger baby sister [Elsa] and to make matters worse Meg has to also look after her dog Pongo [who is as mischievous as Elsa] for 10 days all by herself !!!! mainly because her free – spirited mum suddenly and unexpectedly leaves to follow, yet one of her so-called Big Important Causes.

As well as this double trouble drama, Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat her close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa, Pongo and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions.

I rate it 4/5 stars”

– Halaa, Year 7

“This book was very interesting, the book itself is a great book but it is not original with the ideas behind it, lots of books have the same plot: a popular boy falls in love with a not so popular girl. I think the detail and the way it was written was fantastic but the actual plot is letting the book down. I mean I personally think it was a good book but that one thing about the plot it is not that good.”

– Madison, Year 7

“Stargazing for beginners by Jenny McLachlan is a great read for anyone who loves a story with lots of events and problems. The main story is set in the life of a 15 year old girl called Meg, who gets left at home while her mum goes on a trip to another country to help save the lives of children. In this book, there are many plot twists and you can be anxious for the characters. Personally, i found this book very hard to put down because it grasps you deep into the pages and makes you enjoy the book. Overall, i would rate this book 5/5 stars but the age rating would be for older kids(11+) as there is a bit of swearing in it. In conclusion, this book is an amazing read and by far one of the best books i have ever read. Thank you for reading my book review and i hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I did.”

– Nevan, Year 7

Reviews of Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

“This is incredibly good because the plot is really exciting because they are planning to run away from the authorities, who are really strict and one of their laws is no running. The main characters’ names are Tash and Sam and they’re trying to get to India to see the Dalai Lama. Most people that get arrested there don’t come back. Tash’s parents were arrested because the soldiers were raiding everybody’s house because there was a man that set himself on fire. The soldiers, who are on high alert, also they saw Tash running away from the house with resistance letters which her dad writes in his spare time. To conclude the book is amazing, but there are too many chapters.

I would rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.”

– Rio, Year 7

“Tash is a 12 year-old girl who lived in Tibet while it was under strict Chinese regime. Her father wrote for the authority controlled local newspaper, however he also wrote leaflets for the secret resistance which he also was a part of. One day, a local man set himself on fire in act of defiance against the cruel regime…

Characters: Tash – 12 year old girl. Courageous, brave and very determined. Sam – similar age to Tash is also brave, courageous and determined. Dalai Lama – the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism who is caring, inspirational and helpful. Eve and Bones: Yaks. The Nomad: Friendly and intelligent

My Opinion: Overall, I didn’t like this book as it isn’t my kind of book, also I have some criticisms. I didn’t like that there was a chapter every 2 or 3 pages, and that the title of the chapter stated exactly what was going to happen in the chapter. For example “”Run””, they’re running. “”Hide”” they’re hiding, “”Crowd”” there’s a crowd. Another thing I didn’t like was that at one point in the book, a character leaves someone they care about but comes back after just one chapter. I think that it would be more significant and have more impact if they were gone for longer. My favourite part of the book is when they are trying to avoid the snipers, as it is filled with tension. My least favourite part is with the nomad, Tash and Sam when they are in the in the village. This is because I would rather be reading about the prison break and Tash’s parents’ journey than Tash’s and Sam’s experience in the village.

Rating: 2 out of 5″

– Joel, Year 7

“This book is about two friends trying to save their parents for the police. I usually read books in about two weeks but this book took me only 3 days to complete. I love this book and I would love to read more from this author.

Overall I give this book a 4.5 out of 5.”

– Isobel, Year 7

A child has to escape and army that are hunting for her because she owns some important documents and a secret message that her father was meant to deliver to a secret group of people in the mountains but for terrible reason they couldn’t make it….

Because her whole town was destroyed, she had nowhere to stay and she really wanted help her innocent parents. Tash and her best friend and two yaks set off into the mountains from Tibet to India in hopes of meeting the Dalai Lama, whom they feel can help their parents from a terrible fate.

Main characters are: Tash (twelve years old) we don’t really get told what she looks like but we do know that her hair got cut off for a disguise; Sam – Tash’s best friend (twelve years old) we also don’t get told what he looks like; Eve – Yak; Bones- Yak

The beginning of the story is set in Tibet (in the mountains) but as the characters escape Tibet, the rest is set in India.

I thought the book was amazing and I find it hard to find a book that will pull me in, but just reading the first chapter I felt that I could really connect with the characters. I thought it would take me a while to read the book but I finished it in the first couple of days! I would definitely recommend this book and I generally have NO criticisms! Amazing!

5 stars out of 5!”

– Olivia, Year 7

“This book is called Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth. The book is an extremely atmospheric and a heartfelt book that can really tug on your heartstrings. Once you read this book, you really get the feel of the book and you just can’t put it down! 

It’s so brilliant and I would definitely recommend this and give it 5 stars.”

– Carzel, Year 7

“Running on the roof of the world is a great book for people who want a hope-filled book. This book is an extremely good read which has a lot of twists and turns in it. The story is that two friends, Sam and Tash, live in a horrible place, filled with soldiers from China. The soldiers kidnap many people including the people that were most important to Tash, her parents. The book is mainly telling the reader about not giving up as Sam and Tash try to get though their journey even if something bad happens. In conclusion, Running on the roof of the world is an amazing book that I would rate 4/5. To get the extra mark, the writer could’ve put less chapters in the book. Also, the writer could’ve made the ending more explained as there is so much unanswered. Thank you for reading my review and I hope that you will enjoy the book!”

– Nevan, Year 7

Review of the Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

“This book is very interesting and is a eye opener to what people can feel if they are left and forgotten about. They listen and find stories deep in the earth. I would recommend this to the ages between 10 to any age.

I would give four stars out of five for this book!”

– Isobel, Year 7

“I found this book hard to get into. At the beginning it kind of sounds interesting but I found that for me it just drags on and on and on about a boy’s camp and his life.

As a result, I only read the first two chapters and after chatting to the other students who read this book. It takes 9 chapters to set the scene.

In the chapters I read I found out that the boy lives in a camp where the rations were arriving tomorrow and there is a really nice jacket who gives them a pool that’s in the shape of a clam and he struggles to get it through the fence.

Overall I would rate this book a one out of five. This book probably gets interesting later on but it just wasn’t a page turner for me.”

– Holly, Year 7 

“In The Bone Sparrow we are introduced to Subhi, a young boy who has lived in a refugee camp his whole life. He only dreams of being free from the brutality of the jackets and the poor conditions of the camp.

What makes this book more interesting is Subhi’s vivid and imaginative mind. Fraillon perfectly illustrates his emotion and the environment through picturesque descriptions. She also sends an impactful message of the capacity of cruelty humans could have towards each other. However, some people might find it hard to fully get into the novel; the first few chapters were slightly lackluster, compared to the others. It does become a good and interesting read eventually.

I’d recommend ‘The Bone Sparrow’ to people around my age bracket – they could relate to the lively and creative characters in the novel.

My rating on this book is 4.5/5!”

Neo, Year 8

“This book is about a refugee detention centre that has really hard conditions to grow up in. The main character, Subhi relies on stories to know what the outside world is like. I loved this book, it is very moving. It was a bit hard to get into at first, but after a few chapters it was more interesting. I like how it is not always the same perspective, it shows two different views on life.

I would recommend this book and give it a 4.5/5.”

– Maisie, Year 7

“This book is called The Bone Sparrow and it’s by an author called Zana Fraillon. Born in a refugee camp, Subhi has never seen the outside world. At night, he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie: an illiterate young girl who lives near the refugee camp.
This book makes people realise what is actually going on in the world, and addresses the bleakness and tough life that people have to go through in the camp e.g. having to have a certain amount of water everyday and horrible food.
The relationship between Subhi and Jimmie warms your heart and their discovery of friendship is a joy to read.

Although this book was not my type of book, it is written very well. On the other hand, I have to admit Ifound it a bit boring at times.”

– Jason, Year 7

Review of Booked by Kwame Alexander

“Booked is an amazing book. For readers that are very reluctant, I would recommend it. It is about a boy named Nick Hall who struggles in life, struggles the maybe people can relate to. It is a football book on the outside, but on the inside, it opens up so many possibilities. The style of the text is in mini poems on each page. However, one of the best things is that the book is second person, which makes you feel involved in it. I haven’t come across many second person books so this is a nice surprise.
As well as that, the story is quite engaging as every page says something different. One page later, everything could change, which does happen but I won’t spoil it. After a while of thinking, I have come to decide that this book deserves a 4.5/5.

The thing that would make it perfect is a proper ending.

DON’T READ THIS PART if you don’t want a tiny spoiler!

The ending is seeing inside the dragonfly box, which is a secret box. However, we don’t find out what is in it, which is a bit agitating. Anyway, thank you for reading my review and enjoy the book!” 

– Nevan, Year 7

“This book is called Booked and was written by Kwame Alexander. It’s a fiction book, but he reason why I chose it was not because of the cover, or because of the blurb, but in fact when I flicked through the book and the first thing that I noticed was that the whole book is written in the form of poems. I thought that was really quite intriguing, so I chose this book to read and review.

Nick is the main character for this story, a football-loving boy who daydreams at school sometimes and is forced to memorise words from his father’s dictionary. His father is a writer and published the dictionary that he tells Nick to memorise. His mum loves horses. A bit too much, as you will see. Coby is Nick’s best mate but plays in the rival team. Coby helps Nick out by encouraging him to talk to April. April is Nick’s crush and seems to like him back. Maybe the only thing stopping him from asking her out is the fact that the Eggleston twins are bullying him. Don, one of them, fancies April too… There’s also Mr MacDonald, who used to be a rapper and becomes friends with Nick over the course of the story.

There are two main settings for this story: one is Nick’s house and the other is Nick’s school.

The story starts out pretty normally. Nick daydreams about soccer, his parents argue and he sleeps late. But things change and soon hi Mum and Dad drop a bombshell. Also the Eggleston twins are bullying him and Coby at school.. His father continues to tell him to finish off his Rs and Ss in the dictionary. Then, he gets badly injured and can’t make an important tournament that he was really hyped up for. Will Nick get back on his feet? Will his friends help him?

I really liked this book. My favourite part was seeing Nick’s character develop. The saddest parts were the real-life pressures that Nick must go through.

I rate it 4 out of 5.”

– Abel, Year 7

“This book was amazing. I am not into football but the way this book was laid out I really enjoyed it.”

– Isabel, Year 7


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