Book Review, Chapter Book (7-9), Middle Grade Fiction

Brilliant Books from Barrington Stoke – September 2021

Books from Barrington Stoke are so often my go-to recommendations for teachers and parents.

First and foremost, they are fantastically engaging stories from some of the best, current authors in the UK. The quality of the writing is incredible and children are soon carried away in the adventures.

What makes Barrington Stoke books really special is their dyslexia-friendly style. The font, spacing and page tint combined with specially selected, accessible vocabulary mean that so many children can enjoy these brilliant books.

The Puffin Portal

by Vashti Hardy & illustrated by Natalie Smilie

Grace Griffin is back with her amazing map that allows her family to keep law and order throughout Moreland. They look out for those in need and do all they can to help and protect. This isn’t just any map, but a high-tech, electrical map that transports wardens through special gates around the land with just one touch.

Grace is a qualified warden now and finally able to go out on calls on her own – even if it is just the smaller problems. She finds herself investigating a string of thefts from all over Moreland – small items with no clear evidence or suspects. But they have something in common – puffins. Witnesses have been spotting these strange little birds wherever a theft occurs and the wardens are busier than ever.

Grace realises there is a bigger mystery to solve. All of these puffins must be connected and they aren’t what they seem. What she discovers is even more surprising in this fun STEM adventure!

Blossom

by Laura Dockrill & illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Blossom has grown up surrounded by plants at her family’s market stall. Run by her grandparents before her parents took over, she’s sure it will be in her family forever. Plants are her best friends – they’re wonderful listeners and great at keeping secrets. Her favourite is Tutu Plant. Named for her grandmother, it is always there for her, reminding her of this very special lady every day.

When Blossom overhears her parents arguing, she realises her life is about to change. Mum wants to follow her dreams studying chemistry at college but that means she can’t work at the market stall anymore. She gives Dad an ultimatum – it’s her or the stall. Dad can’t run it alone so they are going to have to sell it. Blossom is devastated.

There must be something she can do to save the stall. With the weight of the world on her shoulders, she takes it upon herself to find the right solution for them all.

This is a beautiful, empathy-building story that helps readers understand the fear of parents fighting and the sadness of the loss of a grandparent. Children who have experienced these issues will feel understood – they are not alone. Blossom carries the wonderful message that it’s a blessing when we break into pieces – it gives us a chance to rebuild.

Blossom is lively and hopeful. Even through challenges, she is brave and just wants to do the best for her family. This book is reminiscent of Laura Dockrill’s previous story with Barrington Stoke: Sequin and Stitch. I strongly recommend having both of these lovely books in your classroom library.

Granny’s Little Monsters

by Karen McCombie & illustrated by Lee Cosgrove

Every Saturday, cousins Zac and Essie visit their Granny Mo. She’s searching for the perfect pet and it’s up to them to help her. Each week there’s something different: a cat, a corn snake, a bunny, a chicken, even an axolotl (a strange little salamander). None of them are right. Animals certainly take a lot of looking after. Maybe Granny isn’t meant to have a pet after all.

Then, one Saturday, Granny takes them mudlarking instead. It’s low tide meaning they can dig in the muddy riverbed looking for treasures. But instead of bottle tops and coins, they find some very unexpected treasure. Chaos, mess and fun ensue. Could this be the pet they’ve been looking for?

Young readers will love this funny story. Adventures with Granny are often the very best kind.

Tripwrecked: Tempest Terror!

by Ross Montgomery & illustrated by Mark Beech

Frank and his drama club are on their dream trip. They’ve been invited to perform their production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at a festival in Italy. Everything’s going well until a storm hits their ferry and they wash up on a desert island – shipwrecked!

Their dream has become a disaster! Half the group is missing, there’s strange music coming from the jungle and it looks like there might be a monster on the loose. Frank starts to realise that their situation is scarily similar to their play. Is it just a coincidence or has a magical storm transported the into The Tempest for real? Frank will need to be Mr Sensible if they’re going to have any chance of rescue.

Goodfellows

by Tom McLaughlin

The Goodfellows are the perfect family. They live perfectly ordinary, somewhat boring lives, where nothing extraordinary every happens.

When a chance encounter in a pizza restaurant results in the family winning a trip to New York, life suddenly becomes much more exciting. They think their holiday will be full of sightseeing, delicious food and all the usual New York experiences. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. Mistaken for gangsters, they are taken on an adventure they’ll never forget. Before they know what’s happening, they’ve gotten wrapped up with the infamous Macini family, robbed a jewellery store and are in a whole lot of trouble. So much for perfect!

With laugh-out loud hijinks and unexpected twists, readers will devour this crazy adventure. Can the Goodfellows find their way out of this predicament before they end up in jail, or worse?

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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