Books for Children

(November – December 2018 ParentEdge)

3-5 years

Book: Six Cousins Again

Author: Enid Blyton

Publisher: Evans Brothers

‘The Mistletoe Farm’ series by children’s author Enid Blyton consists of two books – ‘Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm’ and ‘Six Cousins again’. The first book of the series is about a family, the Longfields, who have three children (Jane, Jack and Susan). The Longfields are asked to look after the three children (Cyril, Melisande and Roderick) of Peter’s (the father) brother, who lives in the city. The cousins take time to get along with each other, and the story is about how the city kids learn to adapt to life in the country.

In the sequel, Cyril, Melisande and Roderick have moved into a nearby farm with their parents. Their mother, Rose, has difficulty adapting to the life of a farmer’s wife, and everyone has to help her adjust to her new life.

It is not necessary to read the first ‘Six Cousins’ book before this one, although that one is a great read too. This isn’t a typical Enid Blyton book; it has been written in a  style very different from her other more famous books, such as the Famous Five series. The two books in the Mistletoe farm series are extremely engaging. It is difficult to judge which book is better; they are both worth reading.

 

6-9 years

Book: Danny, the Champion of the World

Author: Roald Dahl

Publisher: Penguin Books (illustrated by Quentin Blake)

This book is based on a previous short story by award-winning author Roald Dahl, entitled ‘The Champion of the World’, which was published in 1959. Similar to other books by Dahl, including ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, ‘Danny, the Champion of the World’ was partially inspired by the Buckingham countryside, where Dahl lived.

Danny, the protagonist, is raised by his dad, a mechanic and ‘the most amazing person in the world’, according to Danny. Danny has always admired his father and has been helping him in a small garage that they own since a very young age. One night, Danny wakes up and his father is missing, and he discovers a dark secret that has been kept away from him his entire life. However, Danny is determined to help his father, and together they attempt to pull off a daring plot against their greedy, horrible neighbour, Mr Victor Hazell.

This book is beautifully written, and Dahl gives life to the characters and their feelings. It is a fascinating story about the strong relationship between a boy and his father. Dahl shows us how amazing our lives can be, without giants and witches and other beings of fantasy. There is not a single paragraph in the book without a mystery behind it! I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of six.

 

10-12 years

Book: Stormbreaker

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: Walker Books

‘Stormbreaker’ is the first book in the Alex Rider series, a brilliant collection of books that can leave you wanting to become a spy at a very young age, like the protagonist of the novel, Alex Rider. The book was released in 2000, and quickly became a New York Times Bestseller. It has sold more than nine million copies worldwide, and the series has won Anthony Horowitz multiple awards.

Alex Rider has lived with his uncle Ian since his parents were killed in an accident when he was just an infant. Alex’s life becomes incredibly extraordinary after the suspicious death of his uncle, and he soon becomes the youngest ever spy to be recruited by MI6, the British secret service. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists in a top-secret mission, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead.

The book is fast-paced and has enough gadgets and intrigue to keep the readers engaged throughout. ‘Stormbreaker’ is impossible to put down once you have begun reading it. Alex Rider seems to be a younger version of James Bond, the famous fictional British secret agent. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure novels.

13-15 years

Book: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Publisher: George Newnes

This book is the third of the crime novels series involving the best detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes. It is one of the best-known Sherlock Holmes books and the first one involving the detective since his shocking ‘death’ in “The Final Problem”, another short story written by Conan Doyle.

The sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville under mysterious circumstances leads to one of the most extraordinary cases ever to challenge the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes. The story revolves around a curse that supposedly involves the Baskerville family and a legendary hound. Holmes’ and his assistant, John Watson, are asked to protect Sir Charles’ only heir, Sir Henry, who has travelled from America to settle in the Baskerville Hall. It is in this mansion that Holmes comes face to face with a terrifying evil that has haunted a family for generations.

‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ is arguably the most popular of all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. The story is very gripping with an excellent sense of mystery throughout. At times, Doyle’s description of the surroundings makes you feel like you are in the thick of the action alongside Holmes and Watson, and their characters really come to life. If you haven’t read any Arthur Conan Doyle novels, this one is a great introduction to the master detective and his famous assistant. It is definitely a ‘must read’.

16+ years

Book: Origin

Author: Dan Brown

Publisher: Doubleday

‘Origin’ is the fifth book in Dan Brown’s marvellous series starring Robert Langdon, the Harvard Professor of symbology and religious iconology. It is preceded by ‘Angels & Demons’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘The Lost Symbol’ and ‘Inferno’. However, this is a standalone tale, with no characters or plotlines carried over from the previous books.

Since the beginning of time, humans have been trying to find the answers to these fundamental questions: Who are we? Where are we going? Langdon’s friend and computer genius Edmond Kirsch is giving a talk at the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Spain, where he promises to answer these questions. But just as he begins his presentation, an assassin shoots him and within the hour, Langdon is on the run with Ambra Vidal, the future Queen of Spain, to “change the face of science forever”.

I felt that Brown introduced too many different elements in the first half of the book which had to be juggled later. There were quite a few characters who had nothing to do with the story who didn’t have to mentioned. Regardless, Brown uses the primary questions to taunt the reader, and uses this to pull you through the story.

‘Origin’ isn’t as compelling as some of Brown’s previous works, such as ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels & Demons’ but has all the different aspects that make it a Dan Brown novel. If you like mystery thrillers, ‘Origin’, is definitely worth a read.

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