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‘Small change for Stuart’ is an exciting gripping book. Stuart Horten lives with his family in a rather large house with a rather large garden until one day he and his family have to move to a little country town called Beeton because of his mother’s job. His father can go anywhere to do his job because all he really does is write crosswords for newspapers. There his father tells him about his uncle ‘Tony’, Stuart’s great uncle, who was a magician. He was not the only one in the family, after all the best magician of all the great Hortini was actually called Horten. His father also talked about the man’s lucky three penny bits which he got for his first work in a circus. The adventure starts when Stuart takes one of the three penny bits and pushes it into the slot. He feels a wire dangling on his leg, he looks down, the phone has been vandalised, he placed it back, the phone rang, and he picked up the receiver..... Soon he is struggling for his great uncle’s lost workshop with an evil lady who turns out to be the Mayor. Each three penny bit unlocks a different secret. Phelim O. 4F
Posted on: 22 Jun 2012

Small Change for Stuart (by Lissa Evans) got off to a slow start but built up. I particularly enjoyed following the problem that Stuart had to solve. The ending was so exciting that it kept me up until 10pm reading! My favourite character was April. She was one of the triplets living next door to Stuart. She was very excitable. Sometimes I thought that the author could have built up the descriptive passages more fully especially regarding the workshop but overall it was a very enjoyable book. 7/10 Gus B. 4T
Posted on: 19 Jun 2012

The Winner is announced
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness has won the CILIP Carnegie Award for 2012 and it has also won the Kate Greenaway Award for Jim Kay's amazing illustrations. We wanted MY NAME IS MINA to win because, of all the eight shortlisted novels, it seemed to appeal most generally across the age range. However, we feel A MONSTER CALLS is a superb book and would only sound a note of caution because its story of a dying mother and violent nightmares is quite disturbing, even for an adult. This link will give you some idea of the beauty and the pain of this remarkable book. CGM
Posted on: 15 Jun 2012

Support for MINA
"My Name is Mina is an extraordinarily interesting and thought-provoking book. This is the 2nd book I`ve read by David Almond, the 1st was The Fire Eaters. Both books were awarded many prestigious book prizes. My Name is Mina is different from other books as it's more of a journal than a story. The book makes you feel as if it's written by a real child who is suffering difficulties in her boring life but manages to keep spirits up. The books also makes you sit and wonder about things that are, were and will be around you. The inconsistent font size and type keep the reader on their toes. The only criticism I have is that the story sometimes deviates from the main plot, splits off and can go back on itself in a random manner. But only sometimes. Funny in some places, solemn in others - overall My Name is Mina is a well above par, interesting reading." Anthony G. 4T
Posted on: 12 Jun 2012

A different opinion about MY NAME IS MINA
" I thought that 'My Name Is Mina' was so boring because she just droned on and on about how she loves the night. I think she is very crazy, the book is really weird and I didn't like it very much. I prefer books that have a more exciting plot with a touch of humour." William W. 5S
Posted on: 12 Jun 2012

MY NAME IS MINA is a winner
David Almond wrote SKELLIG in which Michael and his unusual, new friend, Mina, discover something extraordinary in the garage. Now, Almond has made Mina the central character in this prequel to SKELLIG, presented as a young girl's journal. That may not sound particularly interesting but Mina is a most unusual child, with a love of words and a vivid imagination. She knows she is different but she doesn't care. She has a loving and supportive mother and she doesn't mind being solitary. At one moment, she may play around with words and the next she will be driving her teacher to distraction. This is a very happy reading experience and is the only one of the eight shortlisted novels which could appeal right across our age group (Years 4 to 8). CGM
Posted on: 31 May 2012

Krishna Choudhury and William Ashton cross the line first
Two Year 7 boys beat the Librarian to complete all eight novels in the Carnegie shortlist on Wednesday, May 30th. The Librarian finished his eighth 24 hours later. All three agree that the prize should go to MY NAME IS MINA by David Almond.
Posted on: 31 May 2012

Three in contention to be the first to finish the eight shortisted novels
Can the librarian be the first to finish all eight novels in this years Carnegie shortlist? He is trying hard to cross the line first but he is hotly pursued by two noted library-users, Krishna and William A. Watch this space.
Posted on: 29 May 2012

SMALL CHANGE FOR STUART is a thoroughly good, traditional children's book
After some of the other Carnegie novels for 2012, SMALL CHANGE FOR STUART may come as a relief. The themes are less adult and there is much less misery than in most of the others. It is a good, straightforward adventure story with a bit of magic thrown in. There is nothing here to upset anybody and a great deal to enjoy. The hero is suitably heroic and the villain, when she eventually reveals herself, is suitably villainous. CGM
Posted on: 29 May 2012

THE MIDNIGHT ZOO is one of the more child-friendly books on the shortlist
Andrej and Tomas carry their baby sister across a war-torn landscape and eventually find a zoo with the animals trapped in their cages and untended. They see it as their duty to help the animals who suddenly begin to talk. The personalities of the different animals contibute much to this beautifully told fable. It is a lot more spohisticated than it at first appears, being a fable about war and freedom. There is a hard-hitting section where the extended Romany family are faced with execution by the invaders. There is also a charming fantasy about releasing the animals into the wild. CGM
Posted on: 25 May 2012

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY reminds us that the Russians attempted ethnic cleansing in World War Two
We are rightly familiar with the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust during the Second World War but other communities suffered great cruelty and hardship too and not necessarily at the hands of the Germans. When the (Russian) Soviet army occupied the Baltic States, they attempted to destroy national spirit and identity by the forced removal of the educated middle classes to Siberia. In this novel, we follow the journey of the Vilkas family across the Urals into Soviet Asia where they are forced to perform grinding manual labour and are threatened with 25 years of imprisonment for no better reason than that they are educated Lithuanians. There is great authenticity in the way Sepetys tells her story, which is based on her own family’s recollections of a terrible time. Of course, because the Soviets were on the winning side, their victims continued to suffer long after the war ended. At least for the victims of German atrocities, there was some sort of reparation after Germany had been defeated. The victims of Russian atrocities were less fortunate. CGM
Posted on: 17 May 2012

Meet a really dysfunctional family in MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE
Annabel Pitcher contributes a fascinating but tragic family to the CARNEGIE shortlist. Jamie is ten and doesn't entirely understand his family's awful predicament. His parents are estranged after the death of one of their identical twin daughters in a terrorist bomb outrage. The remaining siblings have to cope with a broken home, a drunken father and a mother who appears to have moved on, without them. On top of everything, they have moved from Lodon to the Lake District and Jamie is finding it difficult to fit into his new school. He makes friends with another outsider but his father is livid because she is an Asian."Muslims killed your sister," is his refrain. Just when you think things couldn't get worse, they do. There is light at the end of the tunnel but it is a pretty long tunnel. CGM
Posted on: 10 May 2012

Enjoy the Outback experience in EVERYBODY JAM
Danny Dawson lives on a cattle station in the Northern Territory of Australia. The next-door neighbours are 50 miles away and going shopping involves a four hour trip to Alice Springs. However, life is never dull, even without his older brother, Jonny, who died in an accident last summer. It gets more interesting when his sister becomes pregnant, an incompetent Pommie (English) back-packer is taken on to help with household chores and he is given a baby camel to train. Then comes the annual muster and everyone is needed to round up the cattle over vast areas of desert. Danny and the Pommie gain a certain mutual respect, especially when the drought begins to kill the cattle. Despite the death of a much loved older brother, EVERYBODY JAM by Ali Lewis is one of the happier books on the Carnegie shortlist 2012. The author really gets into the mind of a teenage boy, living in unusual circumstances. CGM
Posted on: 08 May 2012

A MONSTER CALLS is not for the squeamish
The CARNEGIE judges reckon this is a book for 9+ but I think it could give nervous readers some bad dreams. It is not only that the monster of the title is quite alarming but the situation in which Conor finds himself is extremely sad. His mother is dying of cancer, he is alienated from his friends because they don't know how to cope, he is being bullied, his father lives in America and is fast becoming a stranger and he doesn't get on with the grandmother with whom he is almost certainly going to have to live when the inevitable occurs. It is a story about coming to terms with the truth and facing your fears. It is very emotional and I found myself brushing away a few tears at the end. It is compulsive reading and the illustrations are marvellous. CGM
Posted on: 02 May 2012

Exceptional TRASH
Andy Mulligan's TRASH, inspired by the street children in the Philippines, is an exciting story with a feel-good ending. The kids on the Behala rubbish dump glean a pitiful living from combing through other people's trash. Everyone else treats them as trash. However, the trio at the heart of the story have a stroke of luck and the determination to make use of it. CGM
Posted on: 01 May 2012