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Buffalo Soldier - BOOK REVIEW (By Sanjay Kumarendran) | 7/10
From the moment it begins, 'Buffalo Soldier' is an engaging and thought-provoking read. Featuring a brave and admirable protagonist and a host of diverse characters, it depicts the issues faced by African Americans during the civil war with compassion and sincerity. While it may be too much for some younger readers, due to the inclusion of some adult themes, it still succeeds in creating a children's book that can still put across a profound message while remaining an enjoyable read. In Buffalo Soldier, the serious nature of the themes and context is allowed to coexist with an engaging and at times, even fun approach towards the prose. The protagonist's unique turn of phrase gives the book a strong sense of time and place, but not at all in an off-putting way. The use of certain phrases that may seem outdated now only serves as a poignant reminder of the time period during which this book is set, which is appropriate given the need for accuracy in fiction concerning historical events. The book succeeds on a number of levels, ranging from the depth and maturity of its content to the personalities of its protagonists. However, the shortcomings that it does have are enough to tarnish one's enjoyment of the book at times, especially when it comes to the book's conclusion, a rushed, excessively joyous reminisce that seems intent upon wrapping up the story line as quickly as possible. That being said, 'Buffalo Soldier' is still a book that I'd recommend to anyone looking for new children's literature that doesn't adhere to too many cliches or overused plots.
Posted on: 08 May 2015

The Fastest Boy In The World - BOOK REVIEW (By Sanjay Kumarendran) | 2/10
Unsatisfying to say the least, 'The Fastest Boy In The World' is a bore from start to finish. Ridden with cliches and overused tropes, it fails to evoke any sympathy for the main characters and after reading it, one finds themselves feeling as though they've experienced similar story lines many times before. While writing about the struggles of those in third world countries has the potential to produce a moving and emotional work of fiction, that potential is wasted in the pages of this derivative trash. At the risk of sounding heartless and aloof, I'd go so far as to say I feel no sympathy for the protagonist. To summarize my thoughts on this book, all I can really say is that you're better off reading something that evokes genuine compassion. More harrowing, meaningful and emotional accounts of the struggles faced by those in third world countries can be found elsewhere, and it's worth looking for these in order to have a truly enlightening experience.
Posted on: 07 May 2015

The Fastest Boy In The World - BOOK REVIEW (By Adam Allen) | 4/10
Recently i have read the fastest boy in the world by. The target audience i think was anyone over the age of 10. The book was greatly disappointing and was a below averidge book. I gave it a 4/10 as there was nothing that Made mae want to read on. There was no excitement or suspense untill the last few chapters. I wouldent have even reached the last few chapters if i didnt have to write a review of it. Also the book was greatly depressing from page one where there was poverty and the final few chapters where there is depression and death. As well as this the book was set in the real world with real things and nothing about it was otherworldly or intresting it was if the writer wrote about a day in a deprived boys life.all of theise things put together are my idea of a terrible book. In conclusion although the story had great potential, it was not filled and a boring and dragged on book thet idont think many people will want to read.
Posted on: 06 May 2015

Tinder - BOOK REVIEW (By Adam Allen) | 8/10
The book I read recently was tinder by Sally Gardner. I gave this book a 8/10. I would have given this book less as it's storyline is good, but vague in places, although the art style and illustrations add greatly to the book, whereas in some books the illustrations greatly decrease the quality of the book. The story was a gripping fanticy wich was dark in many places, further more some readers may find the black magic aspect.Also I was astounded to find that this was rated 11+, as the book included references to adult humor and sexual refrences with mild swearing, and could have affected an impressionable year 6 or young year 7 student. In conclusion I found that this book had a gripping storyline, but should be for older teens.
Posted on: 01 May 2015

Tinder - BOOK REVIEW (By Sanjay Kumarendran) | 8/10
I am easily prepared to believe 'Tinder' is among one of the most complex and experimental children's books ever written, as it deals in surrealism and unconventionality to an almost unsettling extent. Attempting to summarise my feelings about it would be like to trying to make a river flow up a hill, but I'll do what I can to get across my initial and developed thoughts on the book. As Jon rightly said, it's complex in execution, and this could either been seen as good or bad depending upon your attitude towards such sophistication in children's books. If you'd prefer to read a bubbly, optimistic Enid Blyton novel, then I won't lie to you. You'll hate this book with a passion. I can't claim that 'there's something for everyone' in 'Tinder', because it's clear that this is not the case, mostly due to the unnerving and sporadic atmosphere that is present for the entire duration of the story, not even stopping during the rare moments when the protagonist experiences happiness and joy. Nonetheless, there are some facets of 'Tinder' that are likely to have a more universal appeal, such as the stunning, beautifully conceived illustrations, which are a driving force behind some of the most important scenes in the book. A fitting choice for the dark and morbid nature of the book's aesthetic, the only way in which they could be improved would be by appearing more often. It is worth noting that the inclusion of illustrations doesn't make 'Tinder' inherently suitable for young children, and I wouldn't give it to anyone under thirteen unless they were mature enough to handle the adult content, which includes disturbing transgressions such as graphic violence, sexual abuse, murder and rape. Although these morbid, horrific themes are becoming more accepted in children's literature so long as they're discussed with sensitivity and compassion, I still find 'Tinder' to be unusually sinister for its target demographic, but I don't think this necessarily has to be a bad thing. As for the storyline and characters, these are facets of the book that are equally challenging and difficult to analyse. The events of the story, particularly in the earlier chapters, occur in rapid succession, disorientating the reader at times. As the plot progresses, the protagonist, Otto, changes as a character and experiences many ups and downs that go on to define his bizarre experience. I agree with Jon in that the romantic attachment Otto has to Safire develops too quickly, but who knows? Perhaps this was intended to augment the book's breakneck pace and the confusion it offers. In conclusion, I would recommend 'Tinder' to anyone looking to be enticed, moved, frightened, intrigued, bored, excited, impressed and horrified, but most of all, confused. This book left me with a slightly unsatisfied sensation after reading it, but this is probably due to my stupidity and the comfort I find in conventional, formulaic storylines, not through any fault of the author. And even if the plot baffled me at times, I could still appreciate the care put into the illustrations, as well as the unsettling atmosphere. Having previously given this book the entirely new rating of 'who even knows/10', I've now changed my mind. This is an impressive and ambitious work of fiction that may have some shortcomings, but truly deserves to win the Carnegie medal. While it may not offer instant gratification, I've come to view this as something that is needed for young readers who yearn for more subtle and thought-provoking books. Think of it as being similar to an avant-grade jazz record - something that demands attention and concentration, but can also be immersive and a great form of escapism. From me it gets a decent to strong 8.
Posted on: 28 Mar 2015

Tinder - BOOK REVIEW (By Jon Sutton-Haigh) | 5/10
This book is rather... interesting. While the art style and short length make this book seem like a children's book this book is actually rather complex in execution. The book brings up interesting points and the end is a very surprising one. However I feel as if the book is only OK. While reading it I wasn't particularly excited or scared for any of the characters. The main character, Otto is actually a very selfish person with little to no cares for anyone's needs. The only person he seems to 'care' about is Safire who he literally spends one night with, before deciding he's in love. And while this makes a nice change of pace from the perfect characters of every other story of its kind I feel like the author goes too far and makes Otto rather easy to hate. The relationship between Safire and Otto is rushed and the lady herself has no real substance besides a couple of appearances in dreams that the Tinderbox summons. That brings me to the item of power in the story. The Tinderbox is confusing to say the least. It doesn't really have any limitations. It just... kind of does everything. This makes Otto very reliant on it and he practically does nothing without the Tinderbox after he gets it. Overall, I found my read of the Tinder a just barely enjoyable and confusing read. From me it gets a 5/10. JSH. Edit: Otto also has a pair of dice which tell him which compass direction to go. He is also reliable on this throughout the entirety of the book. Again a bit too powerful of an item for my taste.
Posted on: 26 Mar 2015

Apple and Rain - BOOK REVIEW (By Sanjay Kumarendran) | 5/10
Having highly enjoyed another book by Sarah Crossan, 'The Weight of Water', I approached 'Apple and Rain' with certain expectations, primarily that it should cater to the reader's desire for emotionally moving scenes while mostly avoiding the use of clichés. Sarah Crossan was able to achieve this effect in 'The Weight of Water', where she vividly described the plight of a Polish girl in England. Continuing in a similar vein in 'Apple and Rain', Sarah Crossan tells the tale of a girl named Apple, who faces a new, unfamiliar situation when her mother returns to England after many years spent in America. Although Apple is prepared to forgive her mother, her grandmother is less enthusiastic, and is hurt when Apple moves away to live in her mum's flat. Throughout the novel, Apple deals with a number of typical issues faced by those of her age - social rejection, frustration with her elders, and romantic confusion - all laced with a healthy coating of refreshing cynicism and sincerity. Rather than adhering to too many of the clichés often found in contemporary YA fiction, 'Apple and Rain' provides an exciting and unique perspective on the difficulties of growing up and dealing with new emotions. I would recommend it to anyone who's tired of the formulaic, predictable storylines of today's YA novels, but does not want to read anything experimental, surreal or abstract. That being said, it is not without its faults, one being that it fails to offer any deviation from the usual requirement that the protagonist must have a romantic relationship of some sort, or that he or she must face social rejection. When do we get a YA novel that deals with the issues faced by a popular, outgoing teenager? I've asked myself this question from time and time, as I think it's important to remember than insecurities are something that plague everyone when they're at that age, but they manifest themselves differently depending upon who experiences them. Nonetheless, 'Apple and Rain' was a pleasing follow up to the 'Weight of Water', even if it didn't manage to augment its pessimism with a more unconventional storyline. I'd give it a 5/10, as I was satisfied with it and found myself caring deeply about the characters, but I also acknowledge that it lacks substance in some ways and would benefit from more unusual approaches towards the prose and structure.
Posted on: 26 Mar 2015