Bookshelf Quality Fiction

Cloud Boy

DSC_0005 (2).JPG

Written as a diary by Angie Moon, ‘Cloud Boy’ follows her life with her ‘almost twin’, Harry Christmas, who lives next door. Partners in everything from sweet eating to cloud watching, they have a wonderful tree house- Artcloud- built for their birthdays which spans both gardens. Life is great until Harry’s mysterious headaches and fatigue turn out to be far more serious than anyone could have imagined and their friendship is tested to the limit.

Interwoven into this story of friendship are the experiences of Angie’s great-grandmother who was a prisoner in Changi prison, told as a series of letters she wrote to her kitten whilst interred. Both stories are pieced together as two quilts are made- one years ago in prison and the other now. Beautifully written, the story captures the fear and pain of both girls as they struggle to come to terms with very different, but both very traumatic events in their lives.

Marcia Williams has captured Angie’s feelings brilliantly as she experiences a whole range of complex, fluctuating emotions. The diary style allows her to express her bursts of anger, her indignant voice ringing clear as she freely pours out her feelings. Deeply moving, the conclusion is heartbreaking and yet full of love.

Grandma’s story is also an incredibly moving one, particularly as it is based on the real life experiences of a survivor of Changi prison who was involved in the making of the quilt. Marcia Williams has stuck on an ingenious way of sharing the little known history behind this and how it was made. It is a fascinating, if at times, painful read with a note at the back to further explain the history behind the quilt- a symbol of love, resilience and ingenuity.

I can’t express how much I loved this book and am completely failing to do it justice here. Although I sobbed my way through sections of it, there are also moments of humour. The text is a relatively easy read, but the content is not. Marcia Williams employs great skill in dealing with painful, difficult subject matter and showing that not all stories have a happy ending. A fascinating, moving book about the importance of love, friendship and stories.

Cloud Boy Marcia Williams

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406381214

Jasper Space Dog

IMG_8805.JPG

Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, ‘Jasper Space Dog’ is the first in a new series from Hilary Robinson and is set to be a huge success.

IMG_8807.JPG

The story is told through a series of letters between eight-year-old Charlie Tanner and Dr Isabelle Star, a rocket scientist at Explore Space UK. Charlie’s dog, Jasper, is very keen to find out as much as possible about space and space travel as he is thinking about becoming a space dog. As the letters go back and forth, not only do we learn more about Charles, Jasper and their parrot, Parrot, we learn so much about space and astronauts.

IMG_8808.JPG

Told with great humour and charm, the story is also an excellent source of information about the lunar landings. Many fascinating details are included in the book like why Buzz Aldrin was called Buzz, how food was specially prepared for the astronauts and how various things were named. The book is perfect for using in class to support learning about space and could be used as a stimulus for writing in various forms.

Full of lovely illustrations, ‘Jasper Space Dog' is a very accessible, enjoyable read. It is great to know that the very engaging characters of Charlie and Jasper are going to be appearing in more adventures soon.

Jasper Space Dog Hilary Robinson, illustrated Lewis James

Strauss House ISBN: 978- 1999338909

Published 8th April 2019

The Middler

IMG_8789.JPG

Maggie Cruise is a middler. Her brother, Jed, is an eldest - special because he is the family’s first born. Her younger brother, Trig, is the little one, everyone’s favourite. Being a middler means she is overlooked and ignored, but Maggie yearns for recognition and success. Fennis Wick, where they live, is protected from the outside world by a thick hedge. Dirty, dangerous, deceitful wanderers roam the land, threatening their lives. But when Maggie meets Una Opal, a hungry wanderer who needs her help, everything Maggie has been led to believe is turned upside down.

I loved this book! Being a ‘middler’ myself, I recognised Maggie’s sense of frustration and injustice at being the invisible middle one- particularly as a girl between two boys. She is a wonderful figure, loving and loyal, but flawed, making an engaging main character.

The world she lives in has been expertly crafted and filled with believable characters. Sent to fight in the Quiet War, sacrificing their lives at home for the good of their families, Eldests may seem to have the best of everything and live a charmed life, yet Jed and Lindi, another Eldest, are well rounded characters, shown to have worries about their future as well. Trig is lovely- full of life and skilled in his own way.

Gripping from start to finish, this is a one-sitting sort of book which completely captivates you. Although there are dark moments full of menace, the story is ultimately uplifting and full of hope and love. Highly recommended, this is a fabulous read.

The Middler Kirsty Applebaum

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788003452