David O'Connell


All 80 titles for the six categories of our long list have now been reviewed! Each and every one a fantastic book, highly recommended by JAB and the NSTAB team.

The short list will be announced on the 8th September. Votes from the panel are already coming in so here's a little reminder of the twelve fabulous books on the Read Aloud Category Long List.


Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow- Jessica Townsend (Orion)


Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure – Alex T Smith (Hodder)


Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo- Laura James, illustrated by Emily Fox (Bloomsbury)


The Chocolate Factory Ghost- David O'Connell and Clare Powell (Bloomsbury)


You Can't Make Me Go to Witch School- Em Lynas, illustrated by Jamie Littler (Nosy Crow)


Yours Sincerely Giraffe-Megumi Iwasa & Jun Takabatake (Gecko Press)


Codebusters- Dan Metcalf, illustrated by Gary Cherrington (Bloomsbury)

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Witch for a Week- Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Ashley King (Simon and Schuster)


Kat Wolfe Investigates- Lauren St John (Macmillan)

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The Book Case - Dave Shelton (David Fickling)

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The Return of the Railway Children- Lou Kuenzler (Scholastic)

Of these twelve terrific titles, which four will become the 2018 NSTBA Read Aloud short list?

LONG LIST REVIEW: The Chocolate Factory Ghost


When Archie McBudge learns that Great-Uncle Archibald has made him sole owner of the McBudge Confectionary Company with its secret fudge recipe, he could be more surprised. Soon, however, he and his mother are settled into their new home, Honeystone Hall, where he quickly makes new friends, gets a new dog and learns that things are not exactly as they should be at the fudge factory. If Archie can't solve the clues his uncle has left him and discover the secret ingredient for their special fudge before stocks run out, the factory's future is in jeopardy. With his unpleasant relatives, the Puddingham-Pies, determined to ruin his chances, Archie has to keep his wits about him if he is to overcome them- and other forces at work against him!

Mystery, magic, adventure- and sweet things! What more could a book need? 'The Chocolate Factory Ghost' is a brilliant read- full of humour and fun. With (almost!) Dickensian flair, David O'Connell populates his world with fabulously named people and places- Loch Flicmaibogie, Pookiecrag Castle, Mr Hankiecrust, the ancient butler named Tablet (think of the fudge connection). The writing style is rich with description and carefully chosen vocabulary, making it a pleasure to read aloud.

The story moves along at a pleasing pace with plenty of action and lots to discuss and consider. Fliss, Billy, Archie and Sherbet (the dog) make a great team and are well developed characters. In contrast, the 'baddies' are pleasingly 'bad' and easy to dislike!

Fabulously detailed illustrations brilliantly add to the story with a mixture of full page pictures and smaller ones scattered throughout the text. The picture of the research laboratory shows engineering and imagination brought together to produce tempting treats and delicious delights!

A brilliant read aloud that will enthuse and enrapture the most reluctant reader.

The Chocolate Factory Ghost   David O'Donnell, illustrated by Claire Powell

Bloomsbury     ISBN: 978-1408887066