Helen Cooper


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 Quality Fiction Category Long List.


Just Jack- Kate Scott (Piccadilly)

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 The Hippo at the End of the Hall- Helen Cooper (David Fickling)


To the Edge of the World- Julia Green (OUP)


Sky Chasers- Emma Carroll (Chicken House)


Sky Song - Abi Elphinstone (Simon and Schuster)


 Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki - Kevin Crossley-Holland & Jeffrey Allan Love (Walker)


Revolt against the Romans - Tony Bradman (A&C Black)

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The House with Chicken Legs- Sophie Anderson (Usborne)


Mark of the Cyclops- Saviour Pirotta (A&C Black)


Song of the Dolphin Boy- Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan) 


A Story Like the Wind- Gill Lewis & Jo Weaver (OUP)


The Jewelled Jaguar- Sharon Tregenza (Firefly)

Which of these twelve amazing titles will be among the final four of the shortlist?

LONG LIST REVIEW: The Hippo at the End of the Hall


Receiving an invitation to the mysterious Gee Museum 'containing the wonderful works of nature and curious works of science', Ben is intrigued by the message: Come now or come never! Despite his mother's reluctance for him to go, Ben is drawn to the museum where he finds the exhibits come to life and are desperate for his help as the museum in under threat from a property developer. Ben is their last hope at saving the museum, but has he come in time?

Reminiscent of museums like the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford or Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire, the Gee Museum is a celebration of the wonderful nature of museums- items people have collected together which are fascinating, mundane, beautiful, rare or curious. The story encourages you to value and explore these places and Helen Cooper has drawn on her love of museums and items she has discovered to create the Gee Museum. Sengi is based on an exhibit in the Natural History Museum in Oxford, the hippo from the Peabody Museum in Boston and Flummery from the Tring Natural History Museum.

The story is beautifully told, using a rich vocabulary and entwining folk tales into Ben's narrative. There is much to explore and enjoy here with the story offering many opportunities for inspiring a range of writing and challenging children to explore the carefully chosen vocabulary. 

Bursting with beautiful pencil sketches, 'The Hippo at the End of the Hall' is a charming, exciting read, perfect for engaging the most reluctant reader.

The Hippo at the End of the Hall       Helen Cooper 

David Fickling Books    ISBN: 978-1910989753

You can read another review of 'The Hippo at the End of the Hall'  here.

JAB North

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Tonight, JAB North met to discuss life, the universe and this term's chosen reads... 'Letter from the Lighthouse' by Emma Carroll and 'Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure' by Alex T. Smith. The response to both books was overwhelmingly positive!

'Letters from the Lighthouse' was a huge hit. Everyone enjoyed the story and the opening was particularly admired for its atmosphere and description. A couple of members had read it to their classes and the children 'adored', 'loved' and 'couldn't get enough' of it!

There was a lively discussion about the cover artwork. It is a tribute to Emma Carroll's ability to vividly describe a scene that there was great disappointment that the lighthouse depicted on the cover did not match the one in the story- the one everyone imagined. We also discussed how useful it would be to have some background historical information linking the story to real events.

The group felt that 'Letters from the Lighthouse' was a great read and one which which could be used either as a Quality Fiction text or as a Read Aloud for Y5 and 6 children.


We then discussed 'Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure'. The gentle humour and wonderful illustrations made this an immediate hit too. Mr Penguin is an appealing character and the adventure rattles along at a great pace, told using a rich, challenging vocabulary. We also discussed the Claude books and how much we love them too!

Everyone agreed that there was much you could do in class using this book as a Quality Fiction text with Y2 or Y3 children, but that any aged children would enjoy the story as a Read Aloud as well. 


Two brilliant books which would enrich any classroom or library. A lovely session- with mince pies to get us in the festive mood!


Our next books will be

'The Hippo at the End of the Hall' by Helen Cooper


'The Great Gran Plan' by Elli Woollard and Steven Lenton.

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