Ages 7-9 [Lower Key Stage 2] Archive

Alien Force, Theresa Breslin

Barn Owl Books    ISBN 9781903015759   £4.99

This fast paced, science fiction thriller would suit independent Key Stage 2 readers who like lots of action packed into the narrative. Jodie, from planet Dijan, becomes human and is placed in the anonymous setting of a children’s home. His mission is to try and understand why humans are polluting their planet. He uses a Calling Crystal to communicate with his home planet and one day, in the middle of a school lesson, it starts to flash a warning that he is being identified by an alien force. As the story develops, Jodie unmasks the alien and is left with a terrible dilemma – does he destroy the Crystal and remain stranded permanently on Earth or does he betray his people to save his own life? Strong friendships are the key to his final decision.

This book is highly recommended as an exciting reading experience.

Gill Robins, 2011

All About Ancient Peoples - Ancient Greeks, Anita Ganeri  

Franklin Watts   ISBN 9780749686529   £12.99

This is a very useful book which presents information in an interesting way.  The double-page spreads are attractive.  Colour is well-used and information about geography, language and literature, science and maths, history, social history, arts crafts and music accompany the central facts and illustration and photographs.  My class particularly liked the double-page spread on Language and Writing, the Wisdom of Greece and Alexander the Great.  The final double-page is a clearly presented time line with a comprehensive glossary.  This book is a very clear introduction to ancient Greece and is recommended for key stage 2.

Brenda Marshall, English 4-11 Number 41, Spring 2011

The Comic Strip Greatest Greek Myths, Sally Kindberg and Tracey Turner

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781408804490 £6.99

This outstanding Comic Strip book is accessible for readers of all ages. I loved every aspect of it, from its pocket-sized format, through the red and black cartoon strips to the highly entertaining and original telling of classic Greek myths. The book lives up to its claim on the blurb, featuring: ‘Eye-gouging, Liver-pecking’ and ‘Hours of fun for everyone from scholars to anyone who thinks a myth is a female moth.’

Meet Jason and trace his epic voyage, acquaint yourself with Helen of Troy, find out why a wooden horse was so important and discover how a woman with snakes for hair lost her head to the noble Perseus. All human emotions are reflected, from love through hate to anger and revenge. The machinations of the gods can be tricky for a novice to follow, but to assist the reader, this book starts with a comprehensive Who’s Who of Ancient Greece, profiling gods, monsters, muses, nymphs, fates and furies. This forms a useful reference guide whilst reading the narrative.

Although these are ancient, epic stories, a contemporary feel is created by the effective partnership of text and image. The book will leave readers laughing from start to finish. It should be available in every junior school library, class bookshelf and ancient Greek topic box. Ten year old Freddie liked the comic strip layout, the illustrations and the mixing of modern words with ancient stories. He thinks the book would suit both boys and girls from aged 7 upwards. He described the book as ‘humorous, informative and good to look at’.

Gill Robins, English 4-11 No. 42, Summer 2011

Grubtown Tales: The Far From Great Escape, Philip Ardagh

Faber & Faber    ISBN 9780571242344    £4.99
The Grubtown tales series are very popular in our school. Grubtown is not to be found on any map, and local resident beardy Ardagh provides vivid descriptions of Grubtown and its inhabitants. Children like the zaniness, the silliness, the chaos and the grubbiness. The word play and puns are whacky and the pace is fast and fun. The book tells the story of why the local lighthouse goes dark, a ship runs aground bulldozing The Rusty Dolphin and the Grubtown jailbreak. Fans of Andy Stanton and Lemony Snicket will find much entertainment in this very amusing book. I recommend the series to Key Stage 2 pupils.

Brenda Marshall, English 4-11 Number 40, Autumn 2010

Letters from Around the World: Egypt, David Cumming

Cherrytree Books   ISBN 97818442342763   £10.99

Letters from Around the World: Germany

Cherrytree Books   ISBN 97818442342770   £10.99

This is an engaging stimulating approach from the outset in the form of letters. Esraa is a 9 year old Egyptian girl writing to her pen pal Jackie about her country; Paul is an 8 year old German boy writing about his country to his English pen pal Kerry. The books are a combination of the personal (with details of Esraa's and Paul's lives respectively) alongside brief histories of Egypt and Germany.

The books stay within their formats throughout and are interesting and easy to follow. The knowledge gained is mainly about aspects of Egyptian and German daily life as seen through the eyes of Esraa and Paul, including school and family life. The books end with useful and informative 'Fact Files', 'Glossary' and 'Further Information' sections.

These books are highly recommended as an ideal means for lower Key Stage 2 children to draw comparisons between their daily lives and those of contemporaries in other countries. These are part of a series of books covering a range of countries throughout the world.

Kelly Knowles, English 4-11 Number 37, Autumn 2009

Mathmagicians: How maths applies to everything, Johnny Ball

Dorling Kindersley   ISBN 9781405337274   £10.99

This is fantastic book for stimulating and extending an understanding of mathematics in our everyday life. Johnny Ball starts in ancient times and explains the birth of measurement, from time, weight and distance, to how great thinkers believed in the magic of numbers. Later we are shown how numbers have helped explorers, engineers and scientists.

The book can be read as a narrative or dipped into and most of the double page spreads have sections that catch the reader's eye and jump off the page. My class liked the jokes, puzzles and tricks and the links with the history of science/maths. Their favourite sections were where our ideas of measurement and maths come from, especially the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks, the pages on the Colosseum, sundials and how to find your way across the sea. Children returned to the book again and again, and it inspired sharing and conversation. A child commented, 'You don't have to be good at maths to like this book.' It would make a great present for a Key Stage 2 child.

Brenda Marshall, English 4-11 Number 40, Autumn 2010

Mrs Cockle's Cat, Philippa Pearce and Anthony Maitland

Jane Nissen Books    ISBN 9781903252338    £6.99

I am a huge fan of Philippa Pearce and Mrs Cockle's Cat is a special book. Mrs. Cockle is an old lady who lives in London. As a balloon seller she does not make very much money but has enough to keep herself and her cat, Peter. Peter is very special to her. His passion is fresh fish and when bad weather interrupts the fresh fish supply Peter runs away to find some more. Mrs Cockle is devastated and gets thinner and thinner. One very windy day she floats into the air with her balloons and her adventure begins. Eventually she is reunited with Peter and starts a new life. The book is an exploration of love and offers opportunities for discussing relationships such as why, at the end of the book, Mrs Cockle did not tell anyone that Peter had lived with her before. Mrs Cockle is an interesting portrait of old age. She is prepared to take on new challenges and uproot herself to be with the cat she loves. The text is enhanced by Anthony Maitland's sensitive illustrations. This is a book of great charm for primary age children.

Brenda Marshall, English 4-11 Number 38, Spring 2010

When We Lived in Uncle's Hat, Peter Stamm and Jutta Bauer

Winged Chariot Press   ISBN 978-1905341047    £11.50

Sometimes a book is unusual, perhaps a little strange, but intriguing and stimulating.  When We Lived in Uncle’s Hat is just such a book.
Sometimes, people have to move, and it can take those families a long time to settle and to feel safe.  Here we follow a family as they live in a variety of different places.  Our narrator is a member of the family, one of the children, who shares with us all the places they try to call home.  They live in a house with a blue light, the bus, on the church roof, in Auntie’s violin, on the moon and – of course – in Uncle’s hat.

In total, the family live in seventeen different places, before finding that the eighteenth place is really home.  There’s one page of text, and one full-colour illustration for each place.  Everywhere they live has some distinctive issues, for example, in the sea they try talking to fish, but the fish never reply and in the hotel they get fresh towels everyday.

 For each location they inhabit, there is a list of random facts about what happens to different family members there:  Mother watches the same film forty times in the cinema, Grandma loses her patience in Nowhere and on the moon, Father promises each of his children a third of the world.

 On their way to discover their true home, there is sadness when Grandpa passes away, but overall this is a magical journey.   And there is so much to discuss with young readers.  What do they think each of the locations might be like to live in?  Which would they choose and why?  Can they think of any other places the family might live (school, supermarket, an ice cream van), and what might the family’s life be like there?  Can the children in your class use the ‘Our Home’ section to write about their own homes in a similar style?

There is one word of warning – living on the church roof makes Mother have an Eve-inspired moment when she sunbathes in the nude.  If it is a problem, you can skip that page, but I suspect most children will find it funny (the illustration certainly doesn’t offend me).

And finally, what of Uncle’s hat?  Well, to tell you everything would ruin it, but I can tell you that when the family lived there, Uncle met two women on a regular basis, but kissed only one of them.  Now who do you suppose they might be?

If you’d like some in-depth ideas for using the book, visit the publisher’s website for an online resource sheet:'sHat%20support.pdf

Rob Sanderson, 2011


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