Age 7 to 11

The Well-Versed Cat

Indigo’s Star

Dear Mr Morpingo

The Children of Green Knowe

The Chimneys of Green Knowe

Blitzed


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The Well-Versed Cat

Publisher: Running Press 1993

ISBN: 1-5613-8311-2

This is a delightful little book which will fit into something as small as a pencil case. It is ideal for people who like cats. It contains over 30 poems about our furry friends. Almost every poem is accompanied by a full colour picture. You are bound to find your own particular moggy in there somewhere.

All sorts of people have contributed to this little book – Rosalie Moore who was born in 1910 and is still alive, Christopher Smart, who lived from 1722 to 1771 and Eleanor Farjeon who lived form 1881 to 1965, to name but three.

My own particular favourite is in fact the poem by Eleanor Farjeon, which starts

 

Cats sleep

 

Anywhere,

 

Any table,

 

Any chair

This one is accompanied by a picture of a cat asleep in a bread bin. That reminds me of various cats I have owned who have slept in such places as the wash basin, the bottom of the wardrobe and in the waste paper bin!

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Indigo’s Star

Author: Hilary McKay

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books, 2003

ISBN: 0-3408-7578-X

Indigo has to return to school after a bout of glandular fever. This means facing the bullies who have tormented him before. Younger sisters Saffy and Rose do their best to help as does Saffy’s friend, Sarah. But sometimes their helping only makes matters worse. Indigo finds an ally in a visiting American class-mate Tom.

We are amused and charmed by Indigo’s slightly eccentric family. We cannot fail to feel affection for Rose who does not want to wear her new glasses but who always wants her father, who works mainly in his studio in London, to come home. One of her letters might eventually bring him running back. Perhaps more importantly we find out that Tom has a gentler side and Indigo a braver one.

This easy-to-read novel, with its lively dialogue, is guaranteed to make you laugh and cry at the same time.

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Dear Mr Morpingo

Author: Geoff Fox

Publisher: Wizard Books 2004

ISBN: 1-8404-6607-3

This is a biography of Michael Morpurgo (whose name many people have difficulty spelling or even remembering). He was the Children’s Laureate from May 2003 to May 2005. The whole idea of there being a children’s laureate came from a conversation between Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo, so it was quite appropriate that he should take on the role for a while.

This book tells us about how Michael became a writer and how he continues to write. It is written in language that children can understand.

Although it is a children’s book, I personally found it very encouraging. It is always interesting to read about other writers.

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The Children of Green Knowe

Author: Lucy Boston

Publisher: Faber and Faber 2000 (first published 1954)

ISBN: 0-5712-0202-0

Toseland – Tully – goes to stay with his great-grandmother at the house of Green Knowe. This house really exists. Lucy Boston used to live there. You can still visit this house and it just as magical as when Tully visited. He arrives by boat because of the floods. He finds a wonderful home where the animals are tame, and the past and present mingle delightfully.

The setting is slightly old-fashioned and there is rather more description than there would be in a modern book. Even so, there is plenty of mystery and magic, and Tully is not really alone as he gets to know the other children who stay at Green Knowe. This is not scary enough to be a ghost story and not really quite a time-slip story. Some of the charm comes from the names – Penny Soaky, Green Noah, Linnet, Mrs Oldknow and Boggis.

I think one reason why I like this book so much is that Lucy Boston has done what I so often do: seen the mystery behind everyday occurrences. So, it is really quite something to go and see her house with the patchwork quilts, the topiary animals in the garden, the rocking horse which Tully woke to see moving and the little ebony mouse which is carved so fine that he is soft to the touch. Lucy’s son, Peter, illustrated the Green Knowe books. Her daughter-in-law now lives in the house and acts as custodian. She frequently shows visitors around.

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The Chimneys of Green Knowe

Author: Lucy Boston

Publisher: Oldknow Books 2003 (first published 1958)

ISBN: 0-9523-2333-8

This is the second book about Toseland’s – Tully’s – adventures when he goes to stay with his great-grandmother at the house of Green Knowe. Once again he gets to know some gentle ghosts, different children from the ones he met last time.

Again there is plenty of mystery and magic. The plot seems a little more developed than in the first book. The story of Susan and Jacob in the past, and Tully’s interaction with them, is a little more exciting than that of the previous work, which probably served just to set the scene.

It is interesting to read the books of one author and see that writer develop. Although these books are set in the past and written for the child of the 1950s, the stories are still very readable. It is even more interesting if one happens to have visited the house in which they are set.

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Blitzed

Author: Robert Swindells

Publisher: Corgi Yearling 2003, first published 2002

ISBN: 0-4408-6397-X

George is fascinated by World War Two. However, he gets more than he’d bargained for when he goes on a school visit to Eden Camp, a World War Two museum. He suddenly finds himself whisked back to the 1940s, where he has an exciting adventure which has a curious connection with what is happening in the present.

Throughout the book it seems that George is having a conversation with us. The chapters are extremely short, and written in the way a boy like George would speak. From time to time he quotes what the other children would say. We can almost hear their voices.

This is a gripping read and poses many questions, as all time-slip stories do. It is a little disappointing, however, that George returns to the present day just before the story set during the war ends. It cries out for a sequel.

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Page last updated 14 June 2006