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Book reviews: Books for boys

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A selection of books suitable for engaging boys readers…

The Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards (Faber and Faber, £6.99 PB)

The parliament of blood

I’m a sucker (pun intended) for vampire stories and this one has pretty much everything any fan of fangs could wish for. A great baddie, an evocative Victorian setting, biting dialogue and a characterful band of heroes all make this a very rewarding reading experience. The opening really gets you hooked in, with an Egyptian mummy rising from the dead.

It’s quite a sophisticated read, with various references to Ancient Egypt and Victorian London. Most competent readers, who love stories with a dash of mystery and adventure, will love getting their teeth into it.

Suitable for: boys; girls; older readers; more able readers.


Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy (HarperCollins, £12.99 HB)

skulduggery pleasant: The Faceless Ones

Derek Landy is a genius, and the latest Skulduggery Pleasant story is probably the best yet. It’s incredible that books with a skeleton as their hero can be so full of life. The Faceless Ones is a rip-roaring adventure full of the usual zippy dialogue, black humour, evil characters and gripping plot lines. This one has the added tease of a cliffhanger ending. Any child into fantasy books with a good dose of comedy won’t be disappointed.

Subscribers can access activities based on the first Skulduggery Plesant plus an interview with Derek Landy.

Suitable for: boys; girls; older readers; reluctant readers, more able readers, reading aloud.


Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel (Faber and Faber, £6.99 PB)

Starclimber

This is the third book in a series and so, not having read the first two, I was a little worried that I’d be confused. But, this is a brilliant book that you can read on its own as well as along with the two previous books. It is a great space adventure, with very believable, richly-drawn characters. Kenneth Oppel really conjures up a vivid outer-space atmosphere that competent readers and astronaut wannabes will love. Despite being quite long, the story whips along and Oppel knows how to keep readers wanting more.

Suitable for: boys; older readers; more able readers.


Brilliant Billy Does His Bit by Simon Hutton (Andersen Press, £4.99 PB)

Brilliant Billy Does His Bit

This is a lovely, simple story about a boy with a strong interest in World War II, who discovers that growing vegetables can be as important as being a soldier.

It starts with a World War II veteran visiting Billy’s classroom. It is full of lots of nice details, particularly when Billy is helping his Dad out on his allotment. Short chapters and lively illustrations make it an easy read, and it manages to impart information without ever being too much like a textbook. There’s a real warmth that comes across, making Billy a boy lots of young readers will relate to.

Suitable for: boys; girls; younger readers; reluctant readers; reading aloud.


Grubtown tales: The Year that it Rained Cows by Philip Ardagh (Faber and Faber, £4.99 PB)

Grubtown tales

I think Philip Ardagh is an absolutely hilarious writer. And, he’s one of those authors that you can tell has almost as much fun crafting his irreverent stories as we do reading them.

Any book that starts with a man on a bike being flattened by a cow falling from the sky is going to get my vote. It’s got a great mix of comedy, jokey asides, and weird names like Limbo Goulash and Flabby Gomez. It’s an easy read, with lots of illustrations adding extra zest, allowing it to hook in the most reluctant readers.

Suitable for: boys; girls; younger readers; reluctant readers; reading aloud.


Pendragon: Blackwater by DJ MacHale (Simon & Schuster, £6.99 PB)

Pendragon: Blackwater

A rich, tense and mysterious story involving a strange world full of ferocious half-human, half-cat creatures. Action-packed and scary in places, it’s likely to appeal to fantasy fans.

Suitable for: boys; younger readers; reluctant readers; reading aloud


Zac Zoltan’s Mad Monster Agency: Return of the Chocoholic Vampires by Knife & Packer (Bloomsbury, £4.99 PB)

Zac Zoltan?s Mad Monster Agency: Return of the Chocoholic Vampires

More vampires, this time of the sweet-toothed variety. A fun, easy-reading book for younger readers full of lively illustrations of people with Y-fronts on their heads!

Suitable for: boys; younger readers; reluctant readers.


Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate by Adrienne Kress (Scholastic, £6.99 PB)

Timothy and the Dragon's Gate

The premise of a schoolboy having a work experience placement at the Tower of Doom is a clever one. Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate is a book jam packed with humour and adventure.

Suitable for: boys; girls; older readers.


Robo-Runners: Razorbites by Damian Harvey (Hodder, £4.99 PB)

Robo-Runners: Razorbites

A good read in a fun series, this is easy-reading sci-fi aimed squarely at robot-loving boys. Nicely detailed pictures of the robots, along with technical robot terms, add to its appeal.

Suitable for: boys; younger readers.


Prince Jake: Knighty-Knight by Sue Mongredien (Orchard, £3.99 PB)

Prince Jake: Knighty-Knight

A lively tale of a naughty, pool-playing young prince that rollocks along at a galloping pace. Years 3 and 4 boys with a good sense of humour should enjoy this book.

Suitable for: boys; younger readers.

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