Michael Rosen's Sad Book is heartbreaking book about how he felt after his 19 year old son, Eddie, died from meningitis. It is simple, easy to read and deeply emotional, yet could help any child who is feeling sad or experiencing the confused feelings of bereavement. Quentin Blake, the world famous children's book illustrator, contributes to its simplicity but, as an adult, it's very difficult to read aloud without a lump in the throat.
Suitable for readers aged 9 to 11
The jury was out when the staff read this classic novel by Philip Ridley. Many staff loved it whilst others did not enjoy it at all. The story is all about a small thin boy with knock knees and a squeaky voice called Ruskin who has been bullied by Elvis, a strong looking lad always dressed in baseball kit. We learn later that there is a bit of history with their fathers too. Ruskin wants to be the hero in the school play but Elvis gets the part. When the green monster threatens the residents of Lizard Street who will save the day?
Once again Philip Ridley uses repetitive, catchy language to hook the children. When reading the book aloud to a class they will join in with much of the dialogue as they know exactly what is coming next. Some staff did not like the characters at all, particularly the teacher who always went into raptures when the word "Shakespeare" is mentioned to him.
The Tear Thief is a dreamy, fairy like character, almost a shadow. With waxen but childish features and clothes, she isn’t at all frightening but mystical and gentle. She climbs into homes collecting the tears of all children who are crying. But it is the tears of those children who are genuinely sad that are the most precious and, by the end of the book, the reader will discover the magical reason why.
The gorgeous illustrations and charming story make this a book for children to treasure. They will return to it time and time again, finding something new to discover each time they look at the stunning illustrations and listen to the story. A modern fairytale, it is perfect to share with a child who is upset or enjoys a beautifully written tale. More able readers of 8 or 9 years old will love exploring the richness of the language and I can envisage teachers using this book as a model to help junior aged children write their own modern fairy tale.
Suitable for Yr 5 and 6 readers.
“God is love,” said the doctor. “God is good”.
“No he ain’t,” Jim shouted, “He ain’t good to me!”
This was the moment Jim Jarvis first met Dr. Barnardo who, at that time, had set up a free school for children living in extreme hardship. It was some time before their paths crossed again.
Victorian London was a cruel place for a homeless child. Having lost his mum, being separated from his sisters and escaped from imprisonment at the workhouse, Jim has to find a way to survive. His journey is sad yet inspiring and prepares primary aged children to understand how poverty impacted on childhood. Not everyone survived and, as readers, we experience the ruthlessness of death along the way.
There are some heart warming moments to show just a glimmer of humanity: the time when Rosie rocked Jim until he sobbed himself to sleep was very touching but it cannot last long in this callous Dickensian era of the 1860s. Enter Grimy Nick, who used Jim despicably to load and unload coal onto and off his boat. The beatings, starvation and desperation of Jim are distressing and we celebrate as he breaks free. We breathe a sigh of relief when he takes refuge as we realise that he will enlighten Dr. Barnardo and, at last, Jim will be safe.