‘Hover Car Racer’ by Matthew Reilly

I’ve read this book five times. I’d read it again (it’s a quick read). It’s up there on my list of all time favourites. The book has everything – twists, turns, fantastic characters and a fast-paced, addictive, storyline. What’s funny is how this sci-fi book doesn’t stand out in bookshops and libraries (I lend books from two different libraries). I just picked it up off the shelf one day, read it and found it’s one hell of a read. It also has that funny twinge of comedy and it actually made me laugh at random times.

At the start of the book it says it’s set: “A few years from now”. I wonder, as the book was written in 2004, why don’t we have hover technology yet?

The book is about, 14-year-old, Jason Chaser who has a talent for hover car racing (hardly a surprise given the book’s title!). Jason dreams of becoming a pro racer. His younger brother (he’s 12) is AKA ‘The Bug’ and he’s the hover car’s navigator. He helps Jason to make plans. He’s good at it because he’s clever (he can tell you what 654 x 357 is in 2 seconds!).

Their talent as racers is spotted at a race by a teacher from the International Race School in Tasmania (the school actually owns Tasmania, so they have huge race courses for the hover cars). The teacher offers them a place at the school. This gives Jason a chance to become a pro racer.

When he gets to the school, Jason makes friends with Ariel Piper who is the first ever girl to enter the race school.

It becomes obvious quickly that someone is intent on stopping him and Ariel from winning anything or becoming something big. It’s a story you can read with little effort; you just go with the flow. I recommend this book to anyone who likes fast-paced sci-fi thrillers (I’d say that’s most kids!). I’d say kids of any age could read it. The only hard bit for younger reads is that there are lots of characters and they can be hard to keep up with. I liked this, but some kids might get confused by this.

Review by Finn Buck aged 12.hover-car-racer

 

‘Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life’ by James Patterson

This comedic book is hilarious, interesting and all round incredible. James Patterson has found a way to make you laugh while making you think. It’s a very funny book. It’s also a rebellious book. It appeals to me and I expect it’d appeal to anyone in their middle school years. As I’m Irish, I don’t get any of specific references to elementary school, middle school and grades – we call them different things.
The book is full of cartoons. I used to read lots of these types of books. I think this is what makes this book this book (if you get me). Now I’m older I use my own imagination while reading, but pictures help younger kids (like my sisters).
The book is based on a really good idea. It is about 12 year old Rafe Khatchadorian who has an amazing creative imagination. He’s a good character. It’s Rafe’s first day of 6th grade in his new school. I expect many kids feel a bit odd on their first day and so does Rafe. When I say many kids, I mean the new kids with no actual school friends.
Things get worse because Miller the Killer, a bully, is already onto him even though he’s trying not to get noticed.
Rafe’s only friend, Leo the Silent, is imaginary. This doesn’t stop them being great friends! Their relationship is a bit weird (of course!).
Jeanne, one of the prettiest girls in the school, doesn’t know he exists. He wants her to though.
From Rafe’s point of view, 6th grade is like being in a prison. The teachers in the school seem intent on making the students obey many rules – and there really are a lot of rules. Rafe thinks up an idea which he calls Operation R.A.F.E. The objective is to break every single rule in the school. Leo and Rafe think up funny ways to do this.
At home, Rafe lives with his Mum, his little sister, Georgina, and his lazy Mum’s boyfriend, ‘Bear’. Rafe starts to get into trouble for breaking the rules and his Mum freaks out. Eventually Rafe stops Operation R.A.F.E. and tries to cool it down to normal. But it’s not going very well; it seems he’s going to flunk 6th grade, so with Leo’s help, he comes up with a major plan.
He draws loads onto one of the school walls. He thinks it’s amazing but his teachers don’t. Then, that night, Bear hurts his Mum in a fight and he calls the police. His Mum kicks Bear out of the house.
Rafe is going to get expelled from his school. This isn’t so bad because Rafe’s art teacher recommends an art school he can go to.
I recommend this book if you like funny, rebellious, book. This series of books has been very successful. There’s even a movie. I’ve seen a bit of it and it was funny but not as funny as the book.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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‘The 13 Story Treehouse’ by Andy Griffiths

This book is brimful with humour and amazingly crazy ideas. These ideas are weird but make for an unbelievably good book. Though this book is for younger kids, I still found it very good and would highly recommend it – especially if your sense of humour likes a bit of crazy. Andy Griffiths has some imagination to be able to come up with some of this stuff. His book is like a weird parallel universe where most things are true and anything can happen.

The story is about Andy and Terry, two guys who live in an awesome 13 story treehouse. It has a lemonade fountain, a bowling alley, a room full of pillows, swinging vines, a see through swimming pool, a theatre, a library, a tank of man-eating sharks, a games room, a secret underground laboratory and a marshmallow machine that shoots marshmallows into to your mouth whenever you’re hungry. Who wouldn’t like this treehouse: I would beg for it.

Well, Andy and Terry work together on books, Andy writes and Terry illustrates. The book starts with Andy getting out of bed to find Terry turning a cat into a catnary (cat + canary) and it flies away (as I said, a bit crazy). The problem is it’s their friend Jill’s cat and she’s looking for it. To make matters worse, their publisher, Mr Big Nose, wants their next book finished and on his desk on the same day. Of course they haven’t even started it. Then a lot of crazy stuff goes on, so I might just list it all.

They have a drawing competition which gets out of hand, Andy throws a TV out of the treehouse because of the annoying shows. Terry gets a package; instead of being the sea monkeys he ordered, it turns out to be a sea monster: it tries to kill them. Terry burps a bubble and flies away in it until Andy saves him. They write a book called Super Finger. Terry gets replacement sea monkeys that turn out to be real monkeys. A giant gorilla comes for bananas and starts shaking the treehouse. The danger is averted when flying catnarys save the day.

I can tell you honestly, these things don’t make sense when I say it or write them. But if you read the book, they will. It’s still be pretty hard to follow though. I think you’ll love this because I did. It’s very funny!

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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‘The World’s Worst Children’ by David Walliams

This book caused an argument between me and my sister. I really like the book (I’m 10), but she didn’t. We both sat down and wrote out why we liked and didn’t like the book. Here’s what we came up with.

Éanna (aged 10)

I really like this book because it has loads of cool characters. Each chapter contains a story about a different character (all of them are naughty children). The chapters contain:
Chapter 1 ‘Dribbling Drew’ – this is about a boy who floods the world with his dribbled drool. He is so lazy and drools so much when he is asleep: it’s a horrible, funny, idea;
Chapter 2 ‘Bertha the Blubberer’ who cries all the time. She cries about everything and blames most things on her poor little brother (but he gets his revenge after she pulls all her hair out);
Chapter 3 ‘Nigel Nit-Boy’ – yes, nits, horrible nits – he’s a boy who keeps nits as pets (billions of them). It’s so disgusting. He becomes a kind of super hero of nits – urrrggh;
Chapter 4 ‘Miss Petula Perpetual-Motion’ who cannot stand still. She moves non-stop. She keeps moving in places and in ways which cause problems – this isn’t the funniest of the stories. Most kids find it hard to sit still!
Chapter 5 ‘Peter Picker’ a boy who picks his nose too much. Snot of all shapes and sizes – one of his bogeys grows and grows until it is the size of the moon and then explodes. This is a silly story. It could be funnier just by describing boys in my class picking their noses and wiping it on something (yuck);
Chapter 6 ‘Grubby Gertrude’ is a girl who wouldn’t tidy her room. It’s a complete mess, a real rubbish tip. Her Mum tries to clean it but the vacuum explodes! Eventually, she is eaten by ‘The Rubbish Monster’; the lesson is, tidy your room!
Chapter 7 ‘Brian Wong who was never ever wrong’ is a boy who thinks he is really brainy. He thinks he can count to infinity – he finds you can’t. He spends his whole life counting and then dies. But he was not wrong; you can try counting to infinity, it’s just that you never get there! He finds sums easy, Chapter 8 ‘Windy Mindy’ a girl who eats loads of foods to make her do smelly farts; she learns to plays instruments with her farts and becomes famous. Eventually she does a fart so big she ends up in space. Farts are funny, but this story could be funnier.
Chapter 9 ‘Earnest Ernest’ is a boy who has never ever laughed. I didn’t really get this story; and Chapter 10 ‘Sofia Sofa’ a girl who would not get off the sofa – eventually she becomes part girl, part sofa and part TV. I think this story is meant to make you stop watching do much TV!

I recommend this book to people who like comedy fiction who are aged 4-12 years old. David Walliams has written two of these books of stories about horrible children. I hope he writes another one. You don’t have to like all the stories; there are plenty to choose from. They are all about the right length. I could read one on the way to school and one on the way home. It’s easy to read.

Lara (aged 8)

I didn’t like this book. It’s probably to with the way the book jumps from one character to the next. There is no story to keep you reading. I read some of the stories and then got bored. I found it hard to pick the book back up as I wasn’t following any story. I like the story of Miss Petula Perpetual-Motion best. The rest of the stories are just a bit silly and not like children I know at all.

Dribbling Drew is the worst story. I have allergies and my nose drips – I can’t do anything about it. I take anti-histamine tablets (my Dad spelt that word). It’s not funny: I am not a bad child because my nose runs. Is Drew bad because he drools? I like all of the illustrations by a man named Tony Ross. They help you to imagine the story. It’s just some of the children in the stories do things that are silly. They couldn’t do these things in real life. It’s a bit like the Horrible Henry books. It gets boring reading about naughty children all the time. This is meant to be a funny book, but I didn’t really find it funny.

I think it might be a good book to read as bedtime stories to smaller children to make them do things like clean their room and not pick their nose. Some bits of the book are easy to read and some are hard. I think anyone my age could read it. I have a suggestion. What about a nice story about a girl who can’t stop laughing and everyone around her always laughs when they meet her – she makes people happy. I am tired of reading stories of bad children.

Having looked at each other’s reasons for liking and not liking this book, we think the book is worth reading, just not if you can find a book with one really good story in it. We also think that making fun of kids for things they cannot control – like a runny nose – is not nice. David Walliams is trying to be funny and that’s ok; it’s just that pointing out things like a constant runny nose can make a kid feel bad.

Review by Éanna and Lara Buck

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‘Danny the Champion of the World’ by Roald Dahl

This is one of my Dad’s all time favourite books and he asked me to read it to see what I think. I like most of Roald Dahl’s other books, so I didn’t mind. They are easy to read and never too long. His books are deliberately written to keep kids turning the pages. It is really easy to imagine what is going on in the book. I found the book a bit old fashioned and I am not sure I’d have chosen to read it if I were picking books in the library.

It is about a nine year old boy called Danny. Danny doesn’t have a Mum. He lives with his Dad in an old wooden caravan beside a little garage they own. They fix cars and have fuel pumps.

Danny loves his Dad who is called William. They spend so much time together working in the garage (they are both always in dirty clothes!). Danny can already take a car’s engine apart and put it back together again. Danny has skills! Danny really looks up to his Dad. You can tell they love each other and that Danny’s Dad is as good as having both parents (he tells brilliant stories).

The way they live in a gypsy caravan is a bit funny. They don’t have electricity and I am not sure where they go to the toilet. I don’t know why they need to live like they are camping if they own a garage. I guess they are meant to come across as a bit poor. This is probably because their garage is in the middle of nowhere, with just a few customers.

Danny has a tough life. This is shown when his teacher hits him across his hand with a cane (teachers used to be allowed to do this) because he thinks he was cheating. Danny’s Dad goes mad when he sees the mark. He shouts: ‘Who did it?’ ‘Was it Captain Lancaster?’ Danny says: ‘Yes, Dad, but it’s nothing.’ I understand this. I’ve been in trouble in school and I wouldn’t want my parents to know about it or get involved. I felt sorry for Danny.

One night, Danny’s Dad isn’t home when wakes up when it is still dark. Danny is scared but waits and eventually his Dad arrives home. His Dad hadn’t expected him to be awake and has to tell Danny where he has been. It turns out he has been breaking the law. He went to poach (steal) pheasants (birds you can eat – rich people like to shoot them) from the big farm of a horrible rich man called Mr Victor Hazell. I am not interested in pheasants and wouldn’t eat one, so I don’t really get the point of stealing them.

Danny’s Dad hates Hazell because he is always so rude when he stops to buy petrol. Danny knows Mr Hazell doesn’t like him and his Dad. The book makes you feel the same way. I really wanted Danny and his Dad to steal the pheasants from Mr Hazell (though this makes me sound bad!).

Danny’s Dad used to go poaching when his Mum was alive. It was his favourite thing. After Danny’s Mum died, he had to look after Danny until he was old enough to leave him safely at home. He explained this to Danny and Danny said it was ok to go so long as he told him before he went!

One night when William goes poaching, he is gone so long that Danny starts to worry (he knows it is dangerous as William tells him he has been shot in the bum running away before!). Eventually, he thinks there must be something wrong and drives one of the cars they are fixing to where he thinks his Dad will be. This bit is funny and a bit scary, as you keep thinking one of them will get caught by the gamekeepers (the pheasant guards) or the police. Danny’s Dad has broken his ankle and Danny saves him.

After this episode, William and Danny hatch a dastardly plot to steal all of Mr Hazel’s pheasants and I mean all of them. I won’t tell you how or if they succeed. I’ll just tell you that this bit makes the entire book worth reading. Who do you think wins? The rich man or Danny and his Dad?

I think I might be a bit lonely if I were Danny and living just with my Dad (with no Mum, siblings and Danny doesn’t bring friends home from school – maybe he’s embarrassed). This book shows you how life can be fun and happy even when things are not great. Apart from the poaching, this book reads like a true story. It is a funny book – not laugh out loud (LOL funny), it just made me smile. I thought it might be funnier. I’d say it is a bit of an adventure story.

It’s quite an old book now (the inside cover says 1975) and I think this shows a bit. This would be a good book for a Dad to read a son when he is about 7 or 8.

Review by Finn Buck aged 12.

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‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ by Roald Dahl

This is a cool book. It’s a smaller book than some of Roald Dahl’s books like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. It’s about a boy called George who has a horrible Grandma. He hates her being horrible to him and he wants to get her back. He looks at her medicine bottle and has an idea. The next bit of the book is very funny. George puts absolutely everything (I mean EVERYTHING) in a big saucepan and starts cooking magic medicine. He puts in shampoo, toothpaste, face cream, floor polish, car oil, pills and brown paint to make it the colour of medicine – it sounds so horrible. He cooks it up. It smells terrible. He gives the medicine to his Grandma and she grows and grows until she is bigger than the house. I don’t like it when George’s Dad comes home because he just wants to make more and more of this medicine to give to their animals to make the, grow. I got a bit bored reading about them trying to make the same medicine again and again. The last medicine makes things small and when they give it to Grandma she shrinks then disappears. I didn’t feel bad for her as she was grumpy and horrible. This book is full of funny words and I liked imagining what was happening. There are pictures of the characters and what’s going on – I like these. Scary things happen but in a funny way. It is an east to read book. My favourite character was George. I like how he was naughty and got away with it!

 

Review by Lara Buck aged 8.

 

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‘My Brother is a Superhero’ by David Solomons

This book is based on a weird idea; this doesn’t stop it being absolutely hilarious, with a crazy storyline of superhero madness. The way David Solomons has set it up the storyline is so amazingly good. The story is about a boy called Luke from a town called Bromley. Luke and his older brother Zack were sitting up in their tree house one day, Luke goes for a pee. He’s thinking what could happen in the time he is gone to the toilet, well, a lot. He comes back and his brother has super powers (what?!). Luke thinks he doesn’t deserve these powers because he has never ever read a superhero comic! Well, his brother is now the world famous Star-Lad, a superhero who draws his power from the sky and stars. Then they find out a meteor with the power to destroy Earth is approaching fast. The world needs Star-Lad, but he  has been kidnapped by the scientific genius Christopher Talbot. Talbot is a villain who is planning to use Star-Lad to harness the power of the meteor to give himself unstoppable power. Luke and his friends can’t just stand on the side-line watching, they have to help defeat Christopher Talbot. Does Luke manage to free Star-Lad and defeat Talbot? Read the rest yourself … I’m not giving any more away. This is an easy to read book. It’s funny and holds your interest. I have read other books by David Solomons and I’ll read more. I’d recommend the book for under 13s. Any older and I think you might think it’s a bit silly!

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’ by David Walliams

 

This book is very funny. It is a bit big (mine as about 450 pages!). I didn’t mind as it is easy to read and good. It’s a comedy adventure with lots of funny bits. It is set in England. It has drawings of all the characters and of the town where they live, this helps me to imagine what’s going on. Like David Walliams’ other books, it uses small words, big words, sideways words and lots of different looking words – this helps to make the reading fun and there are also pictures on lots of the pages. It is all about Jack and his Grandpa. Many years ago, his Grandpa was a World War 2 flying ace, but he is sent to Twilight Towers old folks home because he gets a thing called Alzheimer’s (he can’t remember stuff). This place is run by Matron Swine, a very mean lady. When his Grandson Jack finds out the people in the nursing home are evil, he goes to rescue him! The rescue is my favourite bit. There are three men dressed as nurses and lots of things happen. Jack’s Mum works by making cheese so she always smells like cheese and Jack’s Dad is an accountant. There are loads of characters. Jack loves collecting aeroplanes. His favourite plane is the Spitfire since his Grandpa flew that plane when he was in the air force. I love the David Walliams books because they are very funny. They are all a bit the same in how they look and read but I don’t mind. It also reads a bit like a true story. I would highly recommend it to ages 7-12 years.

Review by Éanna Buck aged 10.

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‘Danger is still everywhere’ by David O’ Doherty

I love this book. It is all about Docter (not Doctor!) Noel Zone. In case you are wondering, he is not a Doctor of medicine, he’s a Docter of Dangerology. He wants to make the world very safe, as in, bikes are way to dangerous. But he has made up really cool animals like the page 9 scorpion, so when you open page 9, the scorpion leaps out at you, so to keep you safe he has hidden page 9 at the end of the book. When the pet show comes to his town, he decides to enter his pet rock Dennis, but you don’t really enter rocks in pet shows. He then has to mind his sister’s troublesome dog Napkin. This book is very funny and I would highly recommend it to ages 8-12. It’s full of pictures – probably more pictures than words. It’s easy to pick up and read a few pages. I’m going to read the first book in the series as soon as I can!

Review by Éanna Buck aged 10.

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‘The Brilliant World of Tom Gates’ by Liz Pichon

This book is full off laughs and has loads of amazing pictures and doodles. I love each and every character. The book is not too long and not too short and I enjoyed each and every second of it. I would highly recommend it to ages 7-12 years. The book is all about Tom Gates, his best friend Derek, his grumpy sister Delia, his really embarrassing Mum and Dad, his Granny and Grandpa Mavis – who bake slightly strange stuff, his beady-eyed teacher, Mr. Fullerman, Marcus Meldrew – who he thinks is an idiot, Uncle Kevin, Aunty Alice and his two cousins. It’s a funny comedy where all these people do mad things. I’ve read most of the Tom Gates books and I think this is the best one!

Review by Eanna Buck aged 10.

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