‘The Bubble Wrap Boy’ by Phil Earle

This is an incredibly well told story. I find it so realistic. I really know how Charlie (the boy in the book) feels; the descriptions are just so good. I highly recommend this book. I think everything Charlie says in this book is actually true, in a way. It feels so true as well. I think Phil Earle has written a masterpiece kids’ book.

Charlie is 14 years old and very short for his age. His Dad owns the Chinese ‘chippy’ down the road, and, just to make matters worse, he has the most overprotective mum ever. When he starts making deliveries for the Chinese takeaway, his mum buys him a trike instead of a mountain bike. It comes with tons of lights and reflective gear. It’s so heavy it can hardly move. His Mum mistakes his genuine tears for tears of joy! Charlie is friends with Sinus (his real name is Linus). Sinus has a huge nose and stares at walls.

When Charlie is in the middle of a delivery, a boy riding a skateboard speeds past him and Charlie instantly falls in love: with skateboarding. But because his mum would never let him do it, he borrows one from Sinus’ older brother. When his Mum stumbles across him skateboarding, he gets into huge trouble. Turns out, he wasn’t the only one hiding a secret. He finds out he has an aunt, Dora, he never knew about. She had a bike accident as a child which now gives her regular fits; she’s in a nursing home. His mum has been hiding this by making Charlie think she is going to college courses when she’s visiting her.

Then, after trying to get back into skateboarding, but scared he’ll get injured, he gets wrapped in bubble wrap by some other skateboarding teenagers who want to ‘help’ his mum by keeping him safe. Charlie starts visiting Aunt Dora regularly. Weirdly, graffiti keeps appearing all over the school. The tags say BWB in the coolest ways. Charlie finds out it was Sinus and it stands for Bubble Wrap Boy!

Then, a skateboarding competition comes to town and Charlie enters for the half-pipe challenge. Well, the plan is to bring Dora and Mum, to show mum how much he knows and show them his skills. Sadly, Dora dies before that can happen. But Charlie still goes to the competition, as the bubble wrap boy. The book then suddenly ends with Charlie in mid-flight during the contest – this is a bit strange. It just reads: “Flying for Dora”.

This is not a funny book but the story is strong enough to keep you reading. The real lesson in this book is not to keep secrets (or not for too long!). I’d read more books by Phil Earle.

Review by Finn Buck aged 12.


‘Darkmouth’ by Shane Hegarty

This is quite a good book. I’d definitely recommend it. In my opinion, the story is quite predictable, but it is still worth reading. I’ve read many good kids’ fantasy books and I am happy to add this one to my list. I love the way all these Irish authors are coming out with these incredible books, take Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy or Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – where are they getting the ideas? I hope the ideas keep coming! Also, the illustrations are incredibly good, like ‘never seen before’ good. The book is about 12 year old Finn (same age as me!) who lives in a town called Darkmouth in Ireland (I think). It’s the last blighted village where monsters (called Legends) appear out of gateways at times from a different dimension. The Legends are horrible creatures who want to live in Finn’s world where the universe is a bit less scary than their own. One family has the job of taking them down and that’s Finn’s family – they are known as Legend Hunters. Finn is a Legend Hunter-in-training. The thing is, Finn loves animals and doesn’t have the skill of a Legend Hunter, but he still really tries to hunt. Bottom line is he’d rather be a vet. Another thing, Finn is the son of Hugo the Great, one of the best Legend Hunters, so a lot is expected Finn. At school, Finn makes friends with the new girl, Emmie, who is fascinated by Finn’s life and likes helping him. Then, when Mr Glad, a friend of Hugo’s invades Darkmouth with an army of Legends, Finn and Emmie need to save Darkmouth. Read the book to find out what happens next. Shane Hegarty has one hell of an imagination. The names of these Legends, like Hogboons or Fomorians (all true horrors!), must have take some though to come up with. I have read the three other books in the series and they each build on Hegarty’s fantasy world. This book is funny in places, I like that. The books could just do with a few more unexpected twists and turns.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck


‘Artemis Fowl’ by Eoin Colfer

This is a fast-turning twisty kind of a book; it mashes two different realities together to create something epic. Eoin Colfer’s storyline in this book and in every other book in the series is fantastic.  I’ve since tried other books he’s written,  but  they are pretty boring in comparison to Artemis Fowl. Reading this book, you can understand why it was so successful and why it’s now being made into a film. I recommend the book to the sort of person who likes fantasy and sci-fi.

Artemis Fowl is a 12 year old child genius whose family business is sort of like the Irish mafia. He has a bodyguard called Butler. His father has disappeared and so have some of the family’s wealth. Artemis is about to change this; he has found out how to do it. He has identified ‘The People”!

The People, known in this book as fairies, are four foot tall folk. They all carry a book (‘The Book’) with them which holds all their magical secrets. If a fairy breaks any of the rules in The Book they lose their magic forever. Artemis blackmails a drunken fairy into giving him their book. He photographs every page and translates ‘Gnommish’, the fairy language.

He finds out that the gold in the fairies’ stories is actually a ransom fund for kidnapped fairies (as you do … !). The only way to get the gold is to kidnap a fairy. Artemis gets more than he bargained for when he kidnaps fairy police officer Holly Short by subduing her powers. Holly’s boss Julius Root launches a rescue mission, then Holly gets her powers back, A dwarf called Mulch Diggums is sent to see where Artemis is getting all his information.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, some fairies think stopping time and setting a troll loose in Artemis’ house is a great idea. As you might have realised by now, Artemis’ plan has gone absolutely mad. Butler, his bodyguard, almost dies. But all ends well for Artemis’ plan and he wins according to fairy rules and gets to keep the gold.

This probably sounds a bit crazy and involved (and yes, there is a lot going on!). All I can tell you is that it works. All these new characters, bizarre ideas and the nutty storyline all makes sense when you are reading the book. I can’t wait to see the movie version. It’ll be hard to make it because this is one book where you need to use your imagination.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck


‘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.



‘H.I.V.E Higher Institute of Villainous Education’ by Mark Walden

This is one of my favourite books. I find it so crazy good. You’ll want to read it all the time, wherever you are. It’s a series as well and all the other books are fabulously good. The first book (this one) doesn’t have much of a plot, but is still great. The rest of the books in the series have better plots. The story’s about a 13 year old boy called Otto Malpenese. He has surprisingly white hair and is extremely and amazingly smart – not in the nerd sort of way! He is smart in a devious, technological, analytical (my Dad spelt that word for me) and Mi6 agent sort of way (if you know what I mean). Otto makes a device which can control someone via a teleprompter. He uses this on the Prime Minister who was in the middle of a meeting at the time; actually while giving a country-changing speech. Let’s just say, things don’t end well for the Prime Minister. Now, a school called H.I.V.E. – the Higher Institute of Villainous Education – has noticed what Otto did. They kidnap and transport him to their volcano island school where he has to spend 6 years learning about villainy with no link to the outside world. They are trying to make super-villains. He soon wants to escape, so with his friends, Wing, Laura and Shelby, he plans an escape. It goes well until they get to the part involving getting off the island. They have been tricked – it turns out that the Headmaster, Dr Nero, knew all about what they were doing all along. After the attempted escape, their friend Nigel shows him Wing, a carnivorous plant, which is quite small but it grows at an incredible rate in the middle of the night to become huge! It will destroy H.I.V.E if Otto doesn’t manage to stop it. This is going to be extremely hard! I don’t want to spoil the rest, so you’re going to have to read the book to find out what happens. This is an all-action easy to read book. You need to read the whole series to really know what’s going on in Otto’s world.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.



‘Wonder’ by R. J. Palacio

This book’s about a 10 year old boy called August who has a facial deformity. He has had to have lots and lots of operations on his face since he was a baby and so his Mum home schooled him. When he is ten his Mum thinks it’s time for him to go to school, and he’s not sure about it. The book is about how hard it is for a new kid to start a new school and it’s even harder when your seen as different to all the other kids. The story is from different peoples’ sides – switching between characters. When he starts school, some kids see his face and make fun of him. He meets loads of different people, including Mr Tushman the Principal, Ms G (the Secretary), Summer, a very nice girl he sits across from at lunch, a very mean boy called Julian and his best friend Jack Will. The story is kind of about what it is like to be bullied though it has lots of other stuff in it. The book shows what it is like to experience life through the eyes of August. August is a lovely boy and I liked him; he wins an award at school for being good. I think he realises he has to be himself and learn that other kids’ reactions to him are not his fault. It is quite a long book, but it’s so good you don’t mind. You don’t want it to end! I would recommend it to ages 9+. On Wikipedia it says August suffered from a medical condition like ‘Treacher Collins Syndrome’ and also says this condition is very rare, occurring in only 1 in 50,000 kids.

Review by Éanna Buck aged 10.


‘Pippi Longstocking’ by Astrid Lindgren

I like this book. It is about Pippi’s life as a 9 year old girl in a house called ‘Villa Villekulla’ in Sweden. Pippi doesn’t have a Mum, Dad or any other relatives – I don’t know why. She lives  in her house by  herself, but she also has a pet monkey (Mr Nilsson). Her next door neighbours have two children and Pippi makes friends with them (their names are Tommy and Annika). They go to the circus, the park and other places like a hollow tree. Pippi is very strong and can lift up her horse – this is a bit silly. Pippi always wears two odd socks for some reason and has big black shoes (she wiggles her toes in them!). Her hair is always in two plaits. She is a bit like the girl ‘Annie’ from the movie. Pippi doesn’t go to school, so she doesn’t know how adults think kids should behave. She knows how to do lots of things though and she has a really good imagination and tells stories. She has been to lots of countries and cool places. Pippi loves being a kid. I think this is a book for girls, not for boys. It’s an easy book to read except for some words. I’d have liked this book to be read to me at bedtime. It’s a funny book and made me smile. It’s a bit big (202 pages!). I think this is an old book because there is a page at the back about Astrid Lindgren – with a photo of her – and it says the first book was published in 1945! The version I have is new though with pictures by Lauren Child (I’ve read lots of the ‘Charlie and Lola’ books!) – the pictures are great.

Review by Lara Buck aged 8.


‘StormBreaker’ by Anthony Horowitz

I think this book series is incredible, fizz-banging good. I recommend it to kids who like mystery and spy books. The book is well written and full to the brim with twists and turns. The story is about 14 year old Alex Rider whose parents died a few years before. He is just your normal schoolboy (who is a black belt in karate …!) until his Uncle (his guardian and an MI6 agent) dies in a car crash. He is left with Jack, his housekeeper, who, for your information, is an American girl. What Alex doesn’t know is that by training him in everything a spy needs, such as karate, sports and extreme sports, his uncle had been preparing him for MI6. MI6 now approach him as they want him to go on a mission for them. He refuses. Then they threaten to take away Jack’s visa so he agrees. Then he finds himself in a SAS training centre, where he goes through two weeks of gruelling training. After the training, he is sent on a mission to the power plant of Herod Sayle, the man behind StormBreaker, an incredibly powerful computer. Sayle is giving these computers free to  every secondary school in England. There’s something not right about these computers and Alex must find out and stop Sayle’s plot. This plot is what got Alex’s uncle killed.  Alex poses as the winner of a contest which sees him invited him to see the first StormBreaker computer in operation. I won’t tell you how, but Alex finds out what it was that got his Uncle killed and what he must do. Alex is now the only one who can stop Herod. I’m not telling you anymore – read it yourself! This is a cracking read and Anthony is an amazingly good writer who bends the words to his will.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.



‘The Witch’s Kitten (Magic Molly)’ by Holly Webb

I like this book. It’s about the right length for me. Not too short or long. I don’t like most animal books, but I liked this book because it is about a girl called Molly who can talk to animals. In this book there’s a really nice witch (“old lady”) who can talk to her kitten (she wears bright clothes, not black ones like a normal witch). The kitten is called Sparkle. Sparkle gets lost in the woods after chasing a butterfly. A grown up called Sarah finds Sparkle and brings her home with her. Molly has a dream Sparkle is outside her window and wakes up to find her there. She had gotten out of Sarah’s cat flap. Molly talks to Sparkle and helps her find the witch. Molly hides Sparkle in her bag when her family go for a picnic in the woods. Molly says she is going looking for bunnies. Molly and Sparkle talk to each other and work out how to get back to the witch. Molly talks to the witch who is happy to get Sparkle back. The witch gives Molly a necklace shaped in a cat’s face as a thank you. Molly goes back to her family. The stars of this book are Molly and Sparkle – I like how they talk to each other. It’s kind of a fun book. I am not sure if I’d read another Magic Molly book though. I would recommend it to ages 5 to 10 year olds.

Review by Lara Buck aged 8.


‘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.