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The reading for the 2018 September Pandora catalogue has started in earnest now so which paperbacks from January and February 2018 have bowled us over so far?

The Strongest Mum by Nicola Kent (Macmillan, Feb 2018, £6.99)

This refreshingly bright book is ideal for your Reception class and brilliantly encourages an appreciation of mothers in a positive and contemporary way. It is a surprising book that is packed with entertaining detail to really engage young book enthusiasts.

I Love You Stick Insect by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Bloomsbury, Jan 2018, £6.99)

I smile every time I think of this book, there is just something irresistible about a surf-boarding stick insect and the idea of the ‘breeze in its feelers’ and I think Year 1 will agree. This is reading for pleasure at its best.

Fairy Tale Pets by Tracey Corderoy & Jorge Martin (Little Tiger, Feb 2018, £6.99)

Class two will undoubtedly enjoy Bob’s pet-sitting chaos; it seems like such a good idea until Goldilocks drops off a very grumpy baby bear and three pigs arrive with a very wolfy-looking puppy. This book is fun and fresh and naturally suggests some wonderful writing activities. We have levelled the text at book band White.

Hari & His Electric Feet by Alexander McCall Smith (Barrington Stoke, Feb 2018, £6.99)

We have levelled this distinctive short book at book band Grey and it is perfect for a confident Year 3 reader. The book pairs a classic feel with an original and stimulating story, set in a vibrant Indian city and is skilfully written by a much loved author. The simple black and white illustrations deftly reflect the characters and the joyfulness of the dancing.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Orion, Feb 2018, £6.99)

This completely original book is as exciting, enchanting and magical as Harry Potter but written with extra style and panache. You will want to join the Wundrous Society, to live in the magical Hotel Deucalion and travel by umbrella even more that you want to go to Hogwarts, have your own wand from Olivanders or drink Butterbeer. We have levelled the text at book band Black for confident readers in Year 6.

Tin by Pádraig Kenny (Chicken House, Feb 2018, £6.99)

This is story telling at its best with a complex narrative and beautiful use of language that will stretch and challenge your most confident readers. At its heart there is a journey, and themes of friendship, transformation and humanity which are reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. Along the way,  readers will be gripped by events, transported to another world and will become hugely invested in the fate of Christopher and his friends. This book is a stand-out stunner and we have levelled it at book band Black Plus for gifted and talented readers in Upper KS2.

The Secret Diary of Thomas Snoop: Tudor Boy Spy by Philip Ardagh (Nosy Crow, Feb 2018)

I had to include this book, not only because it is every bit as fun as you would expect from the inimitable Philip Ardagh, but also because it is one of those rare books that is really quite hard to read without being overly long. It is so hard to find Black colour banded books at well under 200 pages (including illustrations!), most books at this text level weigh in at four times the word count of this one and we need these shorter books if our confident readers are to be able to get through more than four a year. Not only that but it is a great mystery packed with intriguing historical detail.


The most notable book by its absence will be the beautiful, and award-winning adventure story, The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury, Jan 2018, £6.99). I loved this book, the writing was exquisite, powerful and exciting; in fact it was so good I read past all the mild cursing (there was a lot of it but it was things like “bloody”, “dammed arses” and “My God”) and even let the alcohol consumption and smoking by the children past because they only tried it once to keep the mosquitos at bay and hated it. However, there is a section where the children carved small tattoos into their hands, and then also tattooed the 5 year old because he begged to be included. This event is in an appropriate context in the book but I considered it something that teachers and parents would like to exercise individual judgement over and for this reason The Explorer will not be included in Pandora collections but I do hope it is widely read.


Written by Marcia Napp, Book Collections Manager

Posted in General By Kelly McBride


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