Welcome to another edition of Mini Reviews, with more of my recent(ish) Middle Grade reads.
Everdark by Abi Elphinstone
Everdark was one of this year’s World Book Day books, and gives us an exciting introduction to the Unmapped Kingdoms. Something has gone wrong in Crackledawn, the phoenix has not risen as it should and Smudge is their only hope. Smudge is lovely, she lacks confidence and isn’t the most intelligent girl in her class, but she is brave and willing to do anything to save her world. Bartholomew (a monkey) hides aboard her ship and he is amazing. He is a sassy and sarcastic wee thing and I just loved him. I really hope that we will see more of him in the upcoming books. I loved the idea of being able to write a destination onto a map and it taking you where you want to go. Can someone get me one of these maps please? As always, Abi’s world-building is phenomenal and the adventure is extraordinary. This is a great read, and one you should definitely pick up.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali
A group of school friends befriend the new boy who sits at the back of their class. His name is Ahmet and he is a refugee. The group want to get to know him better, to find out about his life and to be his friend. I loved the way this book showed how accepting children can be, but also how influenced they are by the adults around them. Some of the children are less than pleasant to Ahmet and it’s because of the perception they have of refugees from their parents and teachers. As the friends get to know more they hatch the kind of plan on children can: go big or go home. This leads to a great adventure. The Boy at the Back of the Class perfectly captures the voice of a child and their approach to solving a problem. It was a brilliant read and one I am looking forward to sharing with S.
Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth
Tash witnesses a man in her village set himself on fire as a protest for change. It is a horrifying thing for her to witness, and something that haunts her. She is terrified of the soldiers in her village, and when they start searching the houses, her parents give her provisions and tell her to flee. She goes on the run with her friend Sam and Eve the yak. Eve was my favourite – for a non-speaking character, she has a lot of sass. Tash is carrying a secret message, and she is determined to deliver it and to get to the Dalai Lama, who she thinks will solve things for her family. This is an important story. The journey is tough and emotional, but very accessible for younger readers. Another great book from Jess, and one that I will enjoy sharing with S when he’s a little older.
Have you read any of these? Can you recommend me any similar MG reads?