When The Times dispensed with the services of its longstanding specialist reviewer, Amanda Craig, a while ago there was an understandable sense of disquiet in children’s books circles.
It seems to me that Alex O’Connell is proving to be a very satisfactory in-house replacement. She gives the impression of being reasonably well-read in the field, and I have been pleased to see that she is prepared to write properly critical reviews as well as rave recommendations.
This is a summer roundup, so all the books mentioned are being recommended of course, but she still manages to be proportionate in her praise.
Holly Smale’s third Geek Girl outing is summed up thus: “It’s certainly not a hefty plot but the characters are loveable and it’s a funny feelgood read for the holidays.”
Sally Green’s Half Bad is accurately described as “It’s probably not the new Harry Potter, nor is it the next Hunger Games, but this is the first in a rather promising fantasy trilogy .”
She confesses to a ‘serious crush’ on Meg Rosoff’s novels, and is able to tell us why: “Rosoff is brilliant on what bonds us; examining special relations between older and younger children (Mila becomes close to Matthew’s baby son and his dog) and what divides us.”
You have to be a subscriber to view this roundup online.
Here is a list of the books included in the roundup:
Journey by Aaron Becker
Hermelin the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey
Jonathan Cape, £11.99.
Tiny, the Invisible World of Microbes by Nicola Davies and Emily SuttonWalker, £11.99.
The Queen’s Hat by Steve Antony, Hachette, £11.99.
The Pilot and the Little Prince: the Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry by Peter Sis
Pushkin Children’s, £12.99.
The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp
Paws and Whiskerschosen by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt
The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird
Macmillan, £6.99, 8 plus.
The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff
Egmont, £6.99, 10 plus.
The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie MG Schmidt
Pushkin Children’s, £7.99.
Geek Girl: Picture Perfect by Holly Smale
Harper Collins, £12.99 (hardback) 11 plus.
Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis
OUP, £8.99, 9 plus.
TEENS / YOUNG ADULT
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Half Bad by Sally Green
More Than This by Patrick Ness