don’t forget!

hello readers!

we hold ‘catch-up’ sessions in the library every few weeks or so to give an opinion on our favourite books that we’ve read from this years carnegie award cluster. see mrs lloyd-smith in the study centre for more details on that.

the awards ceremony for this years carnegie cluster is on the 19th June so keep reading!



the smell of other people’s house review by kimberley mackenzie

Thanks again! – Admin

I did not understand this book as well as the others I had read. I managed to get a little bit of a way through chapter three but then I gave up because I was still not catching on to what was happening.

Everyone was telling me to keep on going and that you will eventually understand what was happening. It did not seem like I ever would because I ended up just forgetting what was happening, and who was who because it wasn’t very clear.


mrs piper’s reviews

Two more lovely reviews from our Data Manager! – Admin

The Smell of Other People’s Houses, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

This book is set in 1970s Alaska and has four teenage narrators, whose lives are interconnected in a number of ways – some quite coincidental. I thought the setting was original and vivid, concentrating the traditional Alaskan way of life (there is a lot of hunting and fishing – you might find bits of the book tough if you’re squeamish).

I would have been happy read a book about any one of these characters or their stories, which were all interesting in different ways.  I thought, though, that there was too much crammed in here. Four characters, dealing with everything that the author can throw at them: teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, parental divorce, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness….. Having them all in the one book was too much and meant that we never got to learn about any of the characters in greater depth.


Beck, Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff

As other reviewers have said, this book starts off quite brutally.  Beck is an orphan who suffers a great deal of hardship and abuse in his early life.  Eventually he escapes to freedom but he is damaged and scarred – both physically and emotionally.  The story takes us on his journey, showing how he gradually finds his way back from the trauma of his childhood and finds life again.

This book was beautifully written and made me cry twice when I read it!


the stars at oktober bend review by kimberley mackenzie

Lovely review, keep reading! – Admin

This book was fantastic I could not put it down it had me intrigued from the very first chapter. I wished that I hadn’t have finished it so quickly though because it was so good I just didn’t want to.

However, it was not as good as salt to the sea because on some parts of the stars at oktober bend it could get confusing and I didn’t understand what was going on. Whereas with salt to the sea, I understood everything.


mrs lloyd-smith’s reviews

Thanks, Mrs L-S! – Admin

Bone Sparrow
I was a bit anxious about reading this book, knowing that it was based around a young boy growing up in an immigration detention centre, with all the hardships that entails. The author didn’t flinch from the stark reality of life in the camp – from the appalling living conditions to the brutality of the guards, but I thought the issues were dealt with sensitively and with an appropriate level of detail. Naturally parts of the book were upsetting, but there was also humour and hope in the relationship that formed between Subhi, in the camp and Jimmie outside of it. I think the central image of the ‘bone sparrow’ was important to give a connection outside of the centre and help us understand the history of the displaced families, but there were also some magical elements about this that didn’t really work for me.
Overall this was a well written and interesting book but not a Carnegie winner for me: 7/10

Wolf Hollow
This book showed such promise at the beginning – the setting had an olde-world charm and there were hints of the dramatic story that was to unfold. However, I found the characters unbelievable, particularly the central family that seemed too good to be true and the relationship between Annabelle and Toby to be uncomfortable. Although not a bad book, I found myself looking at how much I had left to read – not a good sign!
Overall, not badly written but not an enjoyable read: 4/10

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth
The author, Frank Cottrell Boyce is very popular and I’m wondering whether it was this, rather than the book itself that led to it being shortlisted this year, as for me it was a mish-mash of serious and unbelievable. What didn’t work for me was that Prez sees Sputnik as an alien, whereas everyone else sees him as a dog. I was happy to run with this being a literary device as Prez is in need of a friend, but the magic was unbelievable and I couldn’t really see where the book was going. That said, the writing style would make it suitable for young readers and I thought the book dealt sensitively with his grandfather’s dementia and the impact it had on both him and Prez.
Felt this was quite a weak book overall: 2/10

The Stars at Oktober Bend
Fabulous – this gets my vote for winner of the award this year. I think the story is well paced, with enough plot turns to add depth and interest. The writing style is innovative and seems to perfectly reflect the ‘voices’ of Alice and Manny that develop during the book. All characters are very credibly drawn and change over time making them seem very real.
Excellent characters, plot and writing style: 10/10