The Jamie Johnson Soccer Books by Dan Freedman

kickoffThese are the football books to beat. Starting with Kick Offthere are now seven or eight Jamie Johnson books.

They’re perfect for children who would rather play football than sit and read. With Dan Freedman’s books, you have a vague chance they might put the ball down and sit and turn a few pages.

Kick off features a fairly standard missed opportunity plot device, which Jamie then has to atone for. The book isn’t just about football, it’s about the importance of friends and how to balance your passions with the mundanities of life, like school work. Hugely popular with my boys these books are the perfect way to help one passion spark off another.

Amazon link.

Surrey Library Link.


Car Jacked by Ali Sparkes

carjackedThe first paragraph of this review is written by (my then) 9 year old who loved this book.

Jack Mattingly is 12. He is a genius. He has an IQ of 170. He speaks fluent Mandarin and Latin. When the car is hi-jacked he is as clueless as the rest of us. But the car-jacker does not know he is inside and it can’t be long before he finds out and then anything could happen. As Jack travels to London he is scared and thrilled and this is surely the most exciting thing in his life. While he is away he has sugar, the thing his mum despises him having. His parents miss him so much that when they see him they will be ecstatic. The book was good because it was exciting all the way through. Each page has something exciting on it.

This book is so good, I made my dad read it.

He’s right he did. And he’s right this is a great book. Particularly, one imagines, if you’re aged 9-14. I suspect my son is a little young to have picked up everything in the book, but he certainly devoured it in record time. Car-Jacked is a fast-paced children’s thriller, that entertains from start to finish. The book’s two central characters, genius Jack and his unwitting carjacker are brilliantly drawn. They take centre stage as an intriguing mystery unfolds. Grown-ups might be forced to swallow their disbelief a few too many times, but I think the twists and turns are pitched perfectly for the target audience.

Car-Jacked poses some interesting questions about right and wrong, whilst also questioning whether parents are always right. From the first page until last there is something interesting. I love that my son decided to report that Jack has sugar during his escapade, and important part of the book, but perhaps not the most dramatic! Jack’s genius status allows him the good fortune to be in possession of some fascinating information of interest to kids of all ages. This book came highly recommend by children’s book reviewer Amanda Craig. She rarely puts a foot wrong, and Car-Jacked is another excellent novel to add to an ever-growing list of wonderful children’s fiction.

Amazon link 


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

phantomtollboothA classic. A wonderful classic. Great to read aloud or for an inquisitive mind to devour. It tells the story of Milo, who is bored.

He receives a mysterious parcel, a tollbooth, which prompts him to jump into his toy car. Passing the tollbooth Milo finds himself in a magical land filled with wonder and wordplay. The two rulers are feuding and the country is falling apart because Princesses Rhyme and Reason has been banished.

I remember reading this book as a child. The principal cities of Digitopolis and Dictionopolis have stuck with me forever, as had the meaning of the word “doldrums.” Milo almost immediately ends up stuck in doldrums, before escaping, thanks to the help of the watchdog, Tick Tock. It’s that sort of book.  danger lurks at every turn – not least that of Milo failing to notice what’s going on. As he continues he finds himself in danger

Milo continues to find himself in danger as he jumps to Conclusions, battles against Dr. Kakphonous A. Dischord and other capers involving similarly clever quips. The Phantom Tollbooth is a funny book, filled with puns. Which is probably why I liked then and love it now. The book encourages children to think about the world around them, without them realising that they are doing so.

I borrow this quote from children’s book reviewer Amanda Craig
“I read this to my 7-year-old, and he loved it so much that it’s become the gateway to loving reading. He tries to walk around reading it and takes it with him wherever he goes. I had exactly the same reaction at the same age – as did my daughter.”

My oldest loved it too, and writing this has made me realise, I really need to dig my copy out again and read it to the next one down!

Buy on Amazon, here.

Reserve at Surrey library here.


Magisterium Series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

magesteriumThe Magisterium books are written by a duo of authors with a strong pedigree. Holly Black wrote the excellent Spiderwick Chronicles (books I’d recommend for year 2/3) and Cassandra Clare is responsible for the Young Adult series, Mortal Instuments (which I haven’t read).

Lots of books claim to be the ‘best thing since Harry Potter,’ but in the case of the Magisterium books, it might actually be true. Set in a hidden magical college, “The Magisterium,” they have a little more bite than certainly the earlier HP novels.

The books are more grounded in real-life than JK Rowling’s bestsellers. The problems central character Cal faces, more resemble the sorts of issues real children might have to contend with at school. There is more to the story than magic powers and an uber bad guy threatening the end of the known world.

For a start, Cal’s dad is set against him going, saying that the Magisterium is at least as evil as the dark and shadowy “Enemy” of the novel. This results in Cal not know who he can trust, and where to turn for help. The novels are filled with shades of grey.

The college contains the usual array of sinister teachers and benevolent mentors, and there are the inevitable magical high jinks. I particularly like the way magic works in these books.

The Magisterium books are great, particularly for stronger readers. There are currently three available in the series, with a fourth due out in the autumn,

Reserve your copy with Surrey library, here. 

It’s World Book Day!

Or it will be on the 2nd March. This year sees it celebrating its 20th birthday.

Schools across the UK will be celebrating, probably with every parent’s favourite, dressing up as a book character.

For me, the great thing about World Book Day, apart from celebrating books, is the £1 book voucher that every school child is given. This gives us the opportunity to head down the local bookstore and pick up one of the special World Book Day books, or perhaps put the voucher against the cover price of another book. Either way, it’s an excuse to look at and talk about books.

Here are this year’s books. Take a look and see if there is anything your child would like. Remember stocks are limited. Whilst bookshops often carry lots of each title, some of them can fly out of the door mighty fast.

If you want to know more about World Book Day, click here.


Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black

urbanoutlawsThe Urban Outlaws series is great for older primary school children. Perfect for fans of Young Bond or Alex Rider.

The Outlaws are a group of children, who feel alienated from society and live in an underground bunker from which they use their cyber skills to fight crime. The books have thrills, spills and cool tech. The principles of hacking are also outlined. The villains are a little cheesy, but the Outlaws themselves are great characters with a crackling camaraderie between them.

My son has devoured this twice in the space of a few months. Definitely worth a look.

Reserve from Surrey Libraries, here. Note, the first book wasn’t available to reserve at the time of writing, but a new copy was on order.

The Hodgeheg by Dick King Smith

hodgehegThe Hodgeheg is a great early chapter book for those making the transition from more structured ‘learn to read’ books. It has clear simple language, with an engaging story and a delightful hero – Max the hedgehog.

It follows Max’s quest to find a way to safely cross the busy road that runs next to the garden in which he lives. Across the road lies Nirvana – the park.

The book makes children look at an everyday process, like crossing the road in a whole new light. It will also have them giggling away, particularly when Max gets a bang on the head and starts to muddle his words. And so The Hodgeheg is born.

Reserve it at Surrey libraries, here.




Welcome to New Books for the Kids. This project came out of a desire to find new and interesting books for my children to read. It can be tough to know what to give them next, especially if the read fast, or struggle to find books that interest them. This is an ever-growing project, that is starting with some recommended books from my children’s primary school teachers.

I have arranged the books under pages for the UK school years. It can be hard to slot books into the right age range, especially as reading abilities can vary so much from child to child. The ages given are not definitive. Please do look in years above and below if you can’t find a book that suits your child.

If you have any feedback or want to recommend some books please use the ‘Contact’ form.

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