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young libraries recommends

What do you do when you've read a book you REALLY love?

Do you want to get all your friends to and family and even strangers to read it too?? We do here at Birmingham young libraries!

Here are some wonderful recommendations from young reviewer Heena Pala Let us know if you agree with her by emailing: young.libraries@birmingham.gov.uk

Secrets of the Henna Girl by Sufiya Ahmed

Secrets of the Henna Girl is a book full of a mixture of feelings; sometimes you laugh sometimes you just sit in shock and sometimes you cry.

Zeeba Khan was just a regular sixteen-year-old girl from Yorkshire. She spent her time revising for exams, relaxing in the park and watching films with her best friend, Susan. But an unexpected trip to Pakistan leaves her thinking her life may not turn out the way she planned. It was supposed to be a holiday but Zeeba's parents seemed to be acting suspiciously. She can sense tension in the air but things turn out to be a thousand times worse than she thought. It is a few days into the “holiday” when she finds out the truth: she is forced to marry someone of her dad’s choice to protect his honour. Will she follow her instinct and escape while she can or will she accept that she will never live the same Yorkshire life again?

Personally, I think that the book was an eye-opener. Young girls who live lives of freedom don’t realise how lucky they are. It was the kind of book where you couldn’t wait to get to the ending to see what happens. Sufiya Ahmed has done a marvellous job in creating such a realistic environment. A criticism of the book would be that it is not a unique story. There are many books which are about forced marriages that follow the same storyline. The book could have done with a slight twist in the tale. The book is for more of a mature read. If you already know about the field of forced marriages then this is the book for you.

RATING: 7/10

Coping with Chloe by Rosalie Warren

Coping with Chloe is a gripping book about 12-year-old twins, Anna and Chloe. When tragedy strikes and Chloe is killed in an accident, Anna’s journey of grieving is not easy as she struggles to cope with life after her sister’s death. Anna still finds that Chloe talks to her and helps her with dealing with the school bully, Lisa. At many points in the book, I wondered if Anna is keeping Chloe psychologically alive or whether she is really there…

I think that Rosalie Warren has done a brilliant job in writing this book; the thought of death and grieving makes you think that it is a heavy read, but Rosalie has a magnificent way of making it funny at times as well as embracing the happy memories in Anna’s mind. It was very difficult to put this book down once I finished reading the first page. I would be very keen to read more of Rosalie Warren’s books in the future.

RATING: 10/10

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

“Flowers for Algernon” is a Science-fiction book narrated as a diary by Charlie Gordon. Charlie has a low IQ. He finds himself involved in an experiment; this involves undergoing an operation along with a lab mouse, Algernon. As part of assessments, Charlie and Algernon have to compete in races and mazes. Charlie gets frustrated with Algernon for always beating him, but soon becomes his friend. The operation is to increase his intelligence.

Charlie works in a plastic box factory. There, his colleagues are nasty to him and take advantage of his misunderstanding of the world around him. The operation works a success, but as Charlie’s intelligence increases, he begins to spot a difference in the way people behave around him.

Overall, I enjoyed Flowers for Algernon. One thing that the author could have improved on is the ending. It ended on a cliff-hanger and was also a little too slow-moving for me. I think that the author has achieved his goal of opening the reader’s eyes about how we take our everyday abilities for granted.

RATING: 7/10

Holes by Louis Sachar

“Holes” is a book about a young boy around my age (11) who is accused of stealing a famous baseball player’s sneakers. Not being able to prove he hadn’t taken them, he has to be punished, he is given a choice of jail or a juvenile detention centre called Camp Green Lake. He chooses to go to the camp, where he has to dig a hole a day, five feet deep and five feet across to “build character” or so they say.

Stanley makes a loyal friend, unlike in school where he was continuously bullied for being overweight. One morning, when he finds his friend missing, he decides to go and look for him. After managing to escape from the camp, Stanley finds his friends, but they are both stranded in the desert for a week. Starving and surviving on onions and dirty water, the two boys give in and make their way back to camp, only to discover what the motive to digging holes in is.

I like this book because it was so in depth that once I picked it up it was glued to my hands! This book at times has made me fill up with tears but burst out with laughter at the same time. It has also made me think about how lucky I am just to have loving friends and family around, which most of the boys in this book haven’t. Please make time to read this book and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Dizzy by Cathy Cassidy

Dizzy is a twelve-year-old girl who lives with her single Dad. Every year on her birthday, Dizzy receives a birthday present from her Mum, who ran away when Dizzy was four years old. This is what happened: One night, Dizzy’s Mum kissed her extra hard and whispered “I love you” her ear. When Dizzy awoke the next morning, her Mum was gone.

Dizzy and her Dad managed to live together until her twelfth birthday. The morning of her birthday was going perfectly normal and included all of Dizzy’s birthday traditions: cheese on toast carved into a number, depending on how old she was, a flower in a jam-jar, a banana milkshake and a tube of smarties wrapped in blue tissue paper. When the birthday girl goes down, there is usually a present from her Mum waiting in the post. But not today. Dizzy comes home from school to find a grubby, purple VW van in her driveway. Whose could it be? As Dizzy goes into the living room, she finds a small, tanned woman sitting on her couch. She has a pierced eyebrow and about a thousand earings on the same ear. “Hello Dizzy, Happy Birthday! Gosh, how much you’ve grown!” said the woman. “Hello, Mum.” Dizzy Says, through tears.

It is a birthday tradition for Dizzy and her Dad to order a mushroom Pizza, but because Dizzy’s Mum is a vegan, she makes Miso soup, read-bean stew and muesli cake. During the evening, Storm (Dizzy’s Mum’s nickname) gives Dizzy’s dad a lot to drink. This is because Storm wants Dizzy to come with her to her hippy-festivals, but Dizzy’s dad disagrees. So, Storm gets Dizzy’s dad drunk. Without knowing, he agrees. Dizzy is under the impression that he really has let her go, so she goes along with Storm.

At the festivals, Dizzy is re-united with an old friend called Fin. She also meets her Mum’s boyfriend, Zak, along with his son, nicknamed Mouse. Dizzy becomes very good friends with Fin and Mouse but she is not too sure about Zak. Although she was really looking forward to the festivals, she hates them. The air is always thick with cannabis and all they ever eat is peanut butter on mouldy bread. She really wishes she could go back home.

Whenever Dizzy moves festivals, she sends a post-card to her Dad. Storm tells Dizzy to always give the post-card to her, so that she can “add her own few words”. But does she really post them? Near the end, Storm and Zak travel to India to help Zak’s brother to open a fortune-telling centre. While they are there, Dizzy stays with Fin, his Mum and Mouse. She likes Fin’s Mum, but really, really misses her Dad. Will she ever find him? This book made me feel sorry for Dizzy, as Storm doesn’t pay attention to her, even at the Festivals. It also made me realise that there are a lot of children in this World that live like this. My favourite part was when Dizzy and Fin go to the Beach for Fin’s birthday. I WISH I WAS THERE!!!!

RATING: 10/10

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days is a fascinating book set in the time of 1872. It is about a very wealthy, yet modest, man called Phileas Fogg. He lives at no. 7, Saville Row in London. Phileas Fogg is a man who never likes to attract attention, but is extremely clever and takes great interest in science and maths. With such a great mind, you would think that he is a member of a group, maybe a university; but he isn’t. The only thing he is a member of is the Reform Club. Phileas is a man who is very precise and in-fact has not one but two clocks by his bedside and both tick at exactly the same second.

Being as rich as he is, Phileas Fogg, at the start of the book, searches for a servant. He is recommended one called Jean Passpartout. Phileas likes Passpartout and employs him on Wednesday 2nd October. Passpartout is a man about forty years of age. He is a tall Frenchman with fair hair.

When Phileas and Passpartout make a visit to the Reform Club, Phileas makes a bet of twenty thousand pounds to the rest of the club that he could travel around the World in eighty days using steamers and rails.

The first places that Mr Fogg and Passpartout go to are Dover and Calais, both in France. On the way there, they meet a detective called Fix. Fix has been sent out to look for suspicious passengers at the train station. This because of a Bank of England robbery that took place; fifty-five thousand pounds was stolen. He thinks that the robbers were Phileas and Passpartout as they are carrying a large amount of money. Mr Fogg agrees to let Detective Fix follow him throughout his journey, just to prove that they aren’t guilty.

Next, Phileas Fogg and Passpartout go to Bombay. In Bombay, they meet (or rescue) a widow called Aouda. Aouda travels with them for the rest of the journey and she comes as a great help to them. Phileas, Passpartout and Aouda also buy an elephant in Bombay and travel around the different Indian rainforests. They enjoy themselves a lot!

Phileas Fogg, Passpartout and Aouda enjoy the rest of their journey around the world. But do they make it back in time? A heart-warming classic that you want to read over and over!

RATING: 10/10

Suggested age range: 9-13

Dognapped by Karen King

Dognapped is a fantastic book written in the point of view of Amy Carter who goes to visit her grandma in her bed and breakfast in Cornwall. Amy’s Gran owns a Bichon Frise dog, Fluffy. When Fluffy goes missing under Amy’s care, Amy is determined to use her detective skills to find her.

I don’t think the author is trying to put any point across in writing this book; it’s just a fun, light-hearted story to read. As it is being narrated, it is written in an informal style. I think a suitable audience would be younger readers due to the fact that it contains easy language.

I think Karen King has done an excellent job with this book; it is very hard for me to make any criticism!

If I was writing this book, I would have made it a little longer with more description of characters and the setting. The reason I have given it a nine out of ten is because it is a bit out of my age range. If I was a younger reader, I would have definitely given it ten.

RATING: 9/10

Suggested age range: 8+