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Children, Reading, Review

April 2021 Reading

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I’ve decided to do a monthly round up for everything we’ve read each month. Himself focuses on science articles and forums and news, so he’s not getting a section – books only!

Large boy

Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian, The Lost Hero, Son of Neptune, and The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Yes, he’s read four Rick Riordans this month, I’m living in fear of the day when he runs out. One of them wasn’t available on his library app so we bartered its purchase for him agreeing to read Going Solo. He sped through all four and is totally immersed in the Percy Jackson world, he knows more about Roman and Greek gods than I ever did.

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

I only read it because dad said I had to before I could have the next Percy Jackson. It was fully boring. Mum stop making it sound positive! (I tried to write that it was a bit boring but he disagrees.) The best bit was when the lion tried to eat the cook’s wife when he was at his friend’s house.

Other things

  • The Frightful First World War By Terry Deary
  • Ali Baba and the Stolen Treasure by Tony Bradman
  • Tom Gates Epic Adventure (Kind Of) by Liz Pichon
  • Julius Caesar’s Goat by Dick King Smith
  • The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp


The Mystery of Insch Brae House by Susan Fiddes

I bought this on kindle last year for large boy but he’s terrible for judging a book by is cover and he refused to read it. So I gave it a try.

It’s a bit of a slow burn at the beginning and I must say I found it rather odd that a mother would send her 8 year old daughter to stay with someone she didn’t know for an undefined period with no explanation. The little girl’s behaviour and savvy seem more suited to an older child, I can’t imagine 9 year old large boy sneaking around a strange house in the dark.

Ignoring those concerns, it was a fascinating read. By half way through I was properly absorbed and entranced. As an adult reading a young fiction book it was a pleasant surprise. However, knowing large boy’s taste, I don’t think it’ll be for him.

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

We had watched the Netflix series in autumn 2020, breaking my “read the book first” rule, so there were no surprises in this book. However, the characters really felt alive – I managed to ignore the images of them planted by the TV and Beth formed herself in my mind quite early on.

Beth Harmon is an orphan who has a head for maths and a huge natural ability to chess. She initially learns in the basement of the orphanage, before eventually being adopted and starting to compete. The novel traces the ups and downs of her path to playing the world champion in her early 20s.

It was a real page turner I kept finding myself checking the time because himself had started snoring, only to find it was gone 11pm on a work night. I’ll have to find some more Walter Tevis to read.

Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl

When large boy started to read Going Solo, to encourage (coerce) him we agreed to read it together. That is, he would read it aloud to me. He lasted one and a half pages before declaring that it was too slow having to say all the words and mum kept interrupting making sure he knew what the long ones meant. However, in that page and a half was was intrigued enough to want to read Going Solo too. Large boy told me I had to read Boy first, otherwise I wouldn’t understand. In the spirit of sharing book recommendations and reading what someone has suggested (and to prove a point after he complained about keeping his end of the bargain in a Rick Riordan purchase negotiation), I agreed and followed his advice.

You can absolutely feel that familiar Dahl tone in his autobiographies. His same descriptive flourishes are there, just as in his fiction. I particularly enjoyed his acknowledgement that most of his childhood is a blur – mine is too, I know I was happy but the details often elude me. Boy felt short and sweet, I can see why my large boy enjoyed it. Going Solo is, naturally, more grown up. I’m only a little way through but I’m loving it already. His story of meeting someone who had known Karen Blixen just made me so envious, what an exciting life.

Small boy

Small boy is 5 and a half. He’s in year 1 and he’s been learning to read with the marvellous Read Write Inc phonics scheme. Its brilliant and he’s made huge progress since we began home learning back in March 2020.

In December, he read his RWI and other school books plus a couple from the library. Then, at Christmas, large boy realised he hadn’t got his brother a present and went to fetch some books he’d grown out of… and now small boy gets a proper book review of his own. Its slow going and he needs help with non-phonetic words that he hasn’t learned yet (cancel, circle, automatically, build, though….etc but the list is getting shorter) but he’s so proud of himself reading proper “grown up” books. He’s back at school so getting RWI books again but I think we’ll just review the chapter books here.

The Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up by Jill Tomlinson

Small boy needed almost no help with the words in this one. He insists that “enough” doesn’t spell enough, it should be spelled “inuff”. He finished it in the month and was starting to read in his head by the end – of course this meant everything took twice as long because he had to read in his head and then out loud as well to show me that he’d done it right. One very proud set of parents here.

When he was about halfway through, himself took him to the library and he chose two other Jill Tomlinson books to read next. Watch this space.

Love from Smell xx

6 thoughts on “April 2021 Reading”

  1. I love that you share book recommendations and read together! I didn’t know The queen’s gambit was based on a book actually! Dahl was one of my favourites when younger, my sister got me hooked on ‘George’s marvellous medicine’! x

    Liked by 1 person

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