Kindle and mug of tea sitting in the sun
Children, Reading, Review

May 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

His reviews are getting briefer and briefer. Sorry about that.

House of Hades and Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Yeah, so he didn’t stand by his rash statement that he wasn’t going to read any more Rick Riordans. He’s got another one on the Kindle waiting too.

He says these are some great Rick Riordan books, some of the best. Not he absolute best but very good.

Kid Normal and the Shadow Machine by Greg James

Spoiler alert from large boy. At the end Kid Normal chooses Magpie’s best power, to be able to steal other people’s powers. Then he takes back all the stolen powers and gives them back to the people they got taken from.

It was quite good, he’d read some more.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier

Basically the same as the first season of the TV series he watched, really good.

Other things

  • At least 4 Captain Underpants by Dave Pikey
  • 2 Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis
  • The 104 and 130 Treehouse by Terry Denton and Andy Griffiths
  • Everything’s Amazing (sort of) by Liz Pichon
  • Other things at school that never even made it home and he didn’t do quizzes for because he’d already read them before.


A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

I don’t usually get hooked on non-fiction books. Fiction can totally absorb me, especially a good detective mystery. So it was rather an unusual experience for me to have that “just a few more pages” feeling about a book with no protagonist. But I found myself still reading at almost midnight, himself snoring gently (or loudly) next to me already, my eyelids heavy but unable to put the book down.

Adam Rutherford’s writing style is humorous, accessible and just open. I know enough about genetics and human history and evolution to find the deepest depths of science manageable but I don’t know how that content would come across to someone without a science A level.

What I appreciated enormously about this book wasn’t the history or the science but the constant thread of a message that we are all the same. Rutherford says over and over again “race does not exist”. He’s respectful of the scientific achievements of people like Francis Galton, while simultaneously heaping scorn, shame and horror at his ethics.

Honestly, I think this book ought to be on the general studies reading syllabus of all A level (and equivalent) students. I want my children to read it for so many reasons. The process of the Human Genome Project demonstrates the effects of team work, common goals, and generous sharing of ideas, data, technology and innovative techniques on making massive leaps in our understanding of the world around us. I want the boys to grow up with that ethos of collaboration as well as seeing past people’s outside to understand that phenotypes are meaningless, its the neurons’ connections and what we do with them that counts.

Yeah, so ridiculous introspective philosophy aside, I loved it!

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 Otter Who Wanted to Know by Jill Tomlinson

Another wonderful reading experience from small boy. He’s been reading between 4 and 7 books from school every week as well as his chapter book. His confidence has been growing all the time and he loves these adventure stories with animal characters – they really tie in with his imaginary world of made up animals. He laughs at the funny bits and asked all the same questions as the main character with an excess of curiosity. When he’s tired he gets lazy with the little words and misses them out sometimes, then gets confused. Other times he thinks its really funny to read on in his head and make me wait, then read out loud beautifully fluently.

Love from Smell xx

10 thoughts on “May 2021 Reading”

  1. It’s so lovely to see your kids like reading like yourself! Lovely round-up of all the books you guys have enjoyed the past month x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Kid Normal and the Shadow Machine book sounds like one with a good moral spine – to do things for the good of others and that theft (even of super powers) is not cool.

    I’d come across A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived but I’ll be honest, I had no idea what it was really about. I do like the sound of it, and it seems like one that certain people with certain shitty (racist) beliefs should probably be reading!

    I can’t say I’ve read anything other than American crime thrillers with lots of FBI agents and detectives hunting down killers. I’m just too predictable 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You all had a great reading month! I must admit that I never read anything from Rick Riordan even if I love myths inspired books! Might have to add it to my list! x


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