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Children, Reading, Review

December 2021 Reading

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I 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

The Day the Screens Went Blank by Danny Wallace

One day when a family were all sitting on the sofa watching different TV shows and they all loved screens, all the screens in all of the UK went blank. After a really frustrating, no-fuel car journey with farms and smells they finally got to their grandma’s house where they had to save her as she doesn’t leave the house because she orders things which she couldn’t do without screens. They even had to steal the world’s best fish and chips from a pub!

He says “it was good”.

The Time and Space of Uncle Albert and Black Holes and Uncle Albert by Russell Stannard

The first book was better than the second. These are literally just a bunch of little trips into space to find out whether theories are right and it’s a bit crazy. He says he still doesn’t understand how gravity bends time – although he did a very good job of explaining how the school day could go faster if his teacher was in space where time goes more quickly, except then no one would understand what she said as she’d be talking really fast compared to the kids in the classroom on Earth.

Camp Half-Blood Confidential by Rick Riordan


This is a bunch of little stories from some of the campers at camp half-blood in the Percy Jackson world. He doesn’t want to explain more than that, so you’ll have to read it to find out.

The Christmasaurus and the Naughty List by Tom Fletcher

This is the third book in the series. Large boy got it during our half-term break in Edinburgh and he was saving it to read in December when it would be appropriately festive.

There were so many people on the naughty list that its book was heavier than the good list book, only Santa wasn’t allowed to interfere. So, the Christmasaurus had to fly around the world to be nice, so they could get on the good list. His favourite bit was when a girl got a recipe book that made yucky food taste yummy.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Yes really! His class wrote their own Christmas play based on this and they’re learning about the Victorians next term so their teacher is evidently hooking up various aspects of what she’s teaching. Large boy wrote scene 2 of the play, it was quite good. So I picked up a copy in Aldi and he was initially quite keen to read it. However, half way through he came down from bedtime reading all sullen and complained that it was annoying because there was too much description. We talked him into finishing it – perseverance is important – and he kept on going. I’m not sure many 10 year olds have read Dickens, even if he didn’t like it.

Also read:

  • King of the Cloud Forests by Michael Morpurgo (wow does this child object to Michael Morpurgo)
  • The Accidental Father Christmas by Tom McLaughlin
  • Dragon Boy by Dick King-Smith
  • Toto the Ninja Cat and the Superstar Catastrophe by Dermot O’Leary
  • Soul Eater by Michelle Paver
  • Shoe Wars by Liz Pichon
  • Alex Sparrow and the Zumbie Apocalypse by Jennifer Killick

Small boy

Small boy is 6. He’s just in year 2 having learned to read over the last two years with the marvellous Read Write Inc phonics scheme. It’s brilliant and he’s made huge progress since we began home learning back in March 2020, especially through the spring of 2021. Well, I’m thrilled that he’s now reading so confidently and independently that his section of our monthly round up has been promoted above mine. He’s currently juggling: a guided reading with his group at school (no idea what) and a school book during term time, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (himself and I are reading it to him at bedtime), his own choice of book to read out loud to us, and some junk he’s reading to himself at bedtime, and a Tom Gates in the living room so he doesn’t have to go upstairs to fetch something else. I don’t know how he’s keeping track of all the different stories but he’s getting 90% or 100% on his quizzes so it doesn’t seem to be bothering him.

Volcano Challenge by Bear Grylls

When large boy was in year 2 he loved this series, I think it was one of the first things he read to himself silently. Small boy certainly enjoyed the adventures and really persevered with this, it took several weeks to get through reading just a two or four pages each night. Personally, I much prefer the Bear Grylls series to a lot of the kids books around these days (how old do I sound?!), the kids are relatable and there are gentle lessons demonstrated in resilience and self-belief, and not being surgically attached to a screen in this case.

Playful Panda and Pesky Polar Bear by Amelia Cobb

Playful Panda was bought in Edinburgh, mainly as a way of teasing Daddy who dislikes pandas. Small boy says it was very good and the best bit was all of it. He liked Zoe because she could talk to animals. One of the pandas escaped and was running round the zoo, they found him up a tree and got him back down. It was probably the same tree as in the polar bear book because bears can climb trees, you know! (this is a dig at large boy who exclaimed that he didn’t know bears climbed trees while we were at a safari park this summer).

The polar bear book wasn’t as good as the panda one apparently. Snowy the polar bear had an igloo and Zoe threw a surprise birthday party for her mum in there. That’s it!


Tom Mariner books 6 and 7 by Chris Collett

I downloaded this boxset while we were in Edinburgh at half term and ploughed through the first five in November.

I feel like there definitely need to be more books in this series. I particularly enjoyed the one set in the wilderness of of Wales, lots of twists and turns as usual and we knew who the really bad guy was from early on. But the details weren’t clear until right at the end. Just what you want from a compelling detective story.

Fear on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Did I say detective story? Can you tell I’m quite attached to the genre? Nikki Galena and Joseph Easter are definitely amongst my favourites. However, by book 13 some of the rawness and angst of Nikki’s character is gone and I do kind of miss that from the first few investigations.

This story of two brothers, long separated and their divergent paths resulting in a psychopathic killer is compelling. There’s a real conflict between sympathy from the nature-loving side and the murderousness of the brother they’re searching for. There are all the usual bodies, funny sarcasm from our favourite pathologist and a great twist at the end – I’d guessed it, but it played out beautifully.

They Disappeared by Joy Ellis

Jackman and Evans inhabit the same world as Nikki and Joseph, albeit at a different police station. I know where Nikki’s Greenborough is based on, but I do wonder where Saltern is supposed to be. This time the detective duo are chasing down a killer who seems to be working their way through a list, but why? Alongside the main thread, there’s a fabulous aside about Orac the IT guru and her background, it’s fab to move the focus away from the two main characters and get to know other members of the team a bit better.

How about you?

What books have you and your family enjoyed lately?

Love from Smell xxx

9 thoughts on “December 2021 Reading”

  1. Dickens!!! Wow! The descriptions are work. I’m very impressed.

    I’m currently reading “Younger Next Year” by Henry Lodge and Chris Crowley based on a recommendation. It’s geared toward aging men approaching retirement and is basically a self-help/motivational book about exercise (physical and mental). The macho tonality is a bit overbearing but I’m learning some things and it’s actually motivating me to make some positive changes. I’ll post more about it in the future if I manage some success. No real “for pleasure” books at the moment. Too tied up with my own writing.

    Liked by 2 people

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