Reading During Lockdown – Part 2

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

Jhumpa Lahiri

This is the second in a four part series on books to read during the lockdown. Today I’m sharing books my ten year old and I both love.

 

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How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (Age 6 and up)

This series is 12 fabulous books long, so can keep your and your kids occupied for a while. My son fell in love with these books, when we lived in Canada and they’ll always make me think of snow, fires and skiing. After reading the books, we got the audio books and listened to those on our Saturday ski trips. They’re read by David Tennant, who does a truly wonderful job.

These books are both imaginative and laugh out loud funny.  They are very different from the films though, despite featuring many of the same characters.

Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans

There are four books in this series and they are all absolutely hilarious. They’re about a boy named Elliot who becomes entangled with the greek gods. These are not the greek god’s of history though, these are gods who have been in retirement in England for hundreds of years. Why England? Because as Zeus says

We needed a place where a group of eccentric individuals with strange personal habits could fit right in. England seemed a natural choice.

The books hurtle along at a breakneck speed and are hugely entertaining. What sets them apart though is that Maz Evans gives Elliot real-life problems, as well as godly ones, and his real-life problems can’t be fixed with magic stones, or wishes. Under the fast-paced action and laugh out loud humour, there is a layer of sadness. Despite being chock full of gods, these books feels real, and just like real life, they are a blend of happy and sad.

A Murder Most UnladyLike by Robin Stevens

Another fantastic series! Both children and adults will love the mysteries and the fantastic characters. If you like Agatha Christie you will love Robin Stevens.

Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells attend a fancy girl’s boarding school in 1930’s England. They’re supposed to be becoming proper young ladies, but they’d rather be detectives, which is useful, as everywhere they go murder follows.

The girls are smart, resourceful and funny. As well as solving murders they have to go through the typical pains and dramas of growing up. Robin Stevens also uses the book to explore many other issues, including sexism, racism, but never in a heavy handed way, it always fits with the plot. Daisy and Hazel are such fantastic characters you’ll always be rooting for them while trying to see if you can solve the murder first.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Unlike the previous three series, I introduced my son to these books, rather than the other way around. I’ve loved His Dark Materials since I first read them when I was at school! They are the most amazing fantasy books, following Lyra and Will, as they travel through alternate universes trying to stay alive and save the worlds. They are full of magic and mysteries, a device that always tells the truth, a knife that can cut anything, polar bears who talk and wear amour, witches and, most importantly, deamons. A deamon, in Lyra’s world, is your inner self made manifest in animal form. All these years later and I still want a deamon.

Luckily, Will also loves these books (yes they are where he got his name!) and we’ve enjoyed reading them together. We also loved watching the new television adaptation of the first book, Northern Lights.

The Graveyard Book By Neil Gaiman

I’m so glad Neil Gaiman writes children’s books, as it was great to be able to introduce Will to one of my favourite authors earlier, rather than later. This is such a deliciously strange book and just the right kind of creepy to leave children with that fun scared  feeling rather than that terrified scared feeling. The first line

There was a hand in the darkness and the hand held a knife.

gives you a taste of what is to come.  The book follows the life of Bod (short for Nobody) as he grows up in a Graveyard, protected from the Man Jack by ghosts and vampires and hell hounds. It’s truly unique and such a wonderful read.

The Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett

Another great author writing for children. The five-book Tiffany Aching series is set in Terry Pratchett’s Disc World, but they’re suitable for children. Tiffany is a fabulous character and a great role; she’s resourceful, kind, strong, clever and funny and relatable.

“Sometimes, Tiffany thought, I am so fed up with being young.”

 

These books also have some of the funniest characters ever created, The Wee Free Men! “Crivens!” will be part of your vocabulary after reading these books.

 

The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider is basically James Bon for kids. My son adores these books and my husband and I enjoy them a lot too. Alex is a reluctant teen spy, but he definitely has the skills for the job, if he’s not snowboarding down a mountain on an ironing board, he’s making incredible jumps ,or taking out grown men with his ninja skills. He even has gadgets worthy of Bond, in fact Alex’s gadgets are better.

Anthony Horowitz is a master plotter, the books are addictive reading, every chapter is a cliff hanger and you have to know what happens next. These books are highly entertaining for both children and adults.

 

I can also highly recommend the audio books of How to Train Your Dragon,  Who Let the Gods Out and Alex Rider.

Next time great books I’ve read recently.

 

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