The Ridgeway Review Half-termly book reviews and recommendations

Welcome to the first edition of The Ridgeway Review - a half-termly book recommendation newsletter created by Mrs Jacks and contributed to by the staff in school.

The aims of the Ridgeway Review are to promote reading for pleasure amongst our children, to help children, parents and carers to select high quality texts to read and to share what the teachers are enjoying reading. If you would like to borrow one of the recommended reads for your child, they are almost all available at Market Harborough library in town. We also have some copies in school and they will be placed in a basket in the entrance if you would like to borrow one from there. Alternatively, they can be ordered from all good bookshops. Quinns in Market Harborough have a fantastic selection of books and I'm sure they would be delighted to help you source any books that you need.

Grown-up Reads

Reading is a pleasure that all ages can enjoy. The Ridgeway Review will also contain an adult recommendation. This book will be kept in the school office - if you would like to borrow it, please ask there and return when you have finished. Thank you.

Mrs Dewes’ recommendation:

Where the Wild Things Are

Author: Maurice Sendak

Age range - EYFS/KS1

I’ve chosen the picture book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. It tells the story of a boy called Max who one night was up to mischief and sent to bed (without any supper) for being naughty. Max then sailed off to an imaginary (or is it...?) “Land of the Wild Things” where he became King and had a wonderful time until he sailed back home. He arrived just in time to find his supper waiting for him. The pictures in this book are great and good for talking about. It makes a good story to read aloud to Reception or KS1 children. When my eldest son was younger we had to borrow this book from the library for weeks at a time and read it every night! It is definitely a children’s classic.

Miss Fellows’ recommendation:

Odd dog out – a stand out story about not fitting in.

Author: Rob Biddulph

Age Range: EYFS (and above)

The charming story of a little dog, who in a world where every other sausage dog is busy playing, working and being part of the crowd, dances to a different beat. Upset that she does not fit in, she embarks on a journey through the seasons to find the place she ‘fits’. When she eventually finds it she realises, thanks to a friend in a quirky beret and knitted jumper, that being different is not just OK, it’s something to be celebrated. She returns to her home to find her friends have missed her and they do appreciate her – blazing a trail to be who you are. Lots of beautiful and funny pictures and a message that is subtle but strong, this is a fabulous book about the importance of being who you are. It flows beautifully and there are lots of funny pictures at the end of the book of all the sausage dogs being different. The book has also been featured in CBeebies Bed Time Stories and is read by Tom Hardy -


Mrs Jacks' recommendation:

Emil and the Detectives

Author: Eric Kastner

Age range: Year 3/4

Emil Tischbein is going to Berlin, to see his family. His mother, Mrs Tischbein gave him seven whole pounds (which was a lot of money back then), for his journey and also spending.

While Emil was on the train, there was a very suspicious looking man with a bowler hat on. We don't know his name. It's either Mr Grundeis, Muller, Kiessling or Gross-Grunau!! When Emil fell asleep, he had his money safely in his pocket with a pin through it, so it couldn't be stolen. Emil woke up and found that his money was gone, and so was the man in the bowler hat! He was determined to find Mr Grundeis because he was sure that he was the man who had stolen it. If Grundeis HAD stolen it, there would be pin-pricks through the money.

A great read for year 3/4s - a cracking adventure story with a likeable main character.

Mrs English's recommendation:

Du Iz Tak?

Author: Carson Ellis

Age range: All ages!

Du Iz Tak? is a picture book written entirely in the language of bugs. Created by artist Carson Ellis, the story shows a group of insects encountering the newly sprouted shoot of a plant for the first time.

I adore this book! The pictures are stunningly beautiful, and are a treat to look at without even considering the book’s narrative. The story is very simple but the true pleasure of this book comes from attempting to translate the obscure language of bugs.

I used this book for my job interview at Ridgeway and the children in my class loved it; we still refer to it now, a year later! It is accessible to all children, of all ages and abilities. It allows children who speak English as a second language to access a text at the same level as native English speakers; we are all on a level playing field with this text.

I can’t recommend “Du Iz Tak?” highly enough. As an adult, I could happily flick through the pages and appreciate the artwork; children simply lap the book up and are eager to work out what is happening in the story itself. Picture books are fabulous for children of all ages, and this book proves that.

Mrs Jacks' recommendation:

The Girl Who Speaks Bear

Author: Sophie Anderson

Age range: Year 5/6

The Girl Who Speaks Bear is a great read. If you enjoyed The House with Chicken Legs, then I'm sure you'll love this too. In fact, the house actually makes an appearance in this story! It is an adventure story with a heart and plenty of folklore. The main character, a girl called Yanka, begins to question who she really is and whether or not she fits in in her community. She is strangely bigger than everyone else; in fact, she has grown so tall and strong she is nicknamed Yanka the Bear. An event in her village leads her to go on a voyage of discovery and she meets some brilliant new friends along the way. Will she ever return to her community and feel comfortable in her own skin? Read the book to find out!

Miss Johnson's recommendation (Adult read):

The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

'This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.'

There are some books you know you are going to fall in love with from the opening page, or even, the opening line. 'I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten books for the first time' was all I needed to have me spellbound.

This beautifully written gothic story is set in the swirling mists of Barcelona shortly after the Spanish Civil War. It follows the journey of the main character - a ten-year old boy named Daniel Sempere - whose father owns a bookshop in the city. One morning, not long after the death of his mother, Daniel is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten books by his father. Tradition states that the first time a person visits this sacred place he must chose a book, adopting it and therefore ensuring that it will never disappear. Daniel's choice is 'The Shadow of the Wind' a life-changing decision which draws him in to the mysterious existence of the book's author - Julian Carax.

However, it appears that Daniel is not the only person intent on unravelling the past of Carax. His search for the truth leads him down dark alleys and to clandestine meetings with inhabitants of Barcelona whose paths he would never have crossed: Fumero - a corrupt city official, Fermin Romero de Torres - a favourite character of mine whose humour provides a stark contrast with the malice of others -along with a host of other colourful and sinister characters. At times it is hard to tell who the real villain is - 'The Devil' who appears to have sprung from the pages of Carax's novel and materialised under the street lamps of the city, Carax's father or even Daniel himself. The twists and turns kept me guessing throughout.

I found it impossible to define this novel as one genre - gothic mystery, crime, thriller, suspense - all entwined with themes of family, friendship, prejudice and forbidden love. At times, I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough, full of anticipation as to what was lurking around the next dark corner. There were other parts which I read over and over, savouring the delicious description of the city and its characters. The language is beyond beautiful; each chapter is filled with similes and metaphors which completely wrap themselves around you, drawing you in and transporting you in to the winding streets.

As a fan of Gothic literature, this book had me hooked from start to finish. Just knowing that feeling of finding a book that you have fallen in love was enough to make me feel connected to Daniel, who completely loses his heart to 'The Shadow of the Wind'. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

I hope you have enjoyed reading reviews by the staff at school. If you would like any further ideas or recommendations then please pop in to see either your child's class teacher or the English leads: Hannah Jacks and Helen Price.

Created by: Hannah Jacks


Created with an image by Hush Naidoo - "The way words create a heart …"