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Books with at worst Objectionable attitude


The Confession of Brother Haluin

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Brother Haluin of the Shrewsbury Community falls from the Abbey roof and believing himself close to death confesses to the Abbot (with Brother Cadfael in attendance) that he had assisted in the abortion of his illegitimate child before entering the monastery.

Detective, Historical

Cuckoo in the Nest

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

16-year-old Ralph Hollis is yearning for a career in the theatre, while his father is furious that he won't find real work.

A young man trying to do what he wants in life without going against his family. The support the family offers even with its spats and storms. The joy and companionship of working in a theatre.

Family, Growing-Up, Romantic, War

Esperanza Rising

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Esperanza, accustomed to a comfortable life, has to come to terms with poverty when her father is killed, leaving their land to his self-serving brothers.

Dignity in poverty. Generosity of families and individuals, helping others even when it is difficult.

Coping with, Growing-Up, Historical

Fr Brown Stories

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Father Brown is a Catholic priest who uses his intelligence and ingenuity to solve crime in this series of short stories.

Classic, Detective, Short

Hiding Out

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The Castles & the Fletchers are driving back thro' France to Calais and stop for a picnic.

Adventure

I, Juan de Pareja

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Juan is born into slavery in Seville, Spain in the early 1600s, and after the death of his mother when he is just five years old he becomes the pageboy of a wealthy Spanish lady, Emilia.

Based on what is known of the life and household of the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez, this is a sensitive fictional account of the life of Juan de Pareja, a black Spaniard and slave-cum-friend of the painter. Friendship, loyalty, mercy and generosity are beautifully illustrated, and issues of slavery and cruelty are explored with a modern understanding of their evil, but in a way that is not unbelievable in the story's context.

Biographical, Historical

Jane Eyre

Style: Classic

Attitude: Edifying

Jane Eyre becomes governess to the ward of Mr Rochester, with whom she falls in love.

Classic, Girls, Historical, Romantic

A Little Bush Maid

Style: Classic

Attitude: Edifying

Norah can’t wait for Jim to come home for the holidays, and when he does arrive, accompanied by Harry and Wally, every day is full of adventures.

A vivid depiction of the quintessentially Australian; values such as mateship, hard work and bush hospitality to beautiful illustrations of the outback, Australian character and humour. Heart-warming, humorous and highly enjoyable Australian classic!

Adventure, Classic, Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up

A Little Lower Than the Angels

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Gabriel is an 11-year-old, apprenticed to a greedy stonemason, some time during the years of the Black Death.

Portrays some of the naivety and credulity of the time, while not being an exercise in church-bashing. Gabriel's innocence protects him from being drawn into the evils carried out by Garvey and Mason Colley who later teams up with him. The ending, where Gabriel approaches a nearby monastery for help in writing down the words of the plays which might otherwise be lost, is especially nice.

Historical

Little Women

Style: Classic

Attitude: Edifying

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March are girls growing into young ladies in the late 19th century.

Classic, Girls

Monk's Hood

Style: Average

Attitude: Edifying

Gervase Bonel dies of poisoning before an agreement to hand his manor over to Shrewsbury Abbey can be ratified.

Detective, Historical

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is the remarkable story of the saint's life as told by the fictional Sieur Louis de Conté (whose initials match the author's), Joan's page and secretary, in the form of a memoir written in the twilight of life.

Biographical, Historical

Red Sky in the Morning

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

12-year-old Anna Peacock is determined to look after her baby brother Ben even though he is hydrocephalous.

Loving acceptance of a handicapped child. The stress this places on his familiy. General attitude of respect towards elderly or less capable people (including a harmless kleptomaniac). Anna's efforts to hold things together. Faith seen as meaningful if not entirely understood. Some vulgarity among teenage girls.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up

Ring out Bow Bells!

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Dickon is apprenticed to Master Whittington, former mayor of London and head of a house of Mercers, although Dickon's own family are victuallers - old enemies of the clothiers.

Family, Historical

The Silver Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The story centres round the Balicki family set against the bleak landscape of war-torn Warsaw and the wreck that is post war Germany.

Classic, Family, War

They Came Like Swallows

Style: Classic

Attitude: Edifying

At the centre of 8 year old Bunny’s life is his mother who is the only member of the Morrison family who understands Bunny’s sensitive and thoughtful nature.

Insightful and tender look at motherhood, family and death during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 in America. A beautiful and heartbreaking story recommended for sensitive readers 12 years and up.

Classic, Growing-Up

A Twist in Time

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Cosy (short for Cosima) finds herself getting used to a foster family just as she is starting at the school to which she's earned a scholarship.

Even if one were to extract the subplot of the ghost girl -- which is reminiscent of Charlotte Sometimes -- the story has a gently courageous feel: Cosy struggles hard because her Father's dead and she and her ill mother have kept each other going for years. At one point she gives in -- all her mother's efforts have only landed her in hospital -- but one of her foster sisters cajoles her roughly out of her mood and she goes on to make a good friend and do well at school.

Family, Girls

The Wool-Pack

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Nicholas Fetterlock is the son of a Cotswolds wool merchant at the end of the 15th century when the wool had made such merchants and the country rich.

Classic, Family, Historical

The Historical Stories of Cynthia Harnett

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

Gentle, readable and edifying historical stories featuring youngsters in homely situations between the 15th and 17th centuries.

Historical

The Swish of the Curtain

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

As the summer starts, the Halfords move to Fenchester and strike up a friendship with the Fayne & Darwin families, prompting the youngsters to pool their talents and put on a play for their friends and acquaintances.

An undemanding story of youthful ambition and success. Dated but still very readable. Family tensions between children's ambitions and parental plans. Warmhearted generosity and good humour both in public and in private.

Classic, Family, Historical

The Willows and Beyond

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

The Water Rat senses that the River is disturbed, just as he receives notice of a delivery for him in the town, at the same time as the Badger hears of plans to tear down the Wild Woods to build new houses.

A quiet story contemplating the autumn of one's life, and highlighting the value of what's gone before without losing sight of the future. Quiet companionship and unspoken generosity. The responsibility of the older generation for the younger, and vice versa.

Friendship

A Wrinkle in Time

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

Meg crosses dimensions to where The Dark Thing is holding her father captive, taking Charles Wallace and Calvin to help her free him.

Intriguing if slightly dated sci-fi morality tale. Strong bonds of family and friendship. A warning about creating a perfect state if the cost is the loss of individuality and love.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Growing-Up, Romantic, Thought-provoking

Frozen in Time

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Edifying

Ben & Rachel inadvertently wake their Great Aunt and Uncle Polly & Freddy, cryogenically frozen since the 1950s and still 12 years old.

Lightweight plot from an interesting premise. Nice juxtaposition of old and new attitudes to people and society. Bravery, courage and affection in difficult circumstances. Moderate violence in justifiable self-defence.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking, Time-Travel

The "Mortal Engines" Quartet

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Edifying

Tom Natsworthy, an orphaned History apprentice on the Traction City of London, is sent in disgrace to the city’s Deep Gut after a bullying fellow-apprentice taunts him into a fight.

An engaging and uplifting story set against an imaginative future backdrop. Cyborg stalkers built around dead bodies. Romantic suicide. Christianity as a force for reconciliation.

Adventure, SciFi

Beauty

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story is the conventional one of Beauty & the Beast: the father who inadvertently trespasses on the enchanted castle, and who must send one of his daughters to live with the Beast who inhabits it; the growing love between the Beast and the girl; the overstayed leave-of-absence and how it brings the Beast close to death, causing the girl to proclaim her love for him, unwittingly breaking the enchantment he was under.

An enjoyable retelling of Beauty & the Beast; nice depiction of loving family and generous neighbours

Fantasy, Girls

Black Hearts in Battersea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

This novel is set at the beginning of the 19th century in an England plagued by wolves and revolutionaries.

Set in nineteenth century England, Black Hearts in Battersea is an enthralling tale of intrigue, conspiracy and suspense where the young characters must face cases of mistaken identity, revolutionary plots, hungry wolves, a shipwreck and attempts at kidnap and murder to save each other, the duke and duchess, and the King of England. It is a great read.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical

The Blue Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The context of the story is a fictional setting where a civilised people not too dissimlar to the British of the Empire have come to live in a country originally populated by a hill people with a rich history shot through with magic.

Fantasy

The Boggart and the Monster

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Boggart of Loch Ness is woken up when the Boggart of Castle Keep comes by.

Friendship, Magic

The Boggart

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A Boggart is a creature of the Wild Magic, a kind of house-elf, but which delights in mild mischief without a sense of responsibility.

Friendship, Magic

The Borrowers Afloat

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Pod, Homily and Arriety are forced to leave the house they share with their relatives because the humans who live there are going.

Classic, Family, Fantasy

The Borrowers

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Pod, Homily and Arriety Clock live under the floorboards of a house, borrowing from the humans to clothe, furnish and feed themselves.

Classic, Family, Fantasy

The Box of Delights

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Kay Harker comes home for the Christmas holidays and finds himself helping Cole Hawlings, a slightly unusual Punch and Judy showman, to keep his Box of Delights from falling into the hands of the Wolves, led by Abner Brown.

A magical and exhilarating scramble, full of innocent enjoyment, adventure and friendship.

Classic, Humorous, Magic

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Young Bruno is upset when his family is uprooted from their comfortable Berlin townhouse and forced to live in the featureless Outwith at the insistence of his soldier father's chief The Fury.

A moving look at the horrors of Auschwitz through the eyes of an innocent young German boy, the son of the camp commandant. No explicit violence but the final moments are quite tragic. May be suitable for younger readers in company with an older reader who can explain what's happening if needed.

Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, Moral Issue, Thought-provoking, War

Brother in the Land

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

One of many post-nuclear-holocaust books, this one written in 1984 details one boy's experiences following a nuclear strike on England.

Ultimately tragic and with no real surprises it is quite readable and not too harrowing.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Butterfly Lion

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bertie grows up in South Africa and befriends a lion cub which must go to a circus when he goes to school in England.

Growing-Up, Spooky, War

Carrie's War

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Carrie and Nick Willow are evacuated to Wales.

Classic, Friendship, Growing-Up, War

The Chamber of Secrets

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

At the start of the school term at Hogwarts, several people are attacked and turned to stone and Harry is suspected of being the heir of Slytherin, responsible for reopening the Chamber of Secrets in which a monster is known to dwell.

Entertaining schoolboy adventure with magic elements and some rulebreaking.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Charlotte Sometimes

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Charlotte goes to sleep in a boarding school and wakes up to find herself in the same place in 1918, and mistaken for Clare who has taken her place 40 years in the future.

Gentle time-shift story put across thoughtfully in terms of the relations between Emily and Charlotte and the acceptance by Charlotte and Clare of their situation, less disturbing than it might have been, since they are both new to boarding school life.

Classic, Magic, School

Charm School

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bonny's family has only just moved into the area, her Dad's stuck in a lay-by somewhere and her mother has to take a bookkeeping course at the community centre so Bonny is signed up for an all-day Charm School.

Light-hearted dig at the obsessive preoccupation of young girls with their appearance

Growing-Up, Humorous

The Children of Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Tolly, a shy 8-year-old, goes to visit his great-grandmother at her house, Green Knowe, and discovers that there are other children playing there.

Classic, Magic

The Chimneys of Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Granny Oldknow is making patchwork quilts out of materials from the inhabitants of GK in the 19th century: blind Susan, Jacob her black servant, Sefton, Caxton, Maria, Captain Oldknow and the Grandmother.

Classic, Magic

The Chronicles of Narnia

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Eight children witness the history of the world of Narnia, from its creation out of inchoate blackness to the extinction of its stars and the return of darkness.

Simple adventure stories, with a clear Christian basis. Heroic valour and virtue among straightforward characters who must each face individual challenges, overcome their own shortcomings, and decide where they place their trust.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

The Chronicles of Prydain

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Taran, often through his own well-meaning thoughtless haste, but helped by chance, finds himself embroiled in the struggle to free the land of Prydain from the clutches of the evil Arawn.

Love, friendship and perseverance overcome the wiles and tricks of many enemies, each side striving to turn the ancient magic of their land to its own advantage.

Classic, Fantasy, Friendship, Growing-Up

Copper

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Copper Beech is sent to the Marble Mountains to rejoin her family whom she has never met; when she gets there she learns that her father and mother both disappeared 6 years ago.

Fantasy

Coram Boy

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

In 17th-century England care for unwanted (often illegitimate) children is the responsiblity of the Parish which is often underfunded and ill-disposed.

Historical, Thought-provoking

The Daughter of Time

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

Grant, a policeman, is confined to a hospital bed with a concussed spine.

Detective, Historical

Dear Del

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Fran is looking forward to a girl of her own age coming to stay, until Del arrives and turns out to be a citywise girl of mildly outrageous appearance who's not averse to scrawling graffiti and to taking things she wants without paying for them.

Contrast between semi-rural quiet family life and an embittered city teenager, who dresses and acts slightly outrageously. Positive attitude towards an autistic teenager.

Coping with, Growing-Up

Dear Olly

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Intelligent and talented 18-year-old Matt travels to Africa to help war-injured children, leaving his widowed mother and younger sister Olly behind.

Positive and thought-provoking look at the effects of war on the children of Africa, and on the difference one determined young man can make.

Animal, Growing-Up, Thought-provoking, War

The Demon Headmaster series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

There are five ? books in this series: The Demon Headmaster; The Prime Minister's Brain; The Revenge of the Demon Headmaster; The Demon Headmaster Strikes Again; and The Demon Headmaster Takes Over.

Fantasy, Friendship

The Demon Headmaster

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Dinah Glass joins the Hunter family as foster child to initial disapproval from Lloyd & Hunter who don't want a girl in the family.

Fantasy, Friendship

The Divide

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Accidentally crossing The Divide, Felix finds himself in a world where humans and science are myth and mythical creatures and magic are real, although with different names.

Coping with, Fantasy

Dog Friday

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story begins with Robin in hospital after he has been attacked and badly injured by a dog.

Family, Friendship, Humorous

The Door Within

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Positive

Aidan Thomas comes across a set of scrolls which tell a story in which he mysteriously becomes embroiled, travelling to The Realm to join the elite warriors of King Eliam in their attempt to sway the undecided people of Mithegarde.

Perseverance and loyalty to ones Ruler and fellow warriors. Acceptance of ones responsibilities however difficult. The hidden strengths people possess. Partial Christian allegory. Rather creaky style and language.

Adventure, Fantasy

Double Image

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

David is resentful at having to spend a week with his grandad after his grandma has died, but discovers a story which his grandfather has kept hidden for many years.

Growing appreciation for the life led by ones grandparents, and the secret burden they've had to bear.

Family, Historical

Dragonsinger

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Menolly is brought by the Masterharper to the Harper Hall on the far side of Pern.

Feminist theme but without a tub-thumping style. Stylistically little more than an extension of [Dragonsong] but fitting in with the others in the series, with which it runs parallel. A nice story essentially about forging friendships.

Coping with, SciFi

Dragonsong

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three of the books in the Pern series group together as the Harper Hall Trilogy.

Well-evoked loneliness and despair of the sensitive girl musician caught friendless in a place where little music is needed, and certainly none from a girl. The final third of the book is less engaging, although it does show the efforts of the new Harper, Elgion, to widen the outlook of the Sea Holder and his people.

Coping with, Growing-Up, SciFi

Drift

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rafe, a westener, and Taweena, a native American Indian, visit the cave of a bear and are carried off on an ice floe.

The whole book is geared to showing how unaware the white people are and how deficient their philosophy is, compared to the nature-wise Indians.

Adventure, Coping with

Drummer Boy

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

Charley Bates, a young Rochford boy with no ties, is drawn by the glitter of the army to join up as a drummer boy during the Crimean War.

Historical, War

The Eagle of the Ninth

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Marcus is invalided out of the army after his first command is overrun by tribesmen stirred up by druids into a holy war; he undertakes to travel north in an attempt to retrieve the Eagle emblem of the vanished Ninth Legion, lost when under his father's command ten years before.

A well-researched and accessible window on life in Roman Britain. Believable characters populate an historical landscape. Loyalty of friends and respect for varied lifestyles and cultures.

Boys, Historical

The Edge of the World

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

A couple of youngsters find that they can step sideways into a parallel world which equates geographically to their own, but is barren.

Magic

An Enemy at Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ping and Tolly are both staying at Green Knowe when the dislikeable Dr Melanie Powers comes, looking for books of magic left behind by the 16th-century Dr Vogel.

Classic, Magic

The Exiles at Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ruth, hiding in the school library when she's feeling ill, rashly fills in a form to sponsor an African schoolboy, writing her age in such a way that it looks like she's 18.

Slightly wacky but realistic family of girls. Determination not to let down the African schoolboy they've rashly promised money to. Their ingenuity in trying to get money for a good cause. Valuing older people.

Family, Humorous

The Exiles

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Mr & Mrs Conroy send their daughters to stay with their grandmother while they spend a modest windfall on having their house extended.

Unstated family warmth. Sense of honour and courtesy the girls show in public.

Family, Humorous

The Falconer's Knot

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Chiara, sent to a convent without any feeling of a vocation, meets Silvano, seeking sanctuary in the nearby monastery when the two houses are asked to provide pigments for the painting in the Basilica in nearby Assisi.

Lightweight whodunnit. Positive and coherent portrayal of the religious life, vocations and love among young people.

Detective, Growing-Up, Historical, Romantic

Far Out!

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Ruby and Slate separately see an unusual card on the noticeboard advertising an Audition for Life.

Fantasy, Growing-Up

Feather Boy

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Robert Nobel, class pariah, becomes involved with the elderly and dying Edith Sorrel who persuades him to overcome his fears and to go to the top of Chance House, a derelict building nearby, and to make her a coat of feathers so that she -- like the Firebird in the legend -- might sing again.

Friendship, Growing-Up

Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Natalie, at 17, is about to go to college.

Coping with

Fireweed

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

15-year-old Bill is evacuated to Wales away from the grudging aunt with whom he lives.

A sturdy attempt to portray two mid-teenagers looking after themselves during the war; slightly dated style; no immodesty

Growing-Up, Historical, War

Five Children and It

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane and their baby brother find a Psammead (a sand fairy) in a gravel pit and it promises them one wish a day, whose effects will vanish at sunset.

Historical, Magic

Flambards

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Set in the years before the Great War.

This is the first of the popular Flambards books (Edge of the Cloud, Flambards in Summer, Flambards Divided et al.) and is aimed at teenagers.

Historical

Fly, Cherokee, Fly

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Darryl finds an injured pigeon and looks after it, helped by the advice of a local pigeon fancier.

Animal, Friendship, Growing-Up

Forever X

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The Shepherds (Anne & Jack with children Joy and Mel) are on their way to the Lakes when their car breaks down fortuitously near a B&B.

Family, Humorous

Foster Family series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The parents of a girl take on a series of short- and long-term foster children.

A matter-of-fact series dealing with the various problems of fostering children

Family, Girls

The Garbage King

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Mamo & Dani form an unexpected alliance while each is sleeping on the streets, and together they join a gang of streetboys, begging but not stealing.

Growing-Up, Thought-provoking

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

James Harrison's family have recently moved into a cottage in a village.

Magic

Gideon Ahoy

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of Gideon, a 16-year-old deaf and retarded boy, who is given a job on a barge for the summer.

Family, Thought-provoking

The Goblet of Fire

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter enteres his 4th, eventuful, year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Goodnight, Mr Tom

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Willie Beech, a timid 9-year-old, is evacuated from Deptford to Sussex, and is billeted on Tom Oakley, a widower who has allowed himself to become bitter and misanthropic since his wife and child died of scarlet fever 40 years before.

Slightly awkward storyline, but heartwarming; religious-driven cruelty of Willie's mother, her illegitimate baby and eventual suicide; the kindness of the villagers and especially of Tom Oakley.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, War

The Great Piratical Rumbustification

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three young boys are left in the charge of a rather piratical babysitter when their parents go out to a business dinner.

Humorous

The Guardian of Isis

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

A story set some 40 years after "The Keeper of the Isis Light" when the original settlers on Isis have grown older and a new generation is growing up.

SciFi

A Handful of Magic

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

In a parallel Victorian London, Kit Stixby is the magic-wielding son of the official Witch Doctor to Queen Victoria, while Kit is the best friend of the Queen's son Henry.

Imaginative and engaging children's adventure set in an alternative Victorian London. Mild magical aspects.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

The "Harry Potter" Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter is orphaned at the age of one, his parents killed by the powerful dark wizard Lord Voldemort whose spell unaccountably rebounds off the baby Harry, leaving his attacker helpless and half-dead.

Appealing adventure stories set in a world where evil is gaining the upper hand. Some magical elements. Simple presentation of good and evil. Mostly virtuous leading characters, but some aspects are less praiseworthy. Mostly delicate relationships between the sexes. Established atmosphere of friendship and respect among the nonetheless realistic characters.

Adventure, Friendship, Growing-Up, Magic, School

The Haunting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

8-year-old Barney Palmer is aware that he is being haunted by a small boy, whom he suspects to be the ghost of his great-uncle Cole, supposedly dead these 50 years, and special friend of his great-uncle Barnaby who has just died.

Family, Magic

The Hermit of Eyton Forest

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Richard Ludel dies leaving his 10-year-old son, Richard, heir to the estates.

Detective, Historical

His Banner Over Me

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

At the age of 4 Flora Gould (Gorrie) leaves Taiwan, where she was born to Canadian missionaries, to return with her family to Canada where she stays with her brothers and sisters until she is close to marrying.

Biographical, Family, Historical

The Hollow Land

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A series of short stories rather in the mould of Alan Garner.

Friendship, Short

Horrendo's Curse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

As a baby Horrendo has a curse put on him by the old Wise woman because she is fed up of the constant fighting and swearing which goes on in the village.

Simple and enjoyable story, painting a picture of how good manners and good cooking can overcome vice and evil.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The Horse and His Boy

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Shasta, a Narnian living among Calormenes, escapes on Bree, a Narnian horse.

Criticised for its black-and-white portrayal of the Narnians and Calormenes. Straightforward adventure journey tale demonstrating overcoming prejudice and pride, pushing oneself to ones limits to help friends, and trusting even when you can't see the outcome.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

The House on Falling-Star Hill

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Tim follows Sarre into the world of Tallis where huge birds and animals are the means of transport, and where an evil Duke is trying to take over the kingdom.

Entertaining fantasy adventure, although a little lightweight. Noble ideals promoted. Some mildly gruesome or unsettling episodes.

Fantasy, Growing-Up

Huntingtower

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Dickson McCunn "an incurable romantic" sells his grocery shop and goes walking in the highlands.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

If Only They Could Talk

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

First of the autobiographical series about a Yorkshire vet's day-to- day happenings, ups and downs.

Animal, Biographical, Humorous

I Was There

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Hans, Heinz and Gunter are three German boys at the time of Hitler's rise to power.

Historical, War

Izzy, Willy-Nilly

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Izzy, 15, accepts a lift home after a party from a boy who's had a bit too much.

Joan of Arc

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

20th-century Eloise is told the story of Joan of Arc by an angel after she is bitterly disappointed not to have been chosen to play Joan in the town's celebrations, as she was not born in Orleans.

Sympathetic retailing of the story of a warrior saint.

Biographical, Historical, War

Johnnie's Blitz

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Johnnie is staying with his grandparents in the East End as his father is at war and is on the run from the authorities after being accused of a theft he did not commit.

Historical, War

Journey to the River Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Maia is an orphan who goes with her new governess to live with her nearest relatives in Brazil in the city of Manaus on the Amazon River, a city made rich by the local rubber plantations.

Entertaining and engaging. Caricature of crass and small-minded Westerners among sympathetic natives.

Adventure, Friendship, Historical

The Last Battle

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Tirian is king of Narnia in a time of peace when a plot involving the Calormenes and a false Aslan threaten the country.

Night falls on Narnia. Good and bad in creatures are not as obvious to us as might be expected. The need to stand and fight for what you see is right. Different Gods. Life in glory after death.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

Leaving Emma

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Emma's best and only real friend Tem is moving away at the same time as Emma's dad is spending several months abroad for his job, leaving Emma disconsolate and unsure how she's going to get on.

Growing-Up

A Likely Lad

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Willy Overs is a 12-year-old Manchester boy early this century, whose aspirations to shine academically look like being thwarted by his Father's well- intentioned desire for his son's early employment.

A well-drawn picture of Manchester life at the turn of the century: the contrast between the hard-working Ardwick Overs and their Trafford cousins, the Sowters is amusingly depicted, with the rather scatty figure of Great Aunt Meg in the middle. At all times it is clear which way lies virtue and although Willy's father is to a certain extent the villain of the piece it is clear that his actions are wholly justified according to his way of thinking.

Historical

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

The Pevensie children find a mysterious winterbound land when they step through a wardrobe in a forgotten room of the house they're evacuated to.

First-written and most famous of the Narnia stories, whimsical, moving, human and ultimately Christian without that detracting from its readability.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

A Little Princess

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Sara Crewe is sent to school in London by her father before he returns to India.

Classic riches-to-rags-to-riches story of a virtuous child, abandoned to the mild cruelties of grasping spinsters. Virtue is rewarded, vice is shamed, and large and well-to-do families are cheerful and welcoming.

Classic, Friendship, Girls, Historical

The Load of Unicorn

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Young Benedict “Bendy” Goodrich lives with his adult brothers who run their retired father's scrivener business in Paternoster lane, but his ambition is to work with William Caxton who's pioneering the newly prosperous craft of printing in his workshop by Westminster Abbey.

Interesting historical story around the changeover to printing. A hotheaded young man learns to control himself. Generosity of several individuals when helping others without reward.

Adventure, Historical

Look to the Lady

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Val Gyrth, son of a nobleman, is down on his luck when he is rather mysteriously invited to meet Albert Campion, escaping abduction on the way.

Detective, Historical

Lorna Doone

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

The story tells of the adventures of John Ridd after his father is murdered by the Doones.

Classic, Romantic

The Magician's Nephew

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Polly and Digory are tricked into travelling by Uncle Andrew's magic rings to other worlds.

A highly-readable fantasy story relating to Christian beliefs, especially about creation. Faintly avuncular in style. Magical elements.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

Magnus Powermouse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Magnus is a big mouse at birth and grows still bigger by eating Patent Porker Pills meant for the pigs.

Animal, Fantasy

Man in Motion

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Lloyd (13) leaves his friends in a Hampshire village and moves to an (unspecified) city elsewhere in England with his (divorced) mother and student sister.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Max and the Flock, children with wings, have run away from the School, the lab complex where they spent the first part of their lives locked in cages and experimented on.

Grotesque and disturbing genetic and behavioural experiments on young children with commonly fatal results. Tremendous love and supportiveness between the six children. Max's efforts to make sure she and the others do the right thing. Positive reference to religion. The children's desire to know whether they have parents and who they are. Some thefts by the children in difficult circumstances. Serious violence.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Midnight Fox

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Tom, a townie, stays with his farming uncle and aunt, convinced he will hate every minute.

Animal, Coping with

The Midwich Cuckoos

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Sets of twins are mysteriously born in a village and turn out to have strange powers.

SciFi

Minnow on the Say

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Roger makes friends with Adam Codling, who lives in the Codlings' family house, once grand but now neglected, with his aunt Dinah and his grandfather.

Classic, Friendship

Mirrors

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A collection of short stories by different authors, each one having to do with mirrors.

Short, Spooky

Moonfleet

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

John Trenchard, a 15-year-old, becomes involved with a gang of smugglers, flees with their leader and finds a valuable diamond.

Adventure, Classic, Historical

My Friend Walter

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Bess Throckmorton attends a family reunion and meets the ghost of her ancestor Sir Walter Raleigh of cloak-over-puddle and tobacco fame.

Spooky

The Night-Watchmen

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Henry has been ill and wanders around the town while convalescing until he meets two unusual tramps: Josh and Caleb.

Magic

Ninny's Boat

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ninny, an 8th century boy, leaves with the people he has grown up with when their land is flooded.

Historical

The Order of the Phoenix

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

As his fifth year at Hogwarts fast approaches, Harry Potter the young wizard is certainly in adolescence, with mood swings and outbursts of rage.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Out of the Silent Planet

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

Elwin Ransome, a Cambridge don on a walking holiday, is looking for shelter for the night and chances upon two men, one of whom he knew at school, who drug him and take him with them to Mars in their spaceship.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Over Sea, Under Stone

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The Drew family and their Great Uncle Merry are staying in a Cornish house on holiday when the children find an old map which seems to lead to some treasure buried "Over the sea and under the stone".

Straightforward adventure story, slightly dated; ordinary family life

Adventure, Arthurian, Family, Fantasy

The Owl Service

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three teenagers, a visting step-brother and sister and a local lad, find a dinner service decorated with a design which can be seen as owls or as flowers.

Magic, Spooky

Paper Faces

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

8-year-old Dot lives with her mother Gloria in a East End boarding house just after the end of the war.

War

A Parcel of Patterns

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Plague is brought to the Derbyshire town of Eyam in 1665 by a parcel of dress patterns sent up from London.

Historical

Pawnee Warrior

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Darryl must do the best he can for his racing pigeons while keeping at bay his mother, pregnant with twins, his father, who doesn't want the pigeons, Warren, the school bully, and Susan Duckins and Suzie McAllister, who both have designs on him for entirely different reasons.

Animal, Friendship, Growing-Up, School

The Penderwicks

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The four Penderwick sisters befriend Jeffrey when staying in a cottage in the grounds of his mother's house.

Endearing holiday story of four sisters and a boy. Jeffrey's mother, alone since his father left, is about to remarry. Mr Penderwick treats his daughters gently, admonishing them sometimes in Latin.

Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up, Romantic

Peter Raven: Under Fire

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The year is 1800 as Peter Raven sails as midshipman aboard the Torrone, only to be hurt in a sea battle off France; when he sails again to the Caribbean the ship is attacked by Pirates and he is set adrift to save himself.

An exciting story, well-populated. A few slightly gruesome scenes.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, Seafaring, War

The Philosopher's Stone

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter is an eleven-year-old orphan living with his uncle and aunt Mr & Mrs Dursley and his cousin Dudley.

A school tale with magical embellishments; the friendship between the main characters.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Pride and Prejudice

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

The five Bennett sisters: Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, Kitty and Mary are at or near marrying age; their mother is keen to marry them off and rejoices when Mr Bingley, a personable young man, comes into the neighbourhood with his friend Mr Darcy and seems interested in her eldest daughter.

Classic, Girls, Romantic

Prince Caspian

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

The Pevensies return to Narnia to discover that 1,000 years have passed and that they are the stuff of legends, as are the talking animals of Narnia and Aslan himself.

Conventional adventure story with young heroes and natural forces overcoming adult humans who are clearly in the wrong.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

The Princesses of Barmarre

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Princesses Meryl and Addie live in the land of Barmarre, which is constantly attacked by Gryphons, Ogres, Spectres and Dragons, and where the plague of the Grey Death kills indiscriminately; Meryl is brave and Addie timid, until Meryl contracts the Grey Death, and Addie sets out to look for a cure.

Fantasy

The Prisoner of Azkaban

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The whole wizard world is on the alert after Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, the wizard prison.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Prove Yourself a Hero

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Jonathan Meredith, son of a rich horse-dealing family, is kidnapped and held to ransom.

A worthwhile read.

Adventure, Thought-provoking

Pure Dead Brilliant

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Baci has invited her fellow classmates from the Institute of Advanced Witchcraft to stay, unaware that one of them is a demon from the Hadean Executive, after the legendary Chronostone.

Family, Humorous, Magic

Pure Dead Magic

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Luciano Strega-Borgia has gone missing after storming out of the castle, and his wife has to go on a training course for witches, so she engages a Nanny who sidesteps the younger Strega-Borgia's attempts to repel her and takes on the running of the house, which soon becomes a complicated business.

Family, Humorous, Magic

The "Pure Dead" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The general plot lines involve various or all of the family members finding themselves in self-imposed scrapes and trying to get out: Titus creates too many mini clones, Damp sends the family's pet rats off by email, the house roof falls in, Luciano is kidnapped by the mafia when he walks out after a row, Ffup finds herself giving birth to the Loch Ness Monster's baby, etc.

Fun; Close family; Some earthy humour

Family, Humorous, Magic

Pure Dead Wicked

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The roof of Stregaschloss has collapsed, and the Strega-Borgias are forced to live in the local hotel while their house is being repaired.

Family, Humorous, Magic

Ruby Holler

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Sairy & Tiller, an elderly couple, foster Dallas & Florida and help them to appreciate that not everyone is an enemy.

A lightweight plot supported by interesting characters. The perils of an institutional upbringing vs the pleasures of a simple family home. Positive depiction of the possibilities still offered to and by an older generation.

Growing-Up

Saffy's Angel

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Saffy, the second of four children, discovers that she is adopted and is determined to regain the Angel her grandfather left her in his will as a mark of something which is really hers.

A lighthearted look at family and friendships. Cheerful and close family, although the father is effectively living elsewhere. Positive look at wheelchair-bound youngster.

Family, Humorous

Sandwriter

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

Antia, a princess, is sent to a desert kingdom, ostensibly to be married, but with the instructions from her tutor (on whom she has a crush) to find their secret.

SciFi

The Scent of Magic

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rachel and Eric are just learning to control the powers they discovered on Ithrea when a party of High Witches arrives on Earth to avenge the death of Dragweena.

Fantasy, Magic

The Secret Garden

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Mary Lennox, living in her uncle's lonely house on the Yorkshire Moors, finds the joy of living when she discovers the Secret Garden, locked away ten years before.

Classic, Growing-Up

Seed Time

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Tony's best friend at school has learning difficulties, problems at home, and is adept at getting himself into and out of trouble.

Two boys play truant and lie to their parents to get back an historical artefact they saw on a school trip; their parents, teachers and a policeman are understanding while pointing out what is wrong.

Coping with, School

The Shakespeare Stealer

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Widge is a poor orphan who has the rare ability to write a unique coded shorthand.

A fast-moving historical novel that introduces you to life in 16th century London among the actors of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It depicts friendship, loyalty and honesty in a positive way.

Adventure, Historical

The Sheep Pig

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Babe, a piglet, is won by the farmer in the village show, and is adopted by the farm's sheepdog Fly.

How a piglet on a farm is trained as a sheep-‘dog’ and wins trials

Animal, Family, Fantasy, Friendship, Humorous, Short

The Ship That Flew

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Peter buys a model ship and discovers it to be magical, having the power to grow and shrink and to travel to distant places and times.

Magic

The Silver Branch

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rome's control over Britain is swaying, and two young Roman soldiers find themselves flung unexpectedly into the power politics of British leadership.

Politics & adventure in Roman Britain. Courage & loyalty to friends and family.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

The Silver Chair

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Eustace returns with Jill to Narnia where they must travel across little-explored areas of the land to find a prince lost for years.

A Quest tale, taking Eustace and Jill through hardships, trials of friendship and faith in their guide, and near-despair as they have to rescue a lost prince from his captor, a witch. Death as a return to life.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

The Silver Child

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Six children, each endowed with a particular gift, feel called to Coldharbour, rubbish-filled mudflats where ships were once built.

Fantasy

The Sleeping Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A story within a story: Bun, now 12 years old, tells a story of his blindness two years before, and of how a sword he found in a hole under their field led him to King Arthur's resting place and helped him recover his sight.

Arthurian, Coping with, Friendship, Mythical

Smith

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Smith is a 12-year-old pickpocket in Dickensian London.

Adventure, Historical

Space Trap

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

Valerie, Susan and Frank are caught in a matter transporter and taken as pets for entertainment of experiment.

SciFi

Spindle's End

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Katriona brings home baby Rosie from her trip to see the christening of the new princess.

A modern retelling of an old fairy tale without sacrificing traditional sensibilities. Simple joys of life in a backwater. Uncomplicated friendships and family. Generosity without asking anything in return. Casual reference to divorce.

Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

A Spoonful of Jam

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Elsie Hollis is terrified of the gang in the next street, and auditions for a part with the local repertory company simply to stay out of the way; she is astonished when she is actually given the part.

Growing-Up, War

The Star of Kazan

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Annika, found by Sigrid and Ellie on a walking trip, is brought up by them in the house of the Professors, until Frau Edeltraut comes along and reveals that she is Annika's mother.

Heartwarming story of one girl's steadfastness in the face of deception and hardships, and the lengths her friends go to to help her.

Friendship, Historical

The Stone Book Quartet

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

4 interlinked short stories covering one rural Macclesfield family over some 3 centuries.

Historical, Short

The Stones of Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A mediaeval boy living at Green Knowe discovers that by going to the stones behind the house, he can meet the people who have lived and will live in the house.

Classic, Historical, Magic, Spooky

Strange Meeting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

John Hilliard rejoins his battalion near the front in World War I.

Friendship, Historical, War

A Stranger at Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ping, the young refugee who stayed with two friends at Green Knowe in "The River.

The opening section, describing Hanno's childhood in the jungle is descriptive and moving. While the book is clearly aimed at the younger reader, the issues involved are not to be dealt with lightly: the author describes the loneliness of the caged animal, tempering this with the friendship of the zookeeper. Ping is forced into stealing to keep the creature fed.

Classic, Magic

The Swallows and Amazons Series

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Three families of children enjoy themselves outdoors in general, and sailing in particular, over several holidays.

Classic set of gentle outdoor adventure stories, often with a sailing theme. Healthy combination of imagination and down-to-earth competence in outdoor pursuits. Nicely-rounded characters inhabiting an inter-war landscape where children are allowed a wide degree of freedom but where politeness and consideration are uppermost. The books' uncomplicated style coupled with their outdoor milieux is like fresh air to a modern reader.

Classic, Friendship, Growing-Up, Seafaring

The Sword of Shannara

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

First in a series of "Shannara" books.

Fantasy

That Hideous Strength

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The NICE, a scientific institute, has bought up Bragdon Wood, the land around a small university, and seems to have unlimited powers and support.

Arthurian, Classic, SciFi

The Thief Lord

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Prosper and Bo run away from their uncle and aunt and are caught up in a group of Venice street kids who get money by selling stolen property brought to them by The Thief Lord.

Openness of the Venice children in taking in two runaways. Apparent living off stolen goods. Church/confessional used merely as the rendezvous point for a meeting to arrange a robbery.

Adventure, Fantasy

The Thieves of Ostia

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Several of the watchdogs in Flavia's street are decapitated, and Flavia and her friends suspect a man whose daughter died after being bitten by a rabid dog.

Adventure, Historical

The Three Hostages

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

General Sir Richard Hannay, hero of "The 39 Steps" et al.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

Three Men in a Boat

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

George, Harris and J are three rather lazy young men around the turn of the century.

Classic, Humorous

Time Stops For No Mouse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Hermux Tantamoq is a watchmaker living a quiet and comfortable existence until an attractive and dashing lady fails to return for her repaired watch.

A gently entertaining book, without originality, but with charm.

Adventure, Humorous

The Time Witches

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The head of the Light Witches, Sir Chadwick Street, is about to marry Hilda Bluebell when she is carried back in time by the evil Wolfbane.

Over simple; emphasis on simple pleasures, loyalty and generosity

Fantasy, Magic

To Kill A Mockingbird

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the deep south of America during the 1930s, a time at which racial prejudice was rife.

Racism and how this is fought by one man in the Deep South.

Classic, Growing-Up, Moral Issue

Tom's Midnight Garden

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Tom Long is in quarantine for measles, which his brother Peter has caught.

Classic, Magic

A Traveller in Time

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Penelope visits her aunt and uncle in their farmhouse "Thackers".

A gentle story with the time-travel elements played down, rather as in Penelope Farmer's "Charlotte Sometimes". There is a homely feel about the farmhouse in both eras. Religion does enter into the story since the Tudor peoples are living in a time of religious change where political partisanship is bound up with religious beliefs. Interestingly, although Penelope would seem to be C of E if anything, Catholicism is portrayed positively without any fanatical overtones.

Classic, Historical, Time-Travel

Treasures for Cousin Crystal

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three children of (roughly) 1, 8 and 10 are put with a childminder when their parents are both forced to work away for a while.

Family, Humorous

Tree by Leaf

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Clothilde, a 12-year-old in 1921, lives with her family on the coast of America.

Family, Growing-Up

The Tripods

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

A race of aliens who move around in huge three-legged machines have enslaved the Earth.

SciFi

Tuck Everlasting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The over-protected eleven-year-old Winnie Foster loses her patience and runs away into the woods next to her house where she meets seventeen-year-old Jesse Tuck drinking from a water spring.

A brief but deeply philosophical fantasy that explores the nature of life, change, death and immortality.

Classic, Fantasy, Historical, Thought-provoking

Tug of War

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Petersen family, fleeing wartime Latvia with the Jansons, are separated at Gdynia; 14-year-old Hugo is left behind when his glasses smash in the crowded railway station.

Historical, War

Up on Cloud Nine

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The narrative is led by Ian, a 14-year-old schoolboy, at the hospital bed of his best friend Stolly (Stuart Terence Oliver) who's just recovering from a serious fall, which may or may not have been from an attempt at suicide, which has left him with breaks and bruises and concussed.

Play-like appreciation of the life of an unusual boy; the support and friendship of the main characters and their families. Possible suicide attempt.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Humorous

The Village by the Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of an Indian village family, roughly contemporary.

Family, Growing-Up

Voyage

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of the voyage of several hundred Jews fleeing prewar Europe across the Atlantic.

Historical, Romantic, War

The Voyage of the Arctic Tern

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Lord Hunter travels on the Arctic Tern with a message of peace from Queen Elizabeth of England to the King of Spain.

Remorse at assisting in an evil act, however tempted; redemption by finding and punishing the person responsible.

Adventure, Historical, Seafaring, Spooky

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Lucy & Edmund along with Eustace their spoilt and peevish cousin find themselves on board a Narnian ship with King Caspian, travelling to the outer reaches of Narnia, encountering new creatures and strange places.

A voyage-of-discovery story with interesting people and challenges. Each character has to undergo a trial to grow in themselves.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

Voyage to Venus (Perelandra)

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

Ransome is transported by the power of Malacandra, the oyarsa of Mars, to Venus (Perelandra) where intelligent life is beginning.

Classic, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Warrior Scarlet

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Set in the Bronze Age on the Downs near the Ridgeway.

Historical

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Colin and Susan, brother and sister, who have grown up in a city go to visit friends of their mother in a rural part of Cheshire not far from Macclesfield.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

What Katy Did

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Katy Carr, a 12-year-old in turn-of-the-century America, has an accident through her own disobedience when she falls from a swing and injures her back.

Classic, Family, Girls

Which Witch

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Arriman Canker is the mighty Wizard of the North of England.

Humorous, Magic

The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

12-year-old Lucy returns to Hagworthy to stay with her aunt.

Magic, Spooky

The Wild West Witches

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

As the Light Witches prepare for the Pageant of Merlin's Sword, Wolfbane and his family are attack them to steal the Sword, forcing Abby and her friends to flee to the American Wild West a century before.

Simple Good & Bad tale with undemanding and mildly comic style.

Fantasy, Humorous, Magic

The Wind Eye

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bertrand, a widower Cambridge professor with two daughters, has married Madeleine, a widow with a son.

Family, Magic, Time-Travel

The Wizard's Promise

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Griddas, fighter witches released by the High Witches to fight the Wizards, have turned and destroyed the High Witches themselves; and now they are turning their attention to Earth, and in particular to the child Yemi, and Rachel and Eric have to muster the newly-awakened magic of the children of Earth to defend the planet.

Fantasy, Magic

Worlds Apart

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Susan lives with her mother and has no idea who her father is.

Family, Romantic

The Worst Witch

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Mildred Hubble, in her first year at Miss Cackle's Academy, must overcome her tendency to mess things up and not disgrace the school when they put on a public broomstick display.

Classic, Magic

The Writing on the Hearth

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Stephen, whose father was bodyguard to his Lord of Suffolk, is under taken into the Lord's household when his stepfather remarries and his sister enters a convent.

Edifying and interesting historical read. Some ambiguous elements of witchcraft.

Classic, Family, Historical

The Amber Cat

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The imminent arrival of Robin's uncle Charley during Robin's bout of chicken pox causes his mother to reminisce about the days she spent with Charley, Nick and the slightly mysterious Harriet.

A combination of ghost story and family fun.

Family, Humorous, Spooky

Amongst the Hidden

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Luke is a third child in a world where only two are allowed per family, because of shortages.

A sideswipe, although ambivalent, at current policies and ideas about keeping population levels down to avoid shortages. Luke's farming family are close despite the problems of keeping him hidden. Jen's richer family have also risked many things to keep her safe.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Arm of the Starfish

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

17-year-old Adam Eddington is going to Europe to spend the summer working on a Portuguese island with the famous biologist Dr O'Keefe.

Accessible mild adventure story. Family closeness with faith, extending to friends. Dolphin intelligence.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Artemis Fowl - The Arctic Incident

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Artemis Fowl wants to find his father, held hostage in Russia; Holly Short wants to find who's supplying the goblins with human technology; Foaly wants to find out who's disabled all the LEP Technology and pointed the finger at him.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Eternity Code

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The C-Cube, built by Artemis Fowl partly from Fairy technology, and therefore capable of breaching the Underworld's defences, is stolen by a shady American businessman who will do anything to obtain power.

Artemis' growing sense of responsibility to his family and to his employee, Butler. Holly's friendship for Artemis & Butler leading her to risk her job for them.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Artemis Fowl steals the world's most sought-after painting, but becomes entangled in a revenge bid by Opal Koboi against those who thwarted her previously.

Adventure with a little agonising by Artemis over the direction he should take.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Badger on the Barge

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

A series of 5 short stories, each portraying an adolescent coming to terms with a situation.

The stories seem intended to highlight the tensions surrounding a young adolescent. No age is mentioned, but 13 or 14 would make sense in most cases.

Growing-Up, Short

Brotherband: The Outcasts

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Hal is left leading the third of the year's brotherbands: all those not chosen for the other two bands.

Courage and wit in overcoming prejudice and disadvantage. Teamwork vs Selfishness. Competence vs brute force.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship

Caddy's World

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Caddy grows up quickly as her family focuses on her dangerously ill baby sister while her friends start to pull apart while trying to keep together.

Amusing family story. Friendship between four girls who are growing up. Problems faced cheerfully by a family whose newborn sister might not live. Realistic sibling relationships.

Family, Girls, Growing-Up

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The galley-boy of the Flying Dutchman is set free when the Captain's blasphemy brings down God's wrath on him: while the ship and its crew must sail the seas forever, the boy and his dog are set free to roam the Earth, unageing, to do good.

Great premise, disappointing execution; Unobjectionable

Adventure, Fantasy, Spooky

The Changes Trilogy

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

One day, without warning, the whole of Britain turns superstitiously against technology and millions of people flee the country leaving the cities and much of the countryside deserted.

A thought-provoking look at what life might be like if technology were no longer available. The need to combine skill and hard work in a post-industrial society. An assumed supernatural premise.

Adventure, Fantasy, Thought-provoking

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The Tooting family restore a classic camper van with a view to travelling abroad, only to discover that it has wings and a mind of its own.

Quirky and heartwarming story about a making the best of every opportunity when all you’ve got is a flying car.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The Devil's Children

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Nicky Gore is left alone in London after a strange compulsion takes hold of the population of Britain to revolt against mechanism and technology.

Using a slightly fantastic near-future to highlight the differences and similarities between different races, and our dependence on technology. Dignity and strong family bonds of the Sikhs; Quiet friendship of Gopal & Ajeet with Nicky; Positive place for older relatives within the community

Coping with, Fantasy

Dogsbody

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Sirius, the personification of the Dogstar, is exiled to Earth and given the lifespan of a dog to discover the whereabouts of the Zoi, a celestial tool of immense power which was allegedly used by him to destroy another Luminary.

Entertaining story mixing fantasy and reality. Intelligent celestial beings. Arawn and his hounds from Welsh mythology. An Irish girl who draws strength from her dog when her father is imprisoned for terrorism. Family tragedy. Non-judgemental references to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Animal, Coping with, Fantasy

The Dolphin Crossing

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

John Aston, realising the plight of the British forces at Dunkirk, takes the family's small craft Dolphin and, helped by Pat Riley, braves the sky and land-based attacks to ferry troops from the beaches.

A short but thoughtful story, focusing on the effect war has on different characters and what courage is about. Those left behind in wartime. Spirit of those who took their small craft to ferry troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. Generosity of both boys supporting each other in different ways in spite of very different backgrounds.

War

Framed

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Dylan unwittingly becomes an art consultant to the National Gallery in exile when one painting a week is to be selected for display in London.

A quirky story using the difficulties faced by a small town and by one family in particular to highlight the effect art has on people. Family difficulties because of money problems. The efforts to make an unattractive town appealing.

Coping with, Family, Humorous

Gideon the Cutpurse

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Peter & Kate are thrown back to the 18th century and are befriended by Gideon and his new employers, the Byng family.

Two youngsters making friends and mustering resources to return them home. Time travel and paradoxes. Big and small families. Peter's parents' effective separation and reconciliation. Life in the Past and the Present.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, Historical, Time-Travel

Hero on a Bicycle

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Paolo & Constanza's mother Rosemary Crivelli agrees to take in some fugitive Allied servicemen risking reprisals by the local Gestapo.

Wartime bravery from a mother and her teenage children. Chaste romance between an older teenage girl and an Canadian serviceman. Betrayal by a villager followed by reconciliation (personal and sacramental). Positively-presented Catholic piety.

Adventure, Romantic, War

Holes

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Stanley Yelnats, sent to a harsh young offenders' camp in the desert when he is wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of shoes, finds his place among the other boys and offers to help one of them, nicknamed Zero, who is illiterate.

Quirky and feelgood story. Bearing misfortune optimistically. The benefits of helping others. Living in the shadow of a curse.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Humorous

The House in Norham Gardens

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Clare, a 14-year-old orphaned when young, is living with her great-aunts in the draughty big Victorian house her family has always owned when she finds the tribal tamburan her great-grandfather brought back from New Guinea.

A multi-layered book, exploring cultures which differ by place and by time. Clare's level-headedness and responsibility in the face of her elderly aunts' occasional inability to focus on the real world. The robust history and interests of Clare's aunts.

Growing-Up, Historical, Spooky, Thought-provoking

Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Jack Black discovers a plot to wreck his father's airship but is swept overboard before he can warn anyone.

An unashamed Boy's Own Yarn. An enthusastic youngster turns hero when he discovers a plot to sabotage his father's airship and is must convince the unwilling captain and motley crew of a boat to help. There's a smarmy baddie, a dashing aviatrix, a capable female octogenarian castaway and a young boy dashing to his father's rescue.

Adventure, Boys

The Lantern Bearers

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

A young Roman Decurion, unwilling to leave Britain with the last of the Legions, lights the beacon of Rutupiae one last time.

Superb story mingling action with authentic historical detail without losing depth or accessibility. Some brutal but not gratuitous violence; positive portrayal of Christianity; loyalty in friendship in spite of many hardships

Adventure, Historical

Operation Red Jericho

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Becca & Doug McKenzie become involved with the Honourable Guild of Specialists when their parents disappear, leaving them in the care or their uncle, captain of the research boat _Expedient_.

Slightly larger-than-life heroes and villains; a broad cultural sweep to the front and backstories; unremarked equality of men and women; courage and steadfastness among (heroic) allies. Impetuous if well-intentioned disobedience and deception by the children.

Adventure, Friendship, Historical

The Secret of Castle Cant

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Lucy Wickright discovers a plot to kill the Baron and take over the Barony by controlling the young heir to the title.

Whimsical palace intrigue which turns quite nasty. Trust and friendship between two young girls. An illegitimate child acknowledged. Caricatured villainy resulting in the deaths of loved ones.

Adventure, Fantasy, Girls

Starcross

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Art, Myrtle and Mrs Mumby visit the new Starcross hotel on an asteroid near Mars only to discover that a more sinister scheme is afoot, involving mind-controlling top hats, a time-travelling ship from the American War of Independence, and a set of French Secret Agents.

Imaginative cybersteam adventure story. Slightly less pacy than the original. All manner of heroism, bravery, self-sacrifice, humour, and gentle romance.

Adventure, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Humorous, Romantic

The Talent Thief

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Cressida Bloom's talent for singing is stolen along with those of many other youngsters at a Convention for Young Genius, and she and Adam must chase the thieves.

A parable of putting the needs of others ahead of ones own talents, however great. Adam's persevering affection for his sister despite her attitude, and her later realisation of this fact. The idea that talents can be extracted, stored and passed on.

Adventure

The Tar Man

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Kate & her father have returned to the 20th Century unwittingly leaving Peter behind in the 18th and bringing instead the criminal Tar Man who uses his new-found abilities as a time-traveller to steal and plunder in this new century.

Slightly less interesting second story. Some nice family touches especially between the adult Peter and his father. Some uncondoned violence from criminal characters. Series starts to become mired in time-travel technobabble.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, Historical, Time-Travel

Victory

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Present-day Molly finds a fragment of the Victory's flag in the binding of an old book and starts to feel the echoes of Sam Robbins' life on board Nelson's ship at Trafalgar.

A lightweight pair of stories, each with its own poignancy, drawn together by the fragment of a flag from HMS Victory. Honest efforts of a family remarried after widowhood to get along. Brutality of life at sea in Nelson's Navy. Friendship and emnity on board ship. Cheerful and concerned family life. Very mild sexual references.

Family, Time-Travel, War

The "Babysitters Club" series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

There are over a hundred books in this series, all quite short, very popular with younger girls.

Generally positive feel. Young teenage friends taking responsibility in different situations. General acceptance of complicated family setups.

Family, Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up

Back Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Rusty is a 12-year-old English girl returning home after spending the war years with a family in the USA.

Honest efforts by a returning young evacuee to fit into now unfamiliar surroundings. Contrast between pre- and post-war expectations of conventional roles. Casting in a good light a more bohemian style of upbringing, less concerned with conventional taboos and more with children's freedom. Family tension and break-up.

Coping with, Family, Girls, Growing-Up, Historical, War

The Casson Family Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

The Casson family cope with everyday life, their friends, and each other.

Affectionate understanding in a realistic, if occasionally off-beat, family setting. In spite of the sometimes unconventional activities of the Cassons, the family setting is very robust with mostly unspoken affection at its core. Humorous and fresh with believable characters and situations. Eve & Bill are effectively separated. Tom's parents are divorced (and his father has had a daughter by his new girlfriend). Saffy's parents are an unmarried woman and a married man. Bill has a girlfriend in his London flat, and one of Caddy's many boyfriends looks for a while as though he's going to become Eve's partner, but in the end doesn't.

Family, Humorous

The Children of Húrin

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

The family of Húrin falls under the curse of Morgoth and while Turin wanders far and wide, earning a reputation as a fierce fighter, driven by circumstances and his own pride, his sister and mother leave Doriath alone to find him until they encounter the Dragon Glaurung.

A family driven by the curse of an immortal. Passionate loyalty and pride. Unwitting incest between brother and sister. Two suicides in despair.

Adventure, Classic, Fantasy

The Clockwork Three

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Three youngsters become involved in each others’ affairs by accident and help each other out in their overlapping problems.

Simple adventure story with slight touches of the supernatural: an apparently serious séance; a clockwork man animated by Golem clay. Supportive friendship between three youngsters. Violent behaviour from a cruel Fagin-like character and others. Positive, if generic, representation of a Christian pastor. Genuine respect and affection between an elderly master and his young apprentice. Some theft by young people.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic

The Golem's Eye

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Nathaniel and Bartimaeus try to discover who’s controlling the Golem they believe is responsible a series of high-profile acts of destruction across London.

Engaging magical adventure story with some intriguing discussions about moral convictions and the rise and fall of empires.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The Half-Blood Prince

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Back at school now the Ministry has acknowledged Voldemort's return, Harry has to cope with Dumbledore's extra lessons for him, Ron's impetuous and public relationship with Lavender and Hermione's response, while preparing himself for the battle he knows must inevitably occur between himself and The Dark Lord.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Heroes of Olympus

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Following on from the [series:percy-jackson original Percy Jackson series], the gods of antiquity are under threat from the earth goddess Gaia and cause the Greek Demigods to throw in their lot with their Roman counterparts whose existence had been hidden from them.

Classical gods fathering half-blood children. Young characters maturing as they overcome adversity. Some very mild young-teen romance based on a trusting friendship and shared adversity. Many classical references in a modern setting.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Hitler's Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

In 1940 two German-speaking teenagers who have escaped the Nazis and are now living in England are parachuted into Germany to retrieve a young girl who is believed to be an important bargaining piece in the war between the powers.

Mediumweight adventure story. Bravery, heroism and loyalty by youngsters in perilous situations. Very mild, brief sensuality between teenagers. Apparently successful dowsing of the children’s location by a German diviner. Strong respect for human life and dignity.

Adventure, Friendship, War

Indigo's Star

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Indigo, returning to school after glandular fever, keeps his worries about being bullied from the rest of his family, except that Rose finds out and spills the beans, leading Saffy and her friend Sarah to barge right in and subdue the gang leader.

Affectionate understanding in a realistic family setting. Ill-feeling owing to separated parents taking new partners.

Family, Humorous

Just Henry

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Henry, believing himself loyal to his dead father, initially despises certain other people and their ideals, but later learns that his father is less of a hero than he had thought and that the others deserve better from him.

Positive story about post-war attitudes and opportunities. A slightly tolerant attitude towards divorce and illegitimacy. Generosity and cheerfulness in difficult circumstances.

Family, Growing-Up, Moral Issue

Larklight

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Art & Myrtle Mumby have to flee when their house, Larklight, is overrun by giant spiders.

Brilliantly imaginative; gently mocking Victorian ideals and sensibilities; quietly reconciling faith and science. Wild battles with gruesome spiders; questionable actions by a powerful being. Easy acceptance of other races and sexes. Undemonstrative love between family members and friends.

Adventure, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Humorous, Romantic

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Percy Jackson once again finds himself on a quest when his friend Annabeth is captured and used as bait to lure the goddess Artemis in a bid by the Titans to take back the world they lost to the Olympian Gods.

Good-hearted and entertaining adventure story with modern takes on classical legends. The ongoing battle between the selfish Titans and the amoral Greek Gods. Instances of bravery, selflessness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Complicated family arrangements where an absent parent is an Olympian.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical

The Prisoner of Zenda

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Erstwhile King Rudolf of Ruritania is drugged and then kidnapped the day before his coronation; his guards Sapt and Fritz happen upon Rudolf Rassendyll, an Englishman abroad, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the king, due to the king's ancestor's having fathered a child somewhere in the Rassendyll ancestry.

Swashbuckling adventure with a dashing hero, a bearded villain and a lovely heroine.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, Romantic

Ptolemy's Gate

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

As the British Empire starts to implode, the ruling Magicians are unable to subdue the dissent of the increasingly magic-resistant Commoners.

Magic & Djinni in an alternative modern world. Friendship and affection with a light dusting of humour. An appeal to the honour and morality present in people despite the apparent pragmatism of their day-to-day struggles. Heroic self-sacrifice for the common good.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The Son of Neptune

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Percy Jackson has lost his memory of Camp Half-Blood and battles his way to the Roman Camp Jupiter where he must convince the Roman demigods that he isn’t a threat to them while he tries to recover his memory.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Stone Heart

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

With the help of the Gunner from the Royal Artillery War Memorial and Edie, a girl of his own age who has special part to play, George is drawn into the war between Spits -- the human statues of London -- and Taints -- the gargoyles and monsters, until he finishes what he started when he inadvertently damaged a statue outside the Natural History Museum.

Fantasy adventure based around the statues of London. Persevering friendship, self-sacrifice and generosity. A religious character portrayed as untrustworthy. Slightly awkward mixture of straightforward physical battles and a mystical quest. Broken family backgrounds including implied violence between father and daughter. Occasional mild coarseness.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

Treasure Island

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

A dead pirate’s chest throws up a map showing the way to treasure buried on a secret island.

“Buccaneers, and buried gold”. The original Boys’ Own Yarn combining youthful bravery, charismatic villainy and buried treasure. A slow start for the modern reader and never as racy as Alex Rider but very readable nonetheless once you’re immersed in its world

Adventure, Boys, Classic

Blue Moon

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Mia and her boyfriend go too far in the fields one day and Mia finds that she is pregnant.

Abortion treated as matter of fact by everyone except the mother-to-be.

Coping with, Moral Issue

The Bronte Girls

Style: Weak

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

A father and mother are convinced that the 20th century will corrupt their three daughters and so they buy a secluded farmhouse and base their life on the Bronte family.

Girls, Romantic, Thought-provoking

The Dark is Rising

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Will Stanton, seventh son of a seventh son, wakes on his 11th birthday to discover that he is the last of the Old Ones, destined to aid The Light in protecting the world we live in against The Dark.

A boy coming to terms with new-found powers and responsibilities; family life; love for music

Growing-Up, Magic

His Dark Materials

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Lyra Belacqua a 12-year-old girl believes herself to be an orphan and is brought up in Jordan College, Oxford, in some recognisable but different England.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

The Left Hand of Darkness

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Genry is the envoy from "The Ekumen", a federation of human planets originating from Earth, to the world known as Winter, cold all year round and where everyone is ambisexual: sexually latent for most of the month, but able to mate for a few days when one or other sexual characteristic will dominate.

An intriguing story, suitable only for mature teenagers or adults, which explores the issues in a world where everyone is both male and female, sexually latent for most of the month, but open to mating for a few days. Contraception and other sex-related drug use along with kemmer houses for the recourse of the sexually active. Stoic bravery and endurance by the lone envoy who is committed to his cause of welcoming a new planet to the federation. Two characters taking many risks for friendship's sake. Some prophecying.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Style: Classic

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Widowed fieldmouse Mrs Frisby turns to the rats for help when her family's house is threatened, only to find them abnormally intelligent and with technology.

A gentle story, highlighting a mother's love for her children and the risks she'll take to help them. Normal animal behaviour combined with intelligent actions and, in the case of the laboratory-enhanced Rats, developed technology which they're giving up.

Animal, Classic, Thought-provoking

The Shapeshifter Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

In [Finding the Fox], Dax Jones discovers that he can turn into a fox and learns that he is one of the Children of Limitless Ability (COLA), to be educated in a secret government school on the Cornish coast.

Children with extraordinary powers: telekenesis, shapeshifting, healing, telepathy, illusion, dowsing and pyrokenesis. Common and sometimes comical acceptance of dialogue with the dead. All the children are motherless for plot reasons. Friendship and support among the children and between them and their teachers. Occasional plot-related brutal or vindictive behaviour including an attempt to auction the gifted children into slavery.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

A Song for Summer

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Ellen, defying her aunts' idea of what a modern young woman should do, takes up the role of Housekeeper at a school in Austria run on alternative lines for children of rich parents.

Marriage as merely a convention. Generosity and maternal care by Ellen for the children and others in her charge. Bravery of those helping Jews escape from Nazi detention. Ironic view of militant spinsters, pretentious playwrights, and alternative lifestyles.

Growing-Up, Romantic, School, Thought-provoking

Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

One story from two memoirs; the orphaned evacuee who wants to find his roots and his daughter who achieves this.

Two memoirs; the first of a London evacuee from WWII, sent to Australia, where he grew up with the idea of finding his elder sister in England, by sailing a yacht back to GB. He died and – the second memoir – his daughter did the journey alone and met her aunt.

Adventure, Biographical, Documentary, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up, Romantic, Seafaring, Thought-provoking

The Battle of Bubble and Squeak

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

Sid Parker is given two gerbils by an emigrating friend.

A short book, pithy and true-to-life.

Coping with

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Lily and her family and friends are told that they have just a few weeks to leave their village which is to be used as a training ground for the D-Day Landings.

A quiet and readable story about the changes wartime brings. Loyalty and friendship. Breaking a serious promise.

Growing-Up, Historical, War

The "Animorphs" series

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Half-a-dozen youngsters witness the crash of a flying saucer and are given the power to take on the body of any animal they can touch by the Andalite pilot before he is killed by his arch enemy Visser Three of the alien Yeerks: slugs who take over other creatures' bodies.

Conventional young teenage pap. Some redeeming features based on the friendship between the children and the occasional heroism displayed by them, their allies, or on one occasion one of their enemies. Mostly though black-or- white goody-baddy stuff with sporadic moralising.

Adventure, SciFi

The Apprentices

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Each story in the series tells of the life of an apprentice in Victorian London.

Enjoyably Dickensian stories of Victorian London. Some vulgarity, but offset by virtue in general.

Historical, Short

Arthur - The Seeing Stone

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

12-year-old Arthur de Caldicot is the younger son of a lesser landowner in the Welsh Marches at the turn of the 13th century.

Firmly-rooted and very human take on 13th century life in England, mixed in with the story of the mythical Arthur. Simple, if sometimes superstitious, faith.

Arthurian, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, Magic

Ash Road

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

By accident, some boys start a devastating bush fire in Australia.

A small-town book, dealing with peoples' reactions to fire.

Adventure, Coping with

Astercote

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Peter and Mair Jenkins come to live in a village when their father becomes headmaster of the school there.

Intriguing, mixing semi-supernatural with modern superstition.

Coping with, Spooky

Baldur's Bones

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Timid 14-year-old Finn is recently orphaned and is staying with the elderly Meg & Bill.

Uninspired spooky story redeemed somewhat by the friendship between two different youngsters.

Friendship, Spooky

Double Or Die

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

James Bond becomes entangled in the schemes of a rich gambler when a schoolmaster leaves mysteriously and sends James' friend Pritpal a cryptic letter explaning his departure.

Action-packed detective-cum-adventure story, combining fairly realistic if sometimes sickening action sequence and crossword-style puzzles. One boy is poisoned by being forced to swallow Gin. Several boys deceive their teachers and guardians in order to help James. Fast driving by a young teenager which ends in a crash.

Adventure, Boys

The History Keepers: The Storm Begins

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Jake Djones is caught up in the work of the Bureau of History Keepers when his parents, who have secretly worked for them all these years, disappear while on a mission.

Inoffensive if uninsipired. Time-travelling family & friends with minor heroics against dastardly villains.

Adventure, Time-Travel

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

The Flock splits up when Max & Fang visit Dr Martinez to have Max's chip removed and the younger ones are captured and taken back to The School, the lab they grew up in.

Disappointing conclusion to the series. Fast-paced cartoon-style violent action with some casual references to scientific killing (of unwanted clones, hybrids etc). Redemption of a hated character. Continued loyalty of the winged youngsters to each other although with some rifts over the best course of action.

Adventure, SciFi

Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

When Fang is badly injured in a battle with new, fiercer Erasers, the Flock are forced to go to hospital where they are interrogated by the FBI but then taken under the wing of Anne and go to live at her home and go to normal school.

Slow-paced extension to the first book, developing little and establishing few new elements. The older children start to discover relationships with the opposite sex. Iggy finds his real family but they are only interested in the financial possibilities he offers.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Red Leech

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

When Amyus and Mycroft become aware of the escape of John Wilkes Booth, whose assassination of President Lincoln has made him a rallying-point for a possible Confederate army, Sherlock takes matters into his own hands and tracks down where Booth is staying in Surrey and follows his accomplices when they take Matty hostage.

Disappointing if unproblematic historical adventure story. Some interesting ethical discussions based around Plato's Republic, but mostly a run-of-the-mill tale including a disfigured antagonist with a poolful of lethal reptiles. Some scary moments at the hands of the villains.

Detective, Historical

The Wall and the Wing

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Gurl discovers that she can become invisible at will, then runs away from her orphanage after being forced to steal and defraud to support the Matron's extravagant lifestyle.

Offbeat children's adventure, combining modern day America with a faintly surreal and macabre cast of caricature villains, urban misfits and mysteriously powerful characters. Loyalty and friendship between youngsters. One mysterious character whose role resembles a guardian angel. Soul-searching after the youngsters steal and defraud in difficult circumstances.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

Adam's Ark

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Adam, unable to communicate with other humans on account of his autism, finds that he can talk to animals telepathically, and this helps him become more confident as he tries to find out why he should have been chosen to receive this particular gift.

Family strain caused by an autistic child. Hidden strengths behind apparently disadvantaged boy. Ecological slant to humans' treatment of the planet.

Animal, Thought-provoking

The "Alex Rider" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

(synthesised) Alex Rider, in some spectacular set piece, (foils a robbery / spikes an evil plan / discovers a hidden plot), at which point MI6 then call him in to tell him that they'll tidy up whatever mess he left behind, but that it would be useful if he were to infiltrate (a computer game company / a Cuban holiday resort / the home of a suspiciously rich man) armed only with (explosive chewing gum / acidic toothpaste / a metal-detecting yo-yo).

Attractive and mostly unobjectionable action-paced young spy stories. Occasional very mild references to a teenage girl's precocious interest in boys. General air of amorality among main characters.

Adventure, Boys

The Amulet of Samarkand

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

When Nathaniel summons the Djinn Bartimaeus to steal the eponymous amulet from magician Rupert Lovelace as an act of petty revenge, his plan gets out of control and ends in tragedy for the people he lives with.

Witty and well-paced fantasy adventure. Humorous summoning of Djinni as servants. A childish act of revenge resulting in tragic deaths. Bravery & determination to combat an evil scheme.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

Artemis Fowl

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old criminal mastermind, comes from a long line of rich Irish criminals; however in recent years his father, now missing and presumed dead, managed to squander a substantial amount of the family's fortune and drag the name Fowl into disrepute.

Enjoyably different take on the world of Fairies; the 12-year-old main character's amorality in achieving his ends

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Jake's Tower

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jake lives with his mother and her violent boyfriend.

Family, Gritty

Jimmy Coates: Revenge

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jimmy Coates, along with his family & friends, is hiding safely from the British Secret Service in New York's Chinatown until he starts to experience painful headaches leaving images in his head which he believes point to an assassination attempt against the American President.

Enjoyable action-packed adventure with a certain family warmth and a thought-provoking core. Three genetically-altered assassin-youngsters with issues of free will and responsibility. Political-military complexities between three regimes. Deceptions and subterfuges between supposed allies. The loyalty of Jimmy's family and friends in difficult situations. Brutal action sequences between the youngsters.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Looking-Glass Wars

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Princess Alyss Heart flees to 19th-Century England when her aunt stages a palace coup in their home of Wondertropolis, killing Alyss' parents the King & Queen.

A fresh reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. Some violent deaths and oppression. Perseverance and bravery in the face of exile and persecution. Apparent magical creation of life.

Adventure, Fantasy

The Lost Hero

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jason, Piper & Leo are thrown into the world of half-blood children of gods and embark on a quest to free Hera-Juno from the clutches of a mysterious enemy.

Classical gods fathering half-blood children. An enjoyable if slightly disappointing adventure quest. Heroism as friends help friends and people have to work together to save the lives of others.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

The Mark of Athena

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

The joint Greek-Roman crew of the Argo II must sail to Rome to confront Gaia whose plan is to overthrow the Olympian Gods altogether.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Mission Telemark

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Four youngsters are sent into wartime Norway to destroy a Nazi heavy water plant, preventing the Germans from developing nuclear weaponry.

Disappointing. An awkward mixture of kids' caper and wartime resistance story. Courage and heroism in extreme physical conditions. Highly credible Scandinavian setting. Less credible characterisations. Tacit acceptance of suicide.

Adventure, War

Mr Standfast

Style: Classic

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

To trap a brilliant German agent, Richard Hannay has to pose as a pacifist, assisted by Mary Lamington, Blenkiron, Peter Pienaar and others.

Straightforward plot. Elements of endurance and loyalty. A subtle, if unredeemed, villain. Some demeaning references to native Africans. War as a job to be done.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, Romantic, War

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Percy Jackson finds himself on a quest to rescue his satyr friend Grover, at the same time finding the Golden Fleece which alone can save the poisoned tree that protects Camp Half-Blood.

Based on the idea that the Greek gods are real and take root wherever civilisation is strongest, at present in the USA. Single-parent families as a commonplace. Rites-of-passage style story involving finding inner strengths and powers, overcoming magical and monstrous adversaries, and knowing when to trust people.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical

Ruler of the Realm

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Henry is captured by aliens and then turns up in the Realm only to be part of a plot to capture Holly apparently with a view to mating with her while possessed by a demon.

Middling adventure story. Background of family breakup including a lesbian affair and a younger girlfriend. A few faintly disturbing descriptions. Loyalty and heroism among young characters.

Adventure, Fantasy

Tintin: The Complete Companion

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Journalist Georges Rémi created the character of the young journalist Tintin in 1929 for the children's section of the Belgian Catholic newspaper "Le 20ème Siecle" using the reverse of his initials as a nom de plume.

Accessible but not superficial view of the creation of the Tintin series. Passing references to Hergé's divorce and remarriage. Hergé's attention to detail and eye for authenticity. (2010: Currently out of print).

Documentary

Sabriel

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Fairly Positive

Sabriel, 18-year-old daughter of the Mage Abhorsen, has to free her father and defeat his enemy before taking on his roles and responsibilities.

Conventional heroic valour and loyalty. Sisterly gentleness of an older girl with younger ones. Brief mention of sexual topics and an overheard sexual encounter. Concepts of necromancy and journeying between Death and Life. Considerable loss of life and gruesome injury in the final battle.

Adventure, Fantasy

Stravaganza - City of Stars

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Fairly Positive

Georgia, taunted by her older step-brother, finds solace in horse-riding and the friendship of the owner of a curio shop where she buys a winged horse which transports her at night to the Talia of 400 years ago.

Some crude taunts about women and horse-riding. An unjustified suggestion that an older man is a sexual predator. Casual assumptions about annulment of marriage. Morally problematic subplot involving an apparent suicide. Contrast between Georgia's difficult family and Paolo's cheerful and large one. The Duke's true love for his family despite his machiavellian attitude.

Fantasy, Time-Travel

Across the Barricades

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Kevin McCoy is a Catholic and Sadie a Protestant in divided Belfast.

Needs an understanding of the religious-political situation in Northern Ireland.

Coping with, Growing-Up, Romantic

Ark Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex, recuperating in hospital, is mistaken for Paul Drevin, son of a rich businessman, and kidnapped.

Adventure, Boys

The Big Pink

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Angela, a fat 13-year-old, is sent to her aunt's girls' boarding school when her parents go to Pakistan as missionaries.

There is some rather vulgar indelicacy making it especially unsuitable for boys, but on the whole it's a readable teenaged girls' school story.

Girls, Growing-Up, School

Buddy

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Buddy Clark's father finds a job which Buddy - rightly - suspects to be dodgy.

A typical story of a young teenager in a separated family, with his father involved in criminal circles. A small smattering of vulgarity. Not especially memorable.

Boys, Gritty, Growing-Up

Crystal Mask

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Shiala, Renn and Kherron with an escort of orderlies from the Echorium try to track down the wearer of a mask of Khiz crystal, a channel for the evil power of Lord Frahzin.

Fantasy

Devil in the Fog

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

14-year-old George is the oldest of the 7 Treet children who, together with their father, are touring thespians, forever on the edge of poverty, but forever cheerful.

Growing-Up, Historical

The Donkey's Crusade

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Thomas is 17-year-old child of a family most of whose members are of the Guild of Travellers, undertaking to guide people around the Middle and Far East.

Adventure, Animal, Fantasy, Historical

The Dungeon

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alan McLennan is a clan laird, driven by revenge against the man who had his family taken away or killed in front of him.

Tragic story about a man driven to revenge to the exclusion of all else; the kindness of those who look after Peony, even McLennan albeit unwittingly.

Historical

Eagle Strike

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex is holidaying with Sabina and her family in the south of France, when he sees Yassen, whom he recognises from [Stormbreaker].

Adventure, Boys

Earthfasts

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

David & Keith are schoolboys who meet a drummer boy on the hillside for whom am hour-long journey down a tunnel has taken three hundred years.

Fantasy

The Empty Sleeve

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Peter Gannet is apprenticed to a locksmith in Covent Garden.

Historical

Escape From Genopolis

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Usha and Arlo meet in the gladiatorial Circus, she as a recaptured slave who must fight for her life, he as a Natural who's been raised among citizens and who is now trying to return to the Regions outside the city to find his family.

A warning story about the dangers of cloning and genetic manipulation.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The "Everworld" Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A group of friends, after indulging in some daft sorcery, find themselves trapped between two worlds, switching between them as they wake and sleep.

Fantasy

Fair Stood the Wind for France

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

John Franklin is forced to crash land in wartime Occupied France.

Historical, Romantic, War

The Fire Within

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

David, a student, takes lodgings in the Pennykettle household, looked after by Liz, mother of 10-year-old Lucy.

Lightweight and quirky style. Slightly odd family situation. Easy acceptance of an outsider.

Animal, Humorous, Magic

The First Book of Samuel

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

11-year-old Samuel is the only child of his father's second marriage; the youngest sister of the first marriage lives with them.

Growing-Up

Fish Feet

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Erik Shaw is a 15-year-old footballer, ballet dancer and keen student.

Solidly-written story of a young man with an unconventional ambition; his mother's and later his father's support; his growing friendship with a ballerina, in spite of her brother's animosity; the girl's father's abuse of his family

Growing-Up

The Giver

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jonas is about to turn 12, the age when people in his futuristic community become adults and are assigned jobs.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Goggle-Eyes

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Helen is upset about her mother's boyfriend; her friend tells Helen of the difficulties she had coming to terms with her own mother's "boyfriend" (both are middle-aged) whom she nicknames "Goggle Eyes".

Coping with, Family

Granny was a Buffer Girl

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jess is about to start a year abroad as part of her language degree.

Historical, Short

Greenmantle

Style: Classic

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Richard Hannay, after a period as a soldier on the front line, is called in by Sir Walter Bullivant to discover what secret card the Germans hold with which to inflame the Islamic peoples of the Middle East.

Wartime danger and heroism. While the broad brushstroke attitude towards war and other peoples is typical of the period of the book's publication, there is a surprising degree of respect both for the German enemy and for the Turkish religion and mindset.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical, War

Greenwitch

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Trewissick grail, found in [Over Sea, Under Stone] has been stolen.

Adventure, Arthurian, Magic

The Grey King

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Will Stanton has a bout of hepatitis and is sent to Wales to recuperate.

Atmospheric story, merging everyday and magical worlds; everyday friendships amidst mysterious events

Arthurian, Magic

Hidden Turnings

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A set of short stories by several contemporary authors, mostly in the SciFi/Fantasy mould.

Fantasy, Short

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Earth is to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Humorous, SciFi

The Homeward Bounders

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jamie Hamilton inadvertently discovers "Them": a mysterious group controlling his world as a board game.

Adventure, Friendship, SciFi

House of Secrets

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Polly sets out as an inexperienced maid in the big household of Swallowcliffe Hall, trying to find her feet while helping friends, being helped by others, and trying to ignore the scorn of some more experienced maids.

Conventional upstairs-downstairs story. Friendship & scorn for a newcomer. Circumspect subplot about an illegitimate child and the suggestion that he be aborted.

Historical

The House of Windjammer

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Windjammer family business is ruined when their fleet of merchant ships is destroyed, leaving them at the mercy of the bankers and unable to fulfil their obligations to their employees.

Adventure, Historical

I am the King of the Castle

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Warings, which is an isolated & "entirely graceless" country house belonging to a widower, Mr Hooper, provides the main setting for "I'm the King of the Castle".

Classic

I'll Go My Own Way

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Cat McPrie, daughter of a Travelling family, is trained by her father in the ways of poaching &c.

Growing-Up

Johnny and the Dead

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Johnny Maxwell can see the dead people in the graveyard who are like normal people, but dead.

Humorous, Magic

King of Shadows

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Nat Field is a member of the Company of boys, an acting group for 11-18 year old boys who perform Shakespeare's plays traditionally.

Well-written; gives good understanding of Shakespeare's world and plays; Nat's father's suicide; Arby & Julia live together

Friendship, Time-Travel

The King's Head

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Brother Dominic and his fellow monks are scouring the battlefield looking for survivors to tend to when he comes across a head, detached from its body but still talking.

Lightweight framework of folk stories; mocking or unsure attitude of people of Dark Ages to Christianity

Fantasy, Historical

The Lake at the End of the World

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in 2025 in a post-ecological holocaust Australia (we assume).

SciFi

Lion Boy

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Charlie Ashanti, the hero of the story, is able to speak Cat, which is not only the language of the domesticated variety but also that of the wild kind, such as lions.

Interesting and enjoyable. Question of animal intelligence.

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi

Little Soldier

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Kaninda is a 14-year-old East African whose country is at war with itself.

War

The Machine-Gunners

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in the mining town of Garmouth during WWII the story revolves around Chas McGill, who has the second best collection of war souvenirs in the town but desperately wants it to be the best.

Adventure, War

The Magician's House Quartet

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

This is a series of four books, written intentionally as a series.

Animal, Magic

A Map of Nowhere

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Nick Miller (mid-teenage) is forced by his older brother's motorcycle gang - which he secretly wishes to join - to become friendly with Joseph Fisher, whose family run a small shop out on the fens.

Gritty, Moral Issue

The Midwinter Watch

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A hundred years ago, an inventor discovered a clock that could turn back time.

Adventure, SciFi, Spooky

The Mist in the Mirror

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Sir James Monmouth returns from 35 years abroad to England, the land of his birth, which he left when he was five.

Spooky

The More the Merrier

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Ralph's family have invited the relatives around for Christmas Day, although not certain relatives who turn up anyway, and Ralph weaves his way skilfully through the chaos which ensues, trying to keep his own end up in the face of variously annoying relatives.

Family, Humorous

Mortal Engines

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Apprentice Tom Natsworthy becomes involved with the Anti-Traction League when he tries to save his hero from attack.

Tremendously imaginative; questionable actions of some freedom guerilla fighters

SciFi

Mostly Harmless

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Tricia Macmillan is taken by alien Grebulons to the 10th planet in the solar system, Ford Prefect raids the offices of the Hitch Hiker's Guide in search of a new assignment, discovers it's been taken over by Vogons, and steals the Mk II Guide, Arthur Dent hitchhikes round the galaxy a bit before settling down as The Sandwich Maker on a primitive planet, at which point Trillian turns up with their teenage daughter and leaves, the Mk II guide arrives, closely followed by Ford, whose spaceship is stolen by Arthur's daughter Random.

Humorous, SciFi

The Named

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Ethan must train a new apprentice in a hurry before setting off to 13th-century Westminster to make sure that History follows its true path.

Fine, but nothing special; time travel and subsequent dilemmas

Fantasy, Time-Travel

The Paranormal Puppet Show

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

In the 1930s, Arthur Drake and his friends become involved with Professor Bessemer's sinister waxworks when he takes over the warehouse they use as a base.

Adventure, Fantasy, Time-Travel

The Pearls of Lutra

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A gang of pirates steals a set of pearls from an otter family, killing all but one of the otters in the process.

Animal, Fantasy

Pendragon - The Lost City of Faar

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Bobby & Press have followed Saint Dane to Cloral, a world covered completely by water, to prevent him from pushing as many worlds as he can to the point of chaos.

Fantasy

Pendragon - The Merchant of Death

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Bobby Pendragon has just kissed his girlfriend for the first time when his Uncle Press turns up and demands that he accompany him on a mission of vital importance which turns out to be through a portal which takes them to another world.

Poorly written; unobjectionable

Fantasy

Point Blanc

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

14-year-old Alex Rider is asked once again by MI6 to go on a mission: this time, to infiltrate an exclusive Academy set high in the French Alps.

Adventure, Boys

The Rag & Bone Shop

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jason, a shy 12-year-old, is questioned about the death of his friend Alicia, not realising that the interrogator is already convinced of his guilt.

A delicate dialogue between an ambitious and unscrupulous police investigator and a boy, friend to the young children in the area, whose friend has been killed.

Coping with, Detective

The Raven in the Foregate

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Father Adam, easy-going parish priest of the Foregate parish, dies and is replaced by Father Ailnoth, a scholarly and zealous cleric who brings a housekeeper and a young servant, Benet, who is put to work helping Brother Cadfael in the garden.

Detective, Historical

Red Shift

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Three separate stories are told as happening in parallel around the same Cheshire locations.

Short

The Rinaldi Ring

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Eliot's American mother dies in a mugging and he stays with his English cousins while his father comes to term with his grief.

Spooky

Room for a Stranger

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The relationship betwen a WWII evacuee Roda, and Doreen the daughter of the receiving family.

Running out of Time

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

When a Diphtheria epidemic starts in the village of Clifton in 1840, Jessie's mother explains to her what the adults in the village all know: that the year is in fact 1996, but the inhabitants of the village chose to live as though in the 19th century as an experiment and a showcase.

Contrasting the simple 19th century lifestyle with its modern unsympathetic equivalent. Ambivalent at the end as to which is better.

Growing-Up, Historical

Running Scared

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in mid-80's East London.

Adventure

Sakkara

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Sakkara is a secret US base to which young superheroes Danny, Colin and Renata are taken when their identities are exposed.

Lightweight young superhero thriller with typically violent action scenes. Slightly disturbing prophetic images. Impossible moral decision leading to a character's death.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Sanctuary Sparrow

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Liliwin, a wandering minstrel, is thrown out of Daniel Aurifaber's wedding feast after a jug is broken during his juggling act.

Detective, Historical

Scorpia

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex, taking advantage of a school trip to Venice, finds his way to the headquarters of Scorpia, where Yassen had hinted he could find out about his father.

Adventure, Boys

Shadow Beast

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Meg, Jonny, Filch and Art try to connect Mr Frederick's lost cat, a sudden plague of rats, and mysterious activity down in the sewer.

Adventure, SciFi

SilverFin

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

James Bond is a new boy at Eton and must learn the ropes quickly, while fending off the bullying tactics of George Hellebore and his cronies.

Boyhood adventure with some slightly frightening genetic experiments.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, War

Silver on the Tree

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Will, Bran and the Drews are gathered in Wales for the final part of the quest begun with the finding of the grail in Trewissick.

Awkward storyline; some nice set pieces; Good & Evil as two opposing forces

Arthurian, Magic

Skeleton Key

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

On the run from the Chinese Triads after foiling one of their plans at the Wimbledon tennis championships, Alex Rider is loaned out to the CIA to infiltrate a Russian ex-General's secret base on an island near Cuba.

Adventure, Boys

Skybreaker

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Matt Cruse learns of the location of the lost airship Hyperion, reputed to be carrying vast wealth.

An enjoyable adventure, if a little slow-moving in places. The pseudo-Edwardian setting with its valve-and-steam technology provides the atmosphere for what is a fairly conventional adventure plus romance story with no real issues. The supporting characters are mostly cardboard but the main leads have just enough depth to them, the female characters in particular having strengths and weaknesses without compromising their femininity.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Seafaring

Slaves of the Mastery

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The story is set five years after its predecessor and the city of Aramanth has completely changed.

Adventure, Fantasy

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A funfair comes to a small town and a couple of boys, Jim & Will, discover some rather sinister attributes of the fairground owners and crew, notably a carousel which can make you older or younger.

Classic, Macabre

Song Quest

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Because she can talk to the Merlee sea creatures who have the power to grant safe access to ships, Rialle is taken by the Second Singer Toharo when he travels on a diplomatic mission to the mainland Karchlord, a mission which also includes looking out for a rebellious and runaway novice.

Fantasy

Spellfall

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Natalie, kidnapped by Hawk, a low-class wizard who wants her to be the thirteenth member of his spellclave, escapes with his son Merlin, and finds her way to Earthaven.

Slight family difficulties; Strong friendships; Weak style

Magic

Stan

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Stan, 14, runs away from his foster home in London, trying to reach his brother in Ireland.

Gritty, Growing-Up

Standing in the Shadows

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Grace, more tomboy than girl, is finding it hard to work as a kitchenmaid, especially when the male staff are leaving to join the army in France and her father needs help in the stables.

A conventional period story, unoriginal but inoffensive. Horror and uselessness of War. Challenge to traditional work patterns. Family strength even in disagreement. Old story about an illegitimate child.

Family, Historical

Step By Wicked Step

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Five children are waiting in an old house for the rest of their school group to arrive.

Making the best of divorced family situations.

Growing-Up

Stormbreaker

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex Rider believes his uncle guardian to be a banker.

Adventure, Boys

Talking in Whispers

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

15-year-old Juan Larreta is the only survivor when the car in which is travelling with his father and best friend is ambushed by agents of the military Junta in Chile.

Adventure

These Old Shades

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Duke of Avon, a French-English aristocrat, rescues Leon, a Paris street urchin from his brother's abuse by employing Leon as a page.

Historical, Romantic

The Thirty-Nine Steps

Style: Classic

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Richard Hannay gives a man shelter for the night, only to find him dead in the morning.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, War

A Town Like Alice

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jean Paget a young Englishwoman who speaks Malay is caught in Malaysia when the Japanese invade.

Classic, Romantic, War

Voyage to Valhalla

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Davy was always the submissive one in the gang, always happy to follow the more boisterous Chris and Paula, until the discovery of an old human skeleton in a chilling wood sparked off haunting and hallucinations for Davy.

Not too much character development and too abrupt an ending; Viking paganism and some ghostly and tragic events.

Magic, Spooky

The Wind Singer

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Three teenagers, Kestrel and Bowman Hath, who are twins and their grubby, seemingly retarded friend, Mumpo, follow a quest to recover the voice of the WindSinger sculpture, protector of their city.

Fantasy

Witch Child

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Mary's grandmother is burnt as a witch in the mid 17th century.

Historical, Magic

Yaxley's Cat

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Rose, mother of Timothy (13) and Jane, is holidaying with her children on the Nortolk coast, partly to get away from her too-efficient businessman husband.

Family, Spooky

Absolute Power

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

The New Heroes, second-generation superpowered youngsters, have to make difficult decisions when their leader Colin runs away and they are under political attack from the worldwide Trutopian organisation led, unknown to them, by their enemy Victor Cross and the mind-controlling Yvonne.

Comic-book style superhero action; mind-control; the morality of military action; morality of prison conditions; human cloning.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Avenger

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Elena becomes involved with a hi-tech mastermind nicknamed Dark Star when she asks him for help, and is drawn into his terrorist plot to gain revenge against the world.

Standard military thriller requiring little interference from the reader's intelligence. Amoral treatment of human beings as expendable pawns. Elena & Danny's loyalty to each other. Brief crude language.

Adventure, Boys

Blood Red Snow White

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Arthur Ransome is a young English journalist based in Russia during the Great War who is used by both sides to carry information and messages to and fro.

Well-crafted semi-biography of Arthur Ransome's life in Russia around the time of the Revolution. Accepted marital infidelity. Some description of the sexual excesses of Rasputin and others. Love for a country not one's own. Courage in crossing war-torn countries in difficult conditions.

Biographical, Historical, Romantic, War

A Cold Wind Blowing

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Piers Medley, a young Sussex forester at the time of the Reformation, takes in a girl whom he rescues from vagabonds.

Personal religious difficulties in post-Reformation England, including the marrying of professed Religious. Goodhearted generosity in a difficult situation.

Historical, Romantic, Thought-provoking

Crocodile Tears

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Alex agrees to help MI6 in return for their ridding him of a journalist who's learned about his secret life.

More of the same from Alex Rider. Page-turning adventure stuff, pleasing to boys, dramatic and well-researched, but without any particular characteristic to set it apart from the rest of the series or from other books in the genre. Alex selflessly puts his life at risk to confound an evil scheme with no hope of reward. A crook uses his apparent (but unreal) conversion to Christianity as a mask for his continued criminal schemes. A thought-provoking if disturbing kidnap scene. Alex continues to fail to grow, but has at his disposal a tremendous ability to think and act his way out of dangerous situations, coupled with an amazing stamina and determination: A "Boys' Own" Boy.

Adventure, Boys

Here Lies Arthur

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Gwyna, escaping from raiders, is rescued by Merlin from the river and in turn helps him to deceive the impressionable warriors into believing in a Lady of the Lake, guardian of a mystical sword she bequeathes to Arthur.

Revisionist take on the Arthurian canon, suggesting the truth behind the magical elements of the stories. Slightly disturbing questions of sexual identity. Marital coldness and subsequent infidelity. Some brutal deaths and a little earthiness & indelicacy.

Arthurian, Growing-Up, Historical

Hush, Hush

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Nora Grey finds herself partnered for the Sex Education course in Biology by the dark and unknown Patch who seems to be able to tell her a lot about herself, making her uncomfortable in the process.

Dark and Light angelic beings closely akin to humans and who can possess humans to a limited extent. A very physical attitude to sex education although without anything explicit. Some self-sacrifice by friends and relatives for each others' good.

Romantic, Spooky

Meltdown

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Danny & Fergus, in return for a clean slate, agree to help bring down an impenetrable drugs empire which threatens the very fabric of society.

By-the-book SAS youth thriller with closely-described gruesome action, military jargon, and no real development of the characters. Very fleeting mention of unsavoury topics. Military-style ruthlessness on both sides. An uncomdemned killing by a sympathetic character.

Adventure, Boys

A Pack of Lies

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

A series of short stories under the amusing umbrella of a rather mysterious young man who gets a job in an antiques shop and tells each customer a story about the item he's thinking of buying.

Lightweight and amusing series of short stories. One story is about a young Jesuit priest at the time of the Reformation who is sheltered by a lady with whom he falls in love and is forced to marry her to prove his uncelibate state.

Short

Voyage of Slaves

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Ben is captured by slave traders while Ned is rescued from the sea by friendly travelling entertainers who are themselves taken by the slave traders under false pretences.

Easy-reading adventure story with heroism and friendship. Simple characterisations. Surprisingly many violent deaths.

Adventure, Historical, Seafaring

Blitzcat

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Lord Gort, a cat is trying to find her owner, an RAF pilot.

A pleasant read for the most part; the action is seen either through the eyes of the cat, always couched in such terms as a cat would be expected to understand, or through those of the person to whom she's presently attached. The story is marred by the section concerning Sergeant Smith, who keeps a collection of pin-up girls, and the married woman who makes love to him on a hilltop.

Animal, Historical, War

A Bone from a Dry Sea

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Li, an intelligent Aquatic ape lives four million years ago on the shores of an African Sea; Vinny, now, is helping her father discover the fossilised remains of Li's tribe.

Interesting, helping the imagination discover the relationship between modern and ancient Africa; divorced parents; the birth of intelligence in mammals.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Boy Soldier

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Danny discovers that his former-SAS grandfather Fergus is back in England, and goes looking for him.

A young man and his girl friend trying to help his wrongly-accused grandfather to clear his name.

Adventure, Boys

The Bus People

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Bertram is a school minibus driver on the "Fruitcake Run", picking up various handicapped children.

Short, Thought-provoking

The Death Collector

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

George Archer finds himself under attack from a group who want the information in a diary of which he possesses the only remaining fragment.

Some grotesque scenes involving reanimation of men and animals by mechanical means. A fraudulent séance with a serious element. Possibly lethal violence used in self-defence by the protagonists.

Adventure, Macabre, SciFi

Demon Thief

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Kernel Fleck, able to see lights invisble to everyone else, frightens his parents when he returns from a mysterious absence with his younger brother Art.

Some shocking scenes as innocent people are killed grotesquely. Kernel's devotion to rescuing his younger brother. Dervish & Shark's loyalty to Kernel.

Fantasy, Horror, Macabre

The Great Harlequin Grim

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Glenn Jackson has to adjust as he is uprooted from his home in Burnley to a village in Cumbria, but his mother refuses to come without explaining why and he finds it difficult to fit into the village community.

Marital difficulties with some attempt at reconciliation. Implied and condoned dishonesty by the main character and others. Some sensuality between 14-year-olds. Commonsense portrayal of a character with hearing difficulties. Negative portrayal of a religious character.

Coping with, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up

Lord Loss

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Grubbs Grady sees his family horribly killed and is taken in by his father's mysterious brother who explains that the family is cursed and that he must learn to defend himself from demons and to play chess to help fight the curse.

Brief but shocking, grotesque horror, enough to send the main character into an asylum. Otherworldy demonic creatures and their master. Grubbs' family's closeness contrasted with his father's infidelity to his wife when away on business.

Fantasy, Horror, Macabre

Predator's Gold

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Chased by the Green Storm, a breakaway group from the Anti-Traction League, Tom and Hester with their passenger Pennyroyal are forced to land on Anchorage, currrently travelling across the High Ice towards its origins in the Dead Continent of America.

Adventure, SciFi

The Quantum Prophecy

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

10 years after all the superheroes and supervillains in the world disappeared in the wake of a titanic battle, a few youngsters start to develop superpowers, but are soon kidnapped by a mysterious organisation.

Comic-book style superhero action; moral dilemmas, some driven by visions of the future.

Growing-Up, SciFi

The Swallow and the Dark

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Sam is diagnosed with Spengler's Syndrome, a terminal illness, and must come to terms with his own mortality.

A story which tries sincerely to balance and contrast life and death for a modern youngster and his counterpart in the Great War, but which ultimately lacks depth. Inconclusive look at life & death; divorced family background

Coping with, Historical, Time-Travel, War

Bloodtide

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Objectionable → Unobjectionable

Set slightly into the future when a decaying Britain is controlled by large criminal clans.

Powerfully written story based on Icelandic sagas. Disturbing vision of a future very pagan Britain ruled by brutality and where strength and cunning prevail. Christianity is reduced to an undistinguished sect.

Fantasy, Gritty, Mythical

A Monster Calls

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed

Conor is a boy who cannot accept the reality of his mother dying.

How a young boy copes with the impending death from cancer of his mother.

Boys, Coping with, Family, Fantasy, Gritty, Growing-Up, Moral Issue, School, Thought-provoking

Beyond the Deepwoods

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

The Edge is the land that borders on the emptiness beyond.

While most fantasy introduces the unusual, this book borders on strange. The myriad of bizarre characters would be bearable if they actually took the story somewhere, but by the end you feel like you’ve been bounced and splattered and sloshed all over the place only to reach an unsatisfactory conclusion. The only underlying (and over-emphasised) “value” is that the main character does the unthinkable… he strays from the path.

Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

The Changeover

Style: Weak

Attitude: Take Care

Laura, a 14-year-old New Zealander, turns to prefect Sorenson Carlisle - a witch - when her brother is possessed.

Magic

Cloudy-Bright

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Sam, a Bradford student, gets to know Jenny, a Kingston schoolgirl when he uses her father's camera.

Unexceptional boy-meets-girl story; some references to Sam's previous sex.

Romantic

Dark Quetzal

Style: Weak

Attitude: Take Care

Old Singer Rialle is missing, and when Kyarra and her mother are taken, too, Second Singer Renn and Singer Kherron follow, believing that their old enemy Frahzin is behind the kidnapping.

Fantasy

Dear Nobody

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Helen becomes pregnant with her boyfriend's baby and as she is so young and distraught she does not know whom to turn to.

Coping with, Moral Issue

The "Dragonriders of Pern" series

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Set on a future Earth colony, settled by colonists wanting to escape the wars and pollution &c.

SciFi

Duncton Wood

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

A story of moles keeping their system going against all manner of adversity.

Animal, Fantasy

An Excellent Mystery

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

With the siege of Winchester and the destruction of its Benedictine monastery, an eldery monk (dying from wounds inflicted on the crusades) together with a young, mute but devoted companion-monk, arrive at Shrewsbury seeking refuge.

Detective, Historical

Faerie Wars

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Pyrgus, Prince of the Purple Emperor of the Faeries, is accidentally transported to Mr Fogarty's house and must rely on Henry and Mr Fogarty to return him to the Faerie Realm.

Family separation because of a lesbian affair. Commonplace acceptance of family breakups. One disturbingly camp character. Brief unintended voyeurism.

Fantasy

Floodland

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Zoe lives in an England that has been covered by water as a result of global warming, the city of Norwich is a small island, cut off from the part of the mainland which still remains above the water level.

Adventure, SciFi

The "Fourth World" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Maggie & Bernard have discovered the Missing Link gene which gives humans the ability to reason and to speak.

Amoral genetic manipulation of human beings and animals within a family community. Origin of intelligent life. Friendship and loyalty in times of social breakdown.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Hatter's Castle

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

A man tyrannises his family, driving them to despair in one form or another.

Family, Gritty

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

The Prussian bombardment of London at the end of the 19th century left it demoralised and easy prey to demons of various sorts, known as wych-kind, leading certain men and women to become wych-hunters.

Fantasy, Magic

The Heretic's Apprentice

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

When a certain Elave, attendant to Willian of Lythwood (a local merchant and abbey benefactor) arrives with the dead body of his master from foreign travels and requsts its burial within the abbey walls, a visiting prelate, Gerbert, recalls that William had been reproved for heretical ideas.

Detective, Historical

The House of the Scorpion

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Matt, a child clone of an artificially ancient rich drug baron, has to come to terms with the way the world sees him as he grows up and discovers the truth behind his way of life.

Growing-Up, Moral Issue, SciFi

Inventing Elliot

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

13-year-old Elliot Sutton is picked on and bullied at school, so when his family moves to a new house in a different area, he wants to make a fresh start at his new school.

Friendship, School, Thought-provoking

It's Not the End of the World

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Noah and his family build an Ark and fill it with all kinds of animals in time for the flood of which, they believe, they are the only worthy survivors.

Animal, Growing-Up

Jimmy Coates: Killer

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Jimmy Coates is an ordinary 11-year-old, fighting with his sister, grumbling over his homework, until some people turn up at his house and try to take him away.

Genetically-engineered assassin child

Adventure, Family, Friendship, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Kit's Wilderness

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

13 year old Kit Watson has moved back to his ancestral town of Stoneygate, an old mining town in northern England.

The Lady and the Squire

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Tom, translating documents for the English, is taken prisoner by a servant of the Bishop of Reims but escapes with Emily, the Bishop's niece, while Ann, disguised again as Alan, has left the Duke to rejoin the English army proper.

Adventure, Historical

A Little Love Song

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Rose & Diana are left unchaperoned after their aunt is taken ill, but decide to hide the fact from their actor mother, off on a tour, as they feel old enough to look after themselves.

A sexual encounter between a young unmarried couple. Scorn for society's treatment of unmarried mothers.

Growing-Up, War

The L-Shaped Room

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Jane is pregnant by an actor with whom she had a brief holiday affair.

Coping with, Moral Issue

The Missing Link

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Christie follows Danny his strange half-brother and Darling the starling to Dublin early one morning, where they meet Tina, the homeless teenager and Oggy the dog and set off for the north of Scotland where Danny's mother lives with other talking animals.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Only Human

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Bernard and Colin return from Africa with signs that the legendary Yeti of the Tibetan Himalayas may be the answer to how mankind acquired the Missing Link gene.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Origins

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

The stone which Christie was given by the Yeti is linked to the mysterious creature which takes over the lab at Fourth World; meanwhile in some unspecified place and time, the Dogs and the Cats are in a permanent state of conflict.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Pendragon - The Never War

Style: Poor

Attitude: Take Care

Bobby finds Saint Dane manipulating things in 1937 New York, and must work out what link there is between a New York gangster, the Nazi Party, the Hindenburg Airship disaster and Saint Dane's plan for total chaos.

Fantasy

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

In 1900 Australia, a part of teenage girls from a College for Young Ladies goes on a trip to Hanging Rock.

Classic, Historical, Spooky

Private Peaceful

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Like many other English soldiers in WWI, 'Tommo' Peaceful is too young to fight, however he lies about his age.

Historical, Thought-provoking, War

Shadowmancer

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Parson Demurral is using the power of the Keruvim to bring him the power he wants; Raphah, helped by Thomas and Kate, has to recover the Keruvim and stop Demurral before he ends the Time of Captivity and lets loose the fallen Seruvim.

Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Magic

Starseeker

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Luke Stanton, a gifted young musician, falls in with a local gang after his father dies but when he starts to rob an old lady's house, he finds himself drawn into her life.

A gifted boy runs with a gang to rob a house; the boy's mother apparently sleeps with a man; a childless woman keeps a child she finds injured by the roadside; existence as music; delight in music as a gift; the support of another girl for the boy who's trying to come to terms with himself

Coping with, Growing-Up, Thought-provoking

The Sterkarm Handshake

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

The Time Tube allows people from the 21st century to travel to the 16th to negotiate deals which will bring now unknown produce from an unpolluted world.

Adventure, Time-Travel

Stravaganza - City of Masks

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

16-year-old Ariana is drawn to the lagoon city of Bellezza in her world, while in ours Lucien, being treated for cancer, finds himself there, whole and well, when he sleeps.

Travel between parallel worlds with correspondingly dissimilar religion. Complex issues of life and death. Accepted pre-marital relations. Coping with fatal illness. Strained loyalty between two worlds.

Fantasy, Time-Travel

They do things differently there

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Charlotte falls in with a quiet girl in her class and discovers another side to the town they live in.

An antidote to superficiality, revelling in vivid imagination; rather wild idea of three warring orders of Nuns.

Girls, Growing-Up

The Transformation of Jennifer Howard

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

18-year-old Jennifer Howard is devastated when her older brother dies of AIDS and after a failed suicide attempt, decides to stay for a while in a Shaker-like Christian Community nearby.

A positive view of a strict Christian community; some ambiguity in the feelings Jennifer has for Wayne; Charles Howard is seeing another woman with his wife's knowledge (but not consent)

Growing-Up, Moral Issue

Viaduct Child

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Dushma lives in a society where being registered is everything, she is not registered with the authorities due to a defect during pregnancy and so she is not entitled to do anything.

Coping with, SciFi

Warriors of Camlann

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Dan & Ursula have just escaped from Roman Britain and find themselves in Arthurian Britain a few centuries later.

Adventure, Arthurian, Historical, Magic, Time-Travel

Wendy

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Wendy Darling, an inquisitive but innocent girl, learns more and more about the adult world as her family goes through difficult times.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up

The Wish List

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Meg and Belcher are both killed as they argue about letting an old man bleed to death whose flat they've tried to burgle.

Quirky take on the afterlife. Amusing in many places and sympathetic treatment of an old man trying to right the wrongs of his life. Probably rather dubious theologically. (But who knows?)

Humorous, Thought-provoking

Beyond the Chocolate War

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Sequel to "The Chocolate War": Archie Costello still runs the Vigils and therefore the school; Brother Leon is headmaster.

There's little positive to say here; Jerry, while convalescing on his uncle's smallholding in Canada appears to find solace in God, but it is clear that this relies more on the peace of the church than anything else.

Gritty, School

The Chocolate War

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Trinity is a contemporary Catholic boys' high school in the States, run by an order of brothers.

A Catholic school dominated by a shadowy group of masterful students, vice-happy and with no fear of authority.

Gritty, School

The Jacaranda Tree

Style: Good

Attitude: Objectionable

Patterson, manager of a plantation in Burma, organises the evacuation of the small English community there as the Japanese advance.

Historical, War

Postcards from No Man's Land

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Jacob Todd has come to Holland to celebrate the Battle of Arnhem where his grandfather fought and died.

Growing-Up, War

Room at the Top

Style: Good

Attitude: Objectionable

Joe Lampton starts work as a clerk in a town hall just after the war.

Scavenger Hunt

Style: Poor

Attitude: Objectionable

A scavenger hunt is organised by the mysterious Mr Partridge.

Fantasy, Horror