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Books beginning with B


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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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 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