Review | Boy in the Tower

At first, this novel seems like a strange entity: a sci-fi about killer plants and a boy stuck in a tower block. Yet, as you delve deeper into it, you realise that it is so much more. Our narrator and protagonist is ten year-old Ade who lives with and cares for his housebound mother; when the mysterious ‘bluchers’ arrive everyone else splits, and Ade is left to fend for himself.

This book is initially slow to start as it builds tension and peppers the text with clues about the incoming crisis, but the longer you stick with it the more you are invested in Ade’s story of survival. This was my story-time read aloud last term, and Year 5 loved it. They were quick to empathise with Ade, and we had thoughtful debates around the text’s key themes.

This would definitely work well as a read aloud in Years 4-6, and fluent readers would definitely enjoy getting stuck in. It is a good introduction to dystopian or science fiction, and would really fit with a topic on plants or growing.

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Review | The Wild Robot

What a lovely book! If you believe me already, you could go and order the book, make a nice cup of tea, enjoy a biscuit, and enjoy a job well done. If you need a little more convincing , then here goes.

Peter Brown’s debut novel (better known for his picture books) has completely set my class alight this year. Among my Year 5 readers, this book quickly turned from pristine hardback to a battered tome with an extensive waiting list. The plot is centred around Roz, a robot, who is shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. We are told that she has no feelings or emotions, but as she gets to know the animal inhabitants (and speaks their language) this changes.

It is a fab twist on the shipwreck plot, and manages to engage a wide range of readers. In Year 5, it is great for enticing reluctant or less confident readers with its short chapters and pretty illustrations; for my stronger readers it represents a quick read with long lasting ideas and fondness. I think it would work nicely in lower KS2, and would definitely be a lovely read aloud across the age phases (it was the Global Read Aloud in 2017!).

The Wild Robot is a great read, and the next instalment – The Wild Robot Escapes – already has a 15 strong waiting list in my class.

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