Payal Kapadia’s Book Reviews


It’s really hard for parents these days to keep on top of choices of good children’s books, particularly good modern reads. Payal Kapadia’s picks are unique because they cover contemporary books. Her choices are well varied – agewise as well as across categories of writing; her reviews are engagingly written, tell you exactly what you want to know about the characters, storyline, style and atmosphere of the book.

*Worth checking out. N.B.: Also note that you may have to sign up for free access at Japan Times before being able to access the online links.

Below are some of her choices:

For preschoolers

BANG ON THE DOOR ANIMALS. Oxford University Press; May 2003. reviewed here

Bored Claude, by JILL NEWTON (illustrator), Bloomsbury; 2002; 32 pp. For kids aged 5 or so. Tale about a bored shark who finds his own way of being unique and yet fitting in with the crowd. Reviewed here

The English Roses By Madonna Puffin Books; 2003; 48 pp. For kid aged 5 and up. Reviewed here

For kids aged 7-9

*”The Boy in the Biscuit Tin,” By Heather Dyer, Chicken House; 2007; 150 pp. reviewed here

Boolar’s Big Day Out By Sally Gardner Bloomsbury; 2003; 128 pp. About dolls who live in the Paris Luxembourg park, including Boolar who has aspirations to a career in the puppet theater. Reviewed here

*FRANK AND THE CHAMBER OF FEAR, by Livi Michael. Puffin Books, July 2003, 273 pp An exciting rodent adventure story reviewed here

*Ada Lovelace, by Lucy Lethbride, Faber and Faber; 2003; 90 pp. Fascinating biography about an unknown girl mathematician who lived in Victorian times and a math whiz who worked with scientist Charles Babbage to introduce the world to the “thinking machine” — or what would become the first computer. For kids 9 and up. Reviewed here

Lionboy By Zizou Corder Puffin Books; 2003; 352 pp Reviewed here

*BIG GEORGE AND THE SEVENTH KNIGHT, by Eric Pringle. Bloomsbury; 2002; 200 pp. (for kids aged 8-12) Reviewed here

*A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park, Clarion Books; 2002; 160 pp. Tale of a 12th century boy in Korea and his love of pottery and loyalty to his master-potter. For kids 10 and up. Reviewed here

*FOX, by Matthew Sweeney. Bloomsbury; 2002; 176 pp. for kids 10 and up. A moving account about a boy and his discoveries of the life of the homeless in an Irish urban setting. Reviewed here.

*The Tiger Bone Thief By Richard Kidd Corgi Books; 2002; 192 pp. Great child-sleuth adventure story with a zoo and Chinatown setting. Reviewed here

*Toad Heaven, by Morris Gleitzman, Puffin Books; 2002; 192 pp. Offbeat tale of a gluttonous and unadorable toad’s (called Limpy)’s adventures as he goes out in search of such a toad heaven (sequel to “Toad Rage”) For kids aged 10- Reviewed here

For teenagers aged 14-16

*”Tunnels,” By Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, Chicken House; 2007; 463 pp.   About a boy who discovers an underground civilization. Reviewed here

*STRAVAGANZA: CITY OF MASKS, by Mary Hoffman. Bloomsbury; 2002; 344 pp. About a sick young boy who discovers that he is a Stravagante — a person gifted with the ability to wander between worlds – and he travels to Bellezza, a Venice lookalike olden city ruled by a duchessa. Reviewed here

FOLLOW ME DOWN, by Julie Hearn. Oxford University Publishing, July 2003, 224 pp.

About Tom, a boy who escapes his own troubles by time traveling to a sinister 18th century London and meets Astra, a kid who is so small she is locked up in an attic for being a freak, a “changeling”. For kids aged 12 and up Reviewed here

*Tell the Moon to Come Out, by Joan Lingard. Puffin Books; 2003; 208 pp. Tale of boy who travels through civil war-torn Spain searching for his father (for teens aged 13 and up) Reviewed here

Ruby Holler, by SHARON CREECH, Bloomsbury; 2002, 310 pp. Heartwarming tale of troubled twins who through their trails of foster homes find a home where they belong. Reviewed here

*The House of Windjammer By V.A. Richardson Bloomsbury; 2003; 349 pp. Historical tale that tells the fortunes of the Windjammer family in the 17th-century then burgeoning shipping town of Amsterdam. For kids aged 12-16. Reviewed here

For Young adults:

The Goose Girl By Shannon Hale Bloomsbury; 2003; 383 pp. A rewrite of a well-known brother Grimm’s Tale Reviewed here

Illustrated Oxford Dictionary. Dorling Kindersley; 2003; 1008 pp Reviewed here

Many many more reviews here.

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