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Book reviews for kids

Crank up the air-con and dive into one of these new kids’ releases

1 Masquerade
Melissa de la Cruz, Dhs46. Age 9+
Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods vampire novels are literally selling like hotcakes. And with the tagline, ‘they’re young, fabulous and fanged…’ it’s easy to see why. Masquerade is the second in a series of four books which tell of the lives, loves, rivalries and ethics – yes, there apparently is a code of ethics – among modern day vampires. The novel follows the fortunes of two clans, the evil Silver Bloods and the more honourable Blue Bloods who reside in New York City. Well- written and surprisingly compelling, the series is worth checking out if you’re already a diehard Meyer fan.
Grade: B+

2 The Troll
Julia Donaldson, Dhs 72. Age 2-5
This latest offering from the queen of kids’ fiction is a new take on the old Billy Goats Gruff story, telling the tale of a troll who loves cooking. He lives under a bridge with his pans and his recipes, but is fed up eating fish. After encounters with an ant, a mouse and a rabbit, he moves bridges to find his favourite meal – goat. Instead, he comes across some treasure-seeking pirates – and that’s where it all gets exciting. The Troll is much more rambling than Donaldson’s other offerings, and the text is often written in half-rhyme, which gets a bit annoying. But on the plus side, the illustrations by David Roberts are humorous, colourful and full of action.
Grade: C+

3 Skulduggery Pleasant Dark Days
Derek Landy, Dhs72. Age 10+
The fourth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series (Mortal Coil, the fifth installment will be released in September) Dark Days opens with a characteristically grim scene. Dreylan Scarab – a wicked murderer who has lost his magical powers – has been released from a prison in the Arizona desert. He meets up with his old ally, Billy-Ray Sanguine, and together they put together a dastardly plan to form a Revengers’ Club. Their goal is to avenge those who have crossed them, namely our heroes, Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain. A thriller fantasy
with a loyal following, this latest installment won’t disappoint.
Grade: B

4 The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary
Jeff Kinney, Dhs65. Age 7-11
If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this is bound to be a hit, as it tells the tale of how Greg Heffley went to Hollywood in journal/comic book format. Filled with funny pencil sketches, photos and film stills, as well as details about how the film was cast, staged and produced, we like the fact that it’s more of a documentary than a fictional story and explains the film-making process in a style which will appeal to younger readers. However, if you’re not familiar with the previous works or the film, it won’t make much sense. We suggest you start with Diary of a Wimpy Kid (the book and then the film) before dipping into this one.
Grade: B-

5 The Thin Executioner
Darren Shan, Dhs72. Age 10+
The latest from the über-popular Shan, The Thin Executioner is set in a fantasy world where slavery, executions and coming-of-age rituals are brilliantly, if brutally, portrayed. Shan looked to the Middle East for inspiration, as his central character is a boy called Jebel, from the city Wadi, whose father is called Rashed. The baddies, meddling in affairs which don’t concern them, are tellingly named Master Blair and Master Bush. The story follows Jebel’s quest to acquire superhuman powers, so he can return to Wadi and succeed his father as the city’s respected executioner. Though slower-paced than Shan’s other novels, it’s no less absorbing – and has been described by fans as his best book to date.
Grade: A-

6 The Heart and the Bottle
Oliver Jeffries, Dhs55. Age 3-5
This thought-provoking tale tells of an inquisitive child who ‘loves all things wondrous’, until she experiences grief and shuts her heart away in a bottle. She grows up carrying the weight of sadness until she meets another little girl who helps take her heart out of the bottle. While its message is admirable, and it has a happy ending, it is nonetheless quite a melancholic story and one that is bound to elicit endless questions from little ones about why people sometimes go away. Because of this, it might not be a great tale for bedtime, but it’s definitely an interesting read for children and parents alike.
Grade: B
All titles are available at Magrudy’s (04 344 4009)

By Time Out Kids staff
Time Out Dubai,

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