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Monday, 30 July 2012

Review: Legacy

Author: Cayla Kluver

Release date: Paperback June 2011
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Target audience: 12+
Publisher: Harlequin Teen


Legacy is a richly woven historical fantasy novel – it’s fantastical in the sense that the story is set in a kingdom from the author’s imagination not a by-gone era. It feels medieval. But Legacy it isn’t a “magic” story. The sense of mysticism which pervades the story is a legend which foretells the downfall of the kingdom of Hytanica.

Princess Alera is turning seventeen and on her eighteenth birthday she will be wed and a new King will take her father’s place on the throne. King Adrik does not wish to lead his armies through another war and so is immovable in his deadline for a successor. Sadly for Alera the list of potential suitors is a list of one. Steldor is twenty years old, the son of the Captain of the Guard, a respected military field commander, charmer, handsome man and the most egotistical person Alera has ever had the misfortune to meet. She sees beyond his flirtatious charm and ability to manipulate people. She sees the conceited, arrogant and fiercely tempered man beneath and she cannot bare the prospect of marrying him.

The plot of the story is in part Alera’s journey towards the impending marriage and her attempts to find an alternative suitor or a way to release herself from her duty. The more fantastical plot elements lie in the hostile relationship between the kingdom of Hytanica and its enemy Cokyri. Alera was born just before the end of the war. As a woman, she has no place pursuing knowledge and so does not really understand how the war began. What she does know is the war came to an end when forty-nine infant boys were taken from Hytanica. Forty-eight were corpses were returned. But one infant remained missing and was assumed dead. But when he returns to his homeland, he is a mystery that no one can solve.

The story is sumptuously detailed with the author describing the fine clothes, the rooms and the castle environment. Sometimes it felt excessive and did not help me visualise the scene. I needed smaller, more evocative details. Rather than list the smells in the market place for instance, I would rather had one particular detail explored so that it felt palpable. But despite this, I very much enjoyed the book. I was desperate to turn the pages and found myself thinking about Alera’s plight when I wasn’t reading. Now I’ve finished Legacy, I can’t wait to start Allegiance. The ending of this book was certainly not what I was anticipating and I found that an especially rewarding reading experience. A great book for those who love rich historical fantasy.

Recommended for fans of:

Source: Bought when I was on holiday in the USA.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Discussion Post: Does size matter?

We're not talking body parts here... we're talking page numbers.

Last year the length of a book really put me off reading it. Not because I didn't think I'd enjoy it. But simply because I felt like I needed to read quickly in order to have a review to post. 

This year I've done really well just reading whatever I've been in the mood for since I scaled back my acceptance of books for review. So far this year, I've read 9 books that have been 500+ pages in length. And you know, I've really enjoyed them. I love epic fantasies and most of those books fit in that category. (Trudi Canavan featured very highly in my January/ February reading).

Towards the end of term I reverted to reading 250 - 300 page books because I was exhausted and reading was at a minimum. Well it's the summer now and I am all about the chunky book. If it's 400/500/600 pages. I'm planning on reading it this summer. See the photo for my chunky book picks.

I remember the time before I was a blogger. I wanted books to be as long as possible. I never wanted the story to end. Now I feel differently, I want the story to be the length it needs to be to make it a great story. I don't want it fluffed to make it longer. I don't want it to be stripped bare to make it shorter. I wanted it to be what it needs to be.

As a Librarian for children, I often think books are too long for the 8-12 age group. The Harry Potter era is over. Fantasy is out. Comedy is in. But most importantly, children rarely compare page lengths anymore as a competitive thing. Now they are after snappy reads that have them in fits of giggles. (At least in general that's what they're looking for in my library). 

So how about you. Does size influence your reading choice? 

What's the longest book you've ever read? 

Mine is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke -  a whopping 782 pages. Read back in 2004 when I was finishing up my university days. I must have felt I had all the time in the world.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Release date: Hardback December 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA / Romance
Target audience: 12+
US Publisher: Dutton, Penguin


Anna and the French Kiss is a charming romance. It’s utterly lovely and beautifully written.

Anna is spending her senior year in France against her will. Her father sends her from Atlanta to the School of America in Paris to broaden her horizons. He expects that it will help her grow. But Anna doesn’t want to leave her best friend, her family and her potential boyfriend behind. There is no reasoning with her father and so Anna finds herself in Europe feeling more than a little lost. Unpacking in her new room, she is befriended by Meredith and is invited to breakfast with her the next morning. There, among Meredith’s friends, she meets Etienne St. Clair. A short, beautiful boy with great hair and a teasing humour.

The story is their love story. From the moment Anna meets Etienne, she cannot stop thinking about him. But as with any great novel, there are obstacles which separate them. There are the physical obstacles such as the fact that Etienne has a girlfriend and the internal obstacles, those that Anna creates from her own insecurities and inability to communicate.

Aside from the love story – this is full of charm, is heart-warming and is wonderful. Anna and the French Kiss is also a story about courage in an unfamiliar culture. It’s about barriers to communication and the fear of the unknown. I watched a film called Sugar this week which has a similar theme. The main character wants to be a baseball player and he’s at a training camp for Kansas City in his home country of the Dominican Republic. When he signs for an American team, he leaves his culture behind and tries to integrate without being a fluent speaker of English. If you’re interested in the struggle to fit into another culture, the film does a fantastic job of communicating it. That is not to say that this novel does not, it most certainly does. But if you enjoyed this novel, you might want to see that too!

This book felt in part like an awakening. I’ve been to Paris once and I can’t say it was the best experience. But Anna’s journey made me want to revisit the city as a braver more educated person. It really made me want to read more translated fiction too. As an exercise in seeing how open I am to new cultures, I’ve looked back on the origin of the books I’ve read this year using Goodreads. Here are the results:
  • 1 German novel
  • 7 Australian novels
  • 8 British novels
  • 17 American novels

This speaks for itself. I love American things. I love that they have Thanksgiving and Independence Day. I also love Australian things – Home and Away for instance! But if I explored other cultures through more books and movies maybe I’d love things about them too.

Any book that makes you want to be a better person – be it reading more widely or visiting a new place or being more of a risk taker – is a book worth reading. When you add to that the wonderful characterisation and effortless storytelling, well, you can be in no doubt: the book is a winner.

Anna and the French Kiss is magnifique!

Recommended for fans of:

Source: Gift from my family

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

Release date: 6th August 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Mira Ink


Pushing the Limits is a sizzling, sweet and thrilling novel. It’s a contemporary romance told from a split perspective. It has everything you could possibly want in a good book. I promise you that.

Echo has repressed a memory. Trying to recover it has taken her to the edge of sanity. But now she’s back at school in her Senior year and trying to move beyond it. She’s seeing a clinical social worker who promises therapy will help. But Echo isn’t sure she’s strong enough to remember. If she could have her way, she’d turn back the clock and be the person she was before. No more scars to hide. No more being the school freak show. Echo is letting her dad control her life. She studying her business classes and being a model student. But however hard she tries to be normal, she just doesn’t fit back into her old life. Seeing Mrs. Collins in therapy is awakening her memory. Is Echo strong enough to make it through?

Noah has a reputation for being a bad boy, a stoner and an unstable, violent boy. He’s been moved from foster home to foster home since he punched his first foster father in the face. Noah wants one thing – to be reunited with his two younger brothers and be their guardian. But the system doesn’t believe in Noah. He can only have supervised visitation. There is one person who does believe in Noah – Mrs. Collins. She is determined to help Noah. And though he doesn’t trust her, he’ll still have to sit through therapy if he wants any chance of being in his brothers’ lives.

Echo and Noah meet outside Mrs. Collins office and at first they can’t stand each other. They have preconceived ideas about each other. But as fate throws them together, they find they have a connection. But are they brave enough to let each other in? Can a broken person ever be healed?

Reading this book was an absolute joy. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to go to sleep. I just wanted to keep reading which just goes to show the depth and skill of Kate McGarry’s characterisation. It mattered to me that Echo found out the truth about the attack but also came to terms with it. It mattered to me that Noah was transformed into a responsible adult and that he was given the respect he deserves. He was such a hero. When I thought all hope was lost, I was crying. When they were getting to know each other, I was smiling, laughing and loving every moment. This is what makes Pushing the Limits a great book. You feel like you are part of the story and you never want it to end.

Pushing the Limits is one of those books where you don’t know what to read next because it will never match up to how much you loved this one. So so good. If you like stories about less than perfect people who can transform each other, you’ll love this. I did.

Recommended for fans of:

Source: Proof copy sent by Mira Ink. (Thank you so much)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Films I've been watching

What with the end of term and then being under the weather, I've not been reading much for the last month. I've been watching films instead. I figured I'd tell you about them.

Did not finish:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - It was too slow, too complicated. It was grey and dull and so not my thing.

I'm sure there was another movie but as I can't even remember the title. It must have been appalling. 

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol - Mission Impossible 3 is so tense and exciting. This had a good beginning but it lost it after that. It felt more like Tom Cruise wanting to do another Tom Cruise movie. (And I love most of his movies but he can do better. Way better)

Blue Romantic - Ryan Gosling movie number 1. Depressing film. I must have blinked and missed the romance.

Iron Man - I hadn't seen it and so after watching The Avengers Assemble, I really though I should. It was nowhere near as good. Shame. It was okay. It was just not brilliant.

The good:
Larry Crowne - Who doesn't love Tom Hanks? I know I do. This was kind of daft but it was also refreshing in the way it looked at unemployment.

The Vow - Channing Tatum. Lovely story. Moving. I really enjoyed it.

The Notebook - The movie everyone couldn't believe I hadn't seen. Ryan Gosling movie number 2. It was funny and sad at the same time. Honestly though, I preferred The Vow. Sorry Gosling lovers. 

Friday Night Lights - the movie. Thank goodness it didn't spoil the end of the first series. I love Matt Saracen and Coach Taylor. The movie was different but still good.

The great:
The Great Debaters - Loved this movie about challenging social inequalities. 

J. Egdar - I love Leonardo Dicaprio. I think he's an excellent actor and this was a brilliant performance not to mention an interesting story. I never knew the Head of the FBI had a hand in the organisation of the Library of Congress. Fascinating!

The Ides of March - Ryan Gosling movie number 3 (Do you know I didn't know who he was until last weekend?) I think if you like the Newsroom, you'll love this film.

Sugar - part subtitled, part sport story - wholly brilliant. Makes you feel the otherness of being lost in a different culture.

Moneyball - Brad Pitt and Baseball. Winning combination. Sport is not really my thing but after reading and loving The Art of Fielding. I cannot get enough of baseball movies.

Amazing Grace - William Wilberforce fighting to end slavery. This is a movie I've been meaning to see for ages. It did not disappoint. 

When I look at this list, I think I am much more broad in my movie choices than I am in my reading choices. What great movies have you been watching lately?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Bookette's Guide to... a Library Audit

This must surely be the most boring post I’ll ever write. But I promised @joe_humphreys that I would blog about my first ever audit at work and I always keep my promises.
I have been at my current school three years and five months. It’s been fantastic and I love being the School Librarian. But since day one there have always been books on the catalogue that I’ve never seen. I joined the school when they’d just finished building a new child-centred Library. Before the books were housed in two separate classrooms. I always believed a proportion of the books never made it to the new site and so I needed the catalogue to be updated and an accurate representation of the stock we have. Our Library Management System is Junior.net.

  • Booking the hire of a portable barcode scanner from Microlibrarian a good term in advance (the end of the year is a popular time) – cost for two weeks £270 – It arrived on the Friday before via UPS.
  • Letters home to parents to inform them the Library would not be loaning any books for the last two weeks of term and the summer holiday
  • Organising with SMT that the Library would be completely shut in the final week
  • Getting as many books back from students as possible

The audit:

  • It took maybe an hour to get the scanner working on the Monday morning. Warning: You need the ICT department on hand! I am fairly good with computers but I could not get it to work. Even the ICT Manager had trouble. We had to put it on to another computer which didn’t already have a scanner in the end.
  • I set up the Stock Check page on Junior.net.
  • I began by scanning all of the non-fiction and putting it all back into the correct order as I went along.
  • Each time I completed a section, I blu-tacked a piece of paper to the shelving saying: COMPLETE.
  • Once you have scanned 1000 items, you upload the data into the Stock Check. This can take up to half an hour if your internet is slow.
  • Then I moved on the young fiction, kinder boxes, staff library etc.
  • Also as I went along I weeded books.
  • The final task was the cupboard. It’s chaos in there!
  • Once you have scanned everything you hit Complete in the Stock Check. The system then restores any books that were scanned but thought to be missing, returns anything that is in but was thought to be out on loan and moves anything not scanned to missing. You can print a list of the missing items to reflect on.


  • The portable barcode scanner saved so much time. It scans much more quickly than the issue desk scanner even if it does take time to upload the data. At least you don’t need to keep dragging books to the desk.
  • It takes an hour to scan 300 books. So depending on your stock level, you should be able to work out how long the audit will actually take.
  • The number of books that were in fact missing: 947.
  • That is a lot! (Does anyone know the SLA guidelines on acceptable losses?) But looking on the list, some of them were never in the Library e.g. A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer (I’ve never seen that in my Library). I also found that some books have been catalogued twice and had two barcodes so those could be permanently deleted. And some books had been weeded but obviously not deleted from the system.
  • The next step was deleting all the books I’d weeded. Cataloguing anything that was on the shelf but had not been catalogued. Adding spine labels to some books that didn’t have them.
  • It took six days to scan all the books. So we went into the first week of the summer holiday. (We had anticipated this). The next two days we did all the corrections/ deletions. I had my assistant to help me. If you’re doing it on your own, I’d anticipate things taking a bit longer. As she was deleting, I was adding on our new intake for September and moving tutor groups. 

It’s nice to feel like all the queries have been dealt with and that the Library will be ship-shape for the new academic year.

Happy Summer Holiday everyone!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Review: The Spell Book of Listen Taylor

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Release date: This UK edition 1st April 2012
Genre: Contemporary / Magical realism?!
Target audience: YA / Adult crossover
UK Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books


The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is a story about family, friendship and it’s full of the bizarre which is exactly what you expect from Jaclyn Moriarty. It defies convention. By which, I mean: this book is not at all what I think of as a young adult book. It felt like modern fiction for adults. But that does not mean that teens won’t enjoy it. Rather that it isn’t necessarily written for them. (That’s my thinking anyway).

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor has a cast of characters who are all larger than life. Listen is a quiet girl, who as her name suggests is not so much a talker but a listener, her life is changing. Her dad Nathanial has found love with Marbie – so they moved out of their camper into her house. Marbie is daft and has a lucky streak when it comes to near death experiences. She is one of the Zing family and they have a Secret. The story is told in third person past tense following Listen, Marbie Zing, her sister Fancy Zing, Cassie Zing (Fancy’s daughter) and Cassie’s teacher Cath Murphy. Their lives are all connected.

It is undoubtedly a complicated plot which is interwoven with Fancy’s stories of hot air balloons and their famous inventors. Then there is the spell book which Listen stumbles upon. The spells were utterly bonkers and full of humour. But there is tenderness and sadness in this book as Listen is rejected by her friends and becomes increasingly isolated. There is human drama too – Cath Murphy has an affair with the new Year 2 teacher.

One of the reasons I think this is an adult book is the fact that we follow adult viewpoints for a significant portion of the novel. We see into Fancy’s world of motherhood and being a writer of wilderness romance and her fantasies about the Canadian next door. We follow Cath in her part-time law degree and fluctuating feelings towards her lover. We see Marbie and her transgressions. All of the characters are entertaining. I love Jaclyn Moriarty’s use of exaggeration, of hyperbole and of the comical. I love her originality. I love that she weaves the spell book into the story and so at the end I didn’t know if it was really “magic”.

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor was a joy to read. The family secret was intriguing and a good surprise. The characters leap off the page with their bizarre notions and desires. The writing is as always is word perfect. Entertaining and endearing. Listen’s story broke my heart but the Zing family warmed it. Wonderful. Absurd. Brilliant.

Source: Review copy sent by Macmillan Children’s Books. Thank you.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review: Catching Jordan

Author: Miranda Kenneally

Release date: 1st March 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA / Romance / Sport
Target audience: 12+
US Publisher: Source Fire


Catching Jordan is part high school romance story, part sport story and part coming-of-age story. It’s funny and warm.

Jordan is the high school quarterback. She’s the captain of the team and she happens to be a girl. She’s a girl in a guy’s world and she is quite happy there. As she comes to the end of her high school year and the championship, she’s looking to impress the coaches at Alabama – the best football college in the country – but when a new guy joins her team, she loses her focus and maybe her position on the team too.

I really liked Jordan. It’s so refreshing to see a different portrayal of a teenage girl. She’s determined and a leader. She’s physically strong and a fantastic athlete. She may spend her days surrounded by guys on the team but when it comes to romance, she’s rather clueless. Her best friend Henry is such an adorable character. He was supportive and at times a complete bozo. How can you fail to love that in a guy?! Ty was annoying. I really had no sympathy for him – even though he wasn’t really a bad guy, just over-protective and paranoid.

The plot is fast-paced and I felt like I read the book so quickly. It’s incredibly readable. I know that sounds bizarre but it was like as soon as you opened it, you were right there next to the characters. It had an immediacy which comes with great writing and demonstrates that you can write in the past tense and still make the reader feel like the events are happening now.

I didn’t entirely understand the American Football references but that was ok but the characters knew what they were talking about so I felt I could just go with it. Plus because I’m watching Friday Night Lights I could picture it and all the “Red Twenty-five. Blue seventeen” or whatever it is they say. It certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment and I really liked the physicality of the book. It felt visceral and raw in a good way.

Overall, a sweet romance. It’s a story about not being ashamed of who you are and what you dream about becoming. Catching Jordan is uplifting and inspiring. A great read.

Recommended for fans of:

Source: Bought and read on my Kobo

Monday, 9 July 2012

Review: 1000 Things to Make and Do

Author: Fiona Watt

Release date: 2011
Non-Fiction: Arts and Crafts
Publisher: Usborne
Target audience: 7+

Over the last term, I have been using 1000 Things to Make and Do to plan craft activities for the children to enjoy at lunch times. We have made magazine faces, pop-up castles and masks using this book. It has simple to follow instructions and a great range of activities. There are drawing, painting printing activities as well as paper-chains and Christmas decorations. The ideas will appeal to both girls and boys: from butterflies and birds to rockets and robots.

There are also ideas for collages – everything from clowns to shoes. There are lots of cutting and sticking activities. Most of the activities in the book can be completed with things you already have around the house – paper, pens, paint, coloured paper, glue, scissors. If you’ve got lots of old newspaper then you’ll find plenty of uses for it here.

Some of the steps may require help from an adult. My students had trouble cutting the eyes out for the masks. The youngest also found it difficult to make clean folds in the paper for the castles. We have such a short time to complete activities at lunch that I found it was easier to have templates ready which the children could decorate. If you’re working on a more one to one basis, then this book will be a great tool for teaching step-by-step collages, pop-ups etc.

1000 Thing to Make and Do is the perfect book for a rainy day. It’s also great for the school library for finding ideas to keep children entertained. I highly recommend it.

Here are some of the pop-up castles children made last week:

Source: Borrowed from the school library

Friday, 6 July 2012

Library Activities: Summer Reading Challenge

As the Summer term draws to a close, I'm promoting the public libraries Summer Reading Challenge in my weekly lessons with pupils when they visit the library. This is the first year that we haven't been able to organise an assembly with a public library representative. There is just so much to fit into the school calendar at this time of year.

For Year 4 and 5, I'm doing some "fun" activities to go along with introducing the challenge and the concept of a Story Lab. I thought I'd share what I'm doing here in case it is of use to other librarians or anyone else who wants to excite children about participating over the holiday.


Summer Reading Challenge: Story lab Lesson

Introduce the Summer Reading Challenge and the Story Lab theme – 6 Weeks, 6 Books – What do you think a Story Lab might be?

Activity 1
Writing Race – challenge students to come up with a list of 50 things you might find in a Story Lab. The winner gets a prize. Students read through their lists and select their most “inventive” ingredient to share with the class.   [Adapted from Rachel Barnett's Create a character with writing races activity - PDF with many ideas available at Book Trust Everybody Writes)

Activity 2
Character Consequences activity – Dory-Dunky Dahl Consequences template from the Puffin website. Link Here: http://www.puffin.co.uk/static/puffinplayground/childrensactivities/downloadspdfs/RoaldDahl/dory-hunky.pdf

Activity 3
Read the short story Willy, the Boy Who Loved Words by Laurence Anholt (from Wow 366! Story collection) aloud to the class. (If you have longer sessions than I do, you can link in a dictionary race to find a new and exotic word)

Wish them a happy holiday where they discover new words and new authors.


My students had great fun with this. But be warned the consequences game will make them very giggly. Personally, I love that. It's the end of term. We aim for fun!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Review: Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Release date: 7th June 2012
Genre: Romance / Contemporary YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster


Second Chance Summer is a novel of change, of summer love, chances lost and chances won. It’s a complete heart-breaker but it’s also full of warmth.

Taylor hasn’t been to the lake house for five years since she did something hurtful and something she feels incredibly guilty about. But this summer she is going back there because it’s her dad’s last wish – to spend the summer with his family before he dies. So along with her Dad, Mum, her older fact-obsessed brother Warren and her ballet-mad sister Gelsey, she revisits her past and must confront her mistakes.

At the very beginning of Second Chance Summer, I couldn’t stand Taylor. She was irritatingly self-pitying and self-centred. But you have to give this novel a chance because at its heart is change. It’s a novel about growing into the person you to be and about facing up to your own flaws. Sometimes it’s hard to read about a character that isn’t instantly likeable but there is such potential there for a great story, if only you can persevere.

As Taylor attempts to settle in to life at the lake, she bumps back into her first love Henry Crosby. Henry is gentle-natured and kind. He’s sweet and yet as much as I liked Henry and his relationship with Taylor. It is really Taylor’s dad Robin that we get to know through the story and adore. As his days come to a close, he and Taylor come closer really getting to know one another and share wisdom and breakfast and movies and all the things you should know about the people you love.

Taylor struggles with her grief and her fear about her dad’s terminal illness but as the story progresses; she grows closer to all her family and lets people into her heart. The ending is expectedly sad. I was broken and sobbing and an emotional wreck. But it was also uplifting because Taylor had changed so much over the summer. It reminds us that we can all be better, braver people. We just need to open our hearts and believe in others.
Second Chance Summer is full of hope. It is a sweet, touching novel and a page-turner too.

Recommended for fans of:

·         Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
·         The Summer I turned Pretty by Jenny Han
·         The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Source: Review copy sent by Simon and Schuster. Thank you.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Bookette's Guide To... Popular Books This Term

This Summer term has raced by. There is always lots happening in the Library but this term things have been buzzing. I'll do another post about what we've been up to soon. This post is all about which books have been popular. Without further rambling, here they are:

#1 being the most popular book in my school library since April.

Boys 8 - 12

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (the whole series... again)
  2. The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon (the whole series)
  3. The Case of the Deadly Desperadoes by Caroline Lawrence
  4. Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Michael Morpurgo
  5. Young Samurai: The Ring of Fire by Chris Bradford
  6. Captain Fantastic (Football Academy series) by Tom Palmer
  7. The Arctic Incident (Graphic Novel) by Anthony Horowitz
  8. Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
  9. Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
  10. The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

Girls 8 - 12

  1. Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson
  2. My Sister's a Vampire (the whole series) by Sienna Mercer
  3. The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon (the whole series)
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (the whole series)
  5. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  6. The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson
  7. Best Friends by Jacqueline Wilson
  8. Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  9. Blue Gene Baby by Fiona Dunbar
  10. Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
Suddenly the boys are reading outside of the "funny" books. Okay, so the two big series are at the top but they're reading adventure/ western and detective fiction. Fantastic.