Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth
Frank Cottrell Boyce / Illustrated by Steven Lenton
MacMillan Children’s Books
Reviewed by Noah Worm (Aged 9)
Sputnik is an alien visible as a dog to everyone except Prez; to Prez he is a boy exploring the universe. Here – Steven Lenton shows it much better than I can explain it…
Frank Cottrell Boyce has produced another great page-turner with this book – ideal for Year 4 and up (but Year 3 will love the funny bits). The really funny bits come mostly when people treat Sputnik like a dog, and he replies with sarcasm or disbelief, but they just hear barking. Sputnik’s mission is to make a list of 10 things that make the Earth special.
A bigger story than Sputnik’s search for ten things, is Prez’s search for his Grandad. There are sad parts to the book when Prez discovers his Grandad but we realise that Grandad doesn’t recognise or know who Prez is.
This is an hilarious, often touching novel, full of the greatest storytelling.
Daddy Worm says: I was in bits! Frank Cottrell uses this comic caper to touch on some “grown-up” ideas. I thought it was brilliant and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So here are Noah’s favourite reads. He’s ordered them from top to bottom in the picture, and we’ll take them in reverse order. He’s given a one-word review of each book.
10. Cogheart, Peter Bunzl – Exciting
9. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome – Gripping
8. A Boy Called Christmas, Matt Haig – Emotional
7. Jinks O’Hare Funfair Repair, Reeves & McIntyre – Magical
6. The Imaginary, A.F. Harrold – Imaginative
5. Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, Horatio Clare – Innovative
4. Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy, A.F. Harrold – Hilarious
3. Radio Boy, Christian O’Connell – Heroic
2. The Bus Stop at the End of the World, Dan Anthony – Mythical
1. Wolf Wilder, Katherine Rundell – Adventurous
Some observations: A.F. Harrold makes 2 appearances; there’s no room for Harry Potter (11), Tom Gates (12) or Wimpy Kid (erm, probably 20); two of the authors are Welsh; Swallows and Amazons is clearly the oldest book on the list (1930), swiftly followed by Fizzlebert Stump (2013!); the remaining books have been published since 2014 with numbers 2 and 3 being published this year.
Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot
Reviewed by Noah Worm (aged 9)
This is a really adventurous, different kind of book, unlike any other I’ve read; full of amazing ideas and great drawings that keep you wanting to turn the page. The book is about Aubrey, a “rambunctious child”, an adventurer and determined discoverer with a very free upbringing. The Terrible Yoot is the phrase used to describe depression, which is being suffered by Jim (Aubrey’s dad). He becomes sad, pale, confused and rather lost – “Sometimes he seemed so wispy he might have been made of mist.”
If I make it sound like a miserable book, it’s not! It is a funny and hopeful book about the love between a father and son. It’s also full of talking animals (it’s anthropomorphic!) who guide Aubrey to help him help himself and his dad.
This is Horatio Clare’s first children’s book and I enjoyed it a lot – full of magic and wonder. It has jumped into my top 5 books ever! I would highly recommend it for 9-13 year olds. His next book is out soon and is called Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders. I can’t wait to read it!
Daddy Worm says: Very enjoyable with some remarkably adept descriptions. I was initially concerned about how the big D would be portrayed and how Noah would respond – no need; Horatio Clare writes openly and honestly, which is exactly what you want. There is plenty of humour in the book (what with the talking animals and the neighbour who spies on Aubrey’s actions) and plenty of fantasy too (what with the talking animals…) and yet it is a very grounded and relatable story. I loved sharing it with Noah. Highly recommended.