Book reviews: Must-reads for the new school year

We’ve rounded up 10 reads from the past academic year that were given the thumbs-up by primary teachers and pupils alike. Read – and be inspired

Tes Reporter

Books for primary children

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space

AF Harrold

256pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN: 9781408869475

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space is a wonderful blend of sci-fi epic and super sleuth mystery, with liberal helpings of cake and laughter thrown in for good measure.

Emily Marcuccilli is librarian at King’s Hall School, Taunton

I liked Greta because she is determined and funny. My favourite character was Jonathan, a giant cake-eating squirrel with a peanut allergy (the idea of which is beyond hilarious). I would recommend this book to anyone who likes rib-cracking jokes and cake, as this book is full of both.

JJ, Year 5


The Nothing to See Here Hotel

Steven Butler

192pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN: 9781471163838

I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books: they allow children to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. The Nothing to See Here Hotel stands out from the crowd, with its many comic moments and its original storytelling. It really is a total joy from start to finish.

Jo Clarke is school librarian at Whitchurch Church of England Primary in Hampshire

I would give this book 10 out of 10 because it is so imaginative. My favourite character is Nancy because she is kind, even though she is a big Orkney brittle-back spider. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic. It made me feel that I was there in the hotel.

Skye, 8


Planet Stan

Elaine Wickson

240 pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN: 9780192759047

The response from my Year 3 readers was very positive. They enjoyed the story and it created a great buzz: the copies are still circulating furiously because everyone in the class wants to read it. I think it would be a very useful addition to the school library or class book corner.

Louisa Farrow is assistant headteacher and teaching and learning support lead at St Matthew’s C of E Primary School in Birmingham

I would recommend this to someone who likes silly or disgusting things – or to someone who is interested in space. I quite enjoyed it.

Malak, Year 3


Kid Normal

Greg Smith and Chris Smith

400pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN: 9781408884539

Kid Normal is a fast-paced, humorous adventure with likeable heroes and a suitably ridiculous, evil villain… It might be a good one for engaging reluctant readers because of the speed at which the action unfolds.

Fiona Shufflebotham is junior school librarian at Wimbledon High School, in south-west London

I loved this book! Some of my friends thought The Tale of Alan Rabbit interlude at a really tense point in the plot was stupid, but I thought it was very funny and really broke the tension. Overall, it was an enjoyable and exciting read that I will recommend to my friends.

Sumi, Year 5


Junkyard Jack and the Horse that Talked

Adrian Edmondson

256pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN: 9780141372495

I was expecting an abundance of humour – but what I got was so much more. Surprisingly, Junkyard Jack was an emotional rollercoaster of a book…I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as did all the children who read it with me.

Angela Kent is library assistant at Four Lanes Community Junior School in Chineham, Hampshire

It’s a whole other world! I think lots of children would like this story, with its talking animals and fun characters. This book is perfect entertainment, especially with the funny illustrations. You will not want to put this down once you start it – I didn’t!

Edward, Year 3


Safari Pug

Laura James

112pp, £5.99, paperback

ISBN: 9781408866405

It really is a story that captivates all, and I don’t think there was one child in the class who wasn’t happy when I announced that there was enough time to read a chapter.

Amy Neale is a Year 3 student teacher based in Kent

I liked it when the lion, Florence, jumped on Pug. I had the best dream ever after the story!

Amiee, 8


The Chocolate Factory Ghost

David O’Connell

208pp, £5.99, paperback

ISBN 9781408887066

You know you’re onto a winner when the children around you are snickering by the second paragraph, laughing by the next page, and begging to read the following chapter when the bell goes. My group of readers devoured The Chocolate Factory Ghost almost whole.

Caroline Wood is school librarian at Ashleigh Primary School, Darwen, Lancashire

This book makes me want to eat some fudge. I loved all the place names like Lock Flicmaibogie and Wee Greenie. I rate this book 10 out of 10.

Amelia, 10



Matt Carr

32pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN: 9781407172934

Spyder is a funny read; in fact, it is puntastic. Starting with the title itself, no opportunity for punning is missed. From Miss Money Spider, the arachnid spy’s secretary, to when Spyder nearly gets stepped on (“Danger was afoot”), to the evil bluebottle shouting, “I’m off to have my cake and eat it,” clever humour is present throughout.

Sarah Ormes is school librarian at St John’s Catholic Primary School in Bath

I liked it because she is cool and great. I love it.

Evelyn, Year 2


Space Tortoise

Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield

32 pp, £6.99, paperback

ISBN 9780571331055

The Year 1/Year 2 children really enjoyed this story. There are lots of opportunities to use this book to support drama and as a writing stimulus, as well as discussing loneliness and friendship. The book has become so popular that it is permanently scanned out of our school library – to the extent that I am not entirely sure of its current whereabouts.

Jane Flood is head of learning at Oaks CE Learning Federation

I liked that book because he found a friend.


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