Skip to main content

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2018: Our class book reviewers' expert opinion

Waterstones has announced the shortlist for its Children's Book Prize – and several of them have already been read by our class book reviewers

News article image

Waterstones has announced the shortlist for its Children's Book Prize – and several of them have already been read by our class book reviewers

At Tes HQ, we have piles of children's books delivered to us every day for reviewing purposes. But instead of keeping all the wonderful words to ourselves, we distribute them across the country to the true book experts: pupils and their teachers.

And this year, several of the works reviewed by our bookworms have made it on the shortlist for 2018's Waterstones Children's Book Prize. 

So, ahead of the winners being announced on March 22, we've gathered together the opinions of our excellent reviewers here (judges, pay attention). 

Matt Carr's Superbat has been shortlisted for the illustrated book award, and we sent it to Bath last summer to see what school librarian Sarah Ormes and the children of St John's Catholic Primary School thought of it. 

Sarah said: "I read this book to five classes, ranging from Reception to Year 2, and the children all enjoyed it. The main strength of the book is its fantastic illustrations. Matt Carr uses bold, bright colours to give the book the feel of a simplified comic. The illustrations are very striking and held the children’s attention. The fact that they are big and simple makes it work well in class story time." 

The children said: 

"It was a bit boring, but I liked the pictures.”

“I like vampire bats – they drink blood.”

“Bats are amazing – they use clicks to see.”

“He didn’t think he was special but he was.”

“I liked it – it made me laugh. He was funny and wore a costume. His friends were mean but liked him in the end.”

Assistant headteacher Tracey Seaman and the Year 6 pupils at The District CE Primary School, in Merseyside, reviewed Lisa Thompson's Goldfish Boy. 

Pupils Amy, Mollie and Matthew said the book was adventurous, humorous and filled with mystery and mixed emotions. 

"The Goldfish Boy is a new book about a child called Matthew, who suffers from an illness called obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although you feel sorry for him, his cleverness and sense of humour make you laugh.

"Comical and witty, creative and imaginative, this is a perfect book for 10- to 11-year-olds . If you are a fan of mysteries, you will love this original, puzzling story."

We sent Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal to Wimbledon High School for junior-school librarian Fiona Shufflebotham and Year 5 and 6 pupils to cast their expert eyes over it. 

Thea, Year 6, said: "I also didn’t find the villain, Lord Nektar, very convincing at all. On the plus side, the illustrations looked like they were going to be fun. I think this book is aimed at younger children – it is the sort of book that my younger brother might enjoy."

Sumi, Year 5, said: "I loved this book! Murph Cooper is 'normal', and his life is a bit rubbish because he has had to move schools a lot, but he accidentally ends up in a superhero school. I thought the idea of a superhero school was brilliant."

It was the pupils at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds who reviewed Emily Suvada's The Mortal Coil

14-year-old Sanjay said: "This book is not perfect. The character twist at the end did not fit with the storyline that well, though it does enable the author to continue with a possible sequel. I felt that that the writer could have given the story a more definitive ending, rather than a cliffhanger."

His classmate Aaron, also 14, disagreed and said: "Although this book is action-packed, Emily Suvada takes time to describe how Catarina is feeling and we get to know her as a person. At times, I felt exactly like Catarina: lost and a bit confused, as the story revealed its unexpected turns. If you love science and technology, then this is a book you must read." 

The full shortlist is: 

Illustrated Books Shortlist

I Really Want the Cake by Simon Philip

Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

The Night Box by Louise Greig

Fergal is Fuming by Robert Starling

Superbat by Matt Carr

The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

Younger Fiction Shortlist

Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Kid Normal by Greg James

The Five Realms: the legend of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood 

Nevermoor: the trials of Morrigan Crow, Jessica Townsend

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans

Older Fiction Shortlist

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

INK by Alice Broadway

The Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Troublemakers by Catherine Barter

If you or your class would like to write a review, please contact

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you