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The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith



Author: Dick King-Smith

Title: The Hodgeheg

Date of Publication: 1998


AR Level: 5.2


Summary of book

The story of a young hedgehog called Max who has a mission… to find a safe way to cross the road. You follow him as he goes against what his father says and you hear the tails of his family whilst he bumps into a lot of exciting people.


Who should read this?

Year 3 and upwards. In the story Max is a young character and it appeals to children who are in relative age to Max, telling them that they can do whatever they try to do – if they try hard enough.


Age and gender of central characters

Max – a male, young hedgehog.


What does it offer an experienced/non-experienced reader?

It offers tales of perseverance and ambition to an experienced reader; the idea that nothing is impossible. To a non-experienced reader it is a very interesting story about a hedgehog that has to go through many trials and tribulations – and it’s funny too!



Perseverance, ambition, family, road safety, animals.


What will excite a reader?

Any reader that enjoys reading about animals will be excited by this book. It is also very expressive and active. It also captures the thought of a young hedgehog, almost a young person.


What did I think of it?

For myself, it was not a terribly thrilling book but I appreciated the morals that lie beneath the book and reminded me that anything is possible if you try hard enough.


The Witch’s Children by Ursula Jones


witch's children

Author: Ursula Jones (illustrated by Russel Ayto)

Title: The Witch’s Children

Date of Publication: 2001


AR Level: 2.5


Summary of book

The story tells of three children who are seen as trouble in their neighbourhood – even the squirrels and the pigeons run away from them. They attempt to help a young girl rescue her boat but in doing this they turn her into a frog and then a handsome prince. In the end the mother witch has to come and save the day.


Who should read this book?

KS1 (Early years, year one and year two). The book is a picture book and therefore attracts this age group. It also has simple vocabulary and is easy to understand.


Who are the main characters?

Three children, one male two females. All very young, probably aged between the ages of five and ten.


What can I learn from this book?

Being a picture book it offers a non-experienced reader the opportunity to retrieve meaning from the pictures. For a more experienced reader it offers an insight into childhood and the mischief that is connected to it.



Magic, childhood, mischief, helping others, stereotypes, judging people, fantasy and fairytales.


What will excite a reader?

The plot will excite as you are constantly wondering – how are they going to get out of this one? They seem to dig themselves holes and there’s only one way they can get out – mummy!


What did I think of it?

I found the book quite amusing and although very short, found myself wanting to know the conclusion.


You Do! by Kes Gray


You do

Author: Kes Gray (Illustrated by Nick Sharratt)

Title: You Do!

Date of Publication: 2003


AR Level:Not yet quizzed


Summary of book

The story tells of the dialogue between a mother and a daughter, Daisie, the mother constantly telling the daughter off for doing things such as picking her nose, fidgeting or slurping her food. Each time Daisie is told off by her mother she responds with two words: ‘You do!’ Daisie then explains to her mother when and where she has done the crime (i.e. picked her nose) and the mother attempts to justify her actions. Along with the story the illustrations say more, showing the mother doing the things she denies.


Who should read it?

Key Stage 1/Lower Key Stage 2. The language of the book is simple and the pages few, so a child of an older age my find it boring or simple. It is the perfect book to be read aloud to a class.


Who are the main characters?

Young female, Daisie, maybe five or six and older mother probably in late twenties although I feel the age of the mother is irrelevant.


What can I learn from it?

It offers an experienced reader an insight into the relationship between a mother and a daughter, the almost god-like image or idea a child has of a parent. For a non-experienced reader, the illustrations play a major role in telling the story.



Family, mother/daughter relationship, habits, messiness, general day-to –day life and chores.


What will excite a reader?

Depending on the age of the reader the book will excite in different ways. For a younger reader they will find the large, colourful illustrations exciting.


What did I think of the book?

When I read the book it was for the purpose of child education rather than my own enjoyment, although it did take me back to a time when I was not much different to Daisie.

Gwenda and the Animals by Tessa Dahl


gwenda and the animals

Author: T. Dahl

Title: Gwenda and the Animals

Date of Publication: 1989


AR Level: Not yet quizzed

 Summary of book

A story about a young girl, Gwenda, who goes to the zoo one day and realises that she can talk to animals. She decides to try and help the animals so she craftily stays past closing time and begins to talk to the animals. She soon finds out what is wrong with them and tells the zoo keeper, Bill. Bill changes the way that the zoo is run and the animals are much happier.

Who should read this book?

5-9year olds. The language is very simple and the theme may be slightly too unrealistic for older children who would probably want a more complex plot and resolution.

Who are the main characters?

Young female, probably about 8 or 9.

What can be learnt from this book?

It offers an interesting idea about animals, zoos and animal cruelty that would appeal to many young children.


Animal cruelty, animals, magical powers, relationship between animals and humans, family.

What will excite a reader?

This book has enough excitement and a fluent nature of writing to excite young children. The book may appeal to those who like animals and those that have an interest in fantasy/magical powers.

What did I think of it?

I was not terribly involved in the book from my own perspective but thinking of it from a children’s point of view it illustrates some serious morals i.e. animal cruelty that are very rarely tackled in children’s books.





The Birdman by Melvin Burgess


the birdman

Author: Melvin Burgess (illustrated by Ruth Brown)

Title: The Birdman

Date of Publication: 2000


AR Level: Not yet quizzed 


Summary of book

The story tells of a young boy called Jarvis who sees a man selling birds on the street. Thinking this is cruel he buys one of the birds determined to let it go. Once he reaches his home he decides to keep the bird for just another day until he keeps it all the time. The bird then becomes sick and when Jarvis finally decides to let the bird go he finds himself as a robin and the bird takes his place as Jarvis.


‘Target’ Audience with one reason

Upper KS1/Lower KS2. It is a picture book which will be appealing to many children but the story is quite complex and may seem scary to younger children.


Age and gender of central characters

Jarvis, a young male, probably about eleven or twelve. The birdman, male, late thirties – age not particularly relevant.


What does it offer an experienced/non-experienced reader?

It offers a non-experienced reader the chance to view pictures rather than read. For an experienced reader it offers many morals about animal cruelty and that every action has a consequence.



Animal cruelty, magic, consequences, decisions, loyalty


What will excite a reader?

This book is strange in that it does not have a typical happy ending. The boy, at the end of the book remains a robin and the robin has taken his place as Jarvis. This is different and may excite some readers by its break from the ‘norm’.


How were you involved in the book?

The book is very short and therefore difficult to become involved in. I was incredibly surprised at the lack of resolution and am curious as to how children would react to this.





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Me with Coffee

About Me

 I am Mrs Tunnicliffe and I am a teacher at Riders Junior School. I trained to be a teacher for four years at the University of Brighton and  have been teaching at Riders since September 2007. During the six years I have been at Riders, I have taught in year 3, year 5 and year 6 so I’ve been teaching/training to teach for 10 years now!

I work across Riders Infant and Junior School as an English leader (among other things). This means that I work hard to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening of children at Riders Infant and Junior School. I work with the children, teachers and support staff in both schools to make sure that children are getting better at English every day.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question and I will be more than happy to help!

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