Athina Clarke

Athina Clarke works as a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.

Reviews

Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts by Lesley Gibbs

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Fizz dreams of being a police dog; brave, clever and fast, he’s just what the police force needs. But there’s a problem: Fizz is the cutest ball of adorable, fuzzy fur! Fizz comes from a long line o…

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres but it’s beset with challenges and tricky to get right.

Bringing history to life is a herculean task: you must somehow condense mammoth amounts of fa…

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The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me by Michael Gerard Bauer

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Any book that announces itself with, ‘It all started with The Pain’ has me from the very first paragraph, especially when it’s obvious The Pain is no mere physical discomfort but a deeper agony in th…

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What Dog Knows by Sylvia Vanden Heede

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Dog is curious, knowledgeable and bookish, whereas his cousin, Wolf, is just plain hungry. Their witty and informative conversation explores topics including skeletons, robots, dinosaurs, rockets and…

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Special by Georgia Blain

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I’ve been suffering from ‘dystopian fatigue’ lately, so the idea of yet another story set in a broken and not-too distant future is enough to send my eyes rolling into the back of my head. But unlike…

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Run, Pip, Run by JC Jones

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Plucky ten-year-old Pip has a resourcefulness borne out of challenging circumstances. Cranky old Sully is the only family Pip’s ever known. And family is what you make of the people you have. Never i…

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The Family with Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

What a treat it is to spend time with the Rabinovitches, a loving family living in Lublin, Poland during the 1920s, a family so large they need two apartments, hence the two front doors: one blue, th…

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Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond & Salvatore Rubbino

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

On the face of it, Harry Miller’s Run describes a magic day in the early life of Harry (now an old man) who once ran from Newcastle to South Shields for a dip in the sea with friends. But beneath tha…

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The Bolds by Julian Clary

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

When a couple of English-speaking hyenas migrate from Africa to England and settle in a quiet suburban street they soon realise they’ll need more than just their human disguise – soon they get jobs, …

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The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

In a remote location outside St Petersburg, twelve-year-old Feodora and her mother, Marina, teach tamed wolves to become wild again. This idyllic existence as wolf wilders ends when Marina is arreste…

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Close to the Wind by Jon Walter

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Unfortunately for humanity this isn’t an extraordinary story. And even though I had no idea when and where this story takes place, there was no doubt in my mind about its authenticity. What’s clear i…

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Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber & Clara Vulliamy

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig is the most delightful celebration of an unlikely but beautiful relationship: the friendship between Mango Allsorts, a busy little urbanite, and Bambang, a lost tapir a…

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The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt & Laura Watkinson

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Sometimes I encounter a book so completely enthralling I lose all track of time; day becomes night and day again. The Letter for the King is one of those books: a must-read epic adventure for childre…

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The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Angus and Martha live in a small beach town where nothing much happens – until a mysterious second‑hand shop materialises overnight. Before they know it, Angus and Martha find themselves caught up in…

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Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

The journey from childhood to young adulthood is never an easy path, even for those blessed with loving families and friends to help them navigate the perils of transit. When steadfast friends Bridge…

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How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

A new picture book by Bob Graham is always cause for celebration. How the Sun Got to Coco’s House embraces the beauty of an everyday miracle – how our sun journeys from one side of the world to the o…

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Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

There’s so much to love about the mystery of Circus Mirandus, a wonderfully imagined adventure with a fresh magical spin. This book has it all: the importance of love and friendship; the wonders of t…

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It’s About Love by Steve Camden

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Don’t be misled, It’s About Love is about so much more. It’s about where you’re from and how you’re judged; revenge, confidence and the unresolved issues of the past; and the gulf between what we fee…

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One True Thing by Nicole Hayes

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Imagine being 16 and dealing with life’s challenges – the pressure of school, the demands of family, the complexities of friendship. Now imagine that (on top of all that) your mother is the Premier o…

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The King and The Sea by Heinz Janisch & Wolf Erlbruch (illus.)

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

On one level The King and the Sea is a collection of pithy short stories about a little king who sets out to explore ‘his’ kingdom. His endeavours meet with varying degrees of success. The little kin…

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The Story of Life by Catherine Barr, Steve Williams and Amy Husband

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

For some, evolution conjures up images of bones and fossils – the old, the dry and the dead. But for the creators of The Story of Life, evolution evokes a vibrant, colourful, joyous world very much a…

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A Year in the Life of A Total and Complete Genius by Stacey Matson

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Arthur Bean is no shrinking violet. The exceptionally bright 13-year-old boastfully broadcasts his extraordinary abilities, especially his outstanding literary talents. If you think he sounds like a …

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The Jolley Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

The small town of Dull-on-Sea is ransacked by pirates every full moon, baffling the police force and throwing its inhabitants into panic. Matilda enlists the assistance of her best friend, Jim Lad, a…

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Husen

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Leroy dreams of being a cowboy; he’s got a hat, a lasso and boots – everything except something to ride! So when Maybelline, an old horse with few, yet specific, needs (lots of love, compliments and …

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The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan & John Parke Davis

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Carrie Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. In collaboration with John Parke Davis, The Map to Everywhere is their first title …

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Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D.D. Everest

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Archie Greene longs for adventures but foresees a lonely, boring holiday stuck at home with his Gran. But when a mysterious old book arrives on his twelfth birthday, Archie’s world transforms from mu…

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Laurinda by Alice Pung

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Let me first declare that this novel was like a time machine that shot me straight back to my own years in middle secondary school. On one level Laurinda is about a young girl’s struggle for identity…

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Spud & Charli by Samantha Wheeler

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Charli dreams of owning a horse; if she could only learn to ride and win the gymkhana she might convince her parents to buy her one. It’s a big challenge but Charli has determination in spades – espe…

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The Year It All Ended by Kirsty Murray

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

1918 should have been the ‘year it all ended’ for 17-year-old Tiney Flynn and her family, as the Great War finally comes to an end and family and friends eagerly await the return of loved ones. But T…

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Plenty by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Ten-year-old Maddie is confused and extremely angry when her parents reveal they’re moving from their inner-city Melbourne home to a small regional town. Her sense of dislocation is profound as all t…

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