Athina Clarke

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

Reviews

The Curious Case of Cora Bell (Jinxed!, Book 1) by Rebecca McRitchie and Sharon O'Connor (illus.)

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Cora is a foundling. She has no memory prior to her life with Dot and Scratch the cat in the city of Urt. Their survival is dependent on scavenging and trading amidst fierce competition. Life takes a…

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The Last Balfour by Cait Duggan

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I do love a good witch story: there’s something exhilarating about a young woman drawing on an unknown mystical force and discovering her potential. This story surges at a breathless pace and is unre…

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Dear Grandpa by Kate Simpson and Ronojoy Ghosh (illus.)

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

This delightful picture book celebrates the powerful bond between a child and their grandparent, as chronicled through the long-distance exchange of letters between the imaginative young Henry and hi…

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Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx and Antony Shugaar (trans.)

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

When renowned journalist (and lizard) Achille LeBlab goes looking for exceptional characters to feature in his newspaper, it inspires a wonderful crow, Zanzibar, to attempt a feat so remarkable that …

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Pog by Pádraig Kenny

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

There’s so much to enjoy in this clever story with its overlay of enchantment. But at its heart, it’s a story of a family struggling to overcome its grief at their mum’s sudden death.

When he moves…

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Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I was probably eight when I was first captured by Charlotte’s Web. Our teacher read a few chapters aloud every afternoon and each day we longed for more, our excitement growing as story time neared. …

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Winston and the Wondrous Wooba Gymnastics Club by Tamsin Janu

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Winston and his mum live in the country town of Wooba, home of Big Bread, a towering monument to local wheat farming, currently listed as one of Australia’s Twenty Ugliest Statues. Winston is proud o…

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Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

One of the great gifts of fiction for children is that it offers them the challenge and adventure of other worlds within the safety and comfort of a book. Asha and the Spirit Bird is a mystical and m…

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Alex and the Alpacas Save the World by Kathryn Lefroy

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

There’s much to enjoy in this exciting adventure with its magical twist! There’s an ancient spirit imprisoned in a forest for a thousand years awakened and determined to destroy the world, a prophecy…

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Swimming Against the Storm by Jess Butterworth

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Set in a tiny fishing village of Southern Louisiana, Swimming Against the Storm effortlessly captures the slow, humid atmosphere of the bayou, the tidal rhythms of life built on shrimp fishing and th…

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Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Sabina Radeva

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I’m excited by beautiful, informative books that inspire young minds to wonder and ask questions. Sabina Radeva’s inspired retelling of Charles Darwin’s seminal work On the Origin of Species is just …

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Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

The Hotel Flamingo, once the sunniest hotel on the boulevard but sadly past its heyday, is uninhabited, save for its concierge (a lemur named Lemmy) and the doorman (a bear named T-Bear).

But when …

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

The journey from childhood to adulthood can be challenging; beyond the physical transformation of our bodies and the rollercoaster of our emotions awaits the struggle to understand who we really are,…

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The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Not since Jaclyn Moriarty’s last book have I been so immersed in a wickedly adventurous story brimming with quirky characters, bravado and irreverent humour.

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispe

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Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Andrea Beaty and David Roberts – the minds behind such wonderful picture books as Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect; and Ada Twist, Scientist – now bring us this delightful chapter book fo…

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Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Mr Penguin of Cityville is a clever and spirited penguin looking for adventure. Everyone knows that any self-respecting professional adventurer has a trusty side-kick; in Mr Penguin’s case it’s Colin…

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What a Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards & Luisa Uribe

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Exquisite in design and presentation, What a Wonderful Word celebrates words from around the world which defy simple, one-word English translation. These are words that give voice to the beauty of la…

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George Parker Goes Global by David Metzenthen

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

In the good fun department, Georgie Parker Goes Global has it all: an unlikely friendship, a worldwide rescue mission, silly disguises and heroic escapes by treacherous villains using every form of t…

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Under the Canopy: Trees Around the World by Iris Volant

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Flying Eye Books produces some of the most beautifully designed and illustrated, and informative children’s publications I’ve ever seen.

Under the Canopy is no exception, but it’s an unusual mix. I…

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The Marzipan Pig by Russell Hoban & Quentin Blake

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

What struck me immediately about this little treasure was I couldn’t help reading it aloud. There’s a magical rhythm, almost a poetry, which sings off the page. Russell Hoban has distilled the explor…

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Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix & Sean Williams

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Have Sword Will Travel is a hilarious and exciting adventure set in a fantastical ‘medieval like’ time where gender equality is the norm – ‘brave knight’ is a job description for anyone capable, whet…

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Good Night Sleep Tight by Kristina Andres

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

In this idyllic world, Fox and Rabbit live in perfect harmony. Their only troubles are finding more creative ways to say good night, and getting to sleep!

Each of the short, eleven-and-a-half stori…

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Whimsy & Woe by Rebecca McRitchie & Sonia Kretschmar

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Reading this book, I felt like a child immersed in a good old-fashioned stage melodrama, barracking for the dauntless Whimsy and Woe and heckling the fiendish villains; through the magic of this stor…

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Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

It’s a real eye-opener spending time with Farida and her lively family. Told from the perspective of the responsible and acutely perceptive young Farida, Swimming on the Lawn chronicles life in the S…

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The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

When a devastating plague sweeps through his little town, Alberto loses his whole family and the once happy and successful furniture-maker now applies his care and skill to making coffins. But when a…

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The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Betty and Burt are a perfectly ordinary couple, leading a quiet life, until a tiny angel magically appears in Burt’s pocket. The angel’s existence brings unimaginable joy. And when Betty takes him to…

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Summerlost by Ally Condie

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Together with her mum and brother Miles, 12-year-old Cedar is trying to make sense of her life, a year after the accident that took the lives of her father and little brother. Summer in a new home in…

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Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure by A.L. Kennedy

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Badger Bill is kidnapped by the diabolical McGloone sisters who plan to involve him in a boxing match with vicious dogs. Meanwhile, four llamas are held hostage by the equally reprehensible McGloone …

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The Beast of Hushing Wood by Gabrielle Wang

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Ziggy Truegood is a true child of nature; where most people in the small town of Dell Hollow avoid the surrounding forest of Hushing Wood, she is drawn to its strange beauty and life force. But her a…

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Lots by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

A new non-fiction picture book introducing young readers to the wonderful world of ecology and conservation is exciting enough, but when it’s authored by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton…

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News

The best junior fiction books of 2018

by Athina Clarke

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 junior fiction books of the year, voted for by Readings' staff, and displayed in no particular order. (You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2018 here.) Real Pigeons Fight Crime (Book 1) by Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood

This little gem is three stories,…

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