Athina Clarke

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

Reviews

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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 …

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Let me declare up front: I think Garth Nix is a genius who writes wonderful fantasy stories with exceptionally strong and feisty female protagonists, so Frogkisser! is everything I’ve come to expect …

Read more ›

Florette by Anna Walker

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Anna Walker’s magical new picture book, Florette combines deceptively simple illustrations and an economy of words to serve an important and powerful message; a small child’s story of moving house di…

Read more ›

The Grand, Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler by Lisa Shanahan

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Henry Hoobler is not only super cautious about everything, but he’s also one of the world’s great catastrophisers! Henry is paralysed by anxiety and fear of most things; while family and friends enjo…

Read more ›

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

From ancient times to the present day clever women pursuing their dreams and passions have made incredible contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often against tremendous …

Read more ›

In Focus by Libby Walden

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

In Focus is a classic encyclopaedia with a modern design twist; each of the 10 chapters is brought to life by a different illustrator and includes double-page spreads that open up to reveal cross sec…

Read more ›

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

A Most Magical Girl is an imaginative and beguiling tale set in Victorian London, where the city’s ageing witches and wizards struggle against a malevolent villain in a quintessential battle of good …

Read more ›

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

I loved Journey to the River Sea when I read it on publication in 2001 and I have recommended it ever since, so I re-read it recently with some trepidation – would it be as wonderful as I remembered?…

Read more ›

Here Comes Mr Postmouse by Marianne Dubuc

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Follow Mr Postmouse on his fun postal delivery, meet a variety of hilarious animal characters and explore their crazy habitats in a wonderful picture book full of the absurdity and silliness children…

Read more ›

Bicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela & Virpi Talvitie

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

This is the story of an odd couple, Barker the dog and Purdy the cat, and their whimsical adventures. An irrepressible visionary, Purdy is imaginative, impulsive, fanciful and dreamy! Barker is hardw…

Read more ›

Yong: The Journey Of An Unworthy Son by Janeen Brian

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

Award-winning author Janeen Brian has based 13-year-old Yong’s incredible journey on real incidents of the 1850s; famine forced many Chinese to seek their fortune in the goldfields of Ballarat. Yong’…

Read more ›

The Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium Of Wonders From Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley & Owen Davey

Reviewed by Athina Clarke

The Curiositree is a wonderful introduction to the natural world – an informative and visually compelling look at how plants and animals adapt and survive in their natural environment and the interco…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›

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, …

Read more ›

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…

Read more ›