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At The British International School of New York we are incredibly proud of our accomplished young writers.

Please see some examples of their work in print and online below in a selection of published book reviews.

 

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling - Review

'I felt myself hearing the strange noises, feeling the ground slither with snakes and sweating in the heat of the penetrating environment of the jungle's overpowering force'

There is probably not a single child in the world without a preconceived idea of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Show me one who doesn't know about Mowgli's adventures through the jungle with bumbling, kindly Baloo and cunning Bagheera, thanks to Disney's version of the book.

However, start reading the original and all preconceived notions might as well be thrown out the window. This is a dark and often unhappy tale which left me nervous and frightened and is more prone to cause a nightmare than a sweet dream.

Kipling tells the story of little Mowgli, a village boy who falls into the hands of a pack of wolves who raise him as their own in the Indian jungle. As he matures he starts to understand the 'Law of the Jungle' and the book follows his many adventures alongside the myriad creatures around him. Those include Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, who become his tutors and protectors. As a child reader, one of the most disturbing parts of this relationship is the physical violence Baloo and Bagheera continuously seem to use against Mowgli as part of their teaching.

'Bagheera gave him half a dozen love taps (…) but for a seven-year-old boy [this] amounted to as severe a beating as you could wish to avoid.' I found it very difficult to like these two characters because of this abuse towards Mowgli and without sympathetic characters to relate to the book was hard to enjoy. I wanted Mowgli to escape from these two almost as much as I wanted him to escape the terrible monkeys. I don't think Kipling intended the reader to feel this way, but perhaps in his days, hitting a child was more common.

Kipling does manage to create an intense world that sucks you in with his descriptions of the jungle and the creatures that live there. I felt myself hearing the strange noises, feeling the ground slither with snakes and sweating in the heat of the penetrating environment of the jungle's overpowering force. When Mowgli swings from the vines in the gripped of the monkeys I thought it was a moment of release and wanted him to swing to freedom. But once again, the terror of the place gets the better of him and he is back down below suffering another beating for getting himself into trouble.

After reading this classic, I actually felt rather bewildered: it didn't contain a single character that I either understood or felt empathy towards. I should have felt some harmony with Mowgli as a young boy, but I didn't understand why he was not miserable in his situation. Why would he like and respect Baloo and Bagheera when they physically hurt him for no reason at all?

The books I enjoy give me a character I can understand and root for, but in my opinion The Jungle Book has failed here. Rather than a page-turner I found myself fearful to turn the pages of Kipling's book, as I knew I would be haunted by Mowgli's sad existence.

Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Lost Children by Gillian Phillip - review

'Followers of the Famous Five and fans of Five Children and It will be delighted to discover a modern-day writer who has created a similarly immersive world of mystery and fantasy'

This engulfing and mysterious page-turner is the beginning of a long and complicated challenge; one that comes to the reader mid-way through the story. The detective-style escapade forges many a thought that lead to the discovery of a dead end.

During the course of this thought-provoking mystery, the reader is allowed the beautiful freedom of imagining the many possible outcomes when one day three curious children (Molly, her cousin Arthur, and her four-year-old brother Jack) are caught disobeying the rules and learn a lesson the hard way. When they loiter too close to the cliffs of the strange Ravenstorm Island during the first day of their summer holidays and small Jack Cornell is lost in the infamous mist.

Although Jack and Molly's parents are magicians, this is an act of true magic. The question that hovers is: what happened to Jack, and why doesn't a single soul remember him?

This book is a great and addictive read for any fans of fantasy or mystery. Throughout the book Phillip makes strong links between the different veins of storylines. An example of this is when the supposed artist of the sculptures scattered around Ravenstorm is actually a reject from the mystical group of creatures called Shadowspryes, who have turned all the children of the island to stone as revenge on them for stealing their prince.

Followers of the Famous Five and fans of Five Children and It will be delighted to discover a modern-day writer who has created a similarly immersive world of mystery and fantasy.

I personally cannot wait for the sequel, The Ship of Ghosts, to be published in July this year. As you read further into this book the pieces of this complex puzzle fall into place and the entire story starts to makes sense.

 

 

Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah - review

'In this stunning and powerful turn of events, Terror Kid is an unstoppable page-turner'

Since his childhood, Benjamin Zephaniah has striven for the population to hear his voice, finding his own groove as his poetry and works bloomed through society. Terror Kid is a new take on Zephaniah's youth. One might even say it's what could have happened to him, had he not chosen another path.

Rico Federico is a British boy living in Birmingham, with Romany roots that tie him down to a lot of stereotypes. He has been unjustly arrested several times, but only due to the fact that he was present in the wrong situations. As they say, "Rico knows what trouble is", yet Rico doesn't do anything wrong.

As the book opens, Rico is portrayed as stunningly innocent. He has a love for computers, and works several technological jobs. It seems to be the center of his happiness. To be honest, I'm not one for squeaky-clean protagonists and happy endings, but I moved on. He accepts the fact that his heritage causes the people who live around him to assume that he has done wrong. He will live with the unjust treatment of the police, but the other people of Birmingham won't.

The entire city is exploding with riots against the police system. Even his best friend, Karima, is caught up in the excitement of it all, risking her life and reputation like the others. Yet Rico is always the one to stay out of it.

One day, a stranger confronts Rico with an amazing opportunity to help out a friend they have in common, using Rico's adept computer skills. Speech, as he calls himself, continues to correspond with Rico, and they develop a sincere relationship throughout several months. Speech continues to give Rico several odd jobs to do for him, yet as the riots and protests around them begin to get more serious, Speech reveals that he, too, is a part of the movement.

Then, in one shocking opportunity, Rico is allowed a little fun with his computers but he is far from knowing just what harm he has done.

This is where it gets juicy.

Soon Rico has locked himself in a world of trouble, dragging his friends, family, and nation along with him. In this stunning and powerful turn of events, Terror Kid is an unstoppable page-turner.

Rico Federico? Innocent? You must be joking…

 

Shine Izzy Shine by Ellie Daines - review

'In some ways Izzy reminded me of myself. She was quite shy and unsure of herself and what she should do, making her a relatable character for many'

Your wedding day is supposed to be the best day of your life but for Izzy (the protagonist) and her mother Rio (the bride), it is arguably the worst.

Izzy's world is completely turned upside down when her mother, dressed in a stunning and elegant wedding dress, trips down the stairs and winds up in a coma. She struggles with the fact her mother is absolutely overjoyed one minute and in hospital the next. Rio wakes a few days later: great, right?

It gets worse. She soon realizes her seemingly goody-two-shoes mother has forgotten her past and reverted to being a rebellious 14-year-old. Izzy has to find a way to balance this major life event as well as friendships and school life.

Will she be able to do it?

I found Izzy to be a relatable character in difficult circumstances. In many ways I felt quite bad for her, as she feels she has to take responsibility for her mother's memories returning even though the incident wasn't her fault.

In some ways Izzy reminded me of myself. She was quite shy and unsure of herself and what she should do, making her a relatable character for many.

Shine Izzy Shine is a story with elements of familial love as well as friendships and which focus on ways they can impact one another. I would recommend this book to anyone ages 8-12. An interesting tale for people attempting to balance the two easily.

 

 

SeaRISE by Sarah Holding - review

'SeaRISE is the latest installment in the SeaBEAN trilogy. Not having read the other two of the SeaBEAN cli-fi thriller trilogy, I can tell you that after reading SeaRISE, you will want to!'

SeaRISE is the latest installment in the SeaBEAN trilogy. Not having read the other two of the SeaBEAN cli-fi thriller trilogy, I can tell you that after reading SeaRISE, you will want to!

This series is written by a wonderful author named Sarah Holding. The SeaBEAN trilogy are her first books and considering what a beautiful job she did, I hope she continues writing.

You can't put SeaBEAN under the typical genres. This kind of book is called a cli-fi book. Or a climate change fiction book. The story follows a girl named Alice on her adventures in a time-traveling device called a C-Bean. In the third book, Alice returns home after nearly getting trapped in 1930. She is there for less than a week before being transported from 2018 to 2118. Here, she discovers an earth changed for the worse.

Solar storms rage overhead violent seas, as dead animals drift among the foreign waves. With an unbreathable atmosphere, humanity is forced underground, only to come back up for data. As Alice continues through this harsh world she is confronted by new allies and old enemies.

Sarah Holding does a great job. She describes these breath-taking scenes with astounding vocabulary such as 'nfernal, Ravaging.' This trilogy reminds me of the famous The 39 Clues series. It has the same sense as the normal world with a whole different side.

I can't wait to read more… albeit it the wrong order!

 

The Dragon Path by Helen Moss - review

‘They find clue after clue, while fending off dangerous traps and coming face to face with evil construction men, fire-breathing dragons and… noodles’

The Dragon Path is the second addition to The Secrets of the Tomb series by Helen Moss. In this adventure, our two quirky protagonists, Cleo (who is terrible at lying) and Ryan (her brother), are to accompany their parents to a dig in China.

Before they go, Cleo’s grandma (a famous explorer) asks them to return a jade bracelet with no explanation from where it came from. Cleo dives headfirst into this mystery, with Ryan struggling behind, as I have come to realise is normal for the pair. They find clue after clue, while fending off dangerous traps and coming face to face with evil construction men, fire-breathing dragons and… noodles (yes, you read me right…).

Helen

Moss presents all of this drama alongside dashes of laugh out loud humour. My favourite part of the book is when they use noodles (see above comment) to sneak into a terrifying tomb filled with deadly poisons. How? That’s for you to find out!

This fun-filled adventure reminds me of such series as The 39 Clues in the way it combines history, archeology and suspense to create an entirely new experience for the reader.

I can’t wait to see more of Cleo and Ryan. In my opinion, this is the best book I’ve read this year. And that’s saying something!

The Crowham Martyrs by Jane McLoughlin - review

‘It’s a mix of suspense, horror and potentially its own genre’

Maddy Deeprose has seen ghosts all her life. Not the aggressive type, in fact they’re rather calm and amicable. Or at least most of them are.

Maddy’s mum has shipped her off to boarding school. Despite seeing ghosts, everything is normal. But when second grader Jordan starts seeing “fings” as he calls them, Maddy is determined to find out what the “fings” are.

After numerous sightings and complaints she starts to get suspicious. With her trusty friend Hannah at her side, the duo attempt to solve the mystery together.

When Hannah supposedly leaves boarding school to go live with her aunt, Maddy starts to wonder if it was all a lie… she had never been told of this aunt. A little while later, Jordan disappears as well. The teachers don’t seem to be affected by this, making her feel uneasy and for the first time in a while, scared.

Jane McLoughlin

More and more lies start to surface, making her even more suspicious. Even the teachers are acting weird. When Maddy learns the horrific truth, she realises it was for her own good, to keep her safe. Something is lurking around the school, something evil.

This book is probably one of the most unique ones out there; it’s a mix of suspense, horror and potentially its own genre. That’s what I like about this book, as well as its ability to scare me when I least expect it.

Jane McLoughlin smoothly lays out page after page causing a nice, enjoyable read. A splendid book indeed.

 

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro - review

‘A creative fantasy filled with adventure and suspense’

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro is a creative fantasy filled with adventure and suspense. In this book we are informed about a young boy named Jim Sturges Jr., our protagonist, whose life has been controlled by his father’s endless fear for his safety. This is until Jim learns the reason for his father’s paranoia: the existence of trolls. Now Jim must embark on a brave adventure and meet some unlikely companions to fight alongside him in the quest to save the world.

Jim Sturges is a below average young man who, despite his best efforts, fails in both physical and academic challenges. His father shows an unhealthy fear for his son’s safety after his brother was kidnapped by troll at a young age. But Jim’s father can’t protect him when his Uncle Jack comes back from the troll world requiring Jim’s assistance with defeating Gunmar the black, an evil troll intent on conquering the world. As the war is strung out along the book Jim must make crucial decisions about his life, his companions, and whether he wants to become a troll hunter at all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has a good mixture of real life situations and fantasy.

Guillermo del Toro

This book used a range of complex language to create great imagery of the scenes and characters. Some good examples of this would be two of Jim’s companions throughout the book, trolls Binky and ARRRGH!!! These two very different characters are opposites both in their physical traits, but also their personalities and use in the book. It appears that Binky, a many-eyed troll with tentacles, is a scholar and gives the readers information about the story that helps them understand the plot. ARRRGH, a much larger black-furred troll with horns, has a connection with the antagonist and thus forwards the plot. As shown, the author has thoughtfully created two characters to help the reader understand and follow the book.

One of the only problems I found within the story was the fact that the plot moved much too quickly. At points I found myself confused about where they were, or the scene jumped suddenly without warning. I also found that this means that the reader can sometimes become overwhelmed with the book and need to set it down for a minute or two in order to figure out what’s going on.

Overall this is a clever and well written book that, although confusing at certain points, is a good novel for any interested reader.

 

 

Would The Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up? by Rob Stevens - review

‘This is a great story about a boy realising his potential’

Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up? by Rob Stevens is a funny and touching story about Stanley “Carrot” Harris who is short, tubby and has bright red hair explaining the nickname given to him by the schoolyard bully Sean Terry.

Stanley doesn’t exactly fit in with his family so when he receives a letter from his biological mother he is both excited yet annoyed at the prospect. He wants his mother to be impressed with him so that she feels sorry that she ever abandoned him at the hospital.

Stanley is worried that he isn’t appealing enough to wow his mother so he holds an audition for a ‘Wonder-kid,’ someone that is sporty, handsome, smart and confident. The opposite of what Stanley believes himself to be. But what Stanley doesn’t know is that his mother, Emma, worries that her son won’t like her!

Rob Stevens

Meanwhile Stanley has another problem on his hands; his teacher convinced him to read a poem at the school talent show. This is a great story about a boy realising his potential and taking charge of his life.

 

Joe All Alone by Joanna Nadin – review

‘This book is indeed a realistic one, an eye for plot and main character development, as well as an interesting storyline’

Reality can be a harsh thing. Joe All Alone is a brilliant representation of that.

Following a boy, Joe, who has never known his father, and never loved his mother’s new boyfriends, this book is indeed realistic fiction, where the world is a big place, that does not know of his problems nor seem to care about them. Until, of course, Joe finds himself all alone when his mother and boyfriend claim to have gone on vacation. The choices he makes, such as deciding to play video games and watch television the entire first day are exemplary of how any child might make the same mistake, only to find that the day after he’s hungry and has a nagging headache.

The reality, the consequences of the actions taken in this book, always add up, one on top of another, and it’s what makes this book so gripping. As a reader, you would know that if Joe makes a bad choice, a bad action, in this book, there would be a consequence.

joanna nadin

Joe All Alone does however need some extra character development. Joe himself, and some people that he meets, might feel whole and real, such as Asha – this thirteen year old girl remains firm and forthright throughout the entire book, supportive of Joe yet determined to help him out of the problems that he encounters one by one. On the other hand, characters such as Joe’s mother may need more thought put into them. Apparently, she is supposed to love Joe, supposedly proven by the fact that she hugs and kisses him at the end, saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry…’ But most readers may fail to grasp why she would ever do this, when she’s been in touch with boyfriends rude to her ‘beloved’ son, and left him alone for a week.

In conclusion, this book is indeed a realistic one, with an eye for plot and main character development, as well as an interesting storyline, with the idea of action and freedom, making it encouraging for pre-teen to teenage readers (language can occasionally escalate, so perhaps a child younger than 12 might hold off for now).

While some characters may need some work, overall, this book is certainly a pleasurable read, one that will catch attention and be worth the ride.

A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian - review

‘One seventeen-year-old girl struggles through her first love and her first heartbreak against a backdrop of war and conflict’

 

When people think of the second world war today, they immediately picture bombs dropping and ships sinking. However war affected people’s lives far more. A Little Love Song tells the story of how one seventeen-year-old girl struggles through her first love and her first heartbreak against a backdrop of war and conflict.

Rose Jolliffe and her twenty-one-year-old sister Diana have been evacuated to Salmouth in the North of England, whilst their mother goes away to perform in theatre with the army. Once they arrive in Salmouth, they discover that the woman who was supposed to be taking care of them had backed out. Diana realises that this means they are now on their own and she panics and insists on going back to their town house in London. However Rose convinces her that it would be an adventure for them, and it would help them grow closer to one another. And this decision suddenly reveals a bigger truth: war has tossed them into a new world where they are suddenly forced to be far more independent than they ever imagined before. It is changing them - even though they are far from the front line.

Michelle MAgorian

The weeks pass quickly, and soon Rose is facing a whole range of new challenges that not only help her explore a new range of experiences but also force her to confront her prejudices. After only a few months, Rose helps an unmarried mother through childbirth. Then she is deceived into entering a sexual relationship, causing her great heartbreak. But amidst that she then has the joy of seeing her first story published.

A Little Love Song was a remarkable read. I really felt the characters’ heartbreak, sadness but mostly love. I am very fond of this book, and would gladly read it again.

 

 

King's Shadow by Philip Womack - review

‘If you go nutty for fantasy adventure this is definitely the book for you’

 

There is another world out there that is dark and miserable and all you have to do to get there is walk in a Surrey forest. It is a dark place, one of three worlds, that is ruled by an evil king who kidnaps children from Earth, which is the middle world, so that he can drain them of their life to give him strength to live eternally.

This is where a girl and boy named Simon and Flora come in. Our two protagonists enter this dark and dangerous place to reclaim their brother and sister, held captive by this evil king. The king’s daughter has told them that she does not like her father and that she will help them overthrow him. Can they trust her or does she have her own plans and interests?

Sir Mark, the King’s trusty knight, is as clever, sneaking, and honourable as a rat, but help is alongside them because a boy named Pike and members of the Golden Realm are there to help.

Philip Womack

But are they truly honest about it? Are they hiding something? Simon and Flora may never know until it’s too late. Who can they trust?

This is the second book of a series by Philip Womack and is mainly geared towards people who enjoy and are interested in fantasy adventure. I am not normally one of those people so I was quite surprised when I couldn’t put the book down!

If you go nutty for fantasy adventure this is definitely the book for you and I would recommend it to students in Year 6 above mainly due to the length, subject matter and some of the vocabulary (unless you’re “Matilda” and have some kind of super reading ability at the age of 6!) 

 

How big is soccer in the States? - An Insider's View

Alex Greene, who is 12 years old and attends The British International School of New York gives us his inside view on how big the world game is in America and where it fits into the sporting priorities Stateside….

America’s Baby

There is no better feeling than weaving a ball across a pitch with poise, dribbling with skill and scoring a beautiful goal as the crowd cheers triumphantly behind you. For me, such games often take place in Central Park where the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan form a spectacular backdrop.

 My name is Alex and I’m twelve years old. I’ve lived in New York City my whole life and attend “British International School of New York” where I have had the opportunity to develop my soccer skills!

 I can’t get enough of the game but as a country, it seems that not as many people are as passionate about soccer as they are American football.

 I love American Football too. My best friend and I watch the regular season each year.  We Americans have dedicated nights to football.  They’re special to people here.  We buy several large pizzas and chow down in front of the screen in anticipation of the game.  We want to see Marshawn Lynch run a 63 yard touchdown and Russell Wilson throw a hail mary.  Our players never cease to disappoint us…well almost never.

 Most of us follow American football more than soccer. It was originated here after all.

 November 12th of 1892 is a date we will never forget.  It was the date when American Football was born.  Interesting fact no 1: the real name of this sport is gridiron football, because of the grid like lines that marked the field.

 Before 1892, American football was played more like soccer mainly in colleges like Princeton and Rutger.  The man most responsible for the transition (fact no. 2) was Walter Camp.  He was known as the “Father of American Football.”  He was the one that developed most of the rules we use today.  It was a game created by one of ours.

 However, it must be noted that American Football would not be here if it was not for soccer and also rugby!  Both America needed soccer to develop the many rules and systems .

 Some Americans would rather watch the Miami Dolphins then Arsenal FC.  They just like American football more.  If you’re anything like all of my friends at school, you’ll probably be reading this piece wagging your finger in disagreement.  It all comes down to what you enjoy more and of course familiarity with the game itself.

 I think soccer will continue to be an important and popular sport here in the US because of its continued universal popularity. Who knows, we might even win the World Cup one day!  As for American Football…it’s quite simply weaved into the fabric of our nation.  When we think of this sport, with touchdowns and fumbles we become nostalgic for a sport that is ours: it’s like America’s baby.

Alex Greene (aged 12)

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