Yes, this is a sample of Bloomsbury readers and these have been written and aimed directly at the UK curriculum market, but don’t let that put you off. This series has been crafted by some top authors and the books written in a way that is both engaging and supportive of emerging independent readers. That being said, this is also a fun and warming story about siblings that young readers will thoroughly enjoy, and to which many will also relate.
Rida and Madiya are sisters in a blended family, who share a room, and are as different as chalk to cheese. Rida is quiet and reserved and looking forward to starting high school the following year. Madiya is a madcap 6 year old, boisterous and loud, and often quite outrageous with her ideas and actions. The two argue about everything and it seems their differences will continue to fuel their squabbles. When the local library is in danger of being closed down, Rida is determined to help save it and, reluctantly, accepts some unexpected help in her quest from Madiya. But it seems that this is only going to result in more conflict, until they finally work out a way to set aside their rivalries.
As well as the lively narrative, readers will enjoy the connections made to real life scenarios including family and diversity. I would suggest if you are looking for some new simple chapter books, this series would go a long way to filling a gap and encouraging our kiddos to think beyond their own sphere of knowledge.
Recommended for readers from around five upwards who are moving into this reading space.
For those who love time-slip adventures, and particularly, are keen on ancient history this is a desirable addition to your shelves. I loved The Boy Who Stepped Through Time and after book talking it to my ChocLit kiddos, it was on a regular rotation in and out of the library. Author Anna Ciddor was ably assisted in Roman research for that earlier book, by her sister Tamara, and when the pair realised they had a lot more material than was needed for the first book, the concept of a second was born.
This is not a sequel but rather a companion novel, and once again, keen readers will enjoy the plunge back into Roman times. Step-siblings, Felix and Zoe, who are not at all impressed with their new kinship find themselves living in the past when Felix picks up a mysterious magic bronze stylus. Their encounter with pampered and precocious Petronia, a 12 year old Roman girl from a privileged family, has all three embroiled in a mission that becomes a race against time.
Tracing the development of the relationships between the characters as they explore their own strengths and weaknesses, and test their own limits, provides some rich discussion and reflection for readers. There are clear themes of gender roles, wealth and privilege, resilience, ingenuity, the issues of slavery and moral compass/conscience as well as rich historical details, which could very well be translated into a meaningful unit of work, particularly in an integrated unit on ancient civilisations, such as that often explored by Year 7.
For those who are looking to augment their ‘read around your topic’ collections or expanding Literature Circle titles this would be a terrific addition. Highly recommended for kiddos from around Year 5 upwards.