MTS Northwood

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Choose Love
The book Choose Love is written from the view of a person either at war of seeking refuge. Although, all the characters have their own stories and opinions. I feel as though the book may be lacking in content and don’t see it fit to be the winner although the message it conveys is one that I think the reader can benefit from so hence I advise it. The book is written in 3 parts: Departure, Arrival and Healing and Healing and is a compilation of a number of poems.

Karim

Choose Love
Choose Love is a book full of a series of poems from a person facing war or seeking asylum’s perspective. The poems in this book give you a realistic insight on how the minds and surroundings of people engulfed by war are like. Some poems in the book leave the reader with a thought such as the poem ‘Five Minutes’ where Davies wants us to consider if we only had five minutes what and whom would we save before catastrophe strikes. I think that Davies successfully conveys her message that we should all ‘Choose Love’ rather than anything else in our lives. As well as this Davies tells us why she wrote this book which I found quite helpful to know why she wrote such an emotional book full of poems. In my opinion, I think this book really does give you a realistic insight on the minds of people living through war so therefore, I give this book 4 stars and I would recommend you to read this.

Manas

Away With Words
Away With Words is a book about a Spanish girl called Gala who has recently moved from Cadaqués, Spain to Fortrose, Scotland with her Dad to live with her Dad’s boyfriend Jordi. The book shows the struggle of Gala learning the English language as she only knows very little English and has spoken Spanish and Catalan her entire life. The book is written from Gala’s perspective and as she is just learning English, when other people are speaking to Gala, she sometimes misses a few words which the author represents by putting a squiggly line. This makes the reader try to fill in the missing words and wonder what someone was saying to Gala. As well as this, where Gala lives, people drop words as they speak and the author decorates the page with many words when Gala is in a busy environment. However, if people drop the words they speak, there would be billions of words dropped in a day and the world would be cluttered with words so I think the author should explain how all these words are managed. The author has also written a good ending which isn’t rushed like other books on the shortlist. Overall, I give this a book a solid 5 out of 5 stars and this book has been one of my favourite books on the shortlist and it could be a potential winner for the medal.

Manas

Away With Words
Away With Words is a book about a Spanish girl called Gala who has recently moved from Cadaqués, Spain to Fortrose, Scotland with her Dad to live with her Dad’s boyfriend Jordi. The book shows the struggle of Gala learning the English language as she only knows very little English and has spoken Spanish and Catalan her entire life. The book is written from Gala’s perspective and as she is just learning English, when other people are speaking to Gala, she sometimes misses a few words which the author represents by putting a squiggly line. This makes the reader try to fill in the missing words and wonder what someone was saying to Gala. As well as this, where Gala lives, people drop words as they speak and the author decorates the page with many words when Gala is in a busy environment. However, if people drop the words they speak, there would be billions of words dropped in a day and the world would be cluttered with words so I think the author should explain how all these words are managed. The author has also written a good ending which isn’t rushed like other books on the shortlist. Overall, I give this a book a solid 5 out of 5 stars and this book has been one of my favourite books on the shortlist and it could be a potential winner for the medal.

Manas

Steady for This
Steady for this is a thought provoking and lugubrious book, showcasing challenges with poverty. The book follows "MC Growls" who talks about struggles within his life from his friend's health deteriorating to the looming threats of eviction. I really enjoyed this book as it had many concepts that were new to me such as spelling the words as the main character heard them as well as grammatical mistakes (which I assume are deliberate) to fully immerse the reader in the book. On the whole, I really enjoyed this book for a range of reasons.

Abbas

Crossing the Line
Crossing the line provides a shocking insight into the world of drug dealing and how it sucks you in. The book starts off relatively slowly, however gets into the meat of it soon. The ending of the book is quite smart, although I didn't really like the final page as a meta perspective.

Dhiren

Choose Love
Despite being short, this book is both thought provoking and easy to interpret read. Davies balances poem with twisted metaphors with readability, taking the reader on an emotional rollercoaster which pulls all the heart strings through empathy.

Abbas

Steady for This
The book "Steady for this" satisfied me for the duration of my read, and Lessor deserves credit for the excellent write in my opinion. Lessor left me both touched and laughing at times as I read. The use of slang felt appropriate for the characters at hand and gave Shaun a voice throughout the book. I felt touched by Shaun's motive- to save his family for eviction and I advise MC Growl's story to all with a bit of time on their hands and those looking for a read. The main themes of this book was along the lines of: Social inequality as well as peer pressure.

Karim

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in The Maze by Joseph Coehlo is a hard hitting and melancholy novel. It balances the introduction of characters with gripping and page turning action. Following a young boy who is out of contact with his father, it shows his struggles in navigating manhood as well as tracking down his father. The book is written in combination with coursework for one of his subjects, he writes poems about the Minotaur, the mythical creature, who he feels was in a similar situation. Overall a intriguing and interesting book that was highly enjoyable yet sad.

Abbas

Choose Love
Choose love, although being in a different format than most books on the shortlist, meets the criteria for judging. The book conveys a general plot and follows a few simple themes. The book has many characters, all given their own story and personality. From a short poem, I understood the character of a young girl, scared of what will happen. The style of Choose Love, as said before, is different to the other books, with less words and content, however it still conveys a strong message.

Dhiren

The Song Walker
Song walker is a fun fiction novel communicating a strong general message of connectivity through injustice. Although a strong message is conveyed, in my opinion, the ending is a bit rushed however that doesn't generally take away from the narrative.

Dhiren

The Door of No Return
This book provides an insight into the devastation that colonial Britain caused for African communities. The sudden flip and contrast of problems faced before and after the colonisation by the main character illustrate all of the lives suddenly taken away by Slavery.

Dhiren

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah’s War, by Hiba Noor Khan, is a great book about a caring girl called Safiyyah and how she copes with the German occupation of Paris in World War II. I especially loved how Khan made the characters, like Safiyyah and her best friend Isabelle. Also, it gives real insight into the true lives of the Jews who were not in concentration camps. Additionally, Safiyyah was a very likeable character. Overall, it is an amazing book with lots of twists and turns, and I would highly recommend that you give it a try!

Zachary

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze is about two boys called Theo and the famous Greek Character, Theseus. In the story, both Theo and Theseus stories are compared and are shown to be similar with their stories as they both look for their fathers, Theo finding his father in Great Britain and Theseus finding his father in the Ancient World. I liked the fact that Coelho changed Theseus’s story about the Minotaur and in fact let the Minotaur live rather than being killed and that the Minotaur was set free from the Maze. Another thing I liked is how Coelho gave you options to see what happens next but there was only one correct answer that you had to pick to allow you to progress through the book. This feature was quite unique to the book I haven’t seen this is in a book before where you can control what happens next as the book would end up to be very long due to so many options. However, some things didn’t really make sense in the book. Sometimes, an event would happen without you even noticing and some characters were just introduced suddenly without any context whatsoever. Therefore, I will give this book 6 out of 10 as the Coelho has thought of a good story and the book has used unique features but I feel it hasn’t been executed correctly. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Greek Mythology and people aged 13+ as the book contains sensitive language from time to time.

Manas

Choose Love
Choose Love is a short book full of short (around one page long) poems. The story is not gripping and has no clear, underlying plot, instead it is a collection of stories centered around one theme: War. However, the individual illustrations that accompany each poem - whilst abstract - are interesting, they themselves telling a story.

Evan

Steady for This
Steady for This is a book about a boy called Shaun Thompson also know as Growls. The book is about how Growls steps up to the mic in the Raptology Competition in order to try and save his family from being evicted. The main characters in the Book are Growls (as it is written from his perspective), Shanks (Growl’s best friend) and Siobahn (another one of Growl’s best friends.) The book demonstrates the strong bond of friendship and the strong bond of family. I really enjoyed this book and is most likely my favourite book on the shortlist so far. The book is well written and it shows the author is capable of writing amazing books. The book has many good bars (as Growls calls it) which are good in my opinion and shows the capability of the author as well. Furthermore, the author always tries to put in funny bits in the book every few pages or so such as Growls saying a silly comment or him saying factually incorrect things. One time Growls had said the Battle of Waterloo was fought at Waterloo Station! Overall, I give this book a well deserved 5 stars and has definitely been by my favourite book in the shortlist so far!

Manas

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line, by Tia Fisher, is an interesting verse novel about change. Erik, who's dad has died and lives with his poor mum, is getting into worse and worse behaviour at school. Eventually, his terrible behaviour attracts a gang, he is introduced into a world of terror. I liked how Fisher made the different characters unique, and how she made the entire story very believable. Also, I enjoyed the structure of the poems and how they were like a story when put together. However, there are extremely sudden events in the book which I do not understand, and I do not get how they happen. Overall, Crossing the Line is a good read with a fascinating topic, but the plot can be very confusing. I would recommend this to someone who likes adventure books, and enjoy true stories, as this can happen in real life.

Zachary

Crossing the Line
I enjoyed this book, however not enough that I would read it again. Crossing the Line presents an insight into the world of drug dealing that is both fascinating and saddening. It shows how not everyone has the choice to say "no", or at least some have less of one.

Evan

The Song Walker
I have to be honest, I hated this book, I struggled to read it because I was so, so bored and because it was taking longer to read it just got worse and worse. I prefer fantasy/Sci-Fi and this is not that. Would not recommend to people who enjoy a book with fast paced action.

Evan

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander is about an eleven year old boy called Kofi Offin living on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in modern day Ghana. He belongs to the Asante community. Kofi, likes to swim and likes a girl called Ama. In the book, Kofi, challenges his cousin, also called Kofi, to a swim contest but that doesn’t happen due to Kofi’s kidnap by Lower Kwanta after his brother, Kwasi, kills the prince of Lower Kwanta in a wrestling contest. The book demonstrates the strong bond of family towards the end of the book and shows how important family is no matter how many arguments you have between yourselves. I did enjoy this book as it taught me a lot about the culture of Asante people and it made me feel as if I was with Kofi in the book. Even though this was a verse novel, it felt like a normal book and was easy to read. I also appreciated the fact that the author had shows us why the cover was the way it was. However I do have a suggestion. I think that Alexander should have explained Kofi’s kidnap a bit more as I felt it was quite abrupt. Overall, I will give this book 9/10 as the plot was good and the book well written.

Manas

Steady for This
Steady for this is a great book that confronts the challenges of poverty. The over-arching plot is relatable and interesting, and shows the impact of kindness and resilience (and partially education). A bit sad, but also funny, would recommend to all.

Evan

Choose Love
Choose Love, by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Peter Horáček, is a beautiful poem book about the stories of real-life refugees and their journeys. In 3 chapters: Departure, Arrival and Healing, Davies’ brilliant poems combined with Horáček’s sublime artwork creates a heartbreaking yet uplifting story, with poems that will tear the heart apart. It is a simply amazing book, and I could not recommend it more.

Zachary

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze, by Joseph Coelho, is a fantastic verse novel about a boy, Theo, and the search for his father. The storyline also ties in with the Ancient Greek legend of Theseus, who looks for his dad also. In the book, I love how the reader can make decisions based on what they think, and the book is very immersive. Also, the way the poems glided into one another was great. Coelho made a vastly explored topic so interesting, and I really like the book.

Zachary

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah’s War is a book about a muslim girl called Safiyyah who lives in Paris when the Nazis take over Paris in WW2. In the book, Safiyyah and her family help many Jews in Paris by forging fake identities to protect themselves from the Nazi soldiers. When this eventually starts to get more suspicious to the Nazi soldiers, Safiyyah’s family sail Jewish people to the free side of France via a secret way from the mosque with the assistance of Wine Merchants. Part of this story is true and is how many Jews escaped the captured part of France to the free side of France. I quite enjoyed reading this book and it hardly kept me bored. However, there are a few things I would suggest to improve this book. Firstly, during speech between characters, it was sometimes unclear who was saying that statement and with a few tweaks it would be more easier to understand. As well as this, I thought the ending was sightly rushed and if the author had taken more time towards the ending, it would be more enjoyable. Also, at the end of the book, I was wondering if Tarek, Safiyyah’s cousin, was okay and safe. Therefore, I will give this book 4 stars and I would recommend it to people who like history, a bit of non-fiction and adventures.

Manas

The Door of No Return
In 'The Door of No Return,' author Kwame Alexander transports the reader to 19th century Africa with a bittersweet story of family, identity, and the impact of the slave trade. The tale follows the journey of Kofi and his close-knit community, and the intense family dynamic in the Asante Kingdom. As the plot unfolds, Kofi's world is shattered when he is kidnapped and forced onto a slave ship. Alexander explores themes of resilience, family, expectations, and the inhumanity of slavery through realistic characters, and vivid, imaginative metaphors and symbolisms. My favourite part about the book was how immersive and realistic it was; Kwame provided a realistic and informed description about Africa and the tribes and people in it, without get sucked into common stereotypes. The Door of No Return is a great novel that tastefully deals with a dark chapter in history.

Archit

Away With Words
'Away with Words' is a creative book set in a world where people's words take on physical form and come out of their mouths. The story follows the tale of Gala who moves from Spain to Scotland and her struggle of making friends, learning the language, and settling in. Cameron has created realistic characters and places with flaws, nuances, and individualities that immerse the reader into the world of Gala and her friends. The book explores themes of friendship, growth, and hope through the thoughts and emotions of the characters. Sophie Cameron also uses a distinct style of writing and oftentimes, forms shapes and pictures out of the words which makes the book more playful and interactive. My personal favourite part of the books is the poems created by Natalie (Gala's best friend,) as they are beautiful and provide an insight into the world of the book, also all the words have different fonts to represent that they are by different people which exemplifies the individuality and realness of the story.

Archit

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze is a creative, emotional story that follows the story of three boys - Theseus, Theo, and the Minotaur's journey to discover themselves, find their fathers, and understand what it means to be a man. The vivid, dreamlike settings of ancient Greece and modern-day London immerses the reader in a world of metaphors about the man, and the mind. The unique, interactive narrative follows three boys across time and space encountering obstacles and characters, with the story of Theo having many similarities in structure and idea to the story of Theseus. The structure builds tension and explores themes of sadness, identity, and hope. Coelho creates a distinctive story that should be read by everyone.

Archit

Safiyyah's War
Hiba Noor Khan's "Saffiyah's War" is a moving and emotional novel that immerses readers in the experiences of its young protagonist, Saffiyah. It's a historical fiction set in Nazi-ruled Paris; the horrible things that the Jews were subjected to and the lengths people went to, to free them. Khan vividly allows the reader to feel the extreme fear, anguish, and resilience that Saffiyah felt as her world was destroyed by the brutal war. The narrative takes readers on a heart-wrenching journey, and the author conveys the depth of Saffiyah's losses and the deep emotions throughout the family. However, through beautiful metaphors of peace, hope, and oranges, Saffiyah's unwavering determination is conveyed wonderfully. The book follows themes of hope, loss, and optimism in dark times. 'Saffiyah's War' leaves a mark on the reader's heart and mind, a great book in contemporary literature.

Archit

Away With Words
Away with Words, by Sophie Cameron, is about a girl called Gala who wants to return back to her native Spain, but her dad Jordi has moved in with his boyfriend Ryan. Gala finds it hard to settle in to her new school (where Ryan teaches), but then she befriends a girl with an anxiety disorder called selective mutism. They figure out how to communicate with each other. However, an unknown classmate starts to make Gala’s life progressively worse. I love how Cameron describes Gala so well, and how she can make every word click with another. This book is very interesting - I recommend it to absolutely anyone!

Zachary

Choose Love
Choose Love' by Nicola Davies is a thought-provoking book that looks at the complex issue of the refugee crisis via poetry and pictures. The book takes readers on an emotional journey, and exposes the harrowing experiences of people forced to flee their homes, and deals with emotional, haunting themes. The evocative language creates a beautiful experience to create empathy towards refugees. My personal favourite was 'Artin's Voyage' which follows the heartbreaking tale of a young refugee boy, it is also accompanied by a tragic, expressive picture. 'Choose Love' is a beautiful book that leaves a lasting impact on readers of all ages.

Archit

The Song Walker
The Song Walker is about a girl who is lying in the Australian Outback with just desert surrounding her. The girl has no idea who she is or how she got here and the only things that she carries is a mysterious coded briefcase. She eventually is found by a girl, belonging to the First Country community in Australia, called Tarni. Tarni is on her way in the desert in order to find her older sister Brindabel who has left home. During the book, as the girl doesn’t remember her name, Tarni names her loads of different names such as Moonflower and Magpie, but as Tarni finds out the girls real name, she decides not to use that and in fact name her a name that rhymes with Tarni. As well as this, the girl and Tarni find out how the girl ended up in the Australian Outback which finds answers to the visions that the girl sees. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially to people that like the adventure genre as Zillah Bethel, the author, keeps you engaged from the start of the book and the girl. For example, the first chapter is called ‘the end’ which makes you feel quite curious and eager to find out why it is called ‘the end.’ As well as this, the writer uses lots of figurative language making you feel as if you are in the Australian Outback with the girl and Tarni. However, a thing that slightly perplexed me was how when the girl remembered her name, she remembered everything about her life which I didn’t understand how. But, as this was the only thing I was confused about, I give this book a solid 4 stars and this is a good contender to win the Medal for Writing.

Manas

Steady for This
Steady for This, by Nathanael Lessore, is a hilarious, beautifully written book. It is written in the perspective of Shaun (aka MC Growls). It follows how he copes with his ever-changing life, and how he copes with going viral in the wrong way. I love how Lessore made the reader feel like they were Growls. Also, the use of slang made characters in the book so fitting. Some of the jokes are hilarious, such as ‘I was supposed to be getting a black belt in origami’! It is one of the funniest book that I have ever read, and I cannot recommend it more!

Zachary

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return, by Kwame Alexander, is a heartbreaking yet beautiful verse novel. It is about a boy, Kofi, who lives in the Asante Kingdom in Africa. He has a nice life, until everything starts to go wrong. I love how Alexander made the verse so intriguing, and how he explored the characters’ emotions, thoughts and feelings so well. I also like how Alexander fuses history, fiction and poetry together, perfectly. Overall, it is a great book, it is very interesting, and I absolutely loved it. I am sure you will too!

Zachary

Crossing the Line
Crossing the line is a book about a boy called Erik who has quite a difficult life. Erik goes to Holland Road Secondary. His dad dies early on in the book and his mom’s boyfriend dumps her leaving her to look after Erik and his new born half-sisters, Esme and Alice. In the book, Erik, in order to make some money so his mom can afford babysitting, results into delivering drugs for a person called K1 after boys older than him, Ben and Travis, tell him to do so. I did not like this book a lot and didn’t really enjoy it. This is because I first didn’t like how the book was written as it was a verse book. For example, some words were arranged in a circle making it hard to read and can strain your eyes from time to time. However, I have mostly read normal structured novels and this is part of one of the few verse novels I have read so maybe I am just used to reading normal novels. As I’m shadowing this for writing, I don’t think this book is a worthy candidate. The book keeps going ahead of time in a short span and it was hard to keep up with the pace of the book. Also, I didn’t appreciate the abrupt ending and I did not understand it at all due to its fast pace. On the other hand, I liked the fact how the author starts the book with a question for you adding the personal touch to this book and it makes the reader feel important to the author. Therefore, I will give this book 2 stars particularly because the book was rushed and I didn’t like the format of how the book was written. I would recommend this book to anyone aged 13+ as this book contains sensitive topics.

Manas

The Song Walker
The Song Walker, by Zillah Bethell, is a gripping, page-turning novel about a girl who finds herself in the Australian Outback and how she can rediscover her identity. She has only one shoe, and is carrying a mysterious, locked briefcase. She meets another girl, Tarni, who is also in the desert as she is on her own mysterious quest. I loved the book, as it so vividly described the desert setting, and Bethell explores many ideas like trust and relationship. Overall, it is a great book, with many twists and turns, and I could not recommend it more!

Zachary

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The boy lost in the maze was a great book tackling the struggles of having an absent father and the lengths and challenges a son will go through to find them. Coelho mixes Greek mythology into the story seamlessly, whilst at the same time bending and shaping it to fit reality. I would recommend to lovers of both mythology and drama. But also anyone who appreciates a good story.

Evan