PGHS Shadowers

Create Group Magazine

The Song Walker
This story follows the journey of Moonflower/Magpie/Sienna and her mysterious appearance in the Australian Outback. The young girl has no idea who she is or where she is but when she meets Tarni, she starts to discover more about her identity. As the girls walk the treacherous journey in the hot desert, they both explore each others secrets and create a friendship like no other. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and finished it in one day. It was a beautifully written story with so many unexpected surprises! At first I thought the novel was going to be very repetitive and boring as I did not know how a story of walking through a desert could be made interesting! However, as we began to meet new characters and discover the girls past and the story of the town of Karlu Karlu, the story was very exciting and I could not put it down! I loved the "spirit walker" aspect at the end and it came as a big surprise as I was not expecting it. This story is very well written and suitable for ages 9+. This book was the last novel I read out of all 8 Carnegie books and it definitely was worth the wait! 9.5/10 stars.

Lola

Choose Love
Choose Love is a collection of poems that highlights the experience of those forced to become refugees. It was beautifully written and I could understand what most of the poems are about. I would recommend reading this book in a quiet room with nothing to disturb you---I found it easier to understand the misery the refugees experienced that way, but it still did not make me as sad as I thought it would make me.

Lara

The Song Walker
This book book takes a while to get into and to get hooked on but you will be quite shamelessly glued around the 30% mark! i thought the song walker was a little bit immature for the general Carnegie age group and also a little too simplistic. the plot twists were a bit too predictable and i wasnt sure how they linked back to the main theme. Zilliah Bethell can write such good dialogue and scenes, though!! all the subevents had their own sort of “special author’s touch” that made it really gripping and unique. A very enjoyable book overall, just would recommend for a younger age group!

lara

Steady for This
It was quite a struggle to finish this book, mainly because the extreme use of slang came off rather ineffectively, and the book felt rather shallow as a whole. I find the author’s reason for writing this book very heartwarming, but the naming confusing - ‘Raptology’ sounds like the name of a course studying dinosaurs of the Mesozoic era. The slang felt like an attempt to resonate with the teenagers of the current generations, but instead came off cringey and standoffish. I’m not from southeastern London, so it could be accurate - it didn’t see to be the case, though. This book also lacks key description but I will admit I’ve never heard someone describe yoghurt as “moist”. Well done for a new metaphor that I won’t forget. One factor that was done well was the camaraderie between Shaun and Shanks - their wingman friendship was quite enjoyable. The plot feels almost irrelevant to all the holes, unfortunately. In my opinion, slightly below average for Carnegie standard, but there’s been worse. Not a terrible book.

Lara

Safiyyah's War
When war hits the streets of Paris and begins to change Safiyyah's life, she starts to wonder if there really is something her family is doing to help those in danger. It's not long before the ones she love start to leave her one by one, and her family begins to live in fear of the soldiers. This novel tells the brave story of Safiyyah and her family during the war, and how their resistance work begins to change many lives for the better. I loved this book and I was amazed at the bravery Safiyyah has throughout. I found it fascinating to learn about lots of different perspectives during the war as I did not know much about those attending mosques and resistance work during the war time. It would have been more interesting if the story was written from the first hand perspective of different characters throughout, for example chapters written by Safiyyah, Baba and Timothée to get a feel of their point of view as the story developed. Overall I would rate this book 8/10 and aimed at readers aged 9+.

Lola

Choose Love
A story that gives us an insight of the reality of being a refugee. The poems and artwork in this book were absolutely beautiful and the poems were so simple yet captured the harshness and upset many people go through during war and crisis. The artwork was so abstract yet really matched the poems and made you picture the stories so vividly. I adored this book and it was such a quick read that I thought it would not be very effective, but it has really made me think, even after I finished the book. I was especially drawn to the story about the young boy Artin Irannezhad and what happened to him. This story is so truthful that it hurts to realize its not completely made up as it is so upsetting. I would definitely recommend for 9+ but I would say the book will have more of an impact on older readers. 5/5 stars.

Lola

Crossing the Line
I was surprisingly very invested in this book, and found it a quick and gripping read especially considering that it was almost completely written in verse. Crossing The Line tells the story of a 14-year-old boy named Erik who gets involved with the dangerous world of gangland crime and drug dealing. Though there were several unexplained inconsistencies such as his affinity towards anger and the death of his 'house leader' for closure, it is written very simply and effectively, with the addition of unique text art to help readers visualise Erik's thoughts and feelings.

Lara

Away With Words
"Away with words" is a story with kindness at its heart. When Gala is forced to move to Scotland from her home town in Spain, she feels lost and decides to try her best to not fit in so her father will take her back to Spain. This is until she meets Natalie, a girl with selective mutism in her class. Natalie also finds speaking and words a challenge and soon Gala doesn't feel so out of place in a foreign country. As the friends begin to be comfortable with each other, Natalie shares her passion for word searching. A game amongst the girls, of picking up words fallen out of mouths and collecting them to create poetry. Soon the harmless actions of poetry writing turn into something much worse and Gala's new life is threatened by the actions of others. I loved this story although at first I was confused with the fantasy element of "word searching". Ryan, Galas dad's boyfriend was my favourite character as he always had Gala's best interests in mind even when Gala often got angry at him. I love how brave Gala and Natalie were and even when classmates were mean to them they still managed to continue spreading kindness. Although this book is definitely for younger readers, it was still very heartwarming and had clear morals throughout. It would have been better if the "anonymous classmate" who was sending the mean poems was a little less obvious for the reader to figure out as it would have made the story more dramatic. I would rate this book 7/10 due to its sweet characters, and unique yet realistic story and I would suggest this book for ages 9+.

Lola

Crossing the Line
Erik's life was never the same again after his dad died. His mother gave birth to two baby sisters from another man when they already did not have enough money to live. Erik's mum stopped caring about Erik after the twins were born, so Erik started going down the wrong path to earn money for his family, He doesn't stop until he has gone too far, and then he finally realises that he can't stop... or can he? The storyline is compact and interesting to read, but I could not find myself to empathise with Erik's mum. Why give birth to children whose father had run away from the great responsibility? Why give birth to children when you know that you do not have the money to raise them? Not only that, but Erik's mother had stopped caring for Erik, and made him take care of his sisters when he had lots of schoolwork to do. She was always crying, and was always whining to Erik about not having enough money when it's all her fault! In one way, she is the cause of making Erik go down the wrong path.

Hanming (Sophia)

Choose Love
Choose Love was a very moving book that unfortunately did not make me shed as many tears as I was supposed to. However, I thought that the verses were incredibly well-written and the uses of poetic techniques emphasised the raw emotion from each poem. The verses also weaved together really well, going from the start of the path for safety and asylum to success - or near-success - only for a huge, disappointing plummet. All in all, Choose Love is very well-written book of verse but could be longer.

Hanming (Sophia)

The Boy Lost in the Maze
This book takes us on the journey of two boys in different eras. One, the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotour and the other of Theo and his search for his father. This story was certainly interesting, but personally I did not enjoy it. I thought the idea of two perspectives was very clever, but I didn't really understand the Theseus story and it didn't grip me or interest me at all. However, I loved the story of Theo and thought it was very realistic and it was enjoyable to read. The "pick your own path" idea was very confusing to me and I really didn't like it as I had to keep re-reading sections. To be honest, I was glad when I finished this book (although it was a quick read) as I felt it was time wasted. This book was not the worst thing I've read but it is down there on the bad books due to its confusing story, and I felt it had too many different aspects (double perspective, prose, artwork, past and present and "pick your own path"). This book felt too packed with ideas and too busy. Overall I would rate this a 4/10 (being generous) and suitable for age 12+.

Lola

Crossing the Line
I really liked this book as I thought it was very interesting and had a lot of plot twists. It also tells the dangers of joining a gang and the dark side of hat life, and was hard to put down once I picked it up. The layout of the verses was very original and how the words made shapes. When reading it, it was like an emotional- rollercoaster and I really felt like I was in the book and wanted Erick to make the right decisions. Overall, it was a very good book and would recommend it.

Amelie

Crossing the Line
"Crossing the Line" is a novel describing the ongoing issue of teenagers being involved in gangs, drugs and county lines. This novel spreads awareness of how quickly you can dig yourself into a hole after doing one "favour" for a criminal. The first line "do you feel safe?" immediately had me gripped and the the fact that the book ends with Erik not being safe, just emphasized how quickly a life can change due to exploitation. This novel had me gripped from the very start, with the unique font and prose style used throughout. I love the fact that this story was based off of truth, as it really made you wonder what so many young teenagers may be going through and we just don't realize. The fact that Erik's mum is always occupied with work and the children, makes you wonder if she was the reason Erik made these bad decisions, or if really he was doomed to fall into trouble after his dad died and he felt the need to take the place of the "man" of the house. Although this book was incredible, I think if Erik's dad's death had something to do with gang violence and that was why he always felt the need to apologize to his father for the trouble he gets into, it would have made the ending even more shocking for the reader. I loved the character of Ravi in the novel, as he was an inspiration for many young teenagers who know they have a friend in trouble. He showed that even if your friend is doing something wrong, you must help them feel safe and get out of the trouble and guide them towards the help needed, even if they don't think they need that help. The idea of having the "credits" at the end like a film was a bit useless and I think it moved away from the idea of the book being serious and having a big impact on the reader, as it made it too comedic and almost as if it was all fake when in truth the story of Erik is very real for many young people. Although this book wasn't perfect, it was definitely the best read out of the ones I've read so far. It was very hard to put down and I think I enjoyed it more because it was aimed at older readers and focused on harder topics. I would rate this book an 8/10 and would recommend it for ages 13+.

Lola

Away With Words
A heart warming story about a young girl trying to fit into a new life in a new country after moving from Spain to Scotland with her father. The most interesting part of the book was the idea that everyone can see their 'spoken' words - how they are physically seen and collected depends on how they are spoken. This leads Gala and her new friend to collect and use the words to make poems for others in her school which eventually leads to someone else using the idea to be unkind to others. I enjoyed the book but thought that several of the themes and plot could have been developed a little more. However I liked the characters and the style of writing and think it would be an enjoyable read for ages 9 to 13.

Mrs C

Safiyyah's War
'Safiyyah's War' is a book about WW2. It tells a story of an 11 year old girl called Safiyyah helping her dad go undercover and offering Jews ways out of Paris and away from the Nazis. Although Safiyyah is only 11 years old, she has experienced separating with her friends and watching a member of her family die due to WW2. This book is based on true history, so I would recommend it to history lovers, and also people who are looking for historical novels which are easy to read.

Hanming (Sophia)

The Door of No Return
The story of Kofi Offin takes us on a journey back in time, describing the slave trade and the lack of freedom for many of colour. This book was a very interesting read and I'm conflicted on whether I liked it or not. I feel like the prose style of writing just made the already confusing story, even more confusing! To me, it seemed like an excuse to write in shorter lines as the sections that were in paragraphs at the start of chapters to me made more sense than the rest of the book. However, this book was hard to put down as there were many cliffhangers and lots of action within the story. Additionally, I was disappointed with the ending of the story as I don't think leaving it for the reader to imagine what happens next was a good idea as I would have liked to know whether he survived or not. This disappointing ending made me quite annoyed as although the rest of the book wasn't amazing it was quite gripping but it didn't come to any conclusion. However the vivid descriptions and mild gore were very gripping and made the book more interesting. I think it had a strong idea, but it was quite confusing to read and could have been made clearer without the prose style. Overall, I would rate this book a 5/10 and I think it is suitable for 11+ due to some of the gore in the book.

Lola

Steady for This
"Steady For This" is a novel telling the story of "Growls" and his passion for rap music. We meet many characters along the way including Siobhan, a girl that changes "Growls" life. We also discover the challenges of eviction, being a child carer and living in poorer areas. This book definitely requires patience. Upon reading, I was confused by the language but began to laugh out loud at the cringey jokes made by "Growls". Many other reviews describe just how awful the book is after only reading a few pages, and I would agree. However, after a few chapters you will soon begin to love and feel sorry for "Growls" and some parts even made me cry! I would not call this a masterpiece in literature, but it is very inspiring especially for younger children, and although it is quite confusing to read (if you are not familiar with slang), the story and its morals are lovely and are clear to understand. Please do give this novel a go, even if you are reluctant at first, as it is a heart warming read. However, I would not classify this book as "Young Adult" and more age 9-12 with the understanding that there are some upsetting topics such as eviction and being a young carer. Overall, this is not the best book I've read but I would give it 7/10 for its wonderful ending and sweet characters.

Lola

The Door of No Return
Mixed feelings about this book: some of the themes were very dark but felt that being told through verse made it more accessible for younger readers. The contrast of the first part of the story to the second was stark. Kwame Alexander portrayed Kofi as a happy-go-lucky young boy at the beginning of the story, who had hopes and dreams for his future. This made the second part of the story even more heart breaking and the scene has been set for the next part of Kofi's and his cousin's journey. We can only guess at the horrors that will lie ahead if they manage to survive but I think I will want to read on to find out more in Book 2.

Mrs C

Safiyyah's War
This is certainly a unique book especially considering the perspective and era as I personally have seen little about the experiences of the Muslim community during WWII. It has a very powerful commentary set in the heart of Paris just as the Germans come to invade, and Khan's writing style is simultaneously incredibly poignant and earnest. However, I found the protagonist, Safiyyah, to be quite unrealistic, and the character dynamics to be rather off: how is she ten years old, a geographical genius and so academically powerful? Overall, not a terrible book, but could be more realistic.

Lara

Away With Words
This book is about a girl called Gala who had just moved to Scotland due to family suituations. Gala felt that she had left her friends and home behind. She felt lost in this new environment--- she made friends, but she could not express herself properly nor confidently because she did not speak English well. It took her a very long time to find someone who truly understood her. The author expresses Gala's feelings by describing her mental progress successfully. I can find myself in Gala's position and empathise with her feelings because I have been in her position for multiple times. Overall, 'Away With Words' is a very interesting book to read.

Hanming (Sophia)

The Door of No Return
Incredibly powerful book, in both parts enchanting and effective. I've never come across a prose-written book before but this was gorgeous, and Kofi has an almost charming and relatable aura about him and his passion for his world. I hate cliffhangers and the plot could get slightly convoluted at times (for example the build-up to the wrestling tourney) but is, once again, an incredibly good book with a very unique cultural setting.

Lara