The St. Bede’s Literary Critics

Create Group Magazine

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The beginning of 'The Boy Lost In The Maze' is very hard to follow as it keeps switching from Theo to Theseus. As the book progresses, it gets easier to understand and follow but gets somewhat confusing when Theo call his teacher Sir and Mr Alton. I liked how the story of Theseus linked with the story of Theo in a sense of them both trying to find their fathers.

Lucia

Away With Words
This book was heartfelt and engaging. It effectively comments on the struggles faced by those who move countries and explores selective mutism, in a believable day to day setting. I found the use of lines in place of words effective because they help portray the confusion a language barrier provides. Sophie Cameron’s use of words as physical objects enhanced the book and made it unique. My favourite character was Natalie because she evolved throughout the story. Overall, I enjoyed reading Away With Words.

Isabelle

The Song Walker
I thought that this was a very strong book. I thought that the plot was strong and the characters were good, and I especially liked the ending of the book. For me, this was my favourite non-young adult book.

Alex

Safiyyah's War
'Safiyyah’s War' is a beautiful book which talks about what Paris was like during the occupation in WW2. The main themes running all through the book are friendship, bravery, family and love. The way the author has expressed these themes all the way through is amazing and it makes the whole book all the more heartwarming.

Lena

Steady for This
'Steady for This' was hard to get into at first and it was a difficult read but as I neared the end it became a lot better and I really enjoyed it. I found it a bit hard to relate to the character at first but by the end I completely understood what he was going through.

Roisin

The Song Walker
I really liked 'The Song Walker'. I found it easy to read and it was hard to put it down. The author reveals parts about the mysterious girl's past throughout the book which makes it interesting to read. This a great addition to the Carnegie books.

Roisin

Steady for This
‘Steady For This’ was a hilarious read throughout the entire book. I loved the aspect of confidence and comebacks and the raps were quirky and comical. Furthermore, I really liked how much heart this book had and how modern this novel was. However, I do think that, as funny as it was, it maybe did not portray the solemnity of eviction and the serious and life-changing deal that it is. For me, I think that the humour overtook how big of an issue it is and did not address it properly. Overall, a laugh-out-loud read and I quite enjoyed it.

Cianna

The Boy Lost in the Maze
‘The Boy Lost In The Maze' was overall a book relating to the well-known Greek myth of ‘Theseus And The Minotaur’. Personally, I thought that there were some great thoughts and concepts in this book, but at times was confusing when switching between Theo and Theseus. As well as this, it was written out in a way that was quite difficult to follow due to the tabs on a few pages instructing readers to go back and re-read a section. In brief, I think the author had some good ideas, but they were not conveyed very well.

Cianna

The Door of No Return
The book itself was great. The way the book's words were portrayed were wonderful and overall it was a great book. My main and only issue with it was that the ending felt a bit ambiguous for me , I believe the book could benefit with a final chapter just to explain how things actually ended instead of leaving us in the dark. Overall the book was a masterpiece and if it were not for that one issue , it would also be perfect.

Aeola

Away With Words
I think the book was a great portrayal of mutism and what its like moving to a different country. It was a beautifully crafted book however at times it was a bit difficult to tell the difference between the people speaking, the words they were picking up and the actual words of the book. The book could also benefit with a prologue just to properly explain how the world works and stuff like that. The way that the book was written at the end and how they resolved the issue also felt a bit iffy to me. Overall the book was wonderful blend of sad and happy.

Aeola

The Boy Lost in the Maze
I personally thought the book was a great read however I really would have liked it if you could actually explore the other options instead of them just ending up in a dead end or death. I also think the ending was really good and the storytelling was unique. I found the layout of the book was unique but I do believe a sequel or a final chapter just to explain what ends up happening to him would have been good. Overall the book was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it

Aeola

Away With Words
I really loved 'Away with Words'. When I first started reading, I did find the main character insufferable; she didn’t see how lovely her new home was and only focused on the negative. However, because of her friendship with Natalie she really grew and I found that inspiring. The collected word poems were wonderfully insightful and overall I’d give it a 8.5/10.

Alice

Crossing the Line
“Crossing the Line” was a powerful and emotional book, focusing on the effects of bullying. This book was insightful and raised awareness of how bullying can lead to negative consequences. This book also shows single parenting and the challenges that single mothers face. This represents an important aspect of society. Overall, I found this book meaningful because although it was depressing, it told a unique and valuable message.

Sophia

Safiyyah's War
'Safiyyah's War' showed the roughness of Nazi soldiers (mainly towards Jews) during WW2. I loved it when the author describes how the father is part of the French Resistance and how Safiyyah wanted to join. I also love when the reader finds out that the father helps to smuggle Jews out of Paris using underground tunnels. When the author writes of how a Jewish girl was found and that girl turned out to be Safiyyah's friend, it was very emotional. Hana, a Jew, would barely ever talk since she was traumatised by the Nazi soldiers. The author was able to take the reader back in time, in the middle of a terrible war, and also to communicate the suffering the Jews went through, and the love that was shown even at the darkest times.

Lucia

Choose Love
'Choose Love' is a very special book that really surprised me. It is a book of poems together with beautiful paintings. The poems are all about a journey of a refugee, and describe the refugee's life from when the evil comes into their home through to the fear of the abandonment of their land to the arrival to the new place. It was sad at times and it made me think of all the refugees and wars happening in the world now. The art is also very inspirational and shows, with very few brushworks, the sadness, the fear, but also the hope and joy of the refugees.

Lucia

Away With Words
'Away With Words' is a very sweet book. It talks about how a friendship grew without needing to speak all the time and how sitting in silence can bring beautiful things too. It is also very clever as the author describes how the words "fall out" of the characters' mouths and they can pick them up and hold them. I also found it interesting how the author describes how Natalie showed Gala how to save the words and preserve them.

Lucia

The Song Walker
I think that "The Song Walker" is an amazing book. Telling the story of the friendship of the girls in the Australian desert is what makes it a wonderful story. I was very surprised about the plot twist that one of the character was a spirit the whole time in the book. This is my favourite book so far, I give this 10/10.

Chloe

Crossing the Line
Fantastic!!!!!!!!! I give this book 6/10 because it is in my top three books so far. I really recommend this book because I really get to understand about drugs and drug sellers . And I really like that Erik tries to fix his problems about it.

Chloe

Away With Words
"Away With Words" was a really enjoyable book for me, if a little confusing at first. When I first started reading it I didn't know if the words appearing were just a metaphor or if it was really happening, which confused me a bit though I think it made the story really unique and interesting. I also liked the development of Natalie and Gala’s friendship and Gala's relationship with her family throughout the book. However, I thought the plot of the story was a bit predictable, as I figured out who was writing the nasty poems nearly as soon as it started happening (but I still enjoyed it). I think the book could be improved by making it a bit longer and by having a foreword that explains that words physically appear out of people's mouths when they talk, as I would appreciate the extra worldbuilding and it would help me be less confused. Overall I'd probably say this this book is a solid 8.5/10

Jozefinka

Crossing the Line
I really enjoyed reading "Crossing the Line". Although I haven't experienced most of the challenges Erik goes through, I could find myself really empathising with him and understanding the decisions he was making because of his circumstances. My favourite parts of the book were the pages where concrete poetry was used. I especially liked the pages with the boxes made of words. I'd probably rate this book 9/10. It had a bit of a slow start but after the first 30 pages I really got into it.

Jozefinka

Steady for This
'Steady For This’ was an entertaining and enjoyable read. Although I was unconvinced by the start, the end was exceptionally well written. By exploring peer pressure, cyber bullying and mental health, this book examines relevant and important issues. In addition, this book considers relationships between friends and family. The character of Shanks helps portray deep and complex friendships and the positive aspects of friends. I personally love this book because I often choose not to read books intended to be funny but this book contains comical and amusing moments. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book because of its humorous story and thought-provoking concepts.

Sophia

Safiyyah's War
‘Safiyyah’s War’ was particularly enjoyable. Although WW2 has been a common theme for writers, ‘Safiyyah’s War’ was unique because it explored Muslim influences in WW2 which is much less common. Additionally, unlike other books, it shows the reader life behind the trenches and shows the power of those who were considered unable to fight. Haba Noor Khan uses butterflies to symbolise hope throughout the story and explores the theme of trust effectively. A key element of the story was relationships, particularly with friends. For example, when Safiyyah loses Isabelle, Haba Noor Khan effectively considers loss and separation. This book also has historical significance and contributes to education on the horrors of war. Overall, I have really enjoyed reading this book as it was entertaining, and celebrated the human characteristics of kindness and compassion for others.

Sophia

Choose Love
I enjoyed ‘Choose Love’. I found it thought provoking and the message it conveys is so beautiful and meaningful. Although I enjoyed the content, some of the verse felt really forced. It is an emotional read and I would rate it 6/10.

Alice

The Boy Lost in the Maze
I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped. Although the messages conveyed were well thought out, I found the story to be super jumpy and it was difficult to differentiate between Theo and Theseus. It’s almost impossible to understand unless you have a decent knowledge of Greek mythology. However, I did enjoy the take on the Minotaur’s life and abandonment. So overall I would not recommend and would rate it a 3/10.

Alice

Away With Words
Away With Words This book showed the importance of friendship. I enjoyed it and recommend it to other readers.

Callum

The Door of No Return
'The Door Of No Return' has very subtle hints of sexual assault throughout the book showing the reality of what happens in the world. I thought this book was interesting since it talked about African tribes and their rituals/ ways of living. At times it was sad since most characters you created a connection with die but overall, it was a very good read.

Lucia

Crossing the Line
'Crossing The Line' is a book that takes the reader into the world of drug gangs and how harmful being a drug dealer can be. The choice of using poetry adds an aspect of depth in the way you read the book. It allows the reader to create a connection with the characters. I really liked the way the book ended since it symbolises that if you do not feel safe there are always people that will help you no matter the situation.

Lucia

Choose Love
This book is absolutely fantastic. It portrays so many different experiences and emotions throughout the book and I loved the illustrations as well especially as they didn't show exactly what was in the writing. My favourite poem was 'Mathematics' because on the page all we can see are numbers but as you read and think, you know that you will never truly understand the trauma all those people went through.

Hannah

Choose Love
‘Choose Love’ is a captivating read; the book explains the concept of refugees and the trauma they had to endure. Furthermore, the book has a heartbreaking reality that the author has managed to get across extremely effectively. To elaborate on this, the way Nicola Davies has decided to write this book makes the reader increasingly intrigued at the mysterious and unclear storyline as they venture further into the book. As well as this, there are phenomenal abstract pieces of artwork that accompany the poetry and have a deep meaning even though it is not exactly obvious at first. ‘Choose Love’ is one of my favourite books so far due to the way it made me look at history from a different perspective.

Cianna

Crossing the Line
Crossing The Line is one of the few books that I truely adore. The unique patterns of the words on the pages made it enjoyable to read. Erik was a well written character and his story was interesting. Tia Fisher managed to make me cry, laugh and scream all at the same time. She is an incredible authority and I would like to read more if her books. Overall, Crossing The Line is a beautiful book that I will hopefully read again and will definitely recommend to friends and family.

Kitty

Steady for This
'Steady For It' was a good book. I enjoyed how the author creates a relationship between the reader and Shaun as he writes as if Shaun was speaking to us and letting us see his thoughts. It is a very good book that deals with quite heavy subjects yet Nathanael Lessore manages to create a safe atmosphere while writing about them. Overall, it was a good book that I enjoyed reading.

Kitty

Away With Words
I really liked 'Away With Words'. I think the way that Sophie Cameron subtly improved Gala's range of language provided a connection between the reader and Gala. It is a really good book that shows the impact that words or even actions have on people. Gala and Natalie are likeable characters who have imperfections but show us how to overcome them. Overall, it is a really good book that I would like to read again.

Kitty

The Song Walker
I absolutely loved the 'The Song Walker' as I felt excited and curious throughout the book! I also enjoyed that the author did not say the girl's name until the end. The plot twist was very unexpected at the end which left me in shock afterwards. I definitely will not be forgetting this book!

Hannah

The Song Walker
This story used descriptions to build a wonderful image for the reader Throughout the book the author uses words from an aboriginal language and these words give it context and help the readers to understand Tarni’s culture better. The plot was entertaining and well paced. Relationships between the characters were complex and carefully forged. The character of Sienna evolved throughout the book as she remembered her past. For this reason she was my favourite character. The plot twist at the end was astonishing and provoked questions. Towards the end, Zillah Bethell effectively portrays the importance of music and our relationship with our family as we hear that Tarni is searching for her sister. The story explores important ideas such as identity, the impacts of memory loss and the beliefs of other cultures and how we treat them.

Isabelle

The Door of No Return
I loved 'The Door Of No Return'. I enjoyed the verse style and think it worked really well. My only critique is how abrupt the book ended, I would love a second novel or some kind of continuation. It’s a great book but it’s not suited to younger readers because of the violent and descriptive language. In all I give this book an 8/10 because of how emotionally attached I was to the characters by the end.

Alice

Away With Words
'Away With Words' was a very enjoyable read. I liked the originality of the idea of words as physical objects, with different colours and shapes. However, I thought the motive to undermine/shun Gala (the main character) was a bit lacklustre.

Laurie

The Door of No Return
I thought "The Door Of No Return", which is written in verse, was a really powerful book. The setting was really nice and it was eye-opening to view the story in the first person. The only criticism I have is that I thought the book ended too suddenly, so I would have liked there to be a epilogue.

Laurie

The Song Walker
'The Song Walker' is a very passionate, spiritual, mysterious and captivating read that envelopes the concept of friendship, identity and dealing with grief. The author did a fantastic job at describing the danger and beauty of the outback, whilst relating to grief and it was overall a fantastic book.

Cianna

The Song Walker
'The Song Walker' is a captivating book which has amazing plot twists and is always intriguing. In 'The Song Walker', you can feel the characters' feelings and the writer allows for the reader's imagination to explore the book and characters further. In the first half of the book, it is a very slow read but the second half is very captivating and exciting to read.

Lucia

Safiyyah's War
I think that 'Safiyyah's War' is a really great book and it really makes me think about the wars that happened at the time. I also really liked the character Setti as she was very kind and wise. Furthermore, I always felt hungry reading the descriptions of the oranges.

Hannah

Choose Love
My favourite book so far is 'Choose Love' because each poem has a meaningful and powerful message. Another reason I like it, is that the poems are talking about the people going migrating.

Chloe

Crossing the Line
'Crossing the Line' is an incredibly moving book which tells a story which needs to be told. I enjoyed the poems which could have used a bit more structure and I love the way the writer weaved in a tiny bit of comedy in the right places. I love Ravi’s kindness and that he’s always there for Eric. I found it bleak and scary at lots of points in the book and it made me feel happy that I wasn’t in Eric's position because I feel it could have happened to anyone. Although I think it’s important that we explore and have happy endings, I would’ve liked to know a bit more about what happened to Eric and whether he was safe in the end. I love the addition of the twins and of Stern Mr R who all added something in their own ways. I didn’t understand what was happening in some of the bits as I thought the poetry was going a bit too fast but overall it was a beautiful book told in a beautiful way which I loved. 8 out of 10 stars.

Seb

Safiyyah's War
I really liked this book. It was an amazing book that showed courage and bravery that made it hard to stop reading it. I think that Safiyyah is an amazing character and I admire her a lot especially because she stood up for people who needed help.

Roisin

The Song Walker
I loved this book. Its take on religion is something I've never seen before. It's about a young girl who is found in the middle of the Outback with no idea who or where she is. Throughout the book it references ancestors and elders frequently; the culture does not address a dead person by name but by a placeholder term. The ending for me was extremely impactful and changed the way I thought about the book. I loved the detailed description of the landscape and frequently repeated moments ('left, right, left, right'). Overall, this book was brilliant and a strong candidate for the winner.

Alice

The Song Walker
'The Song Walker' was a good book. Here are some good and bad points from my view. Bad Points: The plot could have been simpler. Good Points: It had a good plot. Easy to understand what is happening. Gives hints through out the book about the ending. Overall, I really liked 'The Song Walker' and think it is a really good book. I would recommend to others.

Laila

Steady for This
This book was amazing and made me laugh lots of times. It also had unexpected moments and twists and turns. Very good highly recommend

Jamie

Steady for This
I really enjoyed this book. It flowed well and you could share the way Growls felt. The rap verses were very good; they made sense , told a story and rhymed most of the time. The jokes made me laugh and it was easy to read and understand. On the whole, I loved it - a really good book - I would recommend.

Sophie

The Song Walker
I really liked this book. I think the way Sienna developed throughout the book was great. I think the ending was shocking but I liked how Tarni became an artist and how their friendship progressed through the book.

Laura

Safiyyah's War
I liked this book. I think the premise was nice and thought that Safiyyah was amazing. I think the point of the book was important and Safiyyah was brave and kind for protecting and helping anyone who needed it.

Laura

The Door of No Return
I thought this book was really good. The way it was written made it a quick read and the poems were easy to understand. I really liked the characters and the way they interacted. Ebo was one of my favourites and I felt bad when Kwasi died. Overall, a very good book.

Laura

Away With Words
It was an engaging read, yet simple in structure, and could definitely be enjoyed by younger readers. The plot was clear and easy to understand, following the life of Gala and the friends she makes in her new home. The book also tackles the idea of the value and impact of words, especially in a school environment, using words as physical objects that can be 'swept up' or collected. The use of these words highlights the progression of Gala, our antagonist, and her new friend Natalie, and how words can be crafted, but also manipulated into hurtful comments. The book is based in the real world, so physical words did need some justification, which Sophie Cameron did admirably, although the reader does have to just go along with it at points. Over all, 'Away With Words' proved to be an enjoyable YA read, and its wholesome story of the progression of Gala and Natalie, who both sometimes struggled to find their words, was truly uplifting.

Theo

Choose Love
I really enjoyed 'Choose Love'. I found it really beautiful and moving. There was such a sense of sadness in every single poem. I especially liked poems like 'Unbroken' as they had a small sense of hope. I think that it would have been better to have a few more poems with a little bit more variety. Overall, I think that 'Choose Love' tells an amazing story that needs to be told in a beautiful way. 6 out of 10.

Seb

The Door of No Return
I really liked the door of no return. It was a big book but it read fast as it is written in verse. I love the images at the start which gave a real insight into how they lived in Africa at that time. The description really flowed and I especially love the conversation territory between Amma and Kofi. I did however think that maybe the story went too quickly from a nice time to immediate death and destruction and although this is hard in poetry I would have liked more description. But I did really really like how it all fitted together and the beautiful images that were insinuated by the writer. Overall I really liked The Door of No Return. I would give it 7 out of 10.

Seb