This week in the Library.... | King's Hall School Taunton

Our team of book reviewers have their work published in the TES – Congratulations!

It is always very exciting to get one’s hands on a book that has not yet been published. A group of keen readers from Years 6 and 7 were lucky enough to have this opportunity over the Christmas holidays when they received advance copies of a story called The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson. Several of them had already read Lisa’s wonderful and thought-provoking first novel, The Goldfish Boy, and so were very keen to take part. Their challenge was to produce a book review that would be published in the leading educational publication, the TES. As ever, our King’s Hall bookworms did not disappoint!

The article appears online here on the TES website.

The class book review: The Light Jar

Skilfully shining a light on some tricky issues

The Light Jar

Lisa Thompson


304 pages, £6.99, paperback ISBN 9781407171289

I was over the moon to get my hands on an advance copy of The Light Jar, having been mesmerised, gripped and moved by Lisa Thompson’s wonderful debut novel, The Goldfish Boy, in January last year. The Goldfish Boy is now passed eagerly from child to child in my library, with cries of: “You have to read this!”

Thankfully, The Light Jar did not disappoint. At the heart of this tale lies the power of light over darkness. Even before Nate finds himself all alone in an abandoned and ramshackle cottage in the depths of winter, we get the sense that he and his mother are already in a dark place in their lives. When Nate’s mother goes out and doesn’t return, however, things look increasingly bleak for Nate.

Yet all is not lost. Nate manages to find friends both new and old, and finds himself swept along in a mystery that keeps the reader hooked until the very end.

I can’t wait to put this fabulous story into the eager hands of my pupils. As well as appealing to mystery fans, it will be a big hit with those who love a powerful, emotional and character-driven story. As in The Goldfish Boy, which told the story of a boy with OCD, the author does a skilful job of addressing some very tricky issues with great sensitivity.

The theme of the light jar itself resonates throughout the story. This was such a wonderful image that we decided to create some light jars of our own to decorate the library. The warm glow from our jars was a lovely reminder of the positive message at the heart of this story – one I know will resonate with many of our readers.

Emily Marcuccilli is librarian at King’s Hall School in Taunton, Somerset. She tweets as @KH_Library

Pupil reviews

An adventure with lots of surprises

‘Mysterious and gripping’

I really enjoyed The Light Jar. It was very mysterious and gripping – I couldn’t stop reading it.

The happy bits really made me smile and you get a good sense of how all the characters are feeling. I liked how it reveals who everyone really is and where they were at the end – and I was surprised when I found out. The author really knows how to conjure up a suspenseful moment, having me on the edge of my seat.

Maisie, Year 7

‘I really thought I was the main character’

I thought this book was really gripping. I managed to read it in about a day. I loved it! At the beginning, it was really scary and I thought I might not like the book. I think that if you read it and do not like the beginning much, you would need to carry on and read some more.

If you like mystery, adventure or a tiny element of fantasy, this is the book for you. The ending was a surprise. To be honest, there were a lot of surprises! When I was reading it, I really thought that I was the main character.

Freya, Year 7

‘A very touching story’

This story brought tears of sadness to my eyes. Nate is on his own in a small cottage. His mum has disappeared and his dad is somewhere far away. Will Nate help mystery girl Kitty? Will he find the answer to the mystery – and will he find his mum?

The story was very touching. It made me think about Nate and children like him, who are put in a scary situation where they feel no one can help them. The author makes you feel like you are Nate in the way she describes the cottage and its surroundings. It is winter, the snow is falling heavily and the cottage is in the middle of nowhere. Nate needs to keep himself alive. It made me wonder what I would do with no parents to help me, to tell me what to do or to give me food and shelter.

I would recommend this book for readers aged 8 to 12 who like to have an adventure where not everything goes right. This book makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with anxiety!

If you like this book, I would also recommend...

• Lisa Thompson’s first novel, The Goldfish Boy

The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson

Wonder by R J Palacio

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Sweet Honey by Cathy Cassidy

Georgia, Year 6

Pupils from King’s Hall have already reviewed a number of other brand new books for the TES:

Singing in the Rain by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown and illustrated by Tim Hopgood

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton

The Boy Who Went Magic by A P Winter

Soon it will be the chance of our Year 8 pupils who have been asked to review a soon-to-be published story by well-known historian and author, Lucy Worsley. Watch this space!

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