Chiswick Book Festival's Young Writers' Competition

Rachel Jones and Lily Dove join local literati with their Summer reading reviews


Chiswick Book Festival


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10 year old Rachel Jones and 12 year old Lily Dove have been chosen as the winners of The Chiswick Book Festival's Young Writers' Competition.

Run in conjunction with 'What I Read This Summer', invited anyone under 18 to write a sparkling review of a contemporary (21st Century) book.

The winners were chosen by author Celia Brayfield and editor Emma Brophy.

Celia said: "The writers' enjoyment of the books shines through in these reviews, which are well structured and professionally presented. What's most impressive about these winning entries, however, is the sophistication which the writers have expressed in engaging with the authors' writing and evaluating it critically.

"They've both gone beyond their first responses to the books and really thought about the authors' choices. Congratulations to the winners - and also to their teachers!"

Both girls will receive a £20 gift card from Waterstone's.

Below are their reviews:

A Book Review on ‘The Lost Island of Tamarind’

By Rachel Jones, aged 10

I decided to write a review on this particular book because of its unusually gripping plot with unexpected twists. ‘The Lost Island of Tamarind’ is an adventurous children’s novel written by Nadia Aguiar and first published in 2008. I would thoroughly recommend this to any child aged 9-13, preferably someone who enjoys adventure and disaster books. I literally couldn’t put it down!

It features three children far out into the seemingly endless ocean. Their whole family is sailing on their boat, the Pamela Jane, searching for hidden, mythical creatures that are supposedly lurking in the icy depths. Disaster strikes when both parents are thrust overboard during a powerful storm leaving the helpless children alone on deck. As dawn breaks, Maya, Simon and Penny find themselves washed ashore on a mysterious, tropical island. With nothing but their father’s logbook on the ship, they are forced to leave the boat and explore the island they were shipwrecked upon.

My teacher says that every book can build your writing skill with each chapter you read. ‘The Lost Island of Tamarind’ is one of the best examples of this that I have come across. The author draws in the reader using fascinating details and a wide range of vocabulary to describe the characters and landscapes. Every paragraph paints a picture in your mind, filled with emotion, as you are pulled more into the story. It would be brilliant for anyone who wanted to improve his or her story writing.

Join Simon, Penny and Maya in their journey around Tamarind, across battlefields, through jungles filled with plants and hungry jaguars, meeting friend and foe alike. Determined that their parents are still out there, they keep searching. They must travel into the dark unknown and overcome their fears on the way but there’s no turning back now. Could you?

Read ‘The Lost Island of Tamarind’ to discover how it ends for the daring three. I don’t want to spoil it for you but all I can say is that this is one exciting book. Get your adventure on!


What I Read This Summer by Lily Dove, 12 years old

Boom by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon’s book Boom (or 70,000 light years) is a fast paced, easy read and the subtitle refers to a shocking discovery the central characters – Jimbo and Charlie – make about two of their teachers.

Jim lives in a small flat with his metal-head sister Becky, his financially successful mum and his depressed unemployed dad. The story is narrated by the main character Jim, a teenage boy whose voice is very direct and witty. This is typical of Mark Haddon’s own writing style.

The first chapter sets up the plot nicely. Believing what his older sister Becky has told him, that he was to be taken out of school and sent to a “special place for kids with problems”, Jim enlists the help of his best friend Charlie to bug the staffroom with walkie talkies to determine the truth. However they get more than they bargain for when they overhear two teachers speaking an alien language.

Despite the author taking a path that leads the characters into a cheesy alien world, the book was no less enjoyable and to some extent, more humorous. For instance, in their travels they encounter a giant monkey spider Britney who shows a lot of interest in Earth and ABBA.

This appealed to me on two levels; the first being the likability of two characters in particular, Charlie and Jim’s dad. Charlie displayed a real adventurous spirit and brave quality, which I admired, as I dad Jim’s dad; when he discovered a new found passion for cooking.

On another level I enjoyed reading this book as I like Mark Haddon as an author. He delivers in short, punchy sentences and always has a fun story line. He also has a very distinctive writing style which is to have the central characters narrating the book. I also like the attention to detail he uses when describing something, for example, Jim isn’t described as eating a sandwich, it’s a cheese sandwich and not just a cheese sandwich but a Red Leicester and gooseberry jam one which he goes on to point out, is not a patch on his cheddar cheese and raspberry sandwich. This attention to detail may suggest what Mark Haddon is like in person.

Jim’s adventure is a memorable one and I enjoyed going along with him. I was amused by the quirky contrast of characters from the giant monkey spider Britney to Jim’s depressed dad, which made the book quite surreal yet still credible. In short, I thought this book was… booming brilliant!

October 4, 2010