All posts by Helena

Cogheart – Book Recommendation

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Dear Peter Bunzl, We recently read Cogheart at our  Book Club with our charming group of children in school years 4 to 6. They all really enjoyed it. They have written you some lovely letters and drawn some amazing illustrations. We hope you enjoy reading them.  Best wishes, The Story Room

Despite the fact that I do not like fantasy, I loved it! I thought a mechanical fox was a stupendous idea. My favourite character was definitely Robert as her liked to take the main risk at everything.  R.S.

I am writing to you regarding your book: Cogheart! I enjoyed this very much and liked reading it. I loved Lily because she was adventurous and brave. I would love to have a mechanical fox like Malkin one day. I love how you described the characters. However, I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn’t been so convenient. I still loved this book though. I would rate it 8.9 out of 10. Maria-Nephele.

I thought your book Cogheart was good.  I liked the setting, I could visualise the places you described. Lily was my favourite and i liked the beginning when the Dad and the fox were in the sky in the zip and Malkin was given the task of finding Lily. I thought some parts of the plot were convenient in places. I would love a mechanical fox like the one in the book.


I enjoyed the idea of this book. I would give it 8.5 out of 10. This is because I liked the whole world of the mechanical people animals and things. I think the book was slow in some places. I loved the setting and really enjoyed reading about the stalking men.  James

The  book is REALLY COOL! I love it. Especially the mechanical animals. I am hoping you will write another book! QUESTIONS: Do you have pets? Which football team do you support? Katerina


  • Cogheart is my favourite book ever. The story of Lily, Robert and Malkin was exciting and dangerous. You made it very tense as the silver eyes men came onto the stage. It was very surprising and unexpected when Mr Silverfish, Lily’s godfather, he turned out to be a traitor. I like the appearance of Anna in the story. They were thinking they had to fight Anna when she started being nice to them. From your description you make it sound as if she is one the the life savers in the story. You make it seem like she isn’t stuck up like Alice and seems to like her mechanicals as friends. She sticks up for Molly when she needs help and gives her advice and keeps a mechanical fox called Malkin. Though you make it go all gloomy when Lily is thrown into the cold, dark bunker. You make Lily’s childminder sound as if she enjoys having a nice little chat with Mr Roach. It’s creepy when Mr Roach gives Lily the sweet.My favourite character in Cogheart is Malkin the fox because he is a very brave character like Lily and a smart mechanical fox to go and find Lily at the start of the book. Robert is also brave, trying to accept that his father is gone. He must have been angry at Lily and Malkin at the start but he calmed down when he remembered that Lily hadn’t got a mother or a father.

    Thank you for writing Cogheart. I couldn’t put it down.


Varjak Paw – Book Recommendation

By | Book club N21, book clubs for children North London, Book group, Book Reviews, story writing with children, Winchmore Hill | No Comments

Dear SF Said,

We recently read Varjak Paw in our Book Club for school years 4 to 6 and they all really enjoyed it. It was a very popular choice and was received and read with much enthusiasm.

I promised to send you some of our Book Clubber’s questions and comments… so here goes….

  • I thought Varjak Paw was a good book. Do you have children? If so, do you ever read your stories to them?
  • I really like Varjak Paw. It was really exciting and fun. I especially loved ‘the way’. It was so cool how Varjak could do lots of amazing things. I will read your other books. Maybe Sally Bones gets territorial and they have battled but Varjak find out that there is another skill in the ‘they way of Jalal’ that has been buried in history.
  • I thought the book was brilliant I thought that the action was amazing and the mystery bits added tension. I would rate it 9/10
  • I would rate Varjak Paw by SF Said (3 stars out of 5) Because you didn’t know much about the mysterious lady. How did she die? Or the man? Why did he want to turn the cats into robots?
  • I think Varjak Paw is very interesting when he went from a boring life as a pet into a wild cat. He was very clever at finding out that the gentlemen were dangerous.  I think Holly is a very important because she told Varjak Paw that the vanishings were happening.
  • I couldn’t put Varjak Paw down. I loved it!

Thank you for reading our comments and writing such a wonderful book.

Kind regards,

The Story Room.

11-Plus Reading List

By | 11 plus creative writing, 11-plus courses N12, 11-plus mocks, Book group, Book list 11-plus, Reading for 11-plus | No Comments

At Succeed 11-Plus Mocks we believe that children should be encouraged and praised for reading books of their choice. However,  when your child is preparing for their 11-Plus entrance examinations they need to prepare for the sort of language they will face in the comprehension papers. Reading a variety of books will help them with this challenge.

Reading old and modern children’s classics will help your child develop their comprehension skills and expand their vocabulary, which is essential for the Verbal Reasoning tests. Reading good writing will  also help improve your child’s writing style as they will be able identify the use of literary devices e.g. similes and personification etc. in sentences and be able to use these techniques in their own writing. Reading helps improve grammar and spelling too!

The following  is intended to be a guide to books suitable for children in years 4, 5 and 6. It covers a range of genres. Some of the texts will be more difficult to read than others, so care should be taken when choosing a book that your child might enjoy. Reading should not be regarded as homework or a chore, but seen as something pleasurable. If your child is not enjoying the book they are reading then reading extracts from the book and discussing the story with your child is a valuable exercise too.

Happy Reading!

E. Nesbit

Five Children and It

The Railway Children

Frances Hodgson Burnett 

The Secret Garden

C.S. Lewis

The Magician’s Nephew

The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe

Phillippa Pearce

Tom’s Midnight Garden

Michelle Magorian

Goodnight, Mister Tom

Eva Ibbotson

Journey to the River Sea

Michael Morpurgo

Kensuke’s Kingdom

The Butterfly Lion

Private Peaceful

Lucy Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables

Louise Sachar


J.R.R Tolkien

The Hobbit

David Almond


Mary Poppins

P.L. Travers

Philip Pullman

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter

Northern Lights

Clive King

Stig of the Dump

Ian Serraillier

The Silver Sword

Richard Adams

Watership Down

T.H. White

The Sword in the Stone

J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan

Kenneth Graham

The Wind in The Willows

Michelle Paver

Wolf Brother

Erin Hunter

Warrior Cats

Jack London

White Fang

Call of the Wild

Berlie Doherty

Street Child

Lynne Reid Banks

The Indian in the Cupboard

Penelope Lively

A Stitch in Time

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

Roger McGough (Edited by)

The Ring of Words (An Anthology of Poetry for Children)

Joan Aitkin

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book

Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Thank You Tatum Flynn!

By | Book club N21, book clubs for children North London, Book group, Creative writing workshops North London, Events for teenagers, story writing with children, The Story Room | No Comments

Dear Tatum Flynn,

Thank you so much for the inspiring workshop on graphic novels last night. We all enjoyed your company and your wisdom! We have many talented writers in our group, so it is always great to see them learning something new and discovering new ways and styles of writing. Your inspiration will remain with them for a long time. The drawings you did for them, of  the characters they created, will be treasured. Thank you for your patience and kindness.

Thank you to Allan Burroughs for organising and planning the workshop with Tatum!

Please visit us again!



By | Book club N21, book clubs for children North London, Book group | No Comments


For those of you who have asked me (Helena) for book recommendations for  relations (and for those of you who haven’t) here are the favourites of the children in the Middle Graders’ Book Club, Teen Book Club and Young Adult Book Club.

FROM 13-16 year olds

Caitlin – One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus
The Silver Sword – Ian Seraillier

Jake  – More Than This – Patrick Ness
One of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus

Ellie  – One of Us Is Lying – Patrick Ness

Zahra  – Every Day – David Levithan
More Than This – Patrick Ness

Zaki – One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

Ashiana  – One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

Amario  – Every Day – David Levithan

FROM 11-12 year olds

Zayne  – My Sister Lives on The Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher

Jake  – Warrior Cats – Erin Hunter

Leah  – Time Travelling with a Hamster – Ross Welford

Bella  – Warrior Cats – Erin Hunter

John  – Warrior Cats – Erin Hunter

Kian  – Warrior Cats – Erin Hunter

FROM 8-10 year olds

James – Coraline – Neil Gaiman,
Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver

Bella – Time Travelling with a Hamster – Ross Welford

Freya – Mary Poppins – P.L Travers

Katerina – Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver
Time Travelling with a Hamster – Ross Welford

Mary Ellen – Time Travelling with a Hamster – Ross Welford
Mary Poppins – P.L Travers

Rian – The Diamond Brothers series – Anthony Horowitz

Maria – Cogheart – Peter Bunzl

Angelina – Cogheart – Peter Bunzl

Zain – Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver

Helena’s Favourites – A Kingdom by the Sea – Robert Westall, Wolf Brother – Michelle Paver, Mary Poppins – P.L Travers, Coraline – Neil Gaiman,  More Than This – Patrick Ness, My Sister Lives on A Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher, The Rest of Us Still Live Here – Patrick Ness, How I Live Now – Meg Rossof, The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness