Various ‘must read’ lists

Tower Hamlets School Library Services

The English Association

Sam Read: ‘Will’s Favourite Books of 2019’

Channel Island Children’s Book Award Shortlist

8 March 2020 : Portable Magic Dispenser

I loved Spylark, it’s the perfect book for students looking for a fun, full throttle escape… read more.

13 September 2019: Library Girl and Book Boy

All in all, a thrilling whirlwind of a read with the tension ratcheting up and up until the explosive finale. Recommended for readers aged 9+… read more.

12 September 2019: Storgy Kids

The cover and title of this book make you think of James Bond and, indeed, there is a decent villain, spy in the making and plenty of thrilling action within this story. The three word description of this book by Chicken House is “Action – Mystery – Adventure” and there is certainly plenty of all three from start to finish… read more.

11 September 2019: Books for Topics

Spylark is a thoroughly modern adventure story, up-to-the-minute in its technology while fully immersed in the tradition of children’s literature from Enid Blyton onwards. Mixing drone technology with stunning Lake district scenery, it will be devoured by Year 5 and 6 children with a thirst for adventure and escape from daily life… read more.

10 September 2019: Miss Cleveland is Reading…

Swallows and Amazons is given a spy thriller update in this fast-paced, action packed adventure, that starts on the very first page and doesn’t let up until the very last.

From the moment we meet Tom, we are drawn into his new world, a world he is struggling to come to terms with and desperate to escape. His unwillingness to spend time with Maggie and Joel comes from his inability to do what he would have in the past, but as the story progresses, he comes to realise that he needs them, not just to help him, but as friends. Read the full review here.

31 August 2019: That Boy Can Teach

Spylark is an awesome page-turner and an incredible feat for this first-time author. If Arthur Ransome legitimately got so many sequels out of his sailboats-and-sandwiches romps (and don’t get me wrong, they thrilled me) then Rurlander could certainly provide us with a brilliant follow-up to Spylark – I know I’d be queueing up to read it… read more.

8 August 2019: Tricia Young, Good Reads

Great book! With my ‘teacher hat’ on, I would like to say brilliant for inference, exploring characters and how they change, discussion around bullying, friendships, trust and forgiveness. 

Beginning with the title and the intriguing front cover illustration, I can see fantastic opportunities for book talk. But also it is simply a really good adventure story, particularly for children aged 9+ although I loved it as an adult.

It is set in the Lake District and on the author’s website, there are explanations of how the fictional names relate to real places around Windermere and suggested walks to find the various locations.
The author and publisher make links with the Swallows and Amazons series and while it reminded me of those books, it more strongly made me think of the more recent Swallows and Amazons film, the Alex Rider series and also (from my childhood reading) the Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville.

30 July 2019: Book Trust

In Spylark, Rurlander has created a gripping adventure, with all the right ingredients. Local bullies, sinister villains, high-speed chases, terrorism plans, explosive weaponry, missing evidence and dramatic escapes.

It’s a timeless piece of storytelling, with a significant (and clearly deliberate) nod to Swallows and Amazons. Much of the setting, style and characterisation are delightfully old-fashioned, but cleverly entwined with contemporary themes and contexts to ensure a thoroughly modern appeal. Read the full review here and why not leave a review yourself?

29 May 2019: Ben Harris, Just Imagine

I’ll lay my cards on the table straight away and say that I don’t think I’ve read a more original children’s book this year. Books which focus on technology can date (badly) very quickly but Spylark plays the theme extremely well, adapting modern cool-tech into a key part of the storytelling, never letting it become a mere selling-point or hook. … It fits beautifully into that evergreen forest of children’s adventure stories which present the kids on their own, knowing better that the grown-ups, pitting themselves against danger, and learning from the experience. Spylark forges a new path through that already well-trodden domain and it succeeds to find new and exciting life. Read the full review here