MG Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

Today I am celebrating the brilliant Ghostcloud by Michael Mann which is published today (7th October).

Ghostcloud by Michael Mann Published by Hodder Children’s Books

My favourite quote from page 11 – And he was extra ordinarily greasy – from the tip of his ponytail, to the ends of his shoes.

This book in three words: Adventure, Loyalty, Ghosts

This book is set in London, but not as we know it. It is a London where Big Ben beeps and Battersea Power Station belches out smoke; where bustling river markets float on the rising water and kidnapping is rife; where the Channel Tunnel has closed, ever since the old war ended.
And far below, hidden underground, children are shovelling. . . .

After an opening like that, how could anyone not want to read this book? I love dystopian stories and London is one of my favourite cities so a dystopian MG book set in London must be a winner.

The story is set in a London similar and yet different to our own. We are in the aftermath of a war with Europe, the Channel Tunnel lies derelict and unused and the eastern side of London is flooded. There is a floating market on the Thames at Waterloo and beneath Battersea Power Station, an army of children who have been kidnapped off the streets, shovel coal to provide power for the city. Because the city is fuelled by coal, smog has returned but the smog is changing and seems to be harming the inhabitants.

Luke Smith-Sharma has been shovelling coal for 2 years. He has worked as hard as he possibly can in order to earn an amber ticket which will give him his freedom and allow him to return to his family. One day, he helps a new girl, Jess, and is punished by being sent to clean the sewers in the mysterious East Wing of the station. There he meets Alma, a ghost cloud who can ride the winds and see what is happening in the city. He discovers that he is actually part ghost and can also become a ghost cloud. He also discovers more about the evil Tabatha Margate and her plan for a new third chimney at Battersea, what the smog is and why it is changing.

This is a brilliantly told, inventive story. I loved all the details about the city and its landmarks and the characters of Luke, Alma, Jess and Ravi are really well written. They are well balanced by the deliciously nasty Tabatha and her henchman Terence. The story zips along as the children plot their escape from their power station and discover what is really happening. The conclusion is completely satisfying while leaving enough space for a sequel which I really hope Michael Mann will write.

I read this book as an ARC from NetGalley but am definitely going to buy a physical copy as soon as I get to a bookshop. It’s a great MG read.

Author: JdV

Assistant Head of a large primary school south of Leicester. Currently teaching my final year as I count down to retirement

2 thoughts on “MG Takes on Thursday”

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book! I also love that quote “And he was extra ordinarily greasy – from the tip of his ponytail, to the ends of his shoes.” Its so descriptive.

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