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Henry VIII’s Secret Diary by Terry Deary

Henry VIII, arguably the most famous king of England, is a character that always piques the interest of children. His six wives and his love of all things lavish, makes him the perfect historical character to get younger people interested in history. Now he has been given the Horrible Histories treatment, with a fictional account of his diary, albeit a very accurate piece of fiction!

Henry VIII is the ideal candidate for a book such as this, as there are so many infamous events and controversies throughout his reign. Dealing with the likes of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Field of the Cloth of Gold and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it is written in a humorous, child-friendly way which gets across the meaning of these significant events without ever appearing too stuffy.

The theme I enjoyed the most was his relationship with the Pope. Knowing that the Break with Rome was a major part of his reign, I found Henry’s changing opinion of the Pope hilarious and the book clearly shows how Henry used religion as a way of achieving his own aims.

The traditional Horrible Histories books have always been a favourite of mine and this looks like it could be another great series.

Outbreak by C. Alexander London

imageWhen Sinead Starling, a family member and former friend, is seen stealing a deadly virus, the rest of the Cahill family know that they must act quickly in order to get to the truth. Is she about to unleash it on the world or is the traitor trying to stop the virus from getting out? The fate of the world lies with the Cahills, led by 14-year-old Dan, and takes our heroes across the planet on another dangerous mission.

Ever since the release of The Maze of Bones in 2008, the 39 Clues series has been a guilty pleasure of mine. Ok, the books may be aimed at children aged 8-12, but their emphasis on adventure and world history grabbed my attention from the start! Since the first book, our intrepid heroes have travelled the world, foiling disasters and now, in Outbreak, it seems as though their time is coming to an end as this is reportedly the last in the series.

Outbreak sees the return of Sinead Starling, a character we have not seen for some time. After previously betraying the family, the Cahills must decide if it is time to allow her back into the fold. A theme of forgiveness runs throughout the book as we are reminded of not just what Sinead did, but also of what actions some of the other characters have carried out throughout the series. Set mainly in Cuba and the Bermuda Triangle, the book is, as always, fast-paced and exciting as we wait to see if the virus that is threatening to take over the world can be eliminated.

There does seem to be an air of finality about the last chapter and, unlike other books, it does not appear to lead into a new story. This would be an ideal way to end the franchise. I have always thought that the 39 Clues would transfer well to the cinema or TV screen so, hopefully, this will happen one day.

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