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A selection of books especially selected for children in Year 8 (12 - 13 year olds) of average reading ability for the 2018/19 academic year.
If your child is a competent reader or has read all these titles then try the books from the Year 9 list. Alternatively if these books are a little challenging try books from the Year 7 list. Our overall mission is to promote reading for pleasure with quality texts that are perfectly pitched for the age group and the curriculum. We have particularly avoided blockbusters, classic or set texts, known to everyone, so that we can include poetry, stunning information texts and inspirational books in which all children and young people can find themselves reflected.
Thanks to our partnership with Browns Books For Students we are able to offer all the books on this list at an exclusive price.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | This immersive coming-of-age epic is set in the late nineteenth century, when an age-old Filipino culture first encounters the brutal warmongering of white men. Samkad cannot wait to become a man through undergoing the ‘Cut’ rites of passage observed by his Bontok tribe (later ignorantly mispronounced by American occupiers as “Bone Talk”), though he fears losing his best friend Luki as a result, for Luki is a girl and their relationship will be forbidden, even though they share the same ambitions - to become a warrior, to fight the Mangili. Samkad’s absorbing journey to manhood is intensified when a white stranger arrives in his village claiming to be his brother, a stranger who tells tales of a people called Americans. Then, when the Americans arrive, bringing war and destruction to the Bontok’s remote mountains, nothing will be the same again. Not for Samkad, nor for his family and culture. By turns universal and unique, historically enlightening and emotionally powerful, this relatable, resonant coming-of-age adventure boasts an abundance of heart, atmosphere and action.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Winner of the CLiPPA 2019 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | These poignant, punch-packing poems explore the varied emotional lives of secondary school pupils facing the giddy transition from being “the biggest to the smallest...in the secondary school jungle” like “gazelles in a field full of lions”. Complex tangles of feelings are laid bare with heart-rending authenticity, from the headiness of he-said-she-said gossip, to the bewildering “who the hell do you sit with?” loneliness that strikes when your best friend’s off school (Thanks a lot, Belinda). Vending Machine is an incredible piece of writing, encapsulating the anguish and anger of betrayal, of having your heart trampled on, and then the bliss of recovery when your heart feels “a little lighter”. Another personal favourite is the sublime Dear Mum, BTEC about a student “drawing different plans” after realising they are ill-suited to exams - plans they hope will make Mum proud. There are jubilant themes too, such as the breathless, time-stopping “WHAM!” of instant attraction, the jangling joy of being at the bottom of a celebratory pile-on after you’ve scored, and the magic of those inspirational, unforgettable teachers who take time to share a book they think you “should try”. A chorus of entertaining, emotionally-charged insights and observations sing and dance through these tender, playful pages, with each short verse alive with empathetic, true-to-life experiences.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2017 | May 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Award-winning Frances Hardinge’s latest novel bubbles over with brilliant ideas in a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure encompassing families, a very special kind of haunting, spying and the English Civil War. Twelve year Makepeace has grown up practising how to defend herself against spirits who go in search of another living being to inhabit when they are released from the dead. Makepeace is skilful at defence but, when grieving the death of her mother, she lets her guard down and is filled with the spirit of a bear. But Bear is a friend as much as a foe and now Makepeace has a strong internal allay who may be exactly what she needs when she goes to stay with her father’s terrifying family whom she needs to resist at all costs. Frances Hardinge’s beautiful writing makes the unbelievable credible and tangible as she weaves together and then unravels layer upon layer of complexities in this substantial and deeply story.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Ancient magic abounds, great gods and goddesses grimace, and timeless truths teem in this enthralling reimagining of Norse mythology. In his foreword, Carnegie Medal-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland explains that “Norse myths are brilliant, fast-moving, ice-bright stories”, and the tales contained herein certainly live up to that description. Beginning with an excellent illustrated overview of the gods and goddesses, dwarfs and giants, and a diagram of the Norse world itself, each dramatic retelling is prefaced by a pithy line summarising the wisdom it bears, with such gems as “Fair words often conceal weaselly thinking”, and “Be generous, be spirited, and you’ll lead a happy life” among them. The stories themselves will enchant the mind and quicken the pulse. One-eyed Odin, trickster Loki, and many more are brought to life with shard-sharp verve. The writing is crisp and lively, and the illustrations sublime: foreboding, cleverly scaled and incisively expressive. As well as providing exhilarating entertainment when curled up in a favourite armchair, this is also ideal for reading aloud. These tales, after all, were created to be told, and this collection is destined to become a classic.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 and awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour | Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016. | A heartfelt, harrowing insight into life as a Rohingya refugee in an Australian detention centre, told through the unforgettable voice of an unforgettable boy. Subhi is one of the Limbo kids in a permanent Australian detention centre, the first to be born in the camp after his Maá and big sister Queeny fled violent persecution in Burma. While he’s only experienced life within the cruel confines of the camp, Subhi’s rich imagination has conjured a magical, solace-giving world in which the Night Sea from his Maá’s tales brings him treasures from his dad. Stories are Subhi’s lifeline. He needs them “to make my memories” and imagines a blanket of stories, a “gigantic blanket big enough to warm everyone”. A new story treasure transforms Subhi’s world in the form of Jimmie, a local girl who finds her way into the camp. She too knows heartache. She’s lost her mum, who used to tell her special tales and gave her a bone sparrow necklace that “carried the souls of all her family”. When Jimmie enters Subhi’s life, he wonders if she’s his guardian angel, though he hadn't expected an angel to have more holes in her clothes than him. And, on meeting Subhi, Jimmie realises that she’s “never had a friend she wanted to share everything with before”, and so she shares her mum’s stories with him, stories he reads to her since she’s unable to read them herself. Subhi's unique voice will weave its way into your heart and under your skin. His descriptions of life in the centre are hauntingly evocative. You feel, for example, the heat of days that get his “skin creeping” and make everything “jangly and loud and scratchy”. Through Subhi, readers experience how it might feel to have no home or voice, and how friendship can lighten the darkest of circumstances. One hopes, as Subhi’s Maá says, that “someday they see we belong.” Both elegant and raw, this is an important and timely novel that bears witness to the risks people take to make their voice heard, and to the resilience of the human spirit.
Winner for the Children's Book Award 2017 - Books for Older Readers Category | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. Joint Winner of the CLiPPA 2016 (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award). Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Awards. Shortlisted for the Children's category of the Books are My Bag Readers Awards 2016 | Winner of The Bookseller's 2016 prize for young adult fiction. Ireland's Children's Book of the Year Award 2016. | Award-winning Sarah Crossan tells an astonishing and difficult story with the surest of touches in this tender, funny and life affirming book. Grace and Tippi are twins. Not just twins but conjoined twins, sharing the lower half of their bodies. Somehow they have always managed to be individuals while also part of each other. Now teenagers, Tippi and Grace are facing increasing difficulties. They are off to school for the first time meeting new experiences and especially new friendships and relationships. While Tippi longs for things to remain the same, Grace yearns for something more. Falling in love with classmate Jon she begins to imagine a future full of romance and love. But will there be a future for Grace and Tippi? When a desperate decision needs to be taken the girls lives must change forever. Sarah Crossan tells an original and utterly gripping story brilliantly. One of our Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Year 2015.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Winner of the YA Book Prize 2017 | Winner of Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, Older Fiction category | Shortlisted for Best Crime Novel for Young Adults, CrimeFest Gala Awards 2017 | Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, Children's Book category, 2016 | A young man has an impossible choice to make, in this powerful coming of age urban thriller. The action is uncompromising and powerful, yet punctuated by moments of extraordinary tenderness and it will challenge preconceptions and melt the hardest heart.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | The astonishing story of a young man's quest to find justice for his father, from the Carnegie Medal-winning author of Buffalo Soldier. Holding the reader in suspense throughout it charts the growth of a frightened boy into a brave young man with the inspiration drawn from the shocking true story of Thomas Benson, an eighteenth-century Devonshire smuggler.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America's Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent.
Shortlisted for YA Book Prize 2017 | Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | Crongton Knights is a very funny, very moving story that shows that although life is testing, the lessons learned the hard way are the ones you'll never forget. It is from the acclaimed author of Liccle Bit.
Winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. On winning the CILIP Carnegie Medal Ruta Sepetys commented: “As a writer, I am drawn to underrepresented stories and history in hiding. I spend a lot of time pondering the question – why do some parts of history penetrate our collective consciousness while others remain hidden? When I began work on the novel years ago, I had no way of knowing that when it was published, we would be amidst a refugee crisis. Then and now, my thoughts return to the children.” She added: “History allows us to examine decisions. Yes, history can be full of sadness and pain but it also shines light on hope, freedom, courage and the miraculous nature of the human spirit. History divided us, but through reading we are united in study and remembrance. That is the power of books.”
The amazing story of Malala’s courage and her fight for the education of girls is well known. Here, in her own voice, she tells of her journey from her early days as a clever school girl to her exceptional life as an international speaker on the rights of girls to get an education. Growing up in a village in the Swat valley in Pakistan Malala and her friends faced persecution from Islamic fundamentalists who believed women should not be educated. In 2012, Malala and her two school friends were targeted and shot when travelling home from school one day. Fortunately, Malala and her friends survived. From that day on, Malala campaigned for the rights of all girls to get an education. Hearing her tell her story is inspirational.
Winner of Carnegie Award 2009 and the Bisto Irish Children's Book Award 2009 and shortlisted for the . New and challenging book full of mystery and shadows from recently deceased author Siobhan Dowd. Both terrifying and fascinating from the start, Bog Child is a must-read for 2009. The plot follows Fergus a boy who finds the body of a child, and it looks like she's been murdered. All of a sudden a little voice is coming to him in his dreams, and Fergus must cope with getting caught up in further troubles around his home of Northern Ireland. What the Carnegie Award judges said: 'This is a beautifully written and controlled novel, strong on dialogue but with some beautiful descriptive phrases as well. The dual narrative is deftly done and Dowd is very good on family relationships and the atmosphere of the times. The ending is satisfying, and the whole believable and unflinching.' From Siobhan Dowd: 'The protagonists in my stories aren’t human rights heroes in the conventional sense. They are ordinary people living in England and Ireland who find extraordinary ways to overcome the difficulties in their lives and for me that’s the essence of any good story: it’s where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.' From David Fickling, the author's publisher: 'In 2007 Siobhan Dowd was voted one of the twenty-five British writers for the future (only three were children’s writers). Siobhan is still very much a writer for the future. Everybody should read her.' Siobhan sadly only wrote 4 books in total before her tragic death from cancer in 2007. They are Solace of the Road, Bog Child, A Swift Pure Cry and The London Eye Mystery but her memory lives on in a Trust that has been set up in her name as well as through her writing. Every penny of royalties from Siobhan's book sales go to the trust that has been set up in her memory - www.siobhandowdtrust.org
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2016 Book Award in the 12 - 16 year old category. Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. | Award-winning Nick Lake tells a complex story fusing two strands of narrative into a richly woven single thread. Seventeen-year-old Shelby Cooper has always been very protected by her mother; she guesses it is partly because she is deaf, partly because her dad is dead and partly she had a terrible accident when she was a baby. But when she is knocked over by a car, her life takes a whole new turn. Suddenly she and her Mom are on the run and everything that she has known about her life before is suddenly questioned. What is the truth? And will she ever discover it? As her life unravels, Shelby retreats into a fantasy world of the Dreaming a place infused with old, old Mythology. Part-adventure, part-mystery and part a teenager’s journey of self-discovery, There Will Be Liesis dramatic and unexpected in equal measure.
Longlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal - March 2014 Book of the Month | Award-winning Meg Rosoff brilliantly unravels a story of secrets and surprises as seen through the eyes of twelve year old Mila. An only child, Mila is a sharp observer of the world around her; she picks up the small details that people think they are keeping hidden and which adults easily miss. Accompanying her father on a long trip to a remote place to find his best-friend who has gone missing, Mila sensitively detects buried sorrows and tensions which may be useful as explanations. What Mila learns is important and leads to the uncovering of truths that have been kept from her. Meg Rosoff captures perfectly the way Mila, like other sensitive teenagers, sees behind what adults tell her and creates her own understanding of their actions.
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2014 - Shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards 2014, 14-16 age category - July 2013 Book of the Month - Winner of the Waterstones prize for new and emerging talent 2013 | Award-winning author Annabel Pitcher’s new teen novel is a taut and dramatic adventure with a deep yearning at its heart. Ketchup Clouds vividly captures the terrifying roller coaster of emotion that envelopes Zoe when she gets caught in a tragic love triangle between two brothers. Zoe’s heart races for the mysterious Aaron but, despite his seeming keenness, he already has a girlfiend. And then there is younger brother Max, unattached and very keen on Zoe. How can Zoe manage her own feelings without hurting the boys especially when she’s also coping with puzzling dramas at home?
Families! They come in all kinds. While the Savages, with their neat-as-a-pin house and immaculately turned out children, might seem very much the same as any other family, they are actually completely different. When Angelica starts going out with a new boyfriend, like many other teenagers, she is sure that her parents will disapprove. When she tells them he is a vegetarian, she knows she was right to worry! Matt Whyman tells a dark story with terrific humour and verve.
A stunning blend of past and future technologies, Mortal Engines sets the scene for a stunning quartet of action-packed novels set in a richly inventive world in which wheeled cities hunt each other across the dried up sea bed. Big cities gobble up smaller ones and London rules above them all. Tom Natsworthy, a third class apprentice in the Guild of Historians, has the adventure of his life after he sets out to try to find out what has happened to his parents. With a cast of inventive characters including Shrike, Anna Fang and Stalker, a deadly robot killer with a human brain, and cities whose imaginary and multi-layered architecture dazzles, this is a creation on a vast and imaginary scale. To read the Mortal Engines Quartet in order: 1) Mortal Engines 2) Predator's Gold 3) Infernal Devices 4) Darkling Plain Perfect for Reluctant Readers as well as keen readers. To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here. If you love Philip Reeve's Mortal Engine sequence you should also read Haywired by Alex Keller. Also, click here to read Alex Keller's interview with Philip Reeve in The Solitary Bee.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 | Prize-winning Marcus Sedgwick's gift for powerful storytelling is at its very best in this emotionally charged, no holds barred novel. When journalist Eric Seven arrives on Blessed Island with a mission to uncover a mystery he is immediately captivated by its breathtaking beauty. And by the beauty of Merle. Why does Eric feel he's met her before? And what are the secrets the islanders are keeping from him? Eric's story leads easily into stories set at other times on this idyllic place which hides a dark and bloody heart. Unfolding the cleverly crafted and interwoven layers to their dramatic conclusion is a spell binding delight.
Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. | What the judges said: McCaughrean’s control of language and style ensures that this novel, with its original and ambitious plot, produces a fast-moving adventure story. It’s an outstanding survival fantasy that explores the pain of adolescence. The descriptive passages of the frozen Antarctic wastes are bone chillingly real and the gradual unfolding of this pacey story builds to a satisfying climax.
When Mattie Gokey is given a bundle of letters to burn she fully intends to execute the wishes of the giver, Grace Brown. When Grace Brown is found drowned the next day in Big Moose Lake, Mattie finds that it is not as easy to burn those letters as she had thought. And, as she reads, a riveting story emerges - not only Grace Brown's story but also Mattie's hopes and ambitions for the future and her relationships with her friends and family. Published to widespread acclaim this wonderful novel, part murder mystery and part coming-of-age story, is an astounding and accomplished piece of literature. The reviews say it all...