Bookbuzz ’22 – time to choose your book, Year 7

Welcome Year 7!

We hope you have discovered our treasure trove of a library. You are now tasked with tricky decision of choosing a brand-new book from sixteen selected titles to keep as your very own.

Which book will you choose? Browse our top picks below by reading each blurb, and click on the cover illustration to find out more. You will register your choice in your English lesson shortly and receive your copy before Christmas hopefully. Consider selecting the same book as friends to create your own mini book club to share thoughts and opinions as you turn the pages.

With thanks once more to the George Green’s Trust for their generosity in funding new books for all students in Year 7.

Waiting for Murder by Fleur Hitchcock

Dan and his archaeologist mum are staying in a Westcountry village for the summer while she works on an ancient burial site that’s been revealed by the draining of the local reservoir. Dan is a bit bored, but as the reservoir’s water drops, a new secret is revealed: an old car. As it emerges from the water, Dan and his new friend Florence are certain there’s something – or someone – in the front seat. But the next day, when the police pull the car out of the water, it’s empty.

Mystery, murder and intrigue make this a page-turning read, ideal for any readers who love puzzles and crime-solving. It’s also a very atmospheric as, against the backdrop of the heatwave and village gossip, Fleur Hitchcock cleverly builds tension in the storyline and a strong sense of unease to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody by Kate Gilby Smith. Illustrated by Thy Bui 

Alex has always felt she’s a little different. Home-schooled by an eccentric uncle until year 7, when she joins secondary school she finds it really hard to make friends. Even her teacher nicknames her ‘Alex Nobody’. Then there are the groups of oddly-dressed people that often seem to be following her – that’s not normal, right? But when she meets Jasper, everything changes – except her new best friend seems to be lying to her.

‘Alex Nobody’ is a character-driven adventure packed with thought-provoking ideas, from time-travel scenarios to identity and the value of friendship. Interwoven within the adventure there’s lots of science and – perhaps surprising for a book largely set in the future – elements of history. As Alex tackles the idea that in the future she could be someone famous (but for what? for something good – or for something bad?), she learns how to believe in herself and her potential, and that no one is ever a nobody.

The Girl in Wooden Armour by Conrad Mason. Illustrated by George Ermos

Hattie knows her grandmother Dee is quite eccentric. But even after receiving a cryptic note from her, asking the family to visit, when Hattie arrives in the town of Brokewood, the last thing she expects to discover is a magical legacy she knew nothing about.

Fantasy and horror combine in this edge-of-your-seat tale that is at times quite scary. There are lots of twists and turns, and the action-adventure side of the story is balanced by the very human and emotional themes of grief and change. As the various pieces of the puzzle of Hattie’s family history, and of Brokewood itself, are revealed, it’s up to Hattie to find the truth behind a tragic event that took place here six years ago, and prevent a terrifying monster from gaining power.

Alex Rider Mission 13: Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz 

Alex Rider thought he had finally left his spying life behind him and was enjoying reconnecting with school and the best mate he had really missed while fighting organised crime.

But when bodies start piling up and a dangerous band of ‘terrorists for hire’ emerges onto the world stage, Alex is dragged into yet another risky undercover op. And this time it’s personal. Even as the adults in charge disregard his safety when they think they can use him, Alex is as fearless as ever and puts the greater good before his own chances of survival.

This is the 13th slick and sophisticated adventure for the 15-year-old undercover agent and has all the tropes you would expect from a classic spy thriller; hidden safe houses, deadly weapons disguised as harmless toys, an impregnable high-security fortress and escape plans that stretch credibility to breaking point – whilst also touching on serious themes of radicalisation and chemical warfare. Nightshade is an exhilarating page-turner that will thrill existing Alex Rider fans and convert new ones.   

You are a Champion by Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka 

A popular read at George Green’s with students and staff. You could now own your own copy and avoid the LRC waiting list.

In this gentle and encouraging book, co-written by journalist Carl Anka, Marcus assures young fans that anything is possible with hard work, good friends, and a positive attitude. He talks candidly about growing up in awe of his football-mad brother in Manchester, struggling at school and the life lessons he learned from his Nanna; as well as what he learned on his incredible journey from playing after-school football to becoming one of the star players on the England team and a role model for millions of children everywhere.

This is the ultimate guide to making your own destiny on your terms. Each page is filled with positive affirmations, encouragement, and reminders to always view ‘failures’ as temporary setbacks, to learn from mistakes, and to never listen to anyone who says you can’t do something because of where you’re from. An invaluable read for older readers as well as young football fans, this is a wry, moving, and memorable book for finding your way in the world.

Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm 

This compelling science fiction adventure is set aboard the Orion, a large spacecraft which is transporting people from Earth to a new planet, twenty six light years away. Life on the ship quickly becomes routine for thirteen year old Beth, who attends school, meets new friends and makes an enemy out of Vihaan, the Captain’s arrogant son.

After months of uneventful space travel, the craft is unexpectedly attacked and all adults are incapacitated. If they are to survive, they must put aside their differences and work together to fix the damaged ship and navigate to safety. However, they are surrounded by dangers, from meteor storms and ruthless space pirates to the terrifying, mysterious alien lifeform known as the Videshi.

Full of twists and turns, this thrilling futuristic journey into the unknown will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Lu by Jason Reynolds – one of our favourite authors at George Green’s.

Athletics star Lu is generally pretty sure of himself – who he is and what he’s good at. But there’s suddenly a lot of change in his life. The big end-of-season championships are looming; his parents have dropped the bombshell that they’re having another kid; Coach has got him running hurdles but, after an embarrassing fall, he doesn’t seem able to jump them anymore; and as some new things about his dad’s past are revealed, Lu’s faced with a lot of questions.

An incredibly real and relatable character, Lu is trying to figure out how to be himself as well as how to fit in. He’s got a good home but a lot of the families around him face lots of disadvantages, and his dad’s history of drug dealing – that he’s now trying to atone for – casts a shadow. Meanwhile, though the athletics team is like a family, like all families, not everyone always gets along. As Lu tries to find his pace again, can he get his head around the line between right and wrong, how easy (or not) it is to fix mistakes, and what being cool really means?

Although it’s the fourth title in the ‘Run’ series, Lu can be read as a standalone story about the importance of taking that leap and believing in yourself.

Horror Heights: The Slime by Bec Hill. Illustrated by Berat Pekmezci 

Connie is proud to be known as the ‘Queen of Slime’ at school and intends to keep it that way – even though her entire slime collection has now been confiscated by the teacher. Desperate to get a new slime to take to school next week, Connie resorts to making her own, using a recipe her dad gets off the internet. Things take a funny turn though: after she adds some unique, additional ingredients, Connie wakes up the next day to discover the slime – aka Big Yikes – is alive!

At first Big Yikes is a cute little thing that talks in half sentences, but over the following days it quickly evolves in something much bigger and more menacing, with rather a lot of sharp teeth and a rapidly expanding appetite. Between school, friendship troubles and keeping Big Yikes in check, Connie suddenly has a lot to deal with. Can she stay out of trouble AND stop Big Yikes from, well, eating her and everyone she loves?

Despite the title, this is more humour than horror – a funny tale about a science experiment gone wild and the everyday troubles of being a young teen.

Amber Under Cover by Em Norry

Amber and her best friend Vi are pretty different: Amber’s shy, while Vi craves the spotlight; Amber stays cool in stressful situations while Vi panics, and Vi seems to be getting more and more involved with a different crowd at school. Yet, while it would seem that Vi is more popular, it’s Amber that is chosen to be a spy by a mysterious agency after passing tests disguised as an escape room and a virtual reality game: it turns out that staying calm under pressure and excellent science and maths results do matter, after all.

After her initial training – which her parents are told is part of an international STEM schools programme  – Amber is sent to infiltrate an exclusive boarding school in Oslo that The Agency suspects harbours members of a cybercrime unit called CHAOS. At first, she’s intimidated by some of the kids there, all of whom seem super intelligent and rich. Yet, after a while, Amber realises that she’s more than capable of playing the others at their own game – even the somewhat distracting Luca – and perfecting her spy skills into the bargain.

A fast-paced thriller-style story with tech detail that doesn’t overwhelm the plot, as well as a humorous and likeable main character, Amber Undercover is a truly great read. As well as a saving the world plot, themes of friendship and family are just as important: Amber’s mum having a new baby and Amber’s friendships with Vi and the different gang in Norway all weave into a story that’s ultimately about growing up, finding our niche and learning to value what makes us unique.

When the Sky Fall by Phil Earle (Year 7 Book Club choice 2021 and highly recommended)

It’s 1941 during the Second World War. While everyone else seems to be evacuated to the countryside, 12-year-old Joseph is sent from rural Yorkshire to stay with his gran’s friend, Mrs F, in the city. She’s a gruff, unfriendly woman and he’s an angry boy who kicks out at everything and feels totally abandoned.

Now Joseph also finds himself in the centre of the Blitz, where bombs rain down every night. The only thing Mrs F cares about is the rundown zoo that she owns, and particularly a huge silverback gorilla called Adonis. Adonis and Joseph at first seem to take an immediate dislike to each other but over the course of the story, their bonds deepen to a remarkable relationship.  Joseph has other battles with school, in particular bullying and his serious troubles with reading. Like so many children of his generation, his dyslexia is not recognised or understood.

This is a beautifully written historical adventure story that will take readers on a very emotional and exciting journey. The pace is fast and the feelings run high. The reader ends up fighting for Joseph and Adonis all the way – and this book is almost impossible to put down. The historical details are brilliantly researched and the basic story of Adonis and what happened to other big wild animals in zoos during the war is based on real-life events.

Wave Riders by Lauren St John 

Twins Jess and Jude were orphaned as babies but life with their guardian, Gabriel, is close to idyllic. Sailing around the world, calling at exotic locations for supplies every now and then, they feel blessed and very lucky – until the morning they awake to find the yacht adrift and Gabe missing.

At first, the twins assume there has been an awful accident. But when they discover their supplies are drugged, they question whether Gabe has been abducted or killed. When it becomes clear that they are entirely alone, the twins search the boat for clues as to what might have happened. Instead of clarity, however, they find confusion and a baffling mystery, with their personal history right at the heart of it.

This complex mystery thriller reveals its secrets very gradually with a full explanation only coming in the last few pages. Anyone who likes a story to challenge them and who enjoys trying to piece together elusive clues to solve a puzzle will love Jess and Jude’s adventure.

My Big Mouth by Steven Camden. Steven, aka the performance poet Polar Bear was a previous First Story writer-in-resident at George Green’s, this is great introduction to his writing and great sense of humour and very readable.

It’s the last half term of Year 6 and Jay has a book report to write. But then Dad disappears: no goodbye, no note, no explanation of any kind. Just not there on Monday morning.

Back at school, Jay is first up to present his book report and… Guess what? That’s right, he hasn’t done it. But too ashamed to admit the truth, he opens his mouth to find a very cool story pouring out. He knows it’s cool because everyone tells him so and he likes the feeling of being Mr Popular.

As Jay makes up more stories, he becomes more cool and worries less about his dad –until the stress of keeping up his new façade becomes overwhelming and Jay questions whether being thought cool is really as cool as he expected. Although it deals with some difficult issues, these are sensitively handled and Jay’s story is also a funny and entertaining cautionary tale.

Written in an easy, chatty style, My Big Mouth draws readers into a conversation about what Jay does and why, occasionally giving them small tasks to do and offering opportunities to have a tea break every so often.

Factopia by Kate Hale

The perfect book for any fact-lover, Factopia contains 400 different facts to discover and be wowed by, covering almost anything from nature to robots to the human body to space. Did you know that around 12% of people dream in black and white? That the Earth hums? That there is a hotel in America shaped like a potato?

Each fact is presented as a snippet on the page, with an accompanying illustration or photograph – but one of the things that makes this book stand out is it’s ‘follow-the-trail’ system. Rather than being grouped together by subject matter, the facts are connected in more unusual ways: readers are encouraged to literally follow the trail between the facts, which could lead from a fact about a mountain in Peru called Rainbow Mountain to facts about actual rainbows; then from how rainbows are circles to facts about other things that are circles.

So, dip in and out, or follow the trail from beginning to end, or even take one of the side branches to skip ahead or back to a different connected fact. Not only is there loads of fun stuff to learn, but it offers a different kind of reading experience and encourages a little thinking ‘outside the box’.

Tragedy at Sea: The Sinking of the Titanic, David Long. Illustrated by Stefano Tambellini

Shortly before midnight on April 14th, 1912, the world’s most luxurious (and probably most famous) ship, the Titanic, hit an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to America. Even today, more than a hundred years later, it’s the biggest shipping disaster ever and a story that, although most people have heard it, continues to fascinate.

How could a ship that was considered ‘unsinkable’ and designed to be the safest ship of its time, sink on its first trip? What went wrong? What would it have been like to be there? Or to read about the disaster in the media the next day?

From the vision and inspiration behind the ship, to the feats of engineering it took to build her and the uniqueness of her design, David Long shows how the Titanic’s tale is extraordinary in more ways than just the one it’s most famous for, while the details of the voyage and the events that led to the disaster are presented in a way that will surely get readers thinking.

This is a brilliant and fascinating retelling is told in an accessible narrative style and dyslexia friendly format.

The House of Clouds by Lisa Thompson 

Everything is feeling very upside-down in Tabby’s life right now. Not only has her best friend gone off and found another entirely different best friend, but since her grandad moved in, all her mum’s time seems to be occupied with looking after him. Plus Tabby finds her grandad and his strange stories quite irritating – she’s not a little child anymore, after all. But when one of her beach walks with grandad’s smelly dog Buster leads Tabby to investigate a seemingly abandoned house on the cliff-top, where she sees something quite strange, she begins to wonder whether the story grandad tells her about the ‘House of Clouds’ could possibly be true?

This is a lovely, gentle story about friendship, family and grief, written and printed in a dyslexia friendly format. There is much here for readers to relate to while the ‘cloud-sculpting’ storyline offers a slightly fantastical twist and a touch of mystery.

Star Cat by James Turner. Illustrated by Yasmin Sheikh 

This bright, super-fun graphic novel stars Captain Spaceington and his wacky crew as they travel the universe in their spaceship, the Star Cat.

Spaceington is desperate to win the much-coveted Bravest Captain Award, but every mission he’s sent on by Space HQ never quite works out the way it’s supposed to… Instead, the Star Cat has a habit of leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, no matter how good their intentions are, which tends to rather overshadow their successes and ‘brave deeds’.

Star Cat is silly, packed full of puns and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s clearly laid out, with all the story told through pictures and the speech bubbles. Altogether, there are six individual stories included in the collection, each involving an increasingly wild adventure as Spaceington seeks to get the recognition he feels he deserves – oh, and prevent his evil nemesis, Dark Rectangle, from destroying the universe.