Bookbuzz ’23 – 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 twelve 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 need to register your number one choice with your English teacher by Friday 13th October. We hope to receive copies in time for Christmas. 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.

Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick

Detention on a Saturday! Could life get any worse? As it turns out, life is about to get much worse.

As if it’s not bad enough to be missing out on the best bit of the weekend, you have to spend it with kids you don’t even like. But that’s the least of their worries once the caretaker lets Naira, Angelo, Gus and Hallie into the school grounds and locks the gate securely behind them. One minute the PE teacher, Mr Canton, is giving out chores for the morning and the next he’s dragged underground by some unseen horror, leaving only his cap behind. And that’s just the beginning.

As the fear and dread build up in this tense thriller, a group of misfits is forced to work as a team to defeat the most terrifying of hidden attackers. Creepy things lurk in the shadows, indescribable nasties leap out when least expected and death, or worse, awaits anyone who dares to put a foot to the ground. Not for the faint-hearted, this edge-of-seat horror is hard to put down, with many chapters ending on a cliff-hanger. But it’s the humanity and backstories that stay with you when the trauma ends.

Can You Feel the Noise by Stewart Foster

Although Sophie has been experiencing gradual hearing loss for a while, it’s still a big shock when she wakes up one morning to find she is now deaf. Everything feels strange, her days are filled with hospital appointments, and conversations are limited to what she can lip-read. And what will this mean for her musical ambitions – and the upcoming Battle of the Bands competition she was so excited to be part of?

Now Sophie must find a way to overcome her instinct to hide away from the world, and instead figure out a new equilibrium, especially amongst her friends and bandmates, some of whom are better at understanding the new challenges she’s facing than others are. When she meets another deaf musician, Sophie learns to experience music in a whole new way. Perhaps there is still a place for her in the band after all?

Author Stewart Foster – who also experienced hearing loss as a teenager – explores the challenges around disability and deafness, the ups and downs of changing friendships, and rediscovering your confidence when things take an expected turn. Sophie is highly relatable and this is a sensitively told and emotionally engaging character-driven story.

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell

After playing one trick too many, Loki, Norse god of mischief, is sent by Odin to live on earth as an 11-year-old boy. He has one month to prove that he can mend his ways, or Odin will condemn him to eternal torture. Loki must record evidence of his moral improvement in a magical diary which, unfortunately for him, corrects lies and deducts ‘virtue points’ from his score whenever he behaves badly. Furious that he must suffer indignities such as attending school and doing chores, Loki struggles to be good. He is particularly enraged that he has to put up with Thor, who poses as his twin brother to keep an eye on him.

Loki’s scathing observations of human existence are hilarious, as well as insightful at times. Despite his contemptuous attitude towards mortal beings, readers will be rooting for him to make the right choices, as he learns about guilt, loyalty and friendship. This side-splitting tale, which contains an abundance of references to Norse mythology, is hugely entertaining from start to finish. A great choice for reluctant readers, it is generously illustrated with witty black-and-white cartoon drawings, and the daily diary entries break the text into manageable sections.

My Own Lightning by Lauren Wolk

Annabelle is walking home from school when she’s caught in a summer storm and struck by lightning. Somebody saves her life – she has a memory of them pounding their fist on her heart to restart it – but then leaves. Who was it, and why would they save her life and then disappear? And now, after the lightning, the world feels different to Annabelle: her normal senses – taste, touch, sound – are heightened, and on top of that she can now sense what animals are feeling.

As the summer unfolds, Annabelle tries to understand her new ability and to unlock the mysteries that surround her: not only who saved her life, but her brother’s missing dog, their strange new neighbours, and a devastating event from the previous year.

Set in Western Pennsylvania in 1944, My Own Lightning brilliantly evokes a rural farming community in a time of hardship. It’s a lyrical and beautifully told tale of a young person’s journey towards adulthood, with themes of understanding and forgiveness. Anabelle is a thoughtful and relatable character whose world has been turned topsy-turvey. A quiet but emotionally satisfying read.

Please be aware there are some references to domestic abuse in the book.

Our Sister, Again by Sophie Cameron

It’s three years since Isla’s older sister Flora died. Isla and her family would do anything to have Flora back, so when they’re offered the chance to participate in a top-secret trial which recreates loved ones as fully lifelike AI robots, they jump at the opportunity.

It’s amazing to have Flora home again – she seems exactly the same as the sister Isla remembers, except she has a charging port on the back of her neck, her body will never age, and she will never get sick. But what will it really mean to have Flora back? Can things really go back to how they were before? And what will it mean for the small island community where they live? Everyone had to promise to keep ‘Project Homecoming’ and Flora a secret, but when Flora starts getting threatening messages it’s clear that someone on the island is very unhappy about her being there, and it’s up to Isla to find out who, and why.

Exploring a number of ethical questions, Our Sister, Again is simultaneously an intriguing mystery and a moving story of grief, family bonds, and what it means to be human.

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu

Onyeka hates her wild mass of out-of-control hair. Everywhere she goes it attracts unwanted attention and unasked for comments. Just one more thing that makes her feel different and left out.

Until that day at the swimming pool when it’s her hair that saves her, and best friend Cheyenne, from drowning. Rather than being pleased, her mum is alarmed by what’s happened and whisks Onyeka back to Nigeria where she is enrolled at the Academy of the Sun, a training school for children with superpowers. But Onyeka’s new reality brings challenges and she soon finds herself in the midst of a battle for truth, freedom and life itself.

This first instalment of an unusual superhero series, explores classic themes of trust, deception, loyalty and self-sacrifice for the greater good. As Onyeka comes to terms with her newly-discovered powers, she initially struggles to control them and has to do a lot of growing up in a short space of time. With her sense of liberation comes the realisation of the responsibility she holds, both to herself and to others.

Fans of superhero movies will enjoy the spectacular fight scenes, the ethical conundrums and the timeless clash between good and evil.

Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Have you ever wondered how fairy tales came to be? Well, they all begin at the School for Good and Evil, where good students learn how to become heroes and heroines, and evil students learn how to become villains. From there, they can only hope that the enchanted pen – the Storian – will write them into one of its fairy tales and ensure that they become legends.

When twins Rhian and Rafal are appointed as school masters of good and evil, they feel confident that their love for each other will help them to ensure balance between both sides of the school and beyond in the Endless Woods. But when new student Aladdin arrives, competition arises between the two brothers, testing the strength of their love for each other and wreaking havoc on the school as a result.

Themes of love, loyalty and morality are explored in this modern take on how fairy tales are created. Readers can expect to see some familiar names and plenty of magic in this prequel to the School for Good and Evil series.

Striking Out by Ian Wright and Musa Okwonga

Jerome Jackson is a teenager who lives with his over-worked mum and volatile stepfather in their London flat. He dreams of becoming a professional footballer, but since the death of his father, Jerome has lost his confidence to try out for the major clubs.

A chance meeting with legendary striker Ian Wright changes everything. Ian is impressed when he sees Jerome play and encourages the boy to believe in himself and overcome some of the obstacles in his way. As Jerome concentrates on honing his footballing skills, he must contend with a new school, racist abuse and an increasingly stressful home life. With Ian’s guidance, can Jerome turn his fortunes around?

This engaging and uplifting novel, which celebrates friendship and community, is based on Ian Wright’s own childhood experiences and will appeal to any aspiring sportsperson. The tale emphasises the importance of self-belief, working hard and, above all, never giving up.

Swarm Rising by Tim Peake and Steve Cole

In 1974, a message was sent into outer space. Its intention was to let any lifeforms out there know that they were not alone; that Earth was inhabited by humans and that those humans were very clever indeed. Nobody really expected the message to be heard. And they certainly didn’t expect aliens to come looking for us.

In not many years from now, Danny gets an unexpected WhatsApp message from Adi, a friend of his cousin with whom he seems to have lots in common. Meanwhile, Danny’s radio astronomer mum reports odd FRBs (fast radio bursts) being picked up at Jodrell Bank. And super-computers all over the world are going offline.

When Danny is kidnapped by a driverless taxi, and finds out his cousin has never heard of Adi, he finally realises something is very wrong. Exploring ideas such as quantum flux, impossible superpowers enabled by expanding the laws of probability beyond their limits and a host of other theoretical possibilities, this is a must for sci-fi fans.

But you don’t need to be a scientist to love this book; it’s an absorbing, exciting adventure based on an ingenious concept, thoughtfully planned and with a strong environmental message.

The Secret Sunshine Project by Benjamin Dean, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat

When Bea’s big sister, Riley, plucks up the courage to tell Mum and Dad that she likes girls, Dad has the best idea. He takes them all to London Pride where, amidst a dazzle of rainbows, glitter and confetti, Riley feels she has found her tribe.

But that was last year, when Dad was still with them. Things are different now; they can’t afford to stay in their home and have no choice but to move to the countryside and stay with Gran. At least for the summer. While Bea quickly makes new friends, Riley is living under a cloud; she’s missing Dad, and Pride, and can’t feel positive about anything. Until Bea has a radical idea: if Riley can’t go to Pride, Bea will bring Pride to her.

With a magnificent cast of diverse, inclusive, fully formed characters this is a story of pain, joy, loyalty, courage and love.

Super Sidekicks: Ocean’s Revenge by Gavin Aung Than

The Super Sidekicks – previously the largely ignored assistants to more famous superheroes – have now gone independent and formed their own group. So when the world’s superheroes start disappearing one by one and a mysterious mass starts moving towards the city, it’s clear that it’s up to the Super Sidekicks to save the day.

When the threat emerges from the sea, it’s revealed to be a humongous plastic monster called Trash Titan. He was created by Tiamata: Mother of the Seas, Protector of the Oceans, and Custodian of all Waters. Tiamata is furious with the world leaders for sullying her oceans with plastic and is determined to have revenge. Can the Super Sidekicks JJ, Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo stop Tiamata and Trash Titan from destroying the city whilst also finding a way to protect the ocean in the future?

A contemporary superhero story, this black-and-white graphic novel is a reminder not to take our planet for granted. It has an environmental theme and is packed with humour and courage. Although part of a series, Super Sidekicks: Ocean’s Revenge is a complete story and stands alone.

Twitch by M. G. Leonard

Twitch is a kind, sensitive 12-year-old boy, who always stands up for what is right. He adores birds and tenderly cares for his four pet pigeons, three hens and a family of swallows, who nest in his bedroom every year. Bullied at school, he makes an enemy out of Jack when he stops him from killing a pigeon, so is relieved when the summer holidays start.

Keen to spend his days at Aves Wood Nature Reserve, where he has constructed a secret birdwatching hide, Twitch intends to train his two youngest pigeons, Squeaker and Frazzle, to become homing birds. However, his peaceful retreat is teaming with police officers, on the hunt for an escaped prisoner who has been spotted in the area. Twitch’s bird-watching skills of patience, careful observation and a thorough knowledge of the terrain, make him the perfect detective. He is soon drawn into the search for Robber Ryan, along with his former tormentor, Jack, with whom he develops a tentative friendship.

This engaging and uplifting tale about friendship, trust and the wonder of nature is beautifully written. Seamlessly interwoven with an intriguing detective story, it has a thrilling finale and is an absolute joy to read