Bookbuzz ’21: a new book for every Year 7

Welcome Year 7! You have the wonderful, if not slightly difficult, decision of choosing one book from thirteen selected titles to keep as your very own by October 22nd 2021. You will be able to register your choice in your English lesson. The question is: which book will you decide on?

Browse our top picks below by reading each blurb. Consider selecting the same book as friends and create your own book club, sharing thoughts and opinions as you turn the pages.

With thanks to the George Green’s Trust for their generosity in funding new books for all students in Year 7. This will ensure that all students in Years 7 to 9 have a book they’ve chosen for keeps!

Across the Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble

When three strangers arrive on her island home, everything Neoma thought she knew about the world is turned upside down.

Set in a near-future where rising sea levels have decimated the land, Neoma and her best friend Jaguar live in a close-knit community on the Ockery Islands. They live simple lives, fishing and scavenging. But when the strangers arrive and install some strange tech on the hillside, ignoring the islanders’ protests, everything changes.

Who are they? Where did they come from? And what are they doing?

The strangers’ actions set in motion a deadly mystery that threatens the peaceful community. And when Jaguar is kidnapped as a result, Neoma embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea to find the mysterious Valley of the Sun, rescue Jaguar, and get answers. She’ll have to tackle crocodiles, sharks, and a ruthless pirate to get there. – can she survive the dangers, evade capture and save her home?

D-Day Dog by Tom Palmer

Jack’s favourite things are his dog, Finn, and playing war-themed videogames with his dad, who’s an army reservist. He’s excited about the school trip to Normandy and the class project on World War II. War and being a soldier seem like really exciting things.

As the class begins the research for their project, though, Jack’s perceptions are questioned at every turn. First there’s the new girl Kassandra, a Syrian refugee, who wants to research a civilian – but war is about soldiers, not civilians, right? Then his dad gets called up and his mum is really unhappy about it – but shouldn’t she be excited and proud for Jack’s dad? And when Jack’s asked to research D-Day soldier Emile Corteil and learns about what happened to him and his dog, Jack’s whole idea of war is turned inside-out.

As the school trip approaches, Jack has to try and figure out his feelings on war and soldiers and what it all means.

Do take out a copy of After the War by Tom Palmer from the LRC. It’s a brilliant book much loved by students and staff last year.

Fire Boy by J M Joseph

When Aiden receives a surprise parcel with ‘Top Secret’ written on it and a note saying not to open it until his mum gets home, obviously he opens it straightaway. It appears to be just a jar of sweets though, so why all the secrecy? Answer: they’re sweets that give you superpowers. Now he can light his hands on fire and blow smoke-rings from his bum!

Normally, the most excitement Aiden has is when bully Mitchell Mulch is on the warpath, or when the She-bear (aka Granny) finds out he’s eaten the last of the cornflakes. Now, Aiden and his best friends Sadie and Hussein have no trouble finding all sorts of fun things to do with their new-found abilities.

But the man who sent the sweets is on their trail – and will do anything to get them back…

Rat by Patrice Lawrence

Al is finally out of foster care and back living with his mum, now she’s out of prison. She’s made four important promises to help them stay together, but trouble is just around the corner and Al is devastated when she’s arrested again.

It’s clear to Al whose fault this is, though: the grumpy man from the flat downstairs, Mr Brayker, who’s hated his mum since they moved in, and who was right there in the shop when Al’s mum was arrested. Now Al is going to make him pay for what he’s done.

This absorbing tale provides a moving insight into Al’s world, which is shaped by poverty and neglect. Getting revenge is the only thing on Al’s mind, and he doesn’t care what the consequences are; it already feels like the whole world is out to get him. But what is the best way to get it?

As he goes through various plans and scenarios, Al is forced to confront difficult things but he’s gradually able to gain some understanding of those around him. An incredibly insightful and moving short story about young lives and the importance of community spirit, tolerance and kindness

Slick by M. M. Vaughan

Slick is an android – a robot that looks and behaves just like a human. But no one knows he’s an android, not even him. What Slick does know is that it’s important to have the coolest clothes and the best tech, and be friends with the popular kids. That’s what everyone’s always telling him, anyway – his parents, his teacher, his Uncle Martin.

Danny is definitely not popular and definitely does not have the ‘right’ clothes. But when Slick meets Danny, he starts to wonder whether true friendship is about more than just popularity. And Danny quickly realises there’s something different about Slick: Why does he go to the dentist every week? Why does he have gaps in his memories? And who exactly is the mysterious Uncle Martin?

When Danny uncovers the truth about Slick, the worst thing imaginable happens… Can Danny outwit Slick’s creators and save the only real friend he’s ever had?

The Infinite by Patience Agbabi

Elle is a Leapling: born on a leap day (29th February) and with the ability to leap backwards and forwards through time.

On her twelfth birthday she’ll take her first official leap, on a school field trip to 2048. They’ll visit the Time Squad Centre, a time-travelling crime-fighting organisation. But when Elle, in 2020, receives a cryptic SOS text message sent from someone in 2048 she knows something is wrong in the future. Who sent it? Why?

Someone’s in trouble in 2048 – and it’s up to Elle to figure out who it is, and how to save them.

A time-travelling science fiction adventure combined with crime mystery, The Infinite is fresh, exciting, bold and witty. Elle loves running, white food and her Nigerian heritage, but she dislikes eye contact, being stared at, too much noise, bullies and anything that makes her head too full. Managing everyday experiences can be hard, but her determination, curiosity and intelligence help her pursue her goals while the sparky friendship between Elle and her best friend Big Ben is touching and entertaining.

The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

The worst thing about seeing a ghost is that nobody believes you…

Aveline loves ghost stories. She’s staying with her aunt in a stormy seaside town for October half-term and has found a book of local ghost stories in the town’s second-hand bookstore. But as she reaches the end of the book she discovers the last story has been completely crossed out, making it unreadable. Why? And what was in the story?

Intrigued, Aveline begins researching the book’s previous owner, whose name is written on the front page: Primrose Penberthy. She discovers that Primrose disappeared thirty years ago. On Halloween. As Aveline digs deeper to try and find out what happened to Primrose and to unlock the mystery of the crossed-out story, and as another Halloween approaches, she soon finds herself starring in her own real-life version of a ghost story…

Wonderfully gothic, this is a properly spine-chilling and atmospheric story that very effectively builds tension and the scare factor. The mystery of Primrose’s disappearance, Aveline’s own sense of unease at being in unfamiliar surroundings and the question of the defaced ghost story make a page-turning combination.

The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum

In the town of Fennis Wick, there are two rules: eldests go to military camp when they turn 14, and you don’t talk to wanderers: they’re dirty, dangerous and deceitful, or so Maggie’s been told.

Maggie is a middler – a middle child – and she’s sick of it. Eldest children get all the good stuff: the parties, the prizes and the praise, while middlers grow up in the eldests’ shadows. Maggie desperately wants a taste of being an eldest. So when she meets a wanderer, she reckons that if she can catch them that will make her a hero and people will finally listen to her. But Fennis Wick is hiding a terrible secret and everything Maggie thought she understood about the world is about to come crashing down.

Maggie’s just a middler, though, so who’s going to listen when she tries to tell the truth?

This is a wonderfully conceived and slickly executed dystopian novel set in a seemingly idyllic town, but with an undercurrent of secrets to send a shiver down the spine. Maggie is a boiling pot of adolescent emotions, whose jealousy of the eldests leads her to make some challenging choices which have far-reaching consequences.

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson

Do miracles really happen? Freddie Yates isn’t convinced – until the summer he goes on an unexpected journey with his two best friends.

Freddie loves his adoptive dad, but when his Grams dies and leaves Freddie a letter revealing the name of his birth father, curiosity takes over. Freddie’s plan is simple: pretend he’s staying at his mate’s, then get the train to Cardiff and find his biological dad. But things do not go according to plan…

Accidentally embarking on a madcap adventure across Wales, Freddie and his best friends leave a trail of chaos and increasingly crazy incidents behind them. After all, what are best friends for if not to encourage you to start the summer holidays with a massive deception and a disaster-prone race across the country? There’s the exploding toilet incident, the onion eating competition, the accidentally setting fire to a boat incident and, yes, appearing on television dressed as a girl.

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten

Something happened last summer – something big – but Clara cannot remember what. She’s fallen out with her best friend Gaynah because of it, and Clara feels like she’s a problem that everyone is trying to fix.

As a new summer stretches out before her, Clara cannot help questioning the things she thought she knew about the adults and the world around her. And when magnetic, outgoing Rudy arrives and shakes things up, Clara begins to unlock her buried memories. Can she work out what happened last summer and why Gaynah is so angry at her? But if she does, what will that mean for Clara?

In the small community of Sycamore Hill, where Clara lives, everyone knows everyone else’s business, but there are plenty of things nobody will talk about. Is it really true that no one here has any secrets?

Wonderscape by Jen Bell

When Arthur, Ren and Cecily enter an abandoned house to rescue a trapped dog, they unknowingly step through a portal into both the future and a galactic ‘in reality’ adventure game called Wonderscape. 

But what now? To get home, they need to find one of the game’s creators, Milo Hertz, who has a special time-key that will open the gateway back to 2021. That means navigating the Wonderscape, solving the game’s puzzles and completing the challenges. But there are bigger problems: firstly, Milo’s been missing for three years. And secondly, they only have 57 hours to find him before a game reset turns them into slime…

Wonderscape is an expertly crafted, breakneck speed adventure with a videogame-like structure: codes to crack, loot to collect and different levels – or ‘realms’ – to explore. Combine this with the mystery of Milo’s disappearance, the time-sensitive nature of the heroes’ quest, and the discovery of some much darker goings-on within the Wonderscape, for a page-turning, fun and highly imaginative read.

As they progress through the game, Arthur, Ren and Cecily must each face their greatest fears but, equally, each discover their unique strengths and build what will surely be a long-lasting friendship.

Tiger Heart by Penny Chrimes

Left on the orphanage doorstep as a baby, Fly doesn’t know anything about her past. Working as a chimney sweep, she mostly lives on the streets and has to scrounge for food. But when she decides to run away and jumps down an unknown chimney to escape her employer, she’s surprised to find herself face-to-face with a tiger. She’s even more surprised when the tiger speaks to her, instead of eating her.

The tiger tells Fly she has royal blood. She doesn’t believe she’s a princess, but she vows to free the tiger from his cage and help him get home to the faraway country he was stolen from. But something dark is following Fly and her past is about to catch up with her. Will the tiger be able to protect her, and will Fly be able to protect the tiger? As she unwraps her past, Fly embarks on a daring journey to right a terrible wrong and break the curse placed on hers and the tiger’s homeland.

Fly is a wonderfully sparky character who is loyal and brave and determined, and Tiger Heart is perfect for any reader who loves daring adventures with a twist of magic.

The Funny Life of Teachers by James Campbell, illustrated by Rob Jones

You shouldn’t believe everything you read in this imaginative and inventive ‘guide’ to anything and (almost) everything related to school and teachers!

Packed with cartoon-style illustrations, this highly interactive book mixes together real and made-up facts about school and teachers, with hilarious results. Topics include the different types of teachers and what they might get up to in the staffroom, those supremely embarrassing moments of seeing your teacher outside of school, and other hilarious takes on subjects such as school toilets, the school hamster, lollipop ladies, dinner ladies, class names, accidentally calling your teacher mum, PE, how teachers try to motivate you and – obviously – emergencies you might need a banana for.

Plus this book can be read however you like – rather than reading from cover to cover, readers are encouraged to pick their own route through the book via the different options given to them at the end of each page. This zany and inventive format and the bite-sized chapters make it great for less confident readers, as well as lots of fun of course.

A book full of very silly things, but there are some real facts in there too if you can find them!