Bookbuzz: a new book for every Year 7 & 8 student

From September 2020, all Year 7 and Year 8 students will be asked to choose one book from ten selected titles to keep.

Which book will you decide on? Browse our top picks below by reading each blurb, and click on individual book covers to discover more about the author and to read reviews. Select to read the same book as your friends and create your own book club by sharing thoughts and opinions as you turn the pages.

Home Ground by Alan Gibbons

Sam’s football team is second to last in their league and desperate not to be relegated. They try really hard but have barely won a game all season and Jordan, their captain, isn’t much of a team player, fighting his own team and blaming them for their poor record.

When Sam recruits skilled players Hasan and Faisal to join the team, it looks like their luck might finally change. For Hasan and Faisal, though, who are refugees, football means much more than winning a few games. Being part of the team means community, friendship, and a new sense of belonging. But not everyone’s happy about them being there, especially Jordan, who wants all the glory for himself. How far will he go to get his own way?

Little Bird Flies by Karen McCombie

Bridie loves the tiny Scottish island where she lives, but can’t help dreaming of what lies beyond the boundaries of this small world; she’s determined that one day she’ll fly free and cross the ocean to America. But for now she’s tied to Tornish by traditions and promises and family. Until Bridie’s island life is turned upside down by the arrival of a new Laird. He’s brought with him his snooty family, a mysterious lady in black, and some worrying new ideas about how the island should be run.

Bridie’s family try to carry on as normal. But who is the woman in black? And when the Laird’s devastating plans for Tornish are revealed, Bridie and her family are faced with a heart-breaking choice. Will Bridie find her wings when she needs them most?

Little Bird Flies is a beautiful story of changing times and the upheaval of a small rural community, seen through the eyes of one young person. Set in the 1860s, the story chronicles rural life, family and friendship. It’s wonderfully told, with a hopeful and outward-looking perspective. Bridie is caring and compassionate, tied to her past, but filled with dreams of a different future.

Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean it by Susie Day

Max has a terrible habit of getting in trouble – he really doesn’t mean it, but somehow things just go wrong. His home life is tough too: since mum died, Max’s dad works several jobs and Max has to help look after his three little sisters. Then, after one too many not-quite-legal jobs, Dad gets into trouble too and leaves Max all alone to look after his three little sisters.

Dad hasn’t said how long he’ll be gone and Max knows he’s expected to step up, to be a ‘Big Man’, but he’s scared and it’s definitely not fair. So after finding a key to a remote Welsh cottage, Max makes a plan: hide out in Wales until Dad gets back. It seems like a great idea at first, but when things go from bad to worse, can he find a way to make them right? And should he have to?

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

Amara desperately wants a trip to New York for her birthday, to meet her dad’s family and see where he grew up and she can’t understand why her parents are reticent about the trip. Until she discovers her dad hasn’t spoken to his dad, Grandpa Earl, for twelve years – not since the day she was born. What could make them so mad at each other?

For Amara, this makes the trip even more important. Perhaps she can untangle the web of secrets that’s got her family twisted into this knot, and help her father mend the past. Harlem, NY is very different from her home in Oregon and, arriving in the city, she’s plunged in a whole new world. But it’s one with a powerful history that speaks deeply to Amara and leads to surprising revelations about people she loves and her own sense of self.

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White

Humza (aka Little Badman) great ambition is to be a super cool rapper and he devotes most of his time and energy on pursuing this goal.

Something weird is happening at school though: teachers are disappearing and being replaced by food-obsessed Aunties intent on fattening everyone up! When his music teacher vanishes, putting a halt to Humza’s rapper dreams, he’s determined to figure out what’s going on – and then things start to get really crazy…

But Humza’s famous for telling not-entirely-true stories: how’s he going to get anyone to believe him? Recruiting his best friend Umer, his elderly uncle ‘Grandpa’ and Wendy, the smartest girl in school, it seems Humza’s particular musical talent is the only thing that will save his school, town – and possibly the whole world – from potential alien invasion. As long as he doesn’t let stage fright defeat him first…

Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker

Is there really a Loch Ness monster? Can people really bend a spoon using just their mind? Are crop circles really created by aliens? This book examines some of the biggest mysteries and apparent supernatural occurrences from around the world to try and figure out if they’re real – or something else.

Unexplained phenomena have been written and spoken about for centuries; science has rationalised some things, but many mysteries still remain unsolved. Here you can read eyewitness accounts then take a look at the evidence and see the scientists’ theories. Using written accounts and storyboard presentations, it’s a fascinating collection of case files covering everything from human combustion to alien engineering.

But what do you think? Examine and evaluate the evidence provided, then it’s up to you to decide what the truth is.

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick

There are three rules for surviving Crater Lake: don’t go anywhere with an adult; don’t follow any instructions you’re given; and don’t ever fall asleep…

When Lance’s class arrives at the brand new Crater Lake activity centre for their school trip, it’s immediately clear something is not quite right. Aside from a weird lack of staff and a very odd manager, there’s also the panicked man covered in blood shouting at them all to run.

And it’s not long before the teachers and other kids in his class start behaving strangely too. Like Zombies, they get out of bed and, spaced-out, start marching into the woods at midnight. As they’re unaffected, it’s up to Lance and his friends to uncover the cause – and find a way to stop it. But time is ticking, they’re exhausted, and if they fall asleep, then all will be lost…

The Switch-Up by Katy Cannon

Willa and Alice meet for the first time in the unaccompanied minors lounge at LAX airport. They look so alike that they’re mistaken for sisters, but in reality they’re chalk and cheese: Willa is outgoing and precocious; Alice is quiet and serious.

They’re both being sent away for the summer: Willa to Italy to stay with an aunt she’s never met; Alice to London to stay with the girlfriend she didn’t even know her dad had. Totally not how they thought they’d be spending their summers, and neither wants to go where they’re going. When Alice suggests they swap places, she’s joking – but Willa is 100% serious when she says yes. It’ll be the adventure of a lifetime! Besides, no-one will ever find out… will they?

The City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Instead of summer at the beach, Cassidy’s parents have dragged her on a trip to Edinburgh to film their new TV show. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that since her near-death experience last year, Cass has been able to see and feel ghosts whenever they’re near –and Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the world.

Cassidy can cross the ‘veil’ into a realm between the worlds of the living and the dead. She’s desperate to understand this ability, but the ghosts of Edinburgh are more powerful than any she’s encountered before, and she quickly finds herself losing control. Pulled into the veil without her choice, Cass attracts the attention of the deadly Raven in Red, who’s intent on stealing Cass’s life-force and trapping her in the veil forever. Can Cass unravel the secrets of the veil and find a way back to the living?

Hooking you from the very first page, it has just the right amount of spookiness, mystery and action, keeping you on the edge of your seat without getting gory. Victoria Schwab is a superb storyteller, blending well-crafted characters with a perfectly paced plot. A ridiculously fun, spine-tingling read.

The Haven by Simon Lelic

When Ollie’s pulled from his bed by masked men in the middle of the night and his guardian, Nancy, is murdered, it’s only thanks to the help of street kid Dodge that he survives.

Ollie’s desperate to find out why Nancy was murdered, but the Haven has other priorities: kids from the city’s gangs are going missing. Who’s taking them? And why? Quickly sucked into the investigation, Ollie joins his new friends as they uncover a terrifying plot by mob boss Maddy Sikes. Not just the kids’ lives, but the whole of London is at stake…