It’s surprising how many readers are unaware about Louis Sachar’s follow-up to Holes, Small Steps. Set two years after the events at Camp Green Lake, the story doesn’t follow Stanley, as you might expect – he, in fact, only appears briefly in the story – but Theodore and Rex, aka Armpit and X-Ray. Both living in Austin, Texas, Armpit now works for a landscape gardener (digging more holes) while X-Ray drives around getting into trouble. Armpit has worked hard to save up $800, which he foolishly invests in X-Ray’s scheme to buy and sell concert tickets for twice the price. With a fast pace, funny dialogue and romantic sub-plot, it’s a great read for Sachar fans.
When her older autistic brother Jeremy is accused of killing the high school baseball coach, seventeen-year-old Hope Long’s life is thrown into disarray. While everyone is certain that Jeremy did commit the murder – including his own mother – he is unable to defend himself as he hasn’t spoken a word for nine years. Along with her friend T.J. and Chase, the sheriff’s son, Hope must now play amateur detective and do everything she can to prove Jeremy’s innocence and find out who the real killer is before the case is closed. A rare YA courtroom drama novel that handles autism sensitively and compassionately.
Fifteen-year-old Zoe is harbouring a dark and devastating secret; in her letters to death row prisoner Stuart Harris, we begin to discover the sequence of events that led up to the supposed incident, while gaining a candid and moving insight into her personal and family life. Annabel Pitcher’s compelling mystery is filled with suspense, romance, deep yearning and just the right amount of humour, detailing the emotions, secrets and betrayal of teenage life. A unique, gripping and thought-provoking read.
Two very different guys with exactly the same name (the clue is in the title, if you’re wondering) cross paths on an ordinary cold night in Chicago. Suddenly, their lives are brought together in new and unexpected ways throughout a narrative of surprising twists and turns, culminating in a magnificent high-school musical production. Told in alternating voices between the two Wills (and the two award-winning authors), this entertaining and original novel contains interesting characters, romance, and psychological elements, too. A laugh-out-loud read that’s difficult to put down!
Following a devastating earthquake in Haiti, a young teenage boy is trapped under the rubble of a former hospital. As ‘Shorty’ lies in the darkness wondering whether he will survive, he begins to recall the events in his life that led him to this moment – from losing his family to joining a gang and receiving the gun wound that led him to the hospital. Alongside this narrative, we follow the story of Toussaint L’ouverture, a Haitian rebel who led the slave revolt against Napoleon some 200 years ago; as Shorty tries to find the strength to survive, the reader waits with baited breath to see if either protagonist manages to break free. A captivating storyline that combines detailed historical facts with fiction and emotional drama.
What would you do if you found a massive bag of cash? That’s what happens to brothers Damian and Anthony, who find themselves caught up in a train robbery as Britain is on the cusp of joining the Euro. With the British pound about to become worthless, the two boys are faced with the ultimate dilemma: should they spend the millions on themselves (aka all the pizza they can dream of) or should they try to end world poverty? Written with warmth and humour, The Times called Boyce’s quirky debut novel “fresh, funny, touching and wise.”
This first book in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Gordon Korman is an action-packed adventure that’s likely to go down a storm with younger readers. Eli Frieden lives in Serenity – the safest, most perfect town in the world; or at least that’s how it seems. When he and his friend Randy take their bike to the edge of the city one day, something so unusual happens that it changes everything he and the other kids in the town know about their community. They soon find out that they can’t trust anyone – not even their parents. But what will they do next?
Published in 1977, Katherina Paterson’s enchanting and emotional story is regarded as one of the best YA novels about friendship and growing up. In the rural South, lonely Jess Aaron becomes friends with class outsider Leslie Burke, and their lives are changed forever. They become inseparable despite being teased for having a cross-gender friendship, and the imaginative pair create Terabithia, a magical forest kingdom where they rule as king and queen. But life isn’t a game, and things soon happen that push Jess further into adulthood than he was perhaps ready for.
Jack Gantos isn’t your typical twelve-year-old, and he doesn’t live in your typical town. So when he is grounded ‘for life’ by his quarrelling parents and forced to visit the old lady next door to help her write the town obituaries, things take a bizarre and unexpected turn; and it seems there is more to little old Miss Volker than meets the eye. Based partly on the author’s own childhood in Norvelt, this novel is a mix of true and wildly fictional events; and as other critics have said, the real hero of the story is the town itself.
Winner of the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year in the year it was published (1998), as well as the Library Association’s Carnegie Medal, Skellig is an outstanding book from home-grown author David Almond, which has since been adapted into a film, a play and even an opera. Michael is ten years old and has recently moved to a new house; but with anxious parents and a poorly baby sister who was born much earlier than expected, things aren’t looking good for the family. While exploring his new home, Michael comes across a strange, magical and emaciated creature hidden in the garage that needs his help. As he nurses the Skellig back to health, Michael’s baby sister nears ever closer to death; can they both be saved? A surreal, moving and unforgettable book that’s full of magic and beautifully told.
Another story that exposes the flaws within a seemingly perfect society, Lois Lowry’s classic text The Giver was a pivotal book that inspired countless dystopian novels that came after it. The narrative focuses on Jonas, a boy living in an isolated community where there is no pain or suffering, and nobody wants for anything. At the age of twelve, people’s jobs are selected for them by the Committee of Elders; but when Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memory, he learns that things aren’t quite as perfect as he’d thought, and he must now find the personal courage to do ‘the right thing’. In the US, where it was originally published, The Giver was awarded a 1994 John Newbery medal by the Association for Library Service to Children.
Imagine if God were a teenage boy… no, really! In Meg Rosoff’s astounding and unpredictable novel, Bob created the world – including the land, the heavens, the animals and lots of beautiful girls – in just six days. Well, no wonder things are such a mess. But things are about to get even worse when Bob meets Lucy – because whenever Bob falls in love, disaster is never far away. Fellow author Anthony Horowitz has called the story “genius,” while The Guardian said it was a “masterpiece” with “joyful singularity.” A story that’s as unique as it is laugh-out-loud, with a heart-warming message about the kindness of the human heart.