Carnegie Medal Shortlist, your Summer reading.

xxxxx Brian Conaghan
When Mr. Dog Bites Bloomsbury (14+)
Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed. But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March.A heart-warming novel, which deals with a lot of serious issues, with humour and honesty. With strong characterisation and a compelling narrative voice, the book provides an unflinchingly sincere account of life in a special school, and as a Tourette’s sufferer. The candour of the narrator, the strength of his relationships and his route to realisation and eventually reconciliation, has the reader rooting for him, even though, thanks to subtle clues throughout the novel, the reader is always a step ahead, adding insight and empathy. This book is genuine, eye-opening, thought-provoking and hilarious.

xxxxx Sarah Crossan
Apple and Rain
Bloomsbury (11+)When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager – unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.This cleverly plotted story – ultimately about the meaning of family and love – draws a moving portrayal of a teenage girl’s emotional upheaval as she needs to reassess all her previous assumptions. The writing is simple, but lyrical, dialogues are sharp and realistic, and the subtle use of poetry, woven throughout the book, adds emotional depth. All the characters are well-developed and the relationships between them are particularly well drawn. This is a powerful and poignant story with the perfect ending.

xxxxx Sally Gardner
Tinder Orion (11+)
Wounded in battle, Otto Hundebiss defies Death and finds himself on a journey to a realm of dark magic and mystery. He meets Safire, brave of heart and pure of spirit, and learns the powers of the tinderbox and the secret of the wolves.Sally Gardner’s vividly descriptive and powerful writing brings to life this re-imagining of the classic fairy tale The Tinderbox. The plot is played to an atmospheric, fantastical, yet at times terrifying, historical background; with the themes of death, love, lust and power, strong throughout. Otto, wounded in battle, finds he is facing death, but escapes only to fall for the more powerful force: love. The characters are vivid, bursting off the page and both convincing in their realism as well as in their traditional tale qualities.

xxxxx Frances Hardinge
Cuckoo Song Macmillan (11+)When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late.This highly original story is full of twists, turns and very strange happenings, but the strength of the beautiful writing ensures that it is easy to follow and understand. The reader is kept on tenterhooks and wholly engaged within the created world. All of the characters are believable, and their actions make complete sense in the contexts of their back-stories. This is a wonderfully atmospheric and creepy novel with a slow, claustrophobic build up of tension and a satisfyingly imperfect and credible ending.

xxxxx Elizabeth Laird
The Fastest Boy In The World Macmillan (9+)Eleven-year-old Solomon loves to run! The great athletes of the Ethiopian national team are his heroes and he dreams that one day he will be a gold-medal-winning athlete like them, in spite of his ragged shorts and bare feet.This tightly woven story is a delight for readers as we journey from the simplicity of an Ethiopian village to the bustling city of Addis Ababa. The beautiful, yet simple, writing ensures that we are fully immersed in the culture described. The characters are all well drawn and leap off the page; particularly Solomon, through whose eyes we learn the importance of dreams and friendship. This is a solidly plotted novel with engaging characters that perfectly embraces new and old cultures.

xxxxx Tanya Landman
Buffalo Soldier Walker (14+)
Charley, a young African-American slave from the Deep South, is freed at the end of the American Civil War. However her freedom is met with tragedy after her adopted mother is raped and lynched at the hands of a mob, and Charley finds herself alone with no protection. In a terrifyingly lawless land, where the colour of a person’s skin can bring violent death, Charley disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Trapped in a world of injustice and inequality, it’s only when Charley is posted to Apache territory to fight “savage Indians” that she begins to learn about who she is and what it is to be truly free.This brutal and heart breaking story is engrossing from the very beginning. The strong narrative voice engages the reader in the world described; perfectly conveying raw emotions without the overuse of sentimentality. The book skilfully deals with difficult issues of race, gender and the essence of freedom, against the backdrop of a beautiful landscape and the horrors that humans inflict upon each other. The subtle changes in language expertly mirror Charley’s personal growth. This is a beautiful, powerful piece of writing that will remain with readers long after the last page.

xxxxx Geraldine McCaughrean
The Middle of Nowhere Usborne (11+)
When her mother dies from a snake bite, Comity’s life in the Australian Outback changes for ever. With her father lost in his grief, Comity makes friends with Fred, the Aboriginal yard boy. But then the evil Quartz Hogg arrives, who delights in playing cruel games. And when he sets his murderous sights on Fred, it’s up to Comity to stop him.Geraldine McCaughrean’s powerful storytelling evokes a sense of place, isolation and spiralling chaos in this novel. The isolation and loneliness of the Australian Outback is reflected in the inner thoughts and behaviour of the characters, especially Comity, who is left on her own for much of the story. The portrayal of Aboriginal culture, racism and segregation comes alive on the page and is handled with sensitivity. This novel provides a real and immersive read with plenty of drama.

xxxxx Patrick Ness
More Than This Walker (14+)A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies. Then he wakes, naked, bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange, deserted place? As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?A beautifully written novel with a meticulous control of plot and language to ensure that, from the harrowing opening to the deliberately ambiguous ending, this has the reader gripped and intrigued. Seth knows that he has died and, as he searches to make sense of what is happening to him, the reader is plunged into the same confusion and uncertainty. All the characters, even those you do not meet directly, are incredibly well realised with convincing back stories. The book is heart-wrenching, thought provoking, and has a lasting impact on the reader.


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