The 2016 shortlist will appear here in November 2015

An island of our own

Author Nicholls, Sally
ISBN 9781407124339

Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling since their mother's death. Jonathan has given up university to look after 12 year old Holly and infant Davy to keep the family together. He does his best working in a café but they struggle to make ends meet in living above a chip shop in London’s east end. On a visit to eccentric Great-Aunt Irene, they receive some photographs that could lead them to an inheritance. But they're not the only ones after the treasure ... Story written from the point of view of Holly as they try to find their Aunts fortune. Intelligent read with class read appeal. Lots of short chapters, good character development and humorous feel to story whilst enlightening reader to what life is like as a child carer.

Bubble-wrap boy

Author Earle, Phil
ISBN 9780141346298

Fourteen year old Charlie Han lives above the Chinese Chippy owned by his parents. Charlie has always been very small for his age, with a high pitched voice and terminal clumsiness he is regularly bullied. He has one friend Sinus, but both of them dream of the world seeing them differently because they have a special talent. Only problem is, when Charlie discovers his talent is skateboarding, his overprotective parents do everything they can to stop him. But when he discovers the secret behind this protectiveness, he becomes more determined, and with Sinus’s help they both hope for popularity, whatever the cost. This is both a very witty and touching tale, often with laugh out loud moments, of coming of age and relationships with both friends and family. Very well written prose and excellent characterisation.

She is not invisible

Author Sedgwick, Marcus
ISBN 9781780621340

Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown. He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind. A well written story, as you would expect, but different to other Sedgewick titles. The books complexity and depth making the reader think, even after the book is finished. Extracts from Laureth’s father’s notebook punctuate the story explaining different aspects of coincidences. Laureth’s blindness and personality add to the book. Compelling reading which I couldn’t put down. Well worth promoting.


Author Slater, Kim
ISBN 9781447236672

Kieran lives in the Meadows, Nottingham. When a homeless man is found drowned in the Trent, no-one is interested. However, Kieran decides to find the murderer. He proceeds to collect information and drawings in his notebook and piece the mystery together. He also decides to find out what has happened to his grandma who suddenly stopped visiting and who his mother will not discuss. Kieran is a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade. But being a detective is difficult when you're Kieran Woods. When you're amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof. This is a gripping and compelling tale which hooks the reader from the start. It is told in the first person with excellent characterisation. It is a dark tale but with a rosy ending which does not detract. Note: Contains domestic violence, drug dealing, animal cruelty, child neglect and swearing although some of the latter rendered as “bleep”. Worth promoting to older KS3 and above.

The Nowhere Emporium

Author MacKenzie, Ross
ISBN 9781782501251

When the mysterious Nowhere Emporium arrives in Glasgow, orphan Daniel Holmes stumbles upon it quite by accident. Before long, the 'shop from nowhere' - and its owner, Mr Silver - draw Daniel into a breathtaking world of magic and enchantment. Recruited as Mr Silver's apprentice, Daniel learns the secrets of the Emporium's vast labyrinth of passageways and rooms - rooms that contain wonders beyond anything Daniel has ever imagined. But when Mr Silver disappears, and a shadow from the past threatens everything, the Emporium and all its wonders begin to crumble. Can Daniel save his home, and his new friends, before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever? Well told with good characters. Engaging from the beginning. The two stories, that of Mr Silver’s past and the present day weave together well and are clearly indicated at the beginning of each chapter. Attractive page borders mark the beginning of each short chapter.

Would the real Stanley Carrot please stand up?

Author Stevens, Rob
ISBN 9781783442287

Stanley ‘Carrot’ Harris is thirteen, ginger, tubby and definitely not cool. He is adopted, which he tries to keep secret, and this makes him feel like he has never quite fitted in and insecure. On his thirteenth birthday, he receives a card from his long-lost birth mother, asking to meet up. Stanley isn't sure: what if he's a big disappointment to her? So he hatches a plan - and he's going to need a stand-in Stanley, someone who is handsome, sporty and God's Gift to Mothers. However, it makes him more confused. Great writing which is accessible, heart-warming and funny. It’s about the trials that a young boy goes through in trying to grow up. Realistic characters and you can empathise with Stanley totally. The story is told from Stanley’s point of view and gives a believable insight into the issues facing a young teenager, particularly if he doesn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd. A serious topic but dealt with in a light-hearted way and with the odd swear word. NB : 13-year-old Stanley receives a birthday card from his birth mother and arranges to meet her without telling his parents of what he is doing.