This is a very long shortlist this year, 8 BOOKS!
David Almond MY NAME IS MINA Hodder (9+)
Mina writes and writes in an empty notebook, and through her stories, thoughts, lessons and dreams, her journal grows into something extraordinary. A prequel to the author’s CILIP Carnegie Medal-winning novel, “Skellig”.
A wonderful celebration of words, language and creativity which completely nails the voice of Mina, its central character, and demonstrates a true stream of consciousness. Mina has much to teach us all about the wonder of life in this absorbing and very clever example of a post-modern approach to literature.
Lissa Evans SMALL CHANGE FOR STUART
Ten years old and small for his age, Stuart Horten moves to the dreary town of Beeton, away from all his friends. But before long he is swept up in a quest to find his great-uncle’s lost workshop, a place stuffed with trickery, magic – and danger.
A refreshing and plausibly magical novel which joyfully celebrates cleverness and a delight in words. Both the main characters and the cameo parts are extremely vivid and humorous, and the mystery and trail of clues throughout the plot are very well-worked out. A story that is terrific fun, so perfectly paced and exquisitely written that it reads aloud beautifully.
Sonya Hartnett THE MIDNIGHT ZOO
Under cover of darkness, two brothers cross a war-ravaged country carrying a secret bundle. One night they stumble across a town that has been reduced to smouldering ruins. Amidst the wreckage is a zoo, filled with animals in need of hope.
With its stunning descriptions and small parables which illustrate the inhumanity of war, and the havoc it wreaks on both people and animals, this is a profoundly moving novel. Unbearably sad in places, but never depressing with its message that accepting death means cherishing life; it is a beautiful fable with a moral message for us all.
Ali Lewis EVERYBODY JAM
Danny lives in middle of the outback. His older brother Jonny was killed in an accident last year, but no-one ever talks about it. Meanwhile his sister is pregnant, the rains haven’t come and it’s time for the annual cattle muster, during which Danny is determined to prove he can fill his brother’s shoes.
A hugely engaging and enjoyable novel that conveys a terrific sense of place in its vivid descriptions of the brutality – and terrible beauty – of Australian outback life. The voice of the central character Danny is always convincing, and his relationship with his camel surprisingly moving. In fact so real are all the characters that they leave the reader wanting to know more.
Andy Mulligan TRASH
David Fickling (12+)
Three friends, Raphael, Gardo and Rat live on a heap of trash and spend their days sifting through other people’s rubbish. One day they find something extraordinary – a deadly secret. From that moment onwards, they are hunted without mercy, and their lives will never be the same again.
A vivid and emotionally powerful story told through some great switches of authentic narrative voice, giving the perfect marriage of character and plot as the three children tell their stories. Though there are scenes that are visceral and shocking, humour is always present too, along with a strong sense of community and the sustaining nature of friendship.
Patrick Ness A MONSTER CALLS
The monster shows up after midnight. It isn’t the one Conor has been expecting; the one from his nightmare; the one he has had nearly every night since his mother started her treatment. But this new monster is ancient, and wild, and it wants something just as dangerous from Conor: the truth.
An exquisite piece of writing of great depth which has huge impact upon the reader, guiding them through some difficult emotional lessons. Well plotted and lyrically written with not an unconsidered word, it also handles the relationships between the central characters brilliantly.
Annabel Pitcher MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE
Ten year old Jamie hasn’t cried since his sister’s death five years before. Though everyone kept saying they would get better with time; things are now worse than ever. Dad drinks, Mum’s gone and Jamie still has a whole heap of unanswered questions.
With a great central character, a sophisticated plot and an ending that is both credible and hopeful, this is a book that avoids the “issues trap” to stay with you long after you finish it. The observations of the 10 year old narrator are extremely well-captured, as is his growing friendship with Surya, and the way in which prejudice is broken down on both sides.
Ruta Septys BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY
One night, fifteen-year old Lina, her mother and brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun, but Lina refuses to give up hope of seeing home and loved ones again.
A compelling, page-turning story about a hidden period of history, told with real emotional depth. Flashbacks are employed to great effect, and the excellent characterisation means that you both believe and care about what happens to everyone in it. A book which makes the reader a survivor too: you read it, and have to move on with life, as they do.
WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON 27TH JUNE.