We are running a Year 8 Book Group on Thursday lunchtimes. We intend to shadow the Carnegie Shortlist for 2014.
Each person will choose a book from the shortlist and we will spend the term talking about them and doing activities based on them.
For more information look at Carnegie’s own website.
These are the books they could choose from:
All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry 14+
Judith can’t speak. Ever since the horrifying trauma that left her best friend dead and Judith without her tongue, she’s been a pariah in her close-knit community of Roswell Station; even her own mother won’t look her in the eye. All Judith can do is silently pour out her thoughts and feelings to the love of her life, the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember – even if he doesn’t know it – her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked by enemies, long-buried secrets come to light… the cruel become kind… and Judith’s world starts to shift on its axis.
This powerful book is indeed truthful, an honest and beautifully written portrayal of a trauma victim and a family living in difficult circumstances. Important central themes of male dominance and unheard women’s voices underpin a gripping narrative. The clever structure, with its short sections effectively models the central character finding her voice and gradually unravels the plot to the reader. All the characters are rounded and the convincing conclusion has no easy reconciliation but an element of hope.
The Child’s Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston
When a baby elephant is left orphaned on the African savannah, Bat, a young herdsboy, takes her home and cares for her. But Bat’s grandmother knows that Meya cannot stay with them forever – the call of the wild will always be sounding in her soul. And there are rumours borne on the wind; frightening stories of kidnapping and suffering and war. Bat and his closest friend, Muka, are catapulted into a new life of unimaginable terror.
A thought provoking, tense and compelling narrative, which contrasts the innocence of childhood and the security of village life with the shocking brutality of war and the exploitation of child soldiers. The characterisation, including that of Maya the elephant is a real strength and the setting and landscapes of Africa are beautifully described.
Roof Toppers by Katherine Rundell
Sophie is found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel on her first birthday. Her dramatic survival at such a young age is the perfect backdrop to an unconventional childhood. She is rescued and adopted by a scholar, Charles Maxim, who has never really known a child before. But despite her absolute devotion to Charles, Sophie struggles to accept that she’s an orphan. In fact, she’s convinced her mother is still alive and when no one believes her, she sets out to prove them wrong.
Both eccentric and different, this is an enchantingly original narrative voice that completely convinces and engages the reader in Sophie’s story.
Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
Georges (the s is silent) has just moved apartment, his dad has lost his job, and his best friend has started hanging out with the cool kids at school. When he responds to the notice Spy club meeting – today! he meets Safer, a twelve year old loner and self-appointed spy. As Safer’s new recruit, George’s first assignment is to spy on the mysterious Mr X in the apartment upstairs. But as the boys delve deeper into the Mr X mystery and Safer becomes more and more demanding, the line between games, lies, and reality begins to blur.
Every word counts in this beautifully written, subtle and witty account of family relationships and friendship. The underlying sub text of the games people play with themselves and each other as they face life’s challenges is wonderfully done and each plot clue is skilfully placed. Fantastic dialogue brings real life to these memorable, well-developed characters
The Wall by William Sutcliffe
Joshua is a troubled boy who lives with his mother and stepfather in a divided city. A wall and soldiers separate two communities. One day, Joshua stumbles upon the entrance to a tunnel which takes him under the wall and across to the other side. Joshua finds himself in forbidden, dangerous, and violent territory, which a boy like him – visibly different – shouldn’t stray into. An act of kindness from a girl saves his life, but leads to a brutal act of cruelty and a terrible debt he’s determined to repay.
This outstanding narrative adventure can be read on many levels. The political tensions are brilliantly mirrored by the family conflicts revealed. The naive innocence of the central character and his convincing development and growing awareness of his mother’s vulnerability and the political situation is grippingly portrayed.
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
In the winter of his 11th year, Little Hawk goes deep into the forest, where he must endure a three-month test of solitude and survival, which will turn him into a man. But outside the woods, the world is changing. English settlers are landing on the shores of the New World, and tensions between native tribes and the invaders are rising.
This wonderfully evocative and beautifully detailed story involves the reader in a very particular place and time. All the elements including the subtle imagery of the tomahawk, the outstanding characterisations and the depiction of both Native American and settler cultures work together brilliantly to convey a really credible social history.
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks 14+
16-year-old Linus Weems has woken up in a low-ceilinged rectangular building, made entirely of whitewashed concrete, with no windows and no doors. The lift is the only way out. But this time when the lift comes, it isn’t empty.
An exceptional, brave book that pulls no punches and offers no comfortable ending. The intense and overwhelmingly claustrophobic atmosphere is brilliantly captured by the diary format and the vivid characterisation of Linus, the narrator is matched by his portrayal of the other prisoners. The sense of fear is overwhelming and cleverly we never get to meet or understand the villain. Despite the bleak circumstances Linus is able to find a true sense of family and greater understanding which is shared by the reader.
Blood Family by Anne Fine 14+
Edward is four years old when he is locked away with his mother by her abusive, alcoholic partner, Harris. By the time an elderly neighbour spots him and raises the alarm, he is seven. Rescue comes, but lasting damage has been done. Sent to live with a kindly foster family, and then adopted, Edward struggles to adapt to normal life. Then one fateful day, Edward catches a glimpse of himself in a photograph. What he sees shocks him to the core – a vision of Harris. Every step of progress Edward has made swiftly begins to unravel, and he has to decide whether his blood will determine his future.
Multiple narratives are used to great effect to tell Eddies unforgettable story in ways that he could not articulate himself. Each gives a different perspective and builds a powerfully honest and credible account of the system. There are no easy answers and no easy targets in this brilliant, insightful exploration of nature versus nurture. There is a very real understanding of dysfunctional family dynamics and the heart-breaking impact upon a child’s development.