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Summer Holiday Reading List

Middle and Senior Department

Listed roughly in ascending order of difficulty

The World’s Worst Pets by David Walliams

This latest release from David Walliams is a short story style book, making it perfect for both bedtime family sharing and independent reading for more confident pupils. Expect laughs galore as Walliams and Stower introduce Furp the Fish, Monty the Musical Dog and Zoom the Supersonic Tortoise, among many others. The book is presented with the signature crazy fonts and bright illustrations.



Treehouse Tales (too silly to be told …until now) by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton

Spinning off from the Treehouse series, Treehouse Tales is full of laugh-out-loud adventures. It’s a ‘must-read’ for existing fans, but this new book is also perfect as a stand-alone introduction to the Treehouse and its inhabitants, Andy and Terry. It includes 13 mini tales enabling freshly independent readers to pick and choose the order in which they read. Needless to say, each of the 13 is as off-the-wall as is to be expected from this comic duo and the pages are packed full of comedy illustrations (sometimes more illustrations
than words! – making it a relaxed fun read)




Space Detectives: Cosmic Pet Puzzle by Mark Powers

The Space Detectives are back and this time they must solve the case of a missing pet. However, it’s no ordinary pet, it’s a synthpet, created by owners mixing different animals to make a totally unique one-of-a-kind pet. The missing pet has the body and legs of a cat, a duck’s bill, long rabbit-like ears and the scaly tail of a crocodile. A creature like that should be easy to spot, right? Not on Starville, the universe’s biggest space station where every inhabitant looks different. This series is a great first chapter book, with engaging illustrations and action-packed fun storyline.




Maya and her Friends by Larysa Denysenko

Since the occupation of Crimea in 2014, Ukrainian families with children have had to live their daily lives in the shadow of the threat of war. Maja and Friends tells the story of ordinary Ukrainian children and their families in an accessible and colourful format for children. Nine-year-old Maja has 16 classmates, all with different home backgrounds; Sofia’s father has disappeared in the battles against Russia. When the war ends, he will hopefully be found; Aksana lives with her father because her mother is dead; Hristina lives with her grandmother because her parents are working abroad; Petro is a Roma and has a huge family clan.
Parental guidance recommended: Please note that because this is a very topical and informative book, some of the stories are realistic. Please check you are happy before sharing them with your child.


Future Hero: Race to the Fire Mountain by Remi Blackwood

The first book in a major new series: Future Hero features short accessible chapters with humour and high-octane adventure. Jarell, an ordinary boy who loves to draw, is the chosen one to save the world of Ulfrika. When Jarell discovers that the fantasy world he is obsessed with doodling is actually real, he is launched into an incredible adventure. Ulfrika, the land of his ancestors, is in trouble and he is the hero they need. With the help of brave and wisecracking Kimisi, Jarell must stop the evil Ikala. The future of Ulfrika depends on it. A winning blend of future tech gadgets and a fantasy world inspired by the mythology of Africa and its diaspora.



Small! By Hannah Moffatt

When Harvey accidentally sets fire to his headteacher’s trousers, his mum decides it’s time for a BIG change and sends him off to Madame Bogbrush’s School for Gifted Giants. Unfortunately, Harvey is not a giant, he’s just a boy on stilts, which should be fine except the giants have a habit of bashing Smalls (AKA humans), so it’s imperative for him to keep his true identity secret. Cue much mayhem and pacey peril, paired with zany illustrations. This debut story combines hilarious antics with mystery, danger and unexpected twists to make an enjoyable summer read.




Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Eleven-year old Noah sneaks along on his big sister’s school field trip to Orinoco’s warehouse, an online retailer named after a South American river – however the bus SatNav tries to take them to the real river instead and everything goes wrong. The six children end up being marooned on an uninhabited island as their teacher vanishes. They’re hungry, their phones don’t work and it becomes apparent that Noah has broken the internet. Readers find out how the children survive through a series of amusing letters from Noah to his parents (which he posts in a letterbox on the island, and receives replies despite there being no collections?!?).  The children must use their own ingenuity to survive until Noah also finds a treasure map.



Ajay and the Mumbai Sun by Varsha Shah

Abandoned on the Mumbai railways, Ajay has grown up with nothing but a burning wish to be a journalist. Finding an abandoned printing press, he and his friends Saif, Vinod, Yasmin and Jai create their own newspaper: The Mumbai Sun. As they hunt down stories for their paper, the children uncover corruption, fight for justice and battle to save their slum from bulldozers. But against some of the most powerful forces in the city, can Ajay and his friends really succeed in bringing the truth to light? Not to mention win the most important cricket match ever …..



Neon’s Secret Universe by Sibéal Pounder

Unicorns are not horse creatures with horns. In fact, they are the most powerful magical beings on the planet and they look just like you and me. They live in a secret realm known as the Universe, and the horse with a horn thing was just something a unicorn called Greg made up to distract the humans – and it really worked! But a young human girl called Neon Gallup is about to find the last remaining Universe portal opener (an old, battered green lipstick) and step into a zany world where magic is made with goo and the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, if there was one person you wouldn’t want keeping the greatest magical secret of all time, it would be Neon Gallup


Pizazz vs The Demons by Sophy Henn

Pizazz is a 9 ½ year old superhero. Everyone in her family is a superhero, including her Gran and her annoying little sister. Their powers range from shooting lasers to making fireballs – or in Pizazz’s case – firing glitter storms. In this the fourth book of the series, Pizazz comes up against the evil CopyCat and her SuperPower Duplicator™ who creates five demon versions of Pizazz herself; including Lazy Pizazz and Worried Pizazz. Illustrated throughout in Henn’s talented comic stripstyle, Pizazz must seek help from her friends with no superpowers at all if she’s any hope of winning. Perfect for fans of Dogman and Tom Gates who are looking for the next step in their reading.


Zeina Starborn and the Sky Whale by Hannah Durkan

Zeina Starborn spends her days dreaming of adventure in the sky and escaping the smog-filled city of Ravenport. So, when she wins the chance to visit the famous Willoughby Whale Hotel – a ginormous structure built on the back of a flying whale – Zeina grabs it. Even clashing with Jackson, spoiled heir to the Willoughby fortune, can’t dampen her excitement. But a series of clues makes her question what she’s been told about this dazzling world of inventors, explorers and mighty sky whales. Winner of the Northern Writers’ Award 2020, this freshly released debut is perfect for fans of Malander and Brightstorm.



The Swallows’ Flight by Hilary McKay

Wonderfully evocative story of four young people (and a dog) before, during and after World War Two.

Described as a companion piece, rather than a sequel, to the acclaimed Skylark’s War, it is nevertheless a real joy to meet some of the original characters again, but new readers fear not, this book absolutely stands alone. Erik and Hans are German boys. Ruby and Kate are English girls. They grow up in worlds that would never meet, until war tumbles their lives together. Then one September afternoon there are choices to be made.


Starlet Rivals by Puneet Bhandal

Starlet Rivals follows the emotional highs and lows of Bela, an ‘outsider’ in Bollywood who must compete with the children of movie stars to gain attention in the industry. A page-turning, ‘rags to riches’ tale: Bela moves from a low socio-economic household in a suburb of Mumbai to the glamorous world of Kohinoor Island home of famous actors and movie producers. The story never loses sight of Bela’s innate good nature and empathy, with sensitive passages on her growing anxiety as she struggles to retain her belief in herself in the face of a fickle industry.



Legendarium by Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell’s hugely anticipated sequel to Wonderscape is released this week. Jennifer herself thrilled the Middle Department with tales of Wonderscape, and how the game will continue in Legendarium. In this new edition, Arthur, Ren and Cecily are once again thrown into the future in their in-reality game surrounded by numerous historical legends. They soon discover Deadlock and his plan to recreate a dangerous time-way technology. With the fate of the universe in their hands, the friends must enter a dangerous iSports tournament that will take them from the lost city of Atlantis to Viking battlefields and subterranean Incan tunnels.



While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle

September 1939. The world is on the brink of war. As Noah Price’s dad marches off to fight, he asks his son to honour one vitalpromise: that he will keep their dog, Winn, safe. No matter what. Noah agrees, but his best intentions are crushed when the government advises people to have their pets put to sleep as part of the war preparations. Children are heartbroken, queues outside vets’ surgeries stretch for miles. But Noah is a resourceful and impetuous child. He won’t just do what he is told. Far from it. With his two friends in tow, he makes a pledge. To go on the run, and save as many animals as he can, whatever the cost. So, begins the most thrilling of adventures, involving a stolen ark, a motley crew of animals and a crashed Spitfire.


Hope on the Horizon by Onjali Q Rauf

No one is too small to make a change. Growing up, there is so much out of our control and so much we can feel helpless about. But together, we can make a difference. In this inspiring and practical handbook, bestselling children’s author and Human Rights campaigner, Onjali Rauf, shares her top ten ways for creating change. With the help of her favourite fictional characters and some of the most inspiring people she has ever met, Onjali invites readers to dive in and discover everything there is to know about kindness, empathy, friendship and fighting for the things that matter. (Plus, cool stuff like X-ray vision and deflecting negative forces.) Because with a bit of compassion, a big dollop of hope and even the smallest act of kindness, we can all make the world a better place. Hope is on the horizon; you just have to find it.
Parental guidance recommended: issues related to discrimination, injustice and prejudice are included.

The Sky over Rebecca by Matthew Fox

The Sky Over Rebecca won the Bath Children’s Novel Award for 2019, and has finally been published by Hodder. It is a breathtaking time travel debut set in Stockholm, following 10-year-old only-child Kara and her friend Rebecca. Kara first finds Rebecca when she finds a strange snow angel and a mysterious path of footprints in the snow. However, it takes her
a while to realise that Rebecca and her disabled brother Samuel are refugees from World War Two. Guided by the night sky, they are able to interact and become friends. Importantly, Kara is able to take food packages to them across time but it becomes clear that she needs to do more if she is ever going to truly help them. The Sky Over Rebecca is a sensitive and thoughtful account of the Holocaust, weaving the Kara’s struggles with loneliness and bullying with the peril and trauma of war time. An extraordinary and moving book.

The Wondrous Prune by Ellie Clements

The Wondrous Prune is the first in a new series following remarkable children from the same neighbourhood. Prune is an ordinary 11-year-old, settling into a new town with her mother and troublesome brother, Jesse. Unfortunately, her brother’s past follows them and she herself becomes the subject of the school bullies – simultaneous to this she starts to develop magical powers. Whenever she feels big emotions, incredible colours swirl before her eyes. What’s more, if she focuses on her emotions while drawing, her images come to life! When her gift starts to make mayhem, Prune sets about learning to control it, and realises that she can harness her powers for doing good. This becomes all the more pressing when a bully leads Jesse off the rails, and it falls to the Wondrous Prune to harness her talent to save the day. The story explores the incredible healing power of art and creativity. Prune’s drawing skills help her cope with difficult life events and discover who she is. It’s a heart-warming read.

Zo and the Forest of Secrets by Alake Pilgrim

Caribbean folklore meets futuristic fantasy in Alake Pilgrim’s debut Zo and the Forest of Secrets. Zo is staying in Samaan Bay on Trinidad’s northeast coast with her mum, baby brother and stepdad, and she’s not happy. Missing her dad and friends, she decides to run away. Zo’s dad has taught her everything about the forest. At least, that’s what she thinks until it takes a strange and sinister turn, and Zo must summon all her courage to find a way home, save a lost boy and navigate the unsettling truths of an abandoned research facility. As Zo faces a thrillingly relentless succession of challenges, she makes a shocking discovery that splendidly sets the scene for the second book in this duology. This is an exhilarating adventure driven by the determination of its endearing heroine and the shocking secrets she finds in the forest. The novel subtly interweaves ecological topics, with Zo mentioning the devastating effects of large-scale logging and mining. With hints of Percy Jackson and Katherine Rundell’s The Explorers, this book should appeal to a broad reader base.

Escape to the River Sea by Emma Carroll

Escape to the River Sea is award-winning Emma Carroll’s latest release, inspired by Eva Ibbotson’s bestselling, classic masterpiece, Journey to the River Sea. Carroll has tactfully retained some of the original characters while creating a beautiful standalone story. The central character, Rosa, escaped from Vienna (Ibbotson’s birthplace) on the Kindertransport and spent the war years at the dilapidated West Country mansion house owned by Sir Clovis and Lady Prue, surrounded by the girls from an evacuated London school and the animals from the local zoo. Post war loneliness and the arrival of Dr Yara Fielding, a young scientist, is the catalyst for the next stage of her adventure, in the beautifully evoked Amazon rainforest where she finds the lively family and starts to come to terms with what might have happened to her mother and sister. But the lingering horrors of war are reaching out into the jungle too and there are dangers to face and villains to defeat. There are some fascinating themes to explore in this rich and enjoyable text: exploitation of land and resources in both the UK and the Amazon basin, the ethics of keeping animals in captivity; or the fate of child refugees whether during WWII or in the present time.

The Colour of Hope by Ross MacKenzie

The Colour of Hope is a captivating story set in a world devoid of all colour. It has all been stolen by the evil Emperor and now civilization lives in the cold grey shadows. His power is enforced by the murderous Ripper Dogs and Black Coats who hunt the few who dare try to recover the colour. At the heart of the story is Hope, a miracle baby girl who cannot disguise her natural colour. Hope’s parents are killed trying to get her to a place of safety. Can her adoptive father keep her safe by staying hidden deep in the forest? And what part can she play in bringing colour back to everyone? This story is not without sadness, however its scene building and imagination make it worthy of a read.


Fake by Ele Fountain

Imagine a world where your only friends are virtual, and big tech companies control access to food, healthcare and leisure. This is Jess’s world. But when she turns fourteen, Jess can go to school with other children for the first time. Most of them hate the ‘real’ world, but Jess begins to question whether the digital world is ‘perfect’ after all. Back home, her sister Chloe’s life-saving medication is getting ever more expensive. Determined to help, Jess risks everything by using skills forbidden in the cyber-world, only to stumble on something explosive. Something that will turn her whole world upside down. It’s up to Jess to figure out exactly what is real, and what is fake – Chloe’s survival depends on it.


MagicBorn by Peter Bunzl

The magic which fuels this thrilling adventure will keep readers spellbound from start to finish! Set in a far-off time and in a far-off land the story tells of two children, Tempest and Peter. Both have one green eye and one blue eye. Both have lost their parents. And both are in great danger because they are MagicBorn which means that the Royal Sorcerer is determined to track them down. There is much wickedness in this world which Tempest and Peter must survive but also much kindness which helps to keep them safe. And throughout it all there’s thrumming magic which means that anything can happen.  The first in an enthralling new historical-fantasy adventure seriesfrom the bestselling author of The Cogheart Adventures.


SpellStopper by Cat Gray

Welcome to Yowling – a secretive seaside village where magic is just one step away… Max has spent years thinking he is cursed because whenever he touches anything electrical it explodes. But then he is sent to Yowling and discovers he is a Spellstopper, someone with the rare ability to drain dangerous build-ups of magic and fix misbehaving enchanted items. When Max’s Grandad is kidnapped by the cruel Keeper of the malfunctioning magical castle that floats in the bay, only Max’s gift can save him. Together
with his new friend Kit, Max throws himself into an adventure filled with villainous owls, psychic ice cream and man-eating goldfish. But can he really pull off the biggest spellstop ever?
A non-stop adventure, full of spellbinding, sorcerers and selkies. The perfect summer-holiday magical adventure for fans of DianaWynne Jones, Catherine Doyle and Thomas Taylor.

The Week at World’s End by Emma Carroll

1962, London during the Cuban Missile Crisis What would you do if there was a real possibility that the world might end? Ray, aware of his parents’ building worry, decides to take matters into his own hands. He builds a shelter in the woods behind his house in the hope that he never has to use it. Only to discover that someone else needs it more than he does. An American girl, reported missing, has turned up there… Why is she hiding? And with neighbour turning against neighbour, will Ray be willing to help her? Set over the six days when the Cuban Missile Crisis became public knowledge, this tense, clever thriller might just be Emma Carroll’s best book yet!


The Consequence Girl by Alastair Chisholm

A thrilling, unputdownable adventure, from the highly-acclaimed author of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-shortlisted Orion Lost and the Blackwell’s Children’s Book of the Year, Adam-2. The world of Colony is in ruins. No one knows what caused society to begin tearing itself apart – but the secret may lie with Cora, a girl living on the mountainside far away from others. Cora possesses an extraordinary gift: the power to see back in time, from an event back to its causes. Even more incredibly, sometimes she can change events. But the present is looking for Cora, and she is forced on the run – and must decide who she is, what she can do … and how to fix the future. With incredible twists and turns, and a hugely gripping story, The Consequence Girl is a brilliantly-imagined, ambitious and high concept adventure from one of the most exciting new voices in children’s fantasy and science fiction.


21% Monster by P.J. Canning

When Darren Devlin is arrested for destroying his school with his bare hands, it’s not just the police who are after him. Enter Marek Masters, 14 years old, 19% alien, and the most intelligent, most wanted “almost human” alive. Marek is here to tell Darren the truth – he is 21% monster, and together they must take down the secret organisation that created them. Together, Darren and Marek are wanted, powerful and dangerous. Fun, fast-paced, high-octane action adventure, 21% Monster is a perfect page-turning new series for fans of Alex Rider, Percy Jackson and the MCU generation.



The Notorious Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud

Much awaited sequel to the dystopian adventure that Jonathan Stroud personally introduced to our Senior pupils last October. In this second book, Scarlett McCain and Albert Browne have outwitted their pursuers and escaped into the wilderness once more, and it’s not long before they become famous for their audacious heists across the Seven Kingdoms. Yet neither is fully able to escape the shackles of the past as they discover when a dangerous job turns sour. Soon old enemies and sinister new threats are pressing in on every side, and Scarlett and Browne must pull off an impossible mission and strike out against The Faith Houses and the Brothers of the Hand if they are to save the people they hold most dear.