Chosen by Year 9/10 (13-15 year old) pupils from Sacred Heart Convent School, Swaffham, Norfolk.
Thanks to Jan Heaver, Librarian, and Mary Gargett-Stringer, Head of English.
The Withered Arm and Other Wessex Tales
Thomas Hardy, Heinemann New Windmills, 0 435 12287 8, £6.60 pbk
Passionate, mysterious, captivating, surprisingly fantastic and intriguing are a few words I could use to describe The Withered Arm. A lonely woman, Rhoda Brook, left with a son from a brief affair, is haunted by the dream of the beautiful new wife of her child’s father, Farmer Lodge. Her name is Gertrude. Rhoda’s dream, a powerful encounter with Gertrude inflicts a curse onto Gertrude’s arm. The curse of Gertrude’s withered arm creates an unlikely friendship and to cure herself, Gertrude has to perform a horrible task. A startling revelation reveals that… read the story to find out.
We young people tend to shy away from classic authors such as Hardy, but his short stories are perfect for a quick, exhilarating read, and I really would recommend this book.
Kimberley Richardson, Year 10
The Tail of Emily Windsnap
Liz Kessler, Dolphin, 1 84255 166 3, £4.99 pbk
Emily is twelve years old, perfectly normal, or so she thinks, until one Wednesday afternoon when she has her first swimming lesson. All is well, until she begins to feel a strange sensation in her legs. She gets out of the pool to be told by her friends ‘that she swam like a fish’. Curious to find out more, she decides to go down to the pier and try again, this time without spectators. After a few minutes in the sea she sees a large tail behind her and realises it’s where her legs should be. She is unprepared for what she sees next – a young girl, singing and brushing her hair – a mermaid. This is the start of a wonderful friendship with many adventures, but read the book to learn more, you will be as thrilled and as excited with the story as I was.
Sian Smith, Year 9
Cornelia Funke, Chicken House, 1 904442 21 8, £6.99 pbk
Books. An escape from the real world, a window into another life, a life more exciting than your own. You listen to the villains, hatching evil schemes, never truly scared, always knowing that you can put the book down and walk away. But what if they followed you? Could you cope?
When a mysterious stranger knocks on Meggie’s door, Meggie has to cope as she discovers secret after shocking secret about her life and the suspicious disappearance of her mother almost ten years earlier. Running from a fate she can’t escape, Meggie finds herself trapped in a deadly spiral of events that leads unavoidably to the murky ruins of Capricorns village, where unspeakable things go on. The kinds of things that only happen in stories.
Hannah Lacy, Year 10
A Gathering Light
Jennifer Donnelly, Bloomsbury, 0 7475 7063 9, £6.99 pbk
This book will truly move you and touch every emotion possible to the soul. It gives you a look into the life of a girl whose greatest dream is to write, but all the odds are set against her. Mattie is a young girl who is trying to decide her future in turn-of-the-century America. Will she have the courage to say good-bye to her family and friends to study in New York? Then she could follow in the steps of her teacher and inspirer Miss Wilcox and lead an independent life. Or, will she stay in the North Woods, and fall into a marriage of convenience. Only when Mattie reads the letters of Grace Brown, a murdered girl, does she find the courage to face the demon questions that have been haunting her for months, and make the decision of a lifetime.
Callie Oatridge, Year 10
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Mark Haddon, Definitions, 0 09 945676 1, £6.99 pbk
My mum introduced me to this book. I wondered why, as the cover has a picture of a dead dog on it. What could be interesting about this? As I delved into it, I discovered a new world, a world in which Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy, with Asperger’s Syndrome existed. After a brief affair with their next door neighbour, Christopher’s mother leaves home. A neighbour’s dog is found dead and Christopher then strives to find the culprit. Christopher, beyond his normal capabilities, defies belief, travels to London, locates his mother’s whereabouts and discovers his father as the killer of the dog! This story gives an insight into the mind of a boy with a severe disability. It shows that behind the disabled outer brain, there is a more sensitive intelligence.
Megan Combes, Year 9
Catherine Fisher, Hodder, 0 340 84376 4, £5.99 pbk
The Archon is dead and the search for the new one has begun. The Oracle is silent to all but one girl Mirany, the bearer of the God. She has been set a quest, to find the new Archon before the speaker to the God does. With her new companions – the drunken musician and a tomb-robbing scribe, she plans a way to find him and to bring him back to the Island, from there they would decide what next, somehow. Little did she know just how deep she was getting involved. The one thing holding her back now was the doubt in her mind:
‘Is there really a God?’
With her life in danger there is no one she can trust and no places where she is truly safe. A tale of a girl, whose mission was to save the country from drought, but which is now turning into a desperate fight to save her life.
Alicia Eldridge, Year 10