Chosen by Year 7-11 (11-16 year-old) pupils from Stanchester Community School, Stoke Sub Hamdon, Somerset. Thanks to Jonathan Guy, Librarian.
The Cry of the Icemark
Stuart Hill, Chicken House, 1 904442 60 9, £6.99 pbk
This is a great story full of amazing twists and turns, where the seemingly impossible is achieved and fairytales are believed. Thirrin is heir to the throne of the Ice Mark and has only just come of age. Her world is then spun in sickening circles as she finds herself crushed under countless responsibilities. A whole country depends on her as she leads her armies into war. But fighting against the Empire that is rapidly claiming ground, Thirrin takes her place as Queen and leads her comrades with verve and confidence. And, even in the heat of battle love is kindled! A fantastic read! I would recommend it to everyone and anyone who enjoys a ripping adventure or fantasy novel.
Hannah Leach (Year 9)
Michelle Paver, Orion, 1 84255 131 0, £5.99 pbk
A fantastic tale of adventure and superstition. Having spent his childhood with only his father for friendship and company, Torak’s world is thrown into both confusion and disarray when his father is killed by a demon bear that threatens to wreak havoc throughout the whole kingdom. With no option but to find his own way in the world Torak befriends a wolf cub and so begins an extraordinary bond of kinship as Torak is charged with finding the Spirit Mountain that will hold the key to defeating the demon. The parallel lives of Torak and Wolf are beautifully portrayed and intertwine wonderfully with a gripping plot that produces a real page-turner of a read!
Hannah Leach ( Year 9)
The Good Earth
Pearl S Buck, Simon & Schuster, 1 416 51110 5, £6.99 pbk
The Good Earth is a truly inspiring book, initially written way back in 1931. For an example of how ingenious Buck’s writing is, she was the first American woman to receive a Nobel Prize! The story is set against a Chinese background during a period of dramatic cultural and political change. It is a novel about a simple farmer named Wang Lung, who decides to marry and visits the House of Hwang, where he is betrothed to O-Lan, a plain-looking servant girl. She tirelessly toils through four pregnancies and works without reward, through both good and bad times. However, Wang Lung’s harvests prosper and their wealth increases, only for their fortunes to be dashed by an impending famine. Do they flee or die? They live a life of struggle in Kiang until O-Lan’s pure desire to live takes them home again and fortunes turn yet again. Wang finds himself the richest man in the land… but is wealth all that it’s cracked up to be?
Joe Williams (Year 10)
Julie Hearn, Oxford University Press, 0 19 279157 5, £5.99 pbk
This is a poignant, compassionate yet gripping tale full of wonderful characters and a haunting plotline. To me it expresses perfectly how people are treated when they are different from others. The plot centres around the clashes that occur between a God fearing village virtually ruled by the local priest, his wayward daughters, and the traditional medical help provided by the local witch and her Merrybegot grand-daughter. As the famous Witchfinder General is called in to rid the village of the witches so the plot thickens and the tension increases towards a taut and intense finale. The descriptive prose really holds the reader’s attention throughout and the storyline suggests that even in present times, though attitudes have changed, the myths and prejudices surrounding different people don’t.
Laura Pearce (Year 11)
The New Policeman
Kate Thompson, Red Fox, 0 09 945627 3, £5.99 pbk
Have you ever wondered where time goes and why we never have enough of it? If you read this delightful book, set in rural Ireland, you might just find the answer. When JJ’s mum asks for more time for her birthday he promises to buy her just that. So begins a magical adventure where JJ seeks to find where all this time is leaking away to. Not only does he find the solution to this but also so much more that brings past ghosts back to haunt him. The story is interwoven with Irish myths and, with its short chapters, is very easy to read. Not only that, it is a wonderful feel-good tale about music, life and how to live it! I loved it!
Ellen Mathieson (Year 7)