Scotland Yard are appealing for witnesses. Egyptian artefacts valued at over ten million pounds have been stolen from a locked display case and the world of antiquities is in uproar. Sounds like a case for The Adventurers, renowned band of 21st century mystery-solvers (Think the Famous Five armed with Google and GPS). The Adventurers and the City of Secrets by Jemma Hatt is a spirited crime caper through the streets of London. In this, the third book in the series, their mission is to track down two thieving master criminals via the city’s hidden trails and tunnels.
The highly coveted Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration 2020 has been awarded to the magnificent Tales From the Inner City by Shaun Tan. Described by the man himself as ‘a strange book for strange times,’ this darkly beautiful collection of stories and paintings explores the dynamics of human and animal urban co-existence. City-dwelling animals, birds and fish live alongside us, submitting to our authority. Tan envisages what would happen if they tried to reclaim the cities and how humanity is inexorably entwined with the natural world in memory and spirit.
September finds us back in the classroom and dusting off the perennial Stretch and Challenge school reading lists. As part of our own ongoing Read With Your Teen series, we’re leaping to your literary assistance by selecting one of the lesser known prescribed texts for you to share and brainstorm. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes tells the intriguing story of Charlie Gordon, the first person in the world to have their intelligence increased by surgery. From ‘dimwit’ to dazzling genius, Charlie’s experimental quest is to have devastating unforeseen consequences.
When Yayoi Kusama was a young girl, she had a close encounter with a pumpkin. In later years, she would describe how it (literally) spoke to her in an animated manner, its radiant energy filling her with love. If you think that’s startling, just wait until you hear how she feels about polka dots! This unusually sensitive girl would grow up to be one of the most famous artists in the world, and in Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn’t Sorry by Fausto Gilberti, we learn about her amazing life.
The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff is a deliciously sultry tale of intrigue, seduction and power. Set over the course of one golden summer, it takes place in a characterful, periwinkle-blue house by the sea, inherited holiday home of four teenage siblings, their parents, and older cousins. Into this heady mix of hormones and domesticity come the Goddens, charismatic Kit and his sullen, taciturn brother, Hugo. As the temperature rises in more ways than one, it becomes known as the summer everything changed forever.
Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell and then committed suicide. The story of the unhinged teenager who killed his young girlfriend has passed into Little Kilton folklore, a dark stain on the town’s reputation. But how can the case be officially closed when Andie’s body has never been found? Local sixth-former, Pip Fitz-Amobi, has always doubted the original police verdict and decides to embark on her own investigation for a school project. In the award winning A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, we join Pip’s descent into a murky and villainous world.
Children born on the 29th February are special beings indeed. These Leap Year babies, known as leaplings, have beaten odds of 1 in 1,461 and arrived in calendric style. So consider then how eye-poppingly special Elle, the heroine of this tale, must be, for not only is she a leapling, but she has been born with The Gift, the ability to leap through time. Unfortunately, it appears that no corner of our Space-time continuum remains free from villainy and in The Infinite by Patience Agbabi, we join Elle as a school trip propels her into a truly epic crime-fighting adventure.
‘Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of punishment.’ This quote by the late Alexander McQueen resonates throughout Meat Market by Juno Dawson, winner of the YA Book Prize 2020. Whilst on a school trip to Thorpe Park, 16-year-old Jana Novak finds herself scouted by an elite modelling agency, her story a tumultuous journey from obscurity to the front cover of Vogue. Naively anticipating a world of glamour, luxury and hedonism, the hapless Jana gets more than she bargained for.
The wonderful shortlist for this year’s Carnegie Book Award included such luminous characters as a rapper, a drag artist, and a lighthouse keeper’s daughter. But in the end, two everyday teenagers from Yorkshire have scooped the coveted Carnegie crown in Lark by Anthony McGowan. Brothers Nicky and Kenny may seem ordinary but their tale is anything but when they become stranded on the Yorkshire Moors during a day trip. What was meant to be ‘ a stroll, a laugh,’ a lark, is set to become a test of brotherly bonds and a fight for their very survival.
America’s excellent National Public Radio conducted a Best Ever Teen Fiction poll a few years ago and this list still stands in my opinion. Some fantastic books here for every teen age, taste and gender.