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A High Performing Specialist Academy for Technology & Applied Learning

Recommended Reads for Students

Ahmed, Sufiya -
Secrets of the Henna Girl

Life as Zeba knows it could be over for good...Zeba Khan is like any other sixteen-year-old girl: enjoying herself, waiting for exam results ...and dreaming of the day she'll meet her one true love.  Except her parents have other plans.  In Pakistan for the summer, Zeba's world is shattered.

Her future is threatened by an unthinkable - and forced - duty to protect her father's honour.  But does she hold the secrets that will help her escape?

Blackman, Malorie - Noughts and Crosses

Callum is a nought – a second class citizen in a world run by the ruling crosses.  He is also one of the first nought youngsters to be given the chance to study at a school for crosses.  Stefy is a cross – can Callum and Stefy possibly find a way to be together?

Bronte, Charlotte -
Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre (originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë.  It was published on 16 October 1847, by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name "Currer Bell."  The first American edition was published the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York. Primarily of the bildungsroman genre.  Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr Rochester, the Byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall.  In its internalisation of the action — the focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane's moral and spiritual sensibility, and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry — Jane Eyre revolutionised the art of fiction.  Charlotte Brontë has been called the 'first historian of the private consciousness' and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust.

Chainani, Soman -
The School for Good and Evil

A dark and enchanting fantasy adventure perfect for girls who prefer their fairy-tales with a twist.

Every four years, two girls are kidnapped from the village of Gavaldon. Legend has it these lost children are sent to the School for Good and Evil, the fables institution where they become fairy-tale heroes or villains.

Colfer, Eoin -
Artemis Fowl

Twelve-year-old villain, Artemis Fowl, is the most ingenious criminal mastermind in history.  His bold and daring plan is to hold a leprechaun to ransom.  But he's taking on more than he bargained for when he kidnaps Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit).

For a start, leprechaun technology is more advanced than our own.  Holly is a true heroine and her senior officer Commander Root will stop at nothing to get her back.

Collins, Suzanne -
The Hunger Games



Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. "The Hunger Games" is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

Crossan, Sarah -
Apple and Rain

When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go?

 But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.

Crossan, Sarah -
The Weight of Water

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother head for England.  Life is lonely for Kasienka.  At home her mother's heart is breaking and at school friends are scarce.

But when someone special swims into her life, Kasienka learns that there might be more than one way for her to stay afloat.  The Weight of Water is a startlingly original piece of fiction; most simply a brilliant coming of age story, it also tackles the alienation experienced by many young immigrants.  Moving, unsentimental and utterly page-turning, we meet and share the experiences of a remarkable girl who shows us how quiet courage prevails.

Dickens, Charles -
Great Expectations

Considered by many to be Dickens' finest novel, Great Expectations traces the growth of the book's narrator,  Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character.  From its famous dramatic opening on the bleak Kentish marshes, the story abounds with some of Dickens' most memorable characters.

Among them are the kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery, the mysterious convict Abel Magwitch, the eccentric Miss Haversham and her beautiful ward Estella, Pip's good-hearted room-mate Herbert Pocket and the pompous Pumblechook.

As Pip unravels the truth behind his own 'great expectations' in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of the past and the convolutions of fate through a series of thrilling adventures serve to steer him towards maturity and his most important discovery of all - the truth about himself.

Dumas, Alexandre -
The Three Musketeers
(Pre-19th Century KS4)

The Three Musketeers is an historical novel by Alexandre Dumas. Set in 1625-8, it recounts the adventures of a young man named D'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard.  Although D'Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age: Athos, Porthos and Aramis and gets involved in affairs of the state and court.  In genre, The Three Musketeers is primarily an historical and adventure novel.  However, Dumas also frequently works into the plot various injustices, abuses and absurdities of the old regime, giving the novel an additional political aspect at a time when the debate in France between republicans and monarchists was still fierce.

Erskine, Kathryn - Mockingbird

This is one of the most moving books you'll ever read. 11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger's syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him.

With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn't seem like things will ever get better again.

Green, John -
Looking for Alaska

Before.  Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home.  His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything but boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe.  Because down the hall is Alaska Young.  The gorgeous, clever, funny, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young.  She is an event unto herself.  She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.  Then. . . .

After.  Nothing is ever the same.

Green, John -
The Fault in Our Stars (Years 8 and above)

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis.  But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.  The Fault in Our Stars explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Hardy, Thomas -
Far from the Madding Crowd
(Pre-19th Century KS4)

The novel is the first to be set in Hardy's fictional county of Wessex in rural south west England.  It deals in themes of love, honour and betrayal, against a backdrop of the seemingly idyllic, but often harsh, realities of a farming community in Victorian England.  It describes the farmer Bathsheba Everdene, her life and relationships - especially with her lonely neighbour William Boldwood, the faithful shepherd Gabriel Oak, and the thriftless soldier Sergeant Troy.

Hooper, Mary -
Fallen Grace

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing.  Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin.  Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the disgrace of a pauper's grave.

Hughes, Shirley - Hero on a Bicycle

Florence, Italy, 1944 and the city is under heavy Nazi occupation.  For fourteen-year-old Paolo, the war is a long and boring wait.  Too young to fight for what he believes in and desperate for adventure, he sets out each night on secret bike rides.

But one night Paolo receives a message that propels his family into a terrifying and impossible situation.  Finally at the centre of the action, Paolo must work out how to be a true hero.

Hugo, Victor -
Les Miserables
(Pre-19th Century KS4)

The novel contains various subplots, but the main thread is the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who becomes a force for good in the world but cannot escape his criminal past. The novel is divided into five volumes, each volume divided into several books, and subdivided into chapters, for a total of 48 books and 365 chapters. Each chapter is relatively short, commonly no longer than a few pages.  The novel as a whole is one of the longest ever written.  Hugo explained his ambitions for the novel to his Italian publisher:

I don't know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone. It addresses England as well as Spain, Italy as well as France, Germany as well as Ireland, the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind's wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, Les Miserables knocks at the door and says: "open up, I am here for you."

Kinney, Jeff -
Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The Long Haul (Book 9)

A family road trip is supposed to be a lot of fun.... unless, of course, you're the Heffleys.  The journey starts off full of promise, then quickly takes several wrong turns.  Petrol-station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender and a runaway pig - exactly Greg Heffley's idea of a good time.  But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure - and this is one the Heffleys won't soon forget.

Kipling, Rudyard -
The Jungle Book
(Pre-19th Century KS4)

The Jungle Book is a collection of stories by English author Rudyard Kipling.  The tales in the book (as well as those in The Second Jungle Book, which followed in 1895) are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons.  Other readers have interpreted the work as allegories of the politics and society of the time.  The best-known of them are the three stories revolving around the adventures of Mowgli, an abandoned "man cub" who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.

Malley, Gemma - The Killables

Evil has been eradicated.  The City has been established.  And citizens may only enter after having the 'evil' part of their brain removed.

They are labelled on the System according to how 'good' they are.  If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K ... But no one knows quite what that means.  Only that they disappear, never to be seen again ...

McKenzie, Sophie -
Falling Fast
(Years 9 and above)

This is life, not a rehearsal...When River auditions for a part in an inter-school performance of Romeo and Juliet, she finds herself smitten by Flynn, the boy playing Romeo.  River believes in romantic love, and she can't wait to experience it.  But Flynn comes from a damaged family - is he even capable of giving River what she wants?  The path of true love never did run smooth...

McKenzie, Sophie - Missing me

Six years have passed since the end of “Sister Missing” and Madison is now a teenager.  During a visit to older sister Lauren, she learns that their biological father was an anonymous sperm donor and sets out to track him down.  Her search bears fruit sooner than she expects, but is the father she discovers all he seems?  As Madison gets drawn into a mysterious investigation involving missing girls and secret hideaways, she finds herself in more and more danger...

Morpurgo, Michael - Medal for Leroy

Inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army, this is a stunning new novel of identity and loss by Michael Morpurgo.  Michael doesn't remember his father, an RAF pilot lost in the war.  And his French mother, heartbroken and passionate, doesn't like to talk about her husband.

But then Auntie Snowdrop gives Michael a medal, followed by a photograph, which begin to reveal a hidden history.  A story of love and loss.  A story that will change everything - and reveal to Michael who he really is...

Muchamore, Robert - Black Friday


Ryan is about to board a plane, knowing that the next twenty four hours will change everything. His mission is to stop the biggest terrorist attack America's ever seen. Ryan works for CHERUB, a secret organisation with one key advantage: even a trained terrorist won't suspect that a teenager is spying on them.

For official purposes, these children do not exist.

Ness, Patrick -
A Monster Calls

This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss.  The monster showed up just after midnight.  As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting.  He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different.  Something ancient, something wild.

And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.  It wants the truth.

Palacio, R.J - Wonder





'My name is August.  I won't describe what I look like.  Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.'  Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old.

He does ordinary things - eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox.  He feels ordinary - inside.  But ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.

Ordinary kids aren't stared at wherever they go.  Born with a terrible facial abnormality,  Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life.  Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it.

All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?  "Wonder" is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

Pichon, Liz - Tom Gates - Genius Ideas (mostly)

Seeing Delia without her sunglasses on is a BIG shock for Tom, but that’s nothing compared with the surprise that Dad has in store with his new found fitness regime.  He says he’s going to compete at the school sports day.  Can you imagine the horrendous shame that will bring?

Pitcher, Annabel - My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

Ten year old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine, for a 'Fresh New Start'.  Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb.  His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating.
The family falls apart.  But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time.  To him Rose is just a distant memory.
Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his Dad.  And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago.  When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.

Priestly, Chris -
Mister Creecher




Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mister Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience.

But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target ...Victor Frankenstein. Friendship, trust and betrayal combine to form a dangerous liaison in this moving and frightening new book from Chris Priestley.

Reeve, Philip - Goblins

A wild world of magical creatures and heroic adventure from the extraordinary imagination of Philip Reeve.  The squabbling goblins who live in the great towers of Clovenstone spend their time fighting and looting.  Only clever young Skarper understands that dark magic created by a vanquished sorcerer is rising again.

From the lands of men come fortune-seekers - and trolls, giants, cloud-maidens, boglins, swamp monsters, tree-warriors and bloodthirsty goblins are swept into a fabulous magical conflict to thrill all fantasy fans.

Roth, Veronica - Divergent


For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs. Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one.

And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead...The first book in the DIVERGENT series that has swept the globe - selling millions of copies worldwide.

Rowell, Rainbow -
Eleanor & Park

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.  When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love - and just how hard it pulled you under.

Sedgwick, Marcus - Midwinterblood 




Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life?  Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar even when you've never been there before, or felt that you've known someone even though you are meeting them for the first time?  In a novel comprising seven short stories each of them influenced by a moon - flower moon, harvest moon, hunter's moon, blood moon - and travelling from 2073 back in time to the dark of the moon and the days of Viking saga, this is the story of Eric and Merle who have loved and lost one another and who have been searching for each other ever since.

In the different stories the two appear as lovers, mother and son, brother and sister, artist and child as they come close to finding each other before facing the ultimate sacrifice.  Beautifully imagined, intricately and cleverly structured this is a heart-wrenching and breathtaking paranormal romance, but it also has the hallmark Sedgwick gothic touch with plenty of blood-spilling, a vampire and sacrifice.

Verne, Jules - Around the World in 80 Days
(Pre-19th Century KS4)

Around the World in Eighty Days is a classic adventure novel by the French writer, Jules Verne, published in 1873.  In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet, Passepartout, attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager (equivalent to £1,600,000 in 2015) set by his friends at the Reform Club.  It is one of Verne's most acclaimed works.

Verne, Jules - Journey to the Centre of the Earth
(Pre-19th Century KS4)

Journey to the Center of the Earth is an 1864 science fiction by Jules Verne.  The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the centre of the Earth.  He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans descend into the Icelandic volcano, encountering many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy.

Walliams, David - Awful Auntie

Have you got an awful auntie? Does she:

Make revolting rhubarb crumbles and force you to eat them?  Knit you itchy jumpers with I LOVE YOU AUNTIE on the front?  Give you a big slobbering kiss every time she sees you?  However awful your auntie might be, she will never be in the same league of awfulness as Stella Saxby’s awful Aunt Alberta. Just how awful is she?  Read on and find out!

Walliams, David - Demon Dentist

The new jaw-achingly funny novel from David Walliams, the number one best-selling author!  Make your appointment if you dare...Darkness had come to the town.  Strange things were happening in the dead of night.  Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find...a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work.  But who or what was behind it...? Read this book and find out!

Zusak, Marcus -
The Book Thief

It is 1939.  Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath.  Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meagre existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books.  With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbours during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


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