Monday 23 January 2017

100 Recommendations For Secondary School Librarians: Part 2 of 10

Reposting my intro to this feature. Part 1 can be found HERE.

Inspired by a tweet last week, I thought I'd have a go at providing a list of some fairly recent books I thought librarians should definitely be aware of!

Help needed! I've been asked to support a secondary school library to buy new books. All recommendations appreciated. Please RT Thank you
— Jo Clarke (@bookloverJo) January 4, 2017

A few things - firstly this is only covering 2012 onwards (except for two exceptions which are SO good and SO underrated that I can't leave them out!) Secondly I have tried to go for a wide range of genres and I've tried to be inclusive in choices of authors. I've limited myself to one book/series per author but even so there are some AMAZING books that haven't made it in. In some cases that's because I had lots from a particular genre and had to make tough decisions, in some cases it's because talking to librarians has left me feeling that lots of people already have certain books in stock and it would be more useful spreading the word about slightly lesser-known ones. (There ARE a few really big ones in here anyway, for various reasons.) I've also tried to go for mostly UK authors - and obviously all books here are published in the UK, as far as I'm aware.

Basically what I'm trying to say is this is IN NO WAY a definitive list and shouldn't be taken to be THE 100 BOOKS YOU MUST HAVE or anything. However it is a list of 100 books which I have (mostly) read and loved or (in a few cases) haven't read but have had recommended to me incredibly highly, and which I think would be great ones to have in your secondary school library.

I'm aiming to split this up over ten parts, probably fortnightly. Each week will have six books or completed series from 2012 - 2016, two ongoing series, and two coming out this year to watch out for. 

So, here's part 2!


Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (Chicken House) - I think there's a real lack of hilarious fiction for older readers and this, along with Tom Easton's Boys Don't Knit, definitely goes some way towards filling that gap! The story of two teens trying to find their 'lobster', or forever love (and also to lose their virginity) this has so many brilliantly funny moments! It's also a really warm-hearted read about love and friendship.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Usborne)

The first #ownvoices YA book I've read by a trans author, this story about an 18-year-old trans girl starting a new school after moving to live with her father is a gorgeously sweet coming of age novel. Meredith Russo says in her author's note that she intentionally gave Amanda an easier journey than many trans people have - she's conventionally attractive, passes easily, and has a family trying hard to be accepting. However it's still a must-read; I adored Amanda and her friends and it's a wonderful and warm-hearted book.

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli, translated by Daniel Hahn (Hot Key Books)

Another I haven't read myself but which has been vouched for by people I trust - Acioli's magical realism novel, which she wrote under the mentorship of the wonderful Gabriel García Márquez, sounds breathtaking. It's the story of a boy whose mother dies, and sends him to live with his father and grandmother, but instead ends up camping out in the hollow, broken off head of the statue of a saint. He and a new friend start to help people who come asking for guidance from the saint, but end up in danger. This sounds spellbinding and I'm not sure why I haven't gotten to it yet!

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill (Quercus) 

This is one of the hardest-hitting YA books I've ever read (O'Neill's second novel, Asking For It, may actually have affected me even MORE, but I wanted to put a dystopia in here so this just about edged it in a battle of two incredible books.) Set in a world where girls (eves) are designed solely for men's pleasure, this is the story of two girls in a school where women are trained to be companions, concubines or chastities. Terrible competition ensues, and the ending to this one is one of the bleakest I've ever read, but it's a must-read for older teens who can cope with it (trigger warnings for rape, fat shaming, eating disorders, torture and suicide) because the attitude towards women in the book's world is scarily close to the way some people/publications treat women right now.

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children's Books)

Stunning contemporary telling the story of Marlon, caught up in danger when a date ends tragically. He's an incredible main character and my heart went out to him and his mother, already heartbroken by an accident his brother was involved in several years previously. The way Marlon gets drawn into the world Andre had occupied is brilliantly paced - although it's a tough read as it's so clearly leading to bad things. A really outstanding debut!

The Crossover/Booked by Kwame Alexander (Andersen)

I haven't read Booked yet, but The Crossover is an outstanding story in verse about two 12-year-old twin brothers trying to follow in their basketball-playing father's footsteps. Alexander's writing is outstanding and really drew me into the story, even as someone who sometimes struggles with verse novels. A perfect start for introducing poetry to students!

Continuing series 

Dave Pigeon by Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey (Faber & Faber)

I haven't read this one myself but I've had it really highly recommended as a perfect read for struggling and reluctant readers - it's aimed at 6+, I believe, but it doesn't look like it's that young, so it's one that under-confident secondary school children may be more willing to try despite some of them feeling there's a stigma attached to reading younger than their age. Everyone I know who's read this says the story of two pigeons trying to get revenge on a cat is really funny and that the illustrations are fabulous.

Electrigirl by Jo Cotterill and Cathy Brett (OUP Children's Books)

Cathy Brett is one of my favourite illustrators and pairing her up with the wonderful Jo Cotterill for this prose/graphic novel hybrid works brilliantly! The prose tells the story of Holly's everyday life, while the graphic novel parts show her in action as Electrigirl, developing super powers after being struck by lightning. The two complement each other perfectly and I especially like the relationship between Holly and her supportive younger brother. 

2017 releases

Mind The Gap by Phil Earle (Barrington Stoke)

Phil Earle puts all his trademark warmth into this lovely, compassionate story of two boys - Mikey, who's just lost his father, and his best mate trying anything he can to support him in his grief. These two are the stand-outs but there's a rich cast of characters, including street performers, a school bully. and an agent. As always with Barrington Stoke the story is brilliantly plotted and paced - their 'super readable YA slogan' is spot on!

Open: A Toolkit For How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be by Gemma Cairney (Macmillan Children's Books)

Radio 1 agony aunt Gemma Cairney seems like the perfect person to offer advice to teens; I loved listening to her at last year's YALC! This apparently deals with topics "from mental health to families to first love, and everything in between" and sounds like an absolutely must-buy for secondary librarians. 

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