Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2014

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We've been very impressed by the quality of books for tweens in 2014 and Jill struggled to reduce her selection to just ten. But here they are, alphabetically, by author.

Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black

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What skills would you need to trick the rich and powerful out of their ill-gotten gains? A posse of brilliant lawyers and accountants with elastic consciences? A cache of guns and bombs? Well, maybe, although it is very possible that all that will do is to turn you into villains as dirty as your marks. And, if you'll forgive the sudden descent into street-speak, that's not the way these five young Urban Outlaws roll. Full review...

Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler

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George likes FACTS. He collects definitions. When he writes things down, he makes his favourite words stand out by 'bolding or CAPITALISING or italicising them. He loves school but he hates Carl Worthington who is disruptive and a bully. He loves his little brother Theo but can't help wishing he wasn't quite such a pain. His favourite game is the one in which he and Mum share random facts with one another. Actually, Mum is George's favourite person in the whole world. Even more than best friend, Dermo, or beloved but scruffy dog, Goffo. Full review...

Bird by Crystal Chan

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Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.

That was also the day Jewel was born. Birthdays for Jewel are miserable affairs during which her parents' grief for their son trump their joy in their daughter. In fact, Jewel doesn't see that her parents have any joy in their daughter at all. She's quite certain that nobody will ever love her as much as Mom, Dad and Grandpa loved John. Until, one day, she finds a mysterious boy sitting in one of her favourite trees. Grandpa doesn't like this new John, but Jewel does. She finally has someone that she can really talk to, who really understands the way her mind works. But John isn't everything he says he is. And his arrival is about to change Jewel's life forever... Full review...

A Room Full of Chocolate by Jane Elson

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'Sometimes family isn't the one you are born into but the people and pigs you collect along the way'.

Yep! Pigs! Claude is the pig in this story but I'll let you meet Claude for yourself when you read the book. Which, of course, you will. Full review...

Dragon Shield by Charlie Fletcher

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'"Dragons don't exist,"whispered Jo. But even those three short words sounded more like a wish than a statement of fact.'

Something dark and sinister is going on at the British Museum. An ancient power has awoken and it has stopped time. People are frozen like statues. Only Will and his sister Jo are still moving. The only humans still moving, that is. The dragons are moving. They're spitting real fire, too. And they're attacking Will and Jo. A glorious golden girl comes to their rescue, followed by an angel and a muse. And Will and Joe are plunged into a world where statues are alive and where good battles evil. Why are they still moving? Who is behind the stopping of time? And will they ever get Mum back? Full review...

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett

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In a prosperous area of London during World War II the two Lockwood children, twelve year old Cecily and her older brother Jeremy, are dispatched, together with their socialite mother, to stay with family in the north to keep them safe. On their arrival, at Cecily’s insistence, they take in a young evacuee, ten year old May. As they wander the countryside close to Cecily’s Uncle Peregrine’s country estate the two girls find two strange boys hiding in the ruins of Snow Castle and do not tell the rest of the family about their discovery. As the children attempt to cope with their changed circumstances and the fear of an approaching enemy, each evening Uncle Peregrine tells the children a dark and sinister story of intrigue in the Royal courts of long ago and so begins the story within a story. This intriguing book then goes on to combine two periods of English history in an extraordinary adventure that is not only an historical novel but a moving coming of age story too. Full review...

Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

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Ade loves living on the top floor of his tower block. He and his mum can look out of their window and see the whole city stretching out before them. They see busy little ants of people below them and marvel at the tiny tubes of aeroplanes above them. But Ade's mum has stopped looking out of the window. She's stopped cooking meals and singing songs. She hasn't been out of the flat in months and spends most of her time asleep in bed. Ade isn't sure why, but he does his best to take up the slack. Full review...

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

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William Everett's father has risen high in the railway. But it wasn't always thus. He spent many years working for Cornelius Van Horne as a manual labourer, cutting and blasting through swathes of Canada and laying tracks. When Will and his father witness the laying of the last piece of track, there's an avalanche. And Will's father saves Van Horne's life. Promotion and success followed and now Van Horne is dead, Will's father is general manager and the world's biggest train - the Boundless, at 987 carriages long - will carry his body in perpetuity. Full review...

Who Framed Klaris Cliff? by Nikki Sheehan

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Joseph is a thoroughly ordinary kid. He and his dad get on pretty well, in a teasing, blokish sort of way, and they both admit openly how much they miss Joseph's mother. She'd been suffering from depression on and off for ages and went away for a much-needed holiday a couple of years previously. Her postcards said she was feeling much better and would definitely be home before the end of the summer, but she broke her promise: she never came back. Joseph imagines every day what it will be like when she eventually returns. Still, there's a big untidy, unruly family next door including Joseph's best friend Rocky, so he never needs to be lonely. So far so good: a contemporary, cheerful story about a likeable young teen. But there's one sinister element in this everyday world. Full review...

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

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Living in Edwardian England, Opal Plumstead is a fiercely intelligent girl. She has already won a scholarship to a public school and dreams of going to university. But all her ambitions are snatched away when her father is sent to prison and Opal is forced to abandon her education for a job in the Fairy Glen sweet factory. The other workers there find Opal snobby and arrogant but the factory's owner, Mrs Roberts, notices her artistic talent and treats Opal as a protege. Through Mrs Roberts, Opal learns about the suffragette movement and even meets the legendary Mrs Pankhurst. Full review...

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