Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2015

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We stayed up late and argued about which books should be included in this top ten - and as 2015 has been rich in good books it wasn't an easy job. But - we finally managed to pick just ten and here they are in alpabetical order by author:

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley


Micah is an orphan who has been raised by his grandfather, but now Micah’s grandfather is dying. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his horrible great aunt has arrived to take care of him, cutting their limited time together further. But don’t worry all hope is not lost. When grandpa Ephraim was a child he visited the mysterious Circus Mirandus, where he was promised a miracle by the miraculous Man Who Bends Light. All Micah has to do is get a message to the Light Bender and his grandfather can have his miracle. With the help of Jenny Mendoza (the smartest girl in the class), Micah sets his sights on the circus, a task that requires unconditional love and faith. Aunt Gertrudis is wrong, Ephraim’s stories aren’t just stories ... are they? Full review...

Robot Girl by Malorie Blackman


Claire is excited and she's nagging her mother to tell her what her father has been doing in his laboratory, but her mother is no wiser than she is and tells Claire that she will simply have to wait until her father is ready to show her what he's been doing. He's a famous inventor and Claire knows that whatever it is will be exciting. For now all she can do is to tell her pen friend - and be patient. Full review...

In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll


In the early hours of the morning Alice’s mum receives the phone call they have been waiting for. The long awaited heart transplant that may save her sick brother’s life is now possible. Alice finds herself sent to stay with a grandmother she doesn’t know, miles away from her friends and the life she knows. There is no TV, no phone signal and no internet but Alice feels drawn to the mysterious Darkling Wood surrounding the house despite her grandmother’s wish to have it chopped down. Meanwhile back in 1918 a young girl desperately waits for news of her brother’s safe return from the front. Her mother doesn’t like her playing in the nearby wood but it is there that she discovers secrets and magic that give her hope for the future. Full review...

The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone


Twelve year old Moll wakes in the night to find herself deep in the dark forest. The nightmare that haunts her sleep has brought her to a place of danger, summoned there by the evil Skull and his wicked sorcery. Moll and her fiercely protective wildcat, Gryff, must fight back against the dark magic before it is too late. At first she does not understand why she has been chosen for the task but as her chilling adventure continues Moll learns more about her past and the part it will play in saving those she loves from Skull and the horror he threatens. Full review...

How to Speak Spook (and Stay Alive) by Ally Kennen


Everybody knows if you have a special gift like seeing through walls or the ability to speak giraffe you have to keep it secret. If you don't, men in dark suits and wrap-around shades take you away to experiment on you. (And if it's the wall thing, girls will assume you're spying on them when they get changed for PE and beat you up.) Full review...

The Wickford Doom by Chris Priestley and Vladimir Stankovic


Following Harry’s father’s death in the war, he and his mother learn that they’ve inherited a bequest from a relative. When they arrive to claim it, though, they find that they’ve been the victims of a dying man’s last cruel prank. But there are local tales of missing children and a strange painting called the Doom, and Harry quickly learns that there may be something far more evil than a nasty joke to worry about. Can he fight back against it? Full review...

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands


Seventeenth century England isn't always a comfortable place to live. Apart from the obvious differences from the modern day – no National Health Service, no laws to protect children from cruelty and exploitation, and a constant foul smell from poor sanitation - fear and suspicion are a daily fact of life. In 1665 Charles II has been back on the throne for several years, but not everyone is happy about his extravagant and luxurious life-style, even among those who found the Puritan rules of Cromwell's time excessively strict. There are spies everywhere, and rumours of conspiracies fill the streets. It's a time to keep your head down and avoid attention from the authorities. Full review...

Akimbo Adventures by Alexander McCall Smith


I am, it must be said, something of an Alexander McCall Smith addict. I have handed out free copies of his books for World Book Night, I met him in Oxford at a literary festival, and I read pretty much everything he writes as he writes it! This time it’s a children’s book, with three stories in one volume all about a boy called Akimbo. He lives on the edge of a game reserve in Africa, and these stories are all about his rather amazing adventures with the animals who also share his home. Full review...

Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr


Polly opens the door one day to find a large black wolf standing on the doorstep. With no preamble whatsoever, not even a cursory hello, the wolf informs Polly that he intends to eat her up. Incredibly Polly invites the wolf into her home and even into the kitchen! What can she be thinking of? Well, young Polly is clever, resourceful, independent and charming. The wolf is a wolf of very little brain. Therefore it is not long before she is able to outwit the wolf and send him packing. This first story is very short but sets the scene for the ongoing battle of wits between Polly and the wolf that will continue for the remaining twelve short stories in this charming and entertaining book. Full review...

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein


The essential role of aviators in the success or failure of modern war is a given, and fiction is full of the derring-do and dog-fight exploits of moustachioed heroes waving their trade-mark silk scarves as they land their frail and battered craft at a friendly airstrip. But what if the enemy planes outnumber those of your country by hundreds, if not thousands, and you, the pilot, are barely out of your childhood? Full review...


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