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Hillingdon Secondary Book of the Year 2016

The winner of the Hillingdon Secondary Book of the Year is Flying with Broken Wings by Jane Elson.

Book awards

The list includes books from established and new authors that have wide appeal and feature a variety of genres from hilarious adventures to Gothic horror. While some are challenging and complex others will delight and entertain students that don't read as often.  

This award is aimed at young people in Year 7. However we greatly encourage older students to participate in some way, either through reading the books, mentoring or assisting with art work and reading group activities.


How to Fly with Broken Wings Title: How to Fly with Broken Wings  
Author: Jane Elson
ISBN: 9781444916768

Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk - and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Bradley gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?

Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle. Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a  secret. Sasha longs to fly too.


The story of Willem, a 12 year old boy with Asperger's who dreams he is able to fly. The story is set against a background of riots on Willem's housing estate and centres around his homework which is to find two friends. It is a really sweet, and sometime shocking story that is excellent at challenging gender sterotypes; his friend Sasha is a strong lead character and also there is an historical thread to the story concerning Spitfires and the women who flew them. Featuring male and female protagonists, it has broad appeal. At times it's quite violent but never gory. A lovely book to read that deserves some votes!

Sleepless Title: Sleepless  
Author: Lou Morgan
ISBN: 9781847154552

Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming - and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the friends begin taking the study drug. But as the side effects take hold they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams. 


If you frighten easily this book might not be for you! Sleepless is a dark horror made all the more chilling by the real life setting of the Barbican centre. The claustrophobic atmosphere and suspense combined with a superb ending meant it deserved a place on the long list. However this is pretty scary stuff that makes it one of the most challenging reads

Boy-in-the-Tower Title: Boy in the Tower  
Author: Polly Ho-Yen
ISBN: 9780552569163

When they first arrived, they came quietly and stealthily as if they tip-toed into the world when we were all looking the other way. Ade loves living at the top of a tower block. From his window, he feels like he can see the whole world stretching out beneath him. His mum doesn't really like looking outside - but it's going outside that she hates. She's happier sleeping all day inside their tower, where it's safe.

But one day, other tower blocks on the estate start falling down around them and strange, menacing plants begin to appear. Now their tower isn't safe anymore. Ade and his mum are trapped and there's no way out...


Recommended for inclusion by several school librarians, and we can see why! It is a really thoughtful book, not especially fast paced but has a really deep quality to it. It has been nominated for the Carnegie award. It is set in a sort of dystopian future where tower blocks are falling and strange plants are growing everywhere, and no one knows why. The hero, Ade, is determined to save his friend who lives in the tower opposite. A lot of people die in the book (mostly crushed by the falling towers) but is not gratuitous or gory. It is a dark story, but incredibly well written.

The-D'Evil-Diaries Title: The D'Evil Diaries  
Author: Tatum Flynn
ISBN: 9781408335765

A hilarious, crackling, original debut about an unlucky demon, perfect for fans of Derek Landy and Eoin Colfer.

Twelve-year-old Jinx is hopeless at being evil. Which is a bit of a problem when you're Lucifer's youngest son. But when Jinx runs away from Pandemonium, the walled city he's lived in all his life, he bumps into dead girl Tommy - who's been sent to Hell for accidentally feeding her nasty uncle to a circus lion - and unearths a conspiracy that could up-end the entire underworld. Cue shenanigans involving carnivorous carousel horses, death-trap-riddled libraries and hungry quicksand. Now the fate of the realm rests in the hands of its most unlikely demon and a girl who shouldn't be in Hell at all...


A fun and easy read. Jinx tries hard to be bad but ends up being good.  It's not easy being Lucifer's 666th child when your brothers and sisters are all very good at being very bad. Jinx and his new friend Tommy have to save Hell before it goes to...well... Hell. With a nice twist at the end I look forward to the next in the series.

The-Dream-snatcher Title: The Dreamsnatcher  
Author: Abi Elphinstone 
ISBN: 9781471122682

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare - the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows...The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher's dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson. 


A fun and scary fantasy adventure with the brave heroine Moll and her wildcat companion Gryff. The story has a dark atmosphere with vivid descriptions which creates an engaging world of magic and charm. The book has a fast paced narrative with strong themes of identity and friendship, which would appeal to both boys and girls. The story would also attract children who are fans of the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter series.  Overall, The Dreamsnatcher is an accomplished, imaginative debut- a standout story perfect for young readers.

Big-Game Title: Big Game  
Author: Dan Smith 
ISBN: 9781909489943

13-year-old Oskari is sent into the cold wilderness on an ancient test of manhood. He must survive armed only with a bow and arrow. But instead, he stumbles upon an escape pod from a burning airliner: Air Force One. Terrorists have shot down the President of the United States. The boy hunter and the world's most powerful man are suddenly the hunted, in a race against a deadly enemy.


A fast paced action thriller that's a real page turner. The story starts out as an adventure / coming of age challenge but very quickly turns into a life or death situation for the main character 'Oskari'. Alongside the themes of terrorism and murder, what really stands out is the importance of bravery, trust and friendship. These drive the plot and eventually lead the main characters to safety and ultimately survival. The writing is very atmospheric making the descriptions of the smells and sounds of the forest come to life. There are some unexpected twists and turns along the way which make it thoroughly entertaining.  We can see why it was turned into a movie and can't wait to see how it translates onto the big screen. A really enjoyable and memorable read. 




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