Must Read Book list 2016

MustRead2016Banner40 of the best new fiction titles for your primary school Library, aimed at years 5 and 6.

The Must Read Book list is our annual selection of the best fiction for primary schools chosen by librarians from the Schools Library Service and primary and secondary schools, and is a suggested list to buy for your school library.
The book list represents a selection of the best new fiction first published in paperback within the last year, and aims to cover as diverse a range of subjects, genres, authors and interests as possible.
Titles from the 2016 Teen and Primary lists will be chosen for the Book Award short list in July. Don’t forget to register for this event!
A set of posters and bookmarks for the book list have been sent to all subscribing primary schools.
Please contact the library for any further information about the book list.
To request additional posters/ bookmarks email (subject to availability – subscribing schools only)
Read the full list
Title Author Synopsis Themes
Crowns and Codebreakers (Marsh Road Mysteries 2) Caldecott , Elen Minnie’s Gran comes to stay all the way from Nigeria, but no sooner has she arrived than she discovers that she has picked up the wrong black suitcase at the airport. When the house is broken into and the suitcase is stolen, Minnie and her friends realise that there is a mystery to be solved. This is an exciting romp with strange clues to solve a mystery which leads the children hot on the trail of a gang of international art smugglers. The second Marsh Road Mysteries story. Multicultural families
Evil Emperor Penguin Anderson, Laura Ellen Far away in the icy wastes of the Antarctic, lives a cute and cuddly penguin who only wants one thing… world domination! If only things would just go his way. Graphic novels, visual literacy
Dead End Kids Ashley, Bernard Josie Turner’s world is the Wapping docklands during the blitz. As German bombers rain fire on the city, Josie and her gang form a kids’ fire brigade with other youngsters in the East End. But after a tragic turn of events, she finds that fighting fires could be the least of her troubles. Local history
Dog Ears Booth, Anne Anna tells her best   friend Timmy everything and he always listens, as Timmy is her pet dog. He listens when she tells him about school, and her band, and about her baby brother, Jack, ill in hospital, and about how her Dad says that she needs to look after Mum and Jack while he’s away. But when things get to be too much, will Anna need to find someone else who will listen? Young carers
Petunia Perry and the Curse of the Ugly Pigeon Butchart, Pamela Petunia Perry, aka Peri, is writing her memoirs to explain what it’s like to start secondary school, and like all good memoirs, it needs to begin with a few facts – as to why she is sitting in the wardrobe writing and why her best friend now hates her even though they have both signed the Declaration of Self Independence. Transition to secondary school
The Monkey’s Secret Choldenko, Gennifer It’s San Francisco at the dawn of the last century, and fear of a plague epidemic has caused Chinatown to be quarantined. Lizzie Kennedy is more interested in investigating these rumours and learning to be a doctor than acting the perfect little lady that she’s expected to be, so when she finds a strange boy hiding from the mob in her attic, she’ll need to act fast to put together the pieces of the puzzle… Historical fiction, race and prejucice
Shadow Cat Cross, Gillian Nolan is whisked off in a camper van to who-knows-where by his eccentric mother. Feather feels constrained by her rock star father’s security-filled life.   The two are brought together when Feather’s father introduces a wild cat into his live stage act – a beautiful and dangerous serval that needs their protection. Families, mental health, animal welfare
Far From Home: the Sisters of Street Child Doherty, Berlie Set in Victorian London, Lizzie and Emily are turned out onto the streets when their landlord sees that they have no money for rent and no way of earning it. Abandoned and starving, their story takes them to work in the mills of northern England. There the girls work in harsh conditions and any chance of escape seems tempting…. Historical fiction, local history, poverty
Demolition Dad Earle, Phil Jake’s dad knocks down buildings by day, but at weekends he knocks down wrestlers as the one and only Demolition Man! When Jake hears about a pro-wrestling competition in America, he’s sure his dad can win it. What can possibly go wrong? Humour, families and friendship
How to Fly with Broken Wings Elson, Jane Willem doesn’t find making friends easily, and is the target of bullies at school. But one day Sasha, a girl in his class, sees the bullies forcing Willem to jump off a high wall and decides to help – for after all, she loves flying too. Aspergers syndrome, Bullying
The Black Lotus Fanning, Kieran If you have super powers, like Ghost, Cormac and Kate, then the Black Lotus – a secret Ninja training school – is probably an ideal place for you. But the three trainees will have their work cut out recovering a stolen magic sword in an adventure that spans modern New York and 16th Century feudal Japan. First in the new Samurai Wars series Adventure, time travel
Emily Sparkes and the Competition Calamity Fitzgerald, Ruth Emily Sparkes might have avoided humiliation at the hands of the grossest boy in the universe, but now her ‘creativityness’ has landed her in a whole new world of trouble. Her embarrassing Mum has just been shortlisted for the national Mum in a Million Competition. Can she come up with a makeover plan in time? Families
The Imagination Box Ford, Martyn Empty boxes are great fun. This one’s extra special because it has a big green button and when you press it, whatever you imagine will be created. But you only get one go. So what would you pick? That’s exactly the question ten-year-old Timothy Hart gets to answer after discovering The Imagination Box. Mysteries, science fiction
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium Funaro, Gregory Set in Victorian England, Grubb has found himself in the Odditorium, a flying house filled with strange machines, enchanted objects and an unusual crew. Being apprenticed to the strange Mr Grim is certainly more enjoyable than being a chimney sweep, but when Prince Nightshade attacks, it’s probably not much safer. Historical fantasy
Hercufleas Gayton, Sam Living in a house within a top hat are twelve fleas. Not normal fleas, but the biggest, rarest fleas in the world. The youngest of them is Hercufleas, and when Greta comes looking for a giant-slayer, this smaller-than-a-raisin hero might just be the flea for the job. Humour
The 13-Storey Treehouse Griffiths, Andy Who wouldn’t want to live in a treehouse? Especially a 13-storey treehouse that has a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of sharks, a library full of comics, a secret underground laboratory, a games room, self-making beds, vines you can swing on, a vegetable vaporiser and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots your favourite flavoured marshmallows into your mouth whenever it discerns you’re hungry! Humour, writing books
The Imaginary Harrold, A.F. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Some say that he eats them, though it’s not known why. Rudger is Amanda’s imaginary friend. She found him in her wardrobe, and she’s not used to anyone else being able to see him. But Mr Bunting can, and now Rudger is running for his life. Fantasy, mystery, friendship, growing up
Tess Hayes, Rosemary Tess’ mum can’t afford riding lessons for her daughter who wants nothing more than to become a rider. When a group of travellers arrive, most of the people in the villager are hostile towards them, but Tess sees it as an opportunity to learn to work with horses… Gypsies and travellers, prejudice
Meet at the Ark at Eight Hub, Ulrich The rains are on their way and the animals are busily boarding the Ark two by two. The trouble is, there are three penguins. God and Noah are sticklers for this sort of detail, so it’ll take a lot of cunning to get the third penguin to safety. Humour, religion, friendship and relationships
A Whisper of Wolves Humphrey, Kris In the kingdom of Meridina, when a raven drops a white feather at your doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild. When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, Alice suspects that something sinister is at work. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, Alice fights to save her village. The first book in the exciting new Guardians of the Wild series) Fantasy, adventure
The Shark-Headed Bear Thing Hutchison, Barry It’s an alternate steampunk 15th Century with dragons, submarines and robots. Benjamin Blank would rather go on adventures than do his homework, and now it’s time for him and his friends to embark on another adventure to vanquish a beast that’s terrorising a nearby village. You can read more Benjamin Blank adventures in The Swivel-Eyed Ogre Thing and The Moon-Faced Ghoul Thing Fantasy, adventure, humour
No True Echo Jones, Gareth P Nothing ever happens in idyllic Wellcome Valley, much to Eddie Dane’s dismay. Then, one day, mysterious Scarlett White steps onto the school bus. She’s a stranger but somehow familiar. Following her to a remote house, he witnesses a brutal murder and suddenly he’s back on the school bus the day he first met her. Caught in a dangerous repeating time loop, Eddie learns the truth about his mother’s death, and the nature of his connection to Scarlett. Time travel, mystery, identity
The Hamburgers of Doom Judge, Malcolm Jonny Jakes is the feared and despised (by his teachers) undercover reporter for his (now banned) school newspaper. When the new head teacher arrives, It’s not long before Jonny discovers that he’s an alien, and that there’s something very wrong with the food that he’s feeding to the pupils and their parents… Humour, science fiction
How to Speak Spook Kennen, Ally Donald can see ghosts. He can also chat with them. It’s not a problem because they’re friendly most of the time, and when they’re not Donald helps them to talk through their problems. It’s all going well until a huge monster ghost shows up and he isn’t in the mood for talking …. Humour, ghost stories
Dindy and the Elephant Laird, Elizabeth Dindy has known no life other than on a tea plantation in India during the last years of British rule. Struggling to come to terms with her father’s announcement that they may be returning to England, and bored with her little brother’s games, she embarks on an adventure deep into the tea gardens, a place they are never supposed to go to alone. Historical fiction, India
Gorilla Dawn Lewis, Gill The forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo are the home of the gorillas. They are also a land rich in resources that fuel internal conflict. When rebel soldiers capture a baby gorilla with the intention of selling it into captivity, two children, also imprisoned, find the courage to make a break for freedom and return the gorilla to the wild. Africa, war, wildlife and animals
The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life Lowery, Mark Roman Garstang likes his life as he likes his doughnuts, nice, with no nasty surprises. So he’s not happy when the ‘Deadly Doughnut’ strikes – accompanied by an encounter with a flying jellyfish – and his predictable existence is turned upside down. Humour
Stars Shall be Bright MacPhail, Catherine James, Belle and William’s dad enlists in the army to fight in the First World War, and not long after he goes, their mother dies. Now alone, their guardian tells them that they’ll have to be put into a home. In desperation, the three children set out to find their father… Historical fiction, first world war
The Accidental Prime Minister McLaughlin, Tom  Joe is very upset that his favourite park is going to be shut down and decides to do something about it…. an act that proves so popular that it carries him all the way to 10, Downing Street!   Finding himself the leader of a nation, Joe and his guru, agent and best friend, Ajay, embark a mission to make life better for everyone. Humour, politics
Completely Cassidy – Accidental Genius Murray ,Tamsyn Cassidy is about to start secondary school and is hoping that this will be her time to shine. It certainly can’t get any worse than being the invisible one in the family. Somehow, after taking a test at school in which she picked all of the answers at random, she’s officially labelled as ‘Gifted and Talented’. Surely it can’t be a mistake, or can it? You can read more about Cassidy in Completely Cassidy Drama Queen and Completely Cassidy Star Reporter Transition to secondary school
Joe All Alone Nadin, Joanna Thirteen year-old Joe returns from school to discover that he is being left home alone for the May half term holiday. His mum and her disreputable boyfriend are going to Spain, and leaving him in the flat to fend for himself with an inadequate supply of food, and only £20 for the electricity key.   It is fun at first, eating what you like, watching TV all day and playing Xbox games all night. But the novelty soon wears off and when his mum does not arrive home at the end of the week things start to become very difficult. Along comes Asha, visiting her grandfather next door, and persuades him that things are bad enough to run away… Families, crime, abandonment
An Island of Our Own Nicholls, Sally Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy are struggling to avoid being taken in to care after the death of their mother. When the family’s wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they’re not the only ones after the treasure… Adventure, treasure hunting
The Whale Who Saved Us and The Leopard’s Tail Nicola Davies In the mountains of Armenia, Malik, who has never forgotten his first glimpse of a leopard, goes exploring against his Grandpa’s wishes and now he’s lost. That night, he hears a shot from a poacher’s gun ring out and he knows his leopard is in grave danger. In the Arctic, Suki is sure that the whales hold the key to saving her brother, just as they saved her Inuit ancestors. But how? These two books in the Heroes of the Wild series are based on real world conservation projects. Wildlife and conservation
Moone Boy: The Blunder Years O’Dowd, Chris and Murphy, Nick Vincent Does Martin Moone have the imagination to come up with an imaginary friend? Will the imaginary friend be able to do the imagining for both of them? Whatever happens, it is clear that Martin is fed up living in an all-girl household and he needs a wingman. Humour, friendship
The Last of the Spirits Priestley, Chris Sam, starving and hungry, makes the mistake of begging for a few coins from Ebenezer Scrooge. Despairing at the unfairness of the world, Sam’s heart has become as cold and bitter as the winter, until a night spent sheltering in a graveyard with a ghost sets him on a journey to change his and Ebenezer’s destinies. Ghost stories, Charles Dickens, redemption
Five Children on the Western Front Saunders, Kate This sequel to E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It is set on the eve of the First World War. The five children have grown up, Cyril is off to fight in the First World War, Robert is at Cambridge University but the adventure still continues for the younger members of the family – Lamb, now 12 and Edie, 10. When they find the magical Psammead again at the bottom of the garden, he helps the family understand the First World War, and they discover a new insight into his quite shocking past. First world war, historical fiction
My Brother is a Superhero Solomons, David Luke loves comics and he’d love to be a superhero. So it’s just his luck that when an alien who can grant superpowers does turn up, he misses out because he’s too busy having a wee! Instead his brother Zack is given the task of saving the universe. And Zack’s never read a comic book in his life! Superheroes, humour
Dreaming the Bear Thebo, Mimi Darcy is supposed to be benefitting from the fresh air and outdoor life up in the mountains of Yellowstone National Park, so why does she feel so tired all the time? One day, out on one of her compulsory walks to build her strength, she feels faint and crawls into a cave to shelter for a while – only to find it occupied by a wounded female bear…. Illness, animals, coming-of-age
Time Travelling with a Hamster Welford, Ross Al Chaudhury’s birthday presents included a hamster called Alan Shearer, a tin tub, and a laptop left to him by his father. Apparently they’re a time machine (the tub and laptop, not the hamster). He’s also been left a letter, also from his dad, written before he died, instructing him to travel back to 1984 in order to save his life… Science fiction, time travel
Bronze and Sunflower Wenxuan, Cao Set against the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Sunflower and her father are moved to the countryside. Lonely, she makes friends with a boy, Bronze, who hasn’t spoken a word since a terrible fire. When Bronze’s family agree to take Sunflower in, it seems that fate has brought him the sister he has always longed for. Historical fiction, China

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