Pick of the Year
Each year children all over the country read and review hundreds of books, and the top 50 of these are our Pick of the Year.
The Top Ten make up the 2013 shortlist but the other 40 books are favourites too and come highly recommended. Whether you’re interested in books for younger children, books for younger readers or books for older readers, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in our Pick of the Year.
Vampire Hunter by Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow
Orchard Books // ISBN 9781408309858
Described by children as ‘wicked and sick’ (and that’s a good thing!) this horror story taps straight into the mindset of readers. Follow a vampire to its hiding place in the city, load your weapons, and get ready for some blood-soaked action!
Flip by Martyn Bedford
Walker Books Ltd // ISBN 9781406329896
From its striking cover to its innovative plot, this book rewrites the rules of the traditional thriller. One morning, fourteen-year-old Alex wakes up in a strange room, but when he looks in the mirror he gets an even bigger shock – he’s not even in his own body! Follow Alex as he tries to work out how he has become Philip, and how six months of his life can have vanished.
Pretty Twisted by Gina Blaxill
Pan Macmillan // ISBN 9780330533270
This compelling novel is bang up to date and in tune with teenagers’ concerns. Ros has a crush on Jonathan, who is hung up on Freya. When Freya goes missing the two friends try to track her down but are soon in too deep. With alternate chapters in Ros and Jonathan’s oices, this will appeal to both boys and girls.
Young Samurai: The Ring of Water by Chris Bradford
Penguin Books Ltd // ISBN 9780141332543
Martial arts expert Chris Bradford really knows his stuff, so his series of historical adventures set in the Far East feels very authentic. In this instalment, Jack has to use all his ninja and samurai skills to retrieve his swords after a robber steals his possessions and leaves him for dead.
Pride and Premiership by Michelle Gayle
Walker Books Ltd // ISBN 9781406330885
Actress, singer and presenter Michelle Gayle shows she can write too with this sparkling story of WAGs and riches. Remy is 17 and desperate to date a footballer, but she soon finds out that being a soccer star’s arm candy is a very limiting role. Sassy and contemporary, this story also carries a serious message of choosing which dreams are really worth pursuing.
Gravenhunger by Harriet Goodwin
Magi Publications // ISBN 9781847151544
This blend of mystery and the supernatural will captivate readers who enjoy a scary, gripping read. Phoenix isn’t happy when he learns that he has to spend the summer at his dead mother’s house, the spooky Gravenhunger Manor. So how will he deal with the family secrets he unearths?
The Medusa Project: Hunted by Sophie McKenzie
Simon and Schuster Children’s Books // ISBN 9781847385284
Past winner Sophie McKenzie strikes again with this thriller that both boys and girls really respond to. In this adventure for the Medusa Project (a group of kids with extra-sensory gifts) Dylan needs her friends to help her find the truth behind her father’s death. The psychological insight makes this thriller stand out from the crowd.
Bruised by Siobhán Parkinson
Hodder Children’s Books // ISBN 9781444903591
Hard-hitting and emotional, this Irish novel will have a lasting effect on anyone who reads it. The tale of a boy who is determined to protect his sister from their mother’s abusive nature, Bruised is told in beautifully poetic language and packs a genuinely powerful punch.
The Kane Chronicles: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Puffin Books // ISBN 9780141335650
Carter and Sadie Kane have a problem... if they don’t destroy Apophis, the giant snake of chaos, in five days, the world will end. These intrepid siblings have cool supernatural powers, but are they a match for Egyptian gods? Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan brings curriculum topics alive as he melds ancient history and modern day action.
Agent 21 by Chris Ryan
Random House Children's Books // ISBN 9781849410076
Ex-SAS hero Chris Ryan has lived the life of his characters, making his action-packed thrillers extra-gritty and believable. In this story, readers will meet Zac, whose life is changed in a dramatic way when he’s sought out by a mysterious government agency. They rename Zac Agent 21, but soon he starts to wonder what happened to the other twenty agents...
The Doomsday Code by Alex Scarrow
Penguin Books Ltd // ISBN 9780141333489
The TimeRiders series goes from strength to strength. Whirled back to the year 1193, the TimeRiders must search Sherwood Forest for the origins of an ancient message. But when they meet a hooded man who doesn’t seem as heroic as his reputation suggests, the history they thought they knew is turned on its head...
Gladiator: Fight for Freedom by Simon Scarrow
Penguin Group // ISBN 9780141333632
The first in an epic new series from bestselling adult author Simon Scarrow, this immerses readers in the Roman world of the year 61 BC. Marcus has been recruited to train as a gladiator, but he has a secret: his father was murdered by the Romans and Marcus is determined to seek justice.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Puffin Books // ISBN 9780141335889
This powerful story for older readers begins in Lithuania in 1941, as Lina and her family are taken from their home and deported to Siberia. The journey that awaits them is harrowing, but Lina refuses to give up hope. This is a challenging read, but one that brings to life a period of history that many children won’t be aware of.