For this year’s Hillingdon Primary Book of the Year Award, over 25 local primary schools in the borough have taken part by signing up to receive the 6 shortlisted books below. Hundreds of Year 6 students will have been introduced to new diverse fiction, expanding their literary horizons while improving upon their literacy levels.
At our finale event to be held on Tuesday 12th June 2018 a number of these Hillingdon schools will attend and perform book presentations based on the exciting shortlist below before voting for their overall favourite to declare the winner.
1. A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan
Violet doesn’t want to move to a whole new home but when her father gets a new job in ‘Perfect,’ her family relocates to the mysterious town where people must wear strange rose tinted glasses and everyone drinks a particular tea blend made by the Archer twins who welcome them. When Violet’s father disappears and her mother begins acting strange, the young girl teams up with a young new friend named ‘Boy’ to help her to discover the creepy secrets of the town and investigate the strange disappearances that have happened.
This is a thoroughly engrossing adventure that mixes a Coraline like tale with the Stepford wives. Drugged tea, stolen imaginations, reality bending glasses and eye plants – sunflower like plants that feature actual eyeballs – makes this read a fantastic fantasy ride for all.
2. The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Ami lives on the beautiful Culion island in the Philippines with her mother. Her home is known for being a leprosy colony and soon a cruel government official arrives to segregate the ‘touched’ from the ‘untouched.’ Ami is taken away and placed in an orphanage on another island under the watchful eye of Mr Zamora, whose meanness is encapsulated by his dead butterfly collection. Ami sets out on a journey to return home before it’s too late to reach her beloved but ailing mother in a touching, hope filled story.
Hargrave’s storytelling is almost fairy-tale like for this historical, factually inspired look at leprosy and how it was viewed socially at the turn of the 20th century. This is a beautiful commentary on the power of kindness and compassion versus the harsh prejudice that divides communities.
- The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
In the magical town of Allora, where the fish jump out of the sea to flop on roofs, a toy maker lives with his young family. When they’re lost to a sweeping sickness, he changes his trade to coffin making and we meet him again 20 years later. A little while after making a stranger’s coffin, Alberto meets Tito – her young unaccompanied son and his pet bird. Slowly building trust, he takes Tito in, teaching him his craft and allowing the boy to experience a real home again. However, when Tito’s abusive and powerful Father comes looking for him, Alberto vows to keep Tito safe forever.
This is a a charming shorter novel (185 pages) that includes beautiful blue coloured full page illustrations to accompany the story. Matilda Woods carefully examines abusive family relationships, the break down and rebuilding of trust, with funny and carefully constructed characters that learn to construct new families in the face of grief and loss.
- The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein
City of River is a thoroughly wacky read of a young girl called Hyacinth discovering the magical rivers that run beneath London when she joins an epic fantasy quest to save the city. When her mother is kidnapped and she unleashes a magically charged drop of water, Hyacinth ventures into the sewers to try and recover the escaped magic but soon ends up in the company of a giant pig who communicates with flash cards, monstrous misshapen saltpetre men and a whole cast of quirky characters.
Jacob Sager Weinstein hijacks cockney slang to create a new Victorian-esque sewer dwellers language that readers may need to unpick in this fast paced, action packed adventure that take place in a lot of the muck of London sewers. One of our most funniest picks yet for a Hillingdon Primary Book of the Year shortlist!
- Frogkisser by Garth Nix
A real twist on the classic children’s tale! Anya is a princess of a small kingdom intent on dabbling in sorcery when her older sister’s suitor is turned into a frog by their wicked sorcerer step-stepfather. Only able to change him back by making a specially brewed lip balm, Anya journeys across kingdoms to find the ingredients only to meet a whole host of magically changed people she endeavours to change back too. Her quest soon becomes bigger than she imagined when it comes down to her to rescue not just the frog prince, but the entire land from a takeover attempt by a society of evil sorcerers.
This very amusing take on a well recognised fairy-tale has evolved its traditional characters into funny parodies of themselves with a wonderfully realised and independent young heroine thrust into the role of saviour for her troubled kingdom. This epic fantasy quest is not one to be missed as it deviates from its original inspiration!
- The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond
Driver Bert is driving his bus when he suspects he’s having a heart attack – but instead finds a little angel nestled into his pocket. Bert and wife Betty decided to raise him as their own, naming him Angelino. Despite being popular at his new school, Angelino becomes the target not just for bullies, but the headteacher and a mysterious man in black claiming to be a school inspector…
A funny, quirky and poignant read. Enjoyable and most importantly contains references to farting – in particular the ability to fart instead of sing Xmas carols! Sure to be a hit with students with its humour and illustrations.
We’re sure there’s something on our list to delight many of our young residents as they read their way through the above stories – we can’t wait to find out which one they will pick to win!
by Kirsty (Schools’ Library Service)