Top Ten 2018

Read them all and rank them in preference. Every child can vote!

Younger Children

Edgar and the Sausage Inspector

Written and illustrated by Jan Fearnley

Published by Nosy Crow

ISBN 978 0857638229


Edith loves sausages, so when her loving brother Edgar goes shopping for something special to eat a string of fat sausages seems exactly the right thing to buy for her. But Edgar hadn’t reckoned on Rat the Sausage Inspector and his dastardly hat, badge and notebook…Can Edgar outwit the Inspector and bring Edith’s supper home? This entertaining story is enhanced by colourful illustrations full of humorous details to share with young children that adults will enjoy too. Watch out for the twist at the end! A great favourite with our youngest testers.

Mrs Mole, I’m Home!

Written and illustrated by Jarvis

Published by Walker Books

ISBN 978 1406372434

It has been a long day for Mr. Mole and all he wants is to go home and see Mrs. Mole and his children, but can he find his way home without his glasses? This simple story takes children on a voyage around the world, as Mr. Mole pops up to meet crocodiles, penguins, rabbits and owls on his search for his own mole tunnel, but he can’t find his own family! The full colour double page spreads make this an ideal story for sharing and the delightful twist at the end will please children and adults alike.

The Secret of Black Rock

Written and illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton

Published by Flying Eye Books

ISBN 978 1911171256

Erin is swept overboard into the sea, where her meeting with Black Rock leads her to undertake a desperate deed to unlock its true nature. Can she save it from destruction?  This book has a strong narrative which makes it popular with early younger readers as well as for story sharing with young children. Its deeply coloured illustrations and clever use of light and shadow are highly effective, creating a delightful sense of the mysteries of the deep dark sea, which our young testers really responded to.

I Dare You

Written and illustrated by Reece Wykes

Published by Andersen Press

ISBN 978 1 – 78344-537-0

Two bored gorillas decide to play a game of dares. How dangerous can a dare be and how far will these two friends go in their game of one-upmanship? As the dares become more and more ludicrous in this wickedly funny book watch out for the ending, which is completely unexpected and offers a warning to those who take dares too far.  Each page has bold illustrations with laugh-out loud facial and body expressions.  This is a book to share and discuss with older children as well as sharing the pictures with younger children.

Younger Readers

The Island at the End of Everything

Written by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave

Published by Chicken House

ISBN 978-1910002766

Ami lives on an island with her mother and is happy there despite the fact that her mother suffers from leprosy.  The day a government official arrives on the island and rips it apart everything changes, and Ami’s only wish is to get back what she has lost.  Beautifully crafted and heart-breakingly moving, this tale of adventure for more confident readers is a stunning account of friendship, determination and bravery.  It is a story that readers will want to race through but never finish, and it is little wonder that our voters rated it so highly.

The Explorer

Written by Katherine Rundell

Illustrated by Hannah Horn

Published by Bloomsbury

ISBN  978-1408882191

When a plane crashes in the Amazon and the only survivors are a small group of children you know you’re in for an exciting, nail-biting adventure.  This fabulous new story from an award-winning author is all about survival, courage and daring do. When the children finally meet the eponymous Explorer, he appears to be hard-hearted and reluctant to help, although he does teach them some basic survival skills including how to catch and cook tarantulas! The children only have one way of escaping, but this is only possible if they all agree to keep a secret. With danger, courage and excitement on every page, this is a rip-roaring story for confident readers.

The Goldfish Boy

Written by Lisa Thompson

Published by Scholastic

ISBN 978-1407170992

A mystery centred around a missing toddler and a 12- year-old witness whose OCD means he finds it virtually impossible to leave his room, this is an unusual and totally gripping story for more advanced readers.  Every one of Matthew’s neighbours is a suspect. But can Matthew piece together the clues to save the toddler’s life, even if it means exposing his own secrets and stepping outside his house? Readers will love unpicking the clues and piecing them back together.  Achingly poignant and page-turningly brilliant it is no wonder our voters put this book in their Top Ten.

Older Readers


Written by Alice Broadway

Published by Scholastic

ISBN 978-1407172842

Shortly after her beloved father dies, Leora achieves her ambition to become an inker’s apprentice. In her society people have their life stories tattooed on their skin, which after death are preserved as books. Although there are some who do not follow this tradition, Leora has never questioned the practice – she loathes and fears the ‘blanks’ as much as everyone else. She has always believed and loved the storyteller’s stories about their people’s history. But as her father’s soul-weighing ceremony approaches, Leora finds herself beginning to question what is right and wrong as family secrets are revealed.

I Have No Secrets

Written by Penny Joelson

Published by Egmont

ISBN 978-1405286152

Imagine you know the identity of a murderer and although they know that you know, you are wheelchair bound and unable to move or communicate. This is what happens to 14-year-old Jemma who has severe cerebral palsy and is totally reliant on her family and carer. One of three very different foster children, with a twin sister she has yet to meet, Jemma, who can actually see and hear perfectly well, makes an intelligent and observant narrator. This debut novel is a tense and thought-provoking thriller.

Optimists Die First        

Written by Susin Nielsen

Published by Andersen Press

ISBN 9781783445073

Petula’s life is dominated by all the things that could go wrong. She is reluctantly forced into art therapy sessions with a group of other youngsters who have suffered trauma in one form or another and, inspired and supported by newcomer (and love interest) Jacob, they work together to deal with their situations.  The main characters treat their own and others’ conditions with irreverent humour, leading to hilarious, laugh out loud moments; despite its roots in tragedy, this is an uplifting and life-affirming read for young teens