Young Adult Books (2020)

Thornhill’ by Pam Smy

‘Thorn­hill’ by Pam Smy

Par­al­lel plot­lines, one told in text and one in art, inform each oth­er as a young girl unrav­els the mys­tery of a ghost next door.

Mary is an orphan at the Thorn­hill Insti­tute for Chil­dren at the very moment that it’s clos­ing down for good. But when a bul­ly goes too far, Mary’s revenge will have a last­ing effect on the bul­ly, on Mary, and on Thorn­hill itself.

Years lat­er, Ella moves to a new town where she has a per­fect view of the dilap­i­dat­ed, aban­doned Thorn­hill Insti­tute. Deter­mined to befriend the mys­te­ri­ous, eva­sive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unrav­el Thorn­hill’s his­to­ry and uncov­er its secrets.

Ella’s sto­ry is told through strik­ing, bold art; Mary’s is told through diary entries. Each informs the oth­er until the two even­tu­al­ly inter­sect to reveal the truth behind Thorn­hill’s shad­owy past, once and for all. Strik­ing­ly told and mas­ter­ful­ly illus­trat­ed, Pam Smy bends gen­res and expec­ta­tions alike.

The Beast Player’ by Nahoko Uehashi

‘The Beast Play­er’ by Nahoko Uehashi            Trans­lat­ed by Cathy Hirano

An epic YA fan­ta­sy about a girl with a spe­cial pow­er to com­mu­ni­cate with mag­i­cal beasts and the war­ring king­dom only she can save.

Elin’s fam­i­ly has an impor­tant respon­si­bil­i­ty: car­ing for the fear­some water ser­pents that form the core of their king­dom’s army. So when some of the beasts mys­te­ri­ous­ly die, Elin’s moth­er is sen­tenced to death as pun­ish­ment. With her last breath she man­ages to send her daugh­ter to safety.

Alone, far from home, Elin soon dis­cov­ers that she can talk to both the ter­ri­fy­ing water ser­pents and the majes­tic fly­ing beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great pow­ers, but it also involves her in dead­ly plots that could cost her life. Can she save her­self and pre­vent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war? Or is there no way of escap­ing the ter­ri­ble bat­tles to come?


The Traitor and the Thief’ by Gareth Ward

‘The Trai­tor and the Thief’ by Gareth Ward

Dis­cov­ered pick­ing pock­ets at Coxford’s Corn Mar­ket, four­teen year old Sin is hunt­ed across the city. Caught by the enig­mat­ic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Oper­a­tions Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while try­ing not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Befriend­ed by eccen­tric Zon­da Chubb, togeth­er they endeav­our to unmask a trai­tor caus­ing hav­oc with­in the palace. After an assas­si­na­tion attempt on the founder of COG, Sin realis­es that some­one clos­est to him could be the trai­tor. With no oth­er option, Sin is forced into an uneasy alliance with the school bul­ly, Vel­vet Von Darque.

But can he trust her? And will COG try to bury him with the secrets he dis­cov­ers? Secrets, spies and steam­punk gad­gets abound in this fan­tas­tic adven­ture story!



Amal Unbound’ by Aisha Saeed

‘Amal Unbound’ by Aisha Saeed

The com­pelling sto­ry of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into inden­tured servitude.

Life is qui­et and ordi­nary in Amal’s Pak­istani vil­lage, but she had no com­plaints, and besides, she’s busy pur­su­ing her dream of becom­ing a teacher one day. Her dreams are tem­porar­i­ly dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her sib­lings. Amal is upset, but she does­n’t lose hope and finds ways to con­tin­ue learn­ing. Then the unimag­in­able happens–after an acci­den­tal run-in with the son of her vil­lage’s cor­rupt land­lord, Amal must work as his fam­i­ly’s ser­vant to pay off her own fam­i­ly’s debt.

Life at the opu­lent Khan estate is full of heart­break and strug­gle for Amal–especially when she inad­ver­tent­ly makes an ene­my of a girl named Nabi­la. Most trou­bling, though, is Amal’s grow­ing aware­ness of the Khans’ nefar­i­ous deal­ings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to pro­tect their inter­ests, Amal real­izes she will have to find a way to work with oth­ers if they are ever to exact change in a cru­el sta­tus quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better Than You Think’ by Hans Rosling

‘Fact­ful­ness’ by Hans Rosling

When asked sim­ple ques­tions about glob­al trends – what per­cent­age of the world’s pop­u­la­tion live in pover­ty; why the world’s pop­u­la­tion is increas­ing; how many girls fin­ish school – we sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chim­panzee choos­ing answers at ran­dom will con­sis­tent­ly out­guess teach­ers, jour­nal­ists, Nobel lau­re­ates, and invest­ment bankers.

In Fact­ful­ness, Pro­fes­sor of Inter­na­tion­al Health and glob­al TED phe­nom­e­non Hans Rosling, togeth­er with his two long-time col­lab­o­ra­tors, Anna and Ola, offers a rad­i­cal new expla­na­tion of why this hap­pens. They reveal the ten instincts that dis­tort our per­spec­tive – from our ten­den­cy to divide the world into two camps (usu­al­ly some ver­sion of us and them) to the way we con­sume media (where fear rules) to how we per­ceive progress (believ­ing that most things are get­ting worse).

Our prob­lem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guess­es are informed by uncon­scious and pre­dictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imper­fec­tions, is in a much bet­ter state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real con­cerns. But when we wor­ry about every­thing all the time instead of embrac­ing a world­view based on facts, we can lose our abil­i­ty to focus on the things that threat­en us most.

Inspir­ing and rev­e­la­to­ry, filled with live­ly anec­dotes and mov­ing sto­ries, ‘Fact­ful­ness’ is an urgent and essen­tial book that will change the way you see the world and empow­er you to respond to the crises and oppor­tu­ni­ties of the future. 

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle’ by Leslie Connor

‘The Truth as Told by Mason But­tle’ by Leslie Connor

Mason But­tle is the biggest, sweati­est kid in his grade, and every­one knows he can bare­ly read or write. Mason’s learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties are com­pound­ed by grief. Fif­teen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Ben­ny Kil­martin, turned up dead in the But­tle family’s orchard. An inves­ti­ga­tion drags on, and Mason, hon­est as the day is long, can’t under­stand why Lieu­tenant Baird won’t believe the sto­ry Mason has told about that day.

Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chum­sky, are relent­less­ly bul­lied by the oth­er boys in their neigh­bour­hood, so they cre­ate an under­ground club space for them­selves. When Calvin goes miss­ing, Mason finds him­self in trou­ble again. He’s des­per­ate to fig­ure out what hap­pened to Calvin, and even­tu­al­ly, Benny.

But will any­one believe him?