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World Book Day 2013 - Discover great new reads for your daughter

We all know the classics and by now you’re probably used to the sight of your daughter with her nose buried in a Stephanie Meyer Twilight book or David Walliams’ brilliant The Boy in the Dress.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of discovering a new writer with new stories to immerse yourself in, and so, for World Book Day, we invited librarians from the Girls’ Schools Association to recommend some great reads by contemporary writers you may not have heard of yet.

Girls’ school librarians have their finger on the pulse of what girls really love to read so we’re pretty confident there’s something here your daughter will enjoy.

Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar, probably best known for his book Holes and There’s a boy in the girls’ bathroom, has also written a series for younger readers, The Wayside School Stories. Wayside School should have been built with 30 classrooms all next to each other on the ground floor, instead it was built with 30 classrooms all on top of each other…

Mrs Gorf is the meanest teacher in Wayside School. “If children are bad, she warned, “or if you answer a problem wrong, I’ll wriggle my ears, stick out my tongue and turn you into apples!
This is just one of many unusual characters in these books. They are brilliantly brought to life and full of humour, guaranteed to make children, girls and boys laugh out loud. I would suggest that they are suitable for ages 6 – 9.

By Jane Barnes, Thornton College

Frances Hardinge

Frances Hardinge, author of Fly By Night (Branford Boase Award winner), Twilight Robbery (sequel to Fly By Night), Gullstruck Island, Verdigris Deep (shortlisted for Guardian Children’s Fiction prize) and A Face Like Glass, her latest novel, is a highly skilled storyteller capable of creating imaginary worlds that will have your children hooked by the very first few pages.

Her books are fantasy stories with an incredible sense of adventure, suspense and pace to them. The real treat in reading any book by Frances Hardinge is the richly descriptive world that she manages to create and how easily one identifies with the main characters of her books. In most of her books, the main character tends to be a young girl often on the cusp of being a teenager but the heroine is well supported by a strong male character, either a young scrappy errand boy called Erstwhile in the case of A Face Like Glass or a man of uncertain integrity such as Eponymous Clent in Fly By Night.

Whilst many of her books are lengthy (+ 350 pages) and some children might be initially put off by this fact, they will be well rewarded by a rollicking good tale after just the first few pages. Truly unputtable down! The majority of her books are recommended for readers 8 years and older but because of the length and complexity I would suggest more capable readers from 10 years up. If your children are fans of Dianna Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson or Jeanne DuPrau, (author of the City of Ember series) then I would highly recommend any of Frances Hardinge’s books.

By Sheri Sticpewich, St Catherine’s Bramley

Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick mainly writes books that could loosely be described as horror. Possibly his most famous book is My Swordhand is Singing about vampires in Eastern Europe. For this book he has gone back to the original vampire legends and material, so the book is more original than many in the genre and also very scary in places. Another more recent book is Revolver about a boy alone in the Alaskan wilderness who finds himself under siege from a ‘wild man’ who claims the boy’s father has stolen something that is rightfully his. A taut, thought provoking thriller the book is also very good on creating the sense of a cold wilderness atmosphere. One of Marcus’s earlier books is Blood Red, Snow White which is a very original story of the Russian revolution and Arthur Ransome’s role as a spy. Written in three parts, the book starts off as if it is a Russian folktale and ends with a more directly biographical approach. Again it is very atmospheric and quite gripping.

All the above books are probably most suitable for year 7 students and above, but Marcus has also written a series of books called The Raven Mysteries which would be more appropriate for a good Junior School reader – and have their own interactive website www.ravenmysteries.co.uk. They are about a rather eccentric and gothic family who inhabit a creepy castle and have a more humorous approach than his older material.

By Elizabeth Howard, St Helen’s School

Jenny Valentine

One thing you can say with certainty about Jenny Valentine is that her storylines will be original and unpredictable, yet her sympathetic characters and down-to-earth writing are totally convincing. The novels below are written for young adults, from the early teens upwards. They look at difficult issues from unusual angles, and all of them are hard to put down.

In Finding Violet Park Lucas sees an urn full of ashes among the lost property in the local mini-cab office. Almost against his will he starts to investigate the life of the dead person – Violet Park – who, he discovers, was connected with his own family, and seems to be reaching out to him from the grave, to tell him the truth about his missing father.

In Broken Soup grief-stricken Rowan is handed the negative of a photograph by a stranger. The photo leads to revelations about her dead brother, and new relationships that help her to move on in her life.

The Ant Colony is a block of run-down flats, and the story is about the residents, seen through the eyes of teenager Sam. Troubled and distrustful at first, they find comfort in each other over their concern for a missing child.

The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight has runaway teenager Chap taking the identity of his double, Cassiel, hoping for the perfect family life he has never known. However, Cassiel’s life was far from perfect and as Chap discovers the truth he also uncovers his own background.

By Carol Elliott, Central Newcastle High School GDST

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