The Maskmaker by Jane Johnson
The people of Cawstocke have been experiencing an increase in nightmares, some have mysteriously disappeared. Jamie's father has been missing for a year. Something strange lurks in the Delving caves.
Jamie's art teacher, Miss Lambent is more than she appears. She recognises Jamie has a special gift, and sends him on a mission through a mirror into another time and place, equipped only with a mask and a talking cat.
If you like stories with danger, magic, and mystery, you will enjoy The Maskmaker. Suitable Y7-10.

Blade - Playing Dead by Tim Bowler
Set in England, a 14 year-old boy has been hiding for three years. He has been 'playing dead', keeping under the radar of the police and his other pursuers. His life is one of stealth and constant watchfulness in order to survive on the street. His name is Blade, and he is the voice of this story. It is written in a style so that the reader listens to Blade's thoughts. He talks directly to you about his actions, what is happening and how he lives. Blade's luck has taken a change for the worst and he is on the run again.
This is the first book of the Blade series.

Car Trouble by Jeanne DuPrau

Duff has a job offer on the other side of the country, three thousand miles away. Instead of flying, he decides to buy an old Ford Escort and see some of the country. However, his car breaks down and Duff is loathe to let his parents rescue him. So he finds alternative transport that he can afford, and begins an exciting adventure, a far cry from his previous dull life, tagged as a computer nerd.

Escaping the Wave by Peg Kehret

Thirteen-year-old Kyle and his younger sister BeeBee face a life and death situation when a tsunami hits the coastal town they are visiting with their family. Kyle's character is resourceful and responsible, and he acts with integrity when he saves the life of a long time bully. The story highlights the importance of taking tsunami warnings seriously, and how awareness of how to act can mean the difference between survival and death.

The Declaration by Emma Malley

The thought that such a society could exist and justify itself is beyond comprehension. A drug has been created that enables people to live forever. However, it becomes apparent that the world's resources cannot sustain the increase in population so a Declaration is made that no more children are to be born. If a couple chose to have a child, they must forfeit one of their lives. It is a society made up of Legals and Surpluses.

Surpluses are the children who are unfortunate to be born after the Declaration. Their parents are deemed criminals and sent to prison. These children are sent to the Surplus Houses where they are indoctrinated into believing they are a burden to Mother Earth and in order to prove their lives to be worthy, they have to prove their usefulness.

Anna is a product of this brainwashing, but Peter (a recently caught surplus) is from the outside, and he knows who Anna is. Anna is confronted with a version of the truth that challenges everything she believes in.
This story is highly recommended as a thought-provoking read.

Suitable book to cover themes of discrimination, indoctrination, injustice, and dystopia.

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

Little Bee is a young Nigerian refugee. Her life becomes intertwined with an English couple she meets on a Nigerian beach. This fateful day has far-reaching consequences for them all. Two years later, the events of that day must be faced, when Little Bee turns up on their doorstep. A tale unfolds of sacrifice, guilt, cruelty, courage and hope. Although it is a sobering, the story is balanced with humour.

Suitable for providing cultural perspective and themes of injustice, survival, courage, personal sacrifice and human spirit.

The Girl With the Other Hand by Tomiko Higa (Non-Fiction)

Tomiko Higa is seven years old when the war in the Pacific comes to her home on the island of Okinawa. When her father doesn't return from a job he was on, Tomiko, her brother and two sisters flee as the enemy attacks. Several days after they leave their home, Tomiko helps to bury her dead brother, and then gets separated from her two sisters.
Her father's advice and discipline, and Tomiko's resourcefulness enable her to survive the horror, desperation and danger of war until she is finally reunited with her sisters.

This is a suitable book for providing cultural perspective, and the themes of overcoming adversity, war and children, human spirit, survival and courage.

I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale

Kirby's mother has been acting strange and then she drops a bombshell. She announces she is going to Africa to work with refugees, and Kirby is to live with her uncle and his family while she is gone.
Kirby feels abandoned and shocked to be handed over to a family she didn't even know existed. A family who belong to a fundamentalist Christian group. Kirby slowly losses her identity, which begins when they give her her new name, Esther. Then she has to learn their ways, to live by the Rule, and become indoctrinated into believing or be damned to hell.
Kirby's mother never spoke of her childhood or the past, but Kirby will eventually learn the truth.

Suitable book to explore themes of domination, indoctrination, loss of freedom, and loss of identity.

Revolver by Marcus Sedgewick

Einar Andersson left the mining town of Nome ten years ago with his two children Sig and Anna. But trouble has finally caught them up. Wolff has pursued Einar for those ten years, only to discover Einar had died the day before his arrival. Isolated in a cold and unforgiving landscape, now Sig and Anna must face the consequences of their father's actions. Their only hope is the revolver kept hidden in the storeroom.
Red Heart by Victor Kelleher

An action-packed, danger-filled adventure as 15 year-old Nat goes in search of his uncle, Jack Curtis, up in the Promised Land.
He befriends Pete, Irene, and Clarrie on his way up the Darling River. On their journey they encounter the dreaded fever, croc-infested waters, hostilities from the Tribe, horrors and narrow escapes from death. The Promised Land is not all that it seems.

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

Set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, this story is told through the life of a young gypsy boy who lives on the streets. He enjoys the company of a band of thieves, the thrill of the chase, the victory of success. It is also about overcoming hardship, surviving war-time conditions, and trying to make sense of the cruelty and persecution he witnesses. An extraordinary story of resilience, daring, danger, survival and hope.

Lunch with the Stationmaster by Derek Hansen

Four men meet weekly for lunch to share stories. This book is the third in the Lunch series. It is Milos who insists in his turn to tell his story. It is set in Hungary during World War Two. In 1941, Josef recognises the risks of being Jewish and arranges for his sons Tibor and Milos to become Catholic. He also prepares them to survive a life on the run should they all need to flee. Intertwined in their lives is another Jewish family whose daughter, Gabriella, is the subject of the two boys' affections.
Tibor and Milos avoid the round up of Jews in their village but watch helplessly from a distance as their father, Gabriella and her family are herded onto the trains destined for the concentration camps. The story that unfolds is one of peril, courage, love, loyalty, survival, and hope.

The City of Ember of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau

The city of Ember has existed for many generations. The people are unsure if any other life exists outside their city, there is only darkness beyond the city boundary, known as the Unknown Regions. The only light provided is by electricity, and the power is starting to fail. Supplies are starting to run out. The people face an uncertain future with no solutions to these problems.
Lina dreams of another city full of light. Doon dreams of saving Ember. Together they try to decipher an ancient message that may hold the key to a safe way out of Ember.

Nightmare Academy by Dean Lorey

Scary things show up when Charlie Benjamin has nightmares. It has caused him to be feared and avoided. Charlie feels alienated and a freak, but is soon to discover that he has an extraordinary ability. The Nightmare Academy takes a special interest in Charlie's Gift intent on teaching him to control it.
"The Gift is fueled by imagination. the stronger the Gift, the larger and more powerful the portal that can be created."
However, his lack of control results in dangerous encounters with monsters and puts the Academy at risk.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin

A true story about building schools didn't exactly grip my imagination, but I put aside my indifference and decided to give it a go. It wasn't the boring read I had prejudged it to be. I enjoyed learning about the culture of the people who live in the Karakoram Mountains, the challenges of organizing building supplies in a foreign country, the hair-raising journeys around Pakistan, and the effects of the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban.
Greg Mortenson made a promise to the people of Korphe to build a school for their children so they could have a better future, and he made personal sacrifices to honour it. I admired his perseverance, and genuine appreciation and respect for the culture of the people and their Muslim faith.