The BIG Read

Last year ’ s form winners!

Most of The Big Read titles are available as eBooks. Search Accessit or ask a librarian for more information.

How to Take Part

Between December 2023 and February 2024 you should try to read at least five books from those listed in this booklet. You must review a minimum of one .

All the titles are available in the library. Titles marked with are also available as eBooks. View a full reading list on Accessit.

• After you have finished each book write a review of it on Accessit. An email will be sent to you to say if your review has been approved or not. • Individual prizes will be presented by our visiting author during our Spring Term reading week. There will also be a debate and the Form prize announcement during Third Form assembly. At this event you will be able to present the case for your favourite Big Read book and there will be a vote for the ‘ Book of the Year ’. • A first prize of £30 and runners - up prizes of £10 will be awarded in book tokens to the pupils who have written the most engaging and reflective book reviews. You must complete the challenge of reading and reviewing at least five books to be considered for a prize. • A whole Form prize will be awarded to the Form that, between them, has the greatest number of book reviews approved. • All pupils who complete at least three approved book reviews will receive a Gold Note.

The closing date for reviews is Monday 26th February 2024 .

Happy reading and good luck!

Mrs South, Mr Hilton - Dennis, Ms Moss, Mr Manley, Ms Solomon

The Crossover by Kwame ALEXANDER 12 - year - old Josh and his twin Jordan have basketball in their blood. They ’ re kings of the court, star players for their school team. Their father used to be a champion player and they each want nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. Both on and off the court, there is conflict and hardship which will test Josh ’ s bond with his brother. In this heartfelt novel in verse, the boys find that life doesn ’ t come with a play - book and it's not all about winning.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie ANDERSON

Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. For Marinka's grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother's footsteps, but her house has other ideas...

October, October by Katya BALEN October and her dad live in the woods. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that's the way it is. Until the year October turns eleven. That's the year October rescues a baby owl. It's the year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October's mother comes back. The year everything changes.

Tin Boy by Steve COLE Mining for tin in deep, dangerous trenches is the only life that Tono has ever known. Worked to the brink of exhaustion each day, his only escape is in the precious moments when he reads his dad's old comics. In a world of heroes and superpowers, he can forget the terrifying mining pits. But an underwater avalanche, a glimpse of something bright red in the sandy seabed, and a canny sidekick are about to transform Tono's life forever ...Fate collides with a stark reality in this truly unique and unforgettable story.

Boy, Everywhere by A. M. DASSU 13 year old Sami has a good life in Damascus, although he knows there is war in the rest of the country, he never seriously imagines it will reach Damascus. It ’ s a normal life; a peaceful life - and as it turns out, a life that can be destroyed at any moment. When a bomb goes off at a shopping mall, shattering his little sister ’ s childhood, his family decide to sell everything and flee Syria. So begins Sami ’ s journey across Europe, and into danger, poverty and fear.

The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan DOYLE This collection contains eight of the best known stories featuring the world ’ s most famous detective and his sidekick Dr Watson. Join them as they solve mysteries and catch criminals in the foggy streets of Victorian London.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald DURRELL

Escaping the ills of the British climate, the Durrell family - acne - ridden Margo, gun - toting Leslie, bookworm Lawrence and budding naturalist Gerry, along with their long - suffering mother and Roger the dog - take off for the island of Corfu. But the Durrells find that, reluctantly, they must share their various villas with a menagerie of local fauna - among them scorpions, geckos, toads, bats and butterflies.

When the Sky Falls by Phil EARLE 1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?

The Wheel of Surya by Jamila GAVIN India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt - out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother's life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival. Together they escape across India and nearly halfway around the world to England, to find a father they hardly know in a new, hostile culture …

Once by Morris GLEITZMAN Felix has been living in an orphanage for three years and eight months when the men in armbands arrive to burn the books. Going on the run in search of his parents, Felix soon learns that Poland in 1942 is not a safe place for Jewish boys. But can his gift for storytelling keep him one step ahead of the Nazis and help him find his parents? After all, everybody deserves to have something good in their life at least once.

Deeplight by Frances HARDINGE On the streets of the Island of Lady's Crave live 14 year old urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it. When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is …

Worst. Holiday. Ever. By Charlie HIGSON Stan is going on holiday to Italy with his (fifth) best friend Felix and a load of strangers. Stan is absolutely terrified. Luckily, his mum's given him an emergency list that includes what to do if he gets kidnapped. Stan thinks that a better list would include what to do if he accidentally calls Felix's mum 'mum' in front of everybody. One thing's for certain, Stan's not going to come back the same boy he left. He just hope he comes back at all...

The Iron Man by Ted HUGHES The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows. Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction by the Iron Man and set a trap for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world.

Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu KIBUISHI

After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great - grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mum through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

The Supreme Lie by Geraldine MCCAUGHREAN

15 - year - old Gloria is maid to Afalia's tyrannical Head of State, Madame Suprema. When the country is hit by flooding, Madame Suprema runs away, fearing she will be blamed for the crisis . To cover up this cowardly act, Gloria is made to step into Madame Suprema's shoes and is thrust into a world of corrupt and desperate politicians. Gloria must make decisions that could save, or end, thousands of lives - including her own...

Black and British by David OLUSOGA When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well - dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution? These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian ’ s Wall right up to the present day.

Uncle Montague ’ s Tales of Terror by Chris PRIESTLEY

Uncle Montague lives alone in a big house and his regular visits from his nephew give him the opportunity to retell some of the most frightening stories he knows. But as the stories unfold, Uncle Montague's tales of terror, it transpires, are not so much works of imagination as dreadful, lurking memories. Memories of an earlier time in which Uncle Montague lived a very different life to his present solitary existence …

Now or Never by Bail RAI Fazal's world is now focused on Company 32 and the animals he cares for in the midst of one of the most frightening times in history. As he and his friends make their way to the beaches of Dunkirk, Fazal must deal with even more than the terrors of a dangerous trek to reach the evacuation zone. Fazal is forced to question why he is even there and why he is expected to be loyal to a king whose people don't all see him as their equal.

TimeRiders by Alex SCARROW Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, 'Take my hand...' But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren't rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose - to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That's why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world...

Click the links to find out more about the books and authors …

The Crossover


The House with Chicken Legs


October, October


Tin Boy

Steve COLE

Boy, Everywhere


The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan DOYLE

My Family and Other Animals


When the Sky Falls


Wheel of Surya

Jamila GAVIN



Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules VERNE

Professor Aronnax, his faithful servant Conseil and Canadian harpooner Ned Land are held prisoners aboard the fantastic submarine, the Nautilus, by its enigmatic and charismatic commander, Captain Nemo: ‘ That terrible avenger, a perfect archangel of hatred. ’ And so begins a hazardous and eventful voyage which leads them from the lost city of Atlantis, to the South Pole, hunting in underwater forests and to an encounter with a ferocious giant squid.

Click the links to find out more about the books and authors …



Worst. Holiday. Ever

Charlie HIGSON

The Iron Man


Amulet: The Stonekeeper


The Supreme Lie


Black and British


Uncle Montague ’ s Tales of Terror


Now or Never

Bali RAI



Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea


To submit a book review you must be logged in to your Accessit account.

• Search for the book you want to review, and click on the cover to open the book details. • On the left - hand side of the book information box you will see a ‘ Write a review ’ link. Clicking this will open a review box. • You will see 3 review elements to complete - ‘ Review ’, ‘ Who would enjoy this? ’ and ‘ Rating ’. All 3 must be completed for the review to be approved. • When you have finished your review click the ‘ Submit ’ button. • You can ‘ Save As Draft ’ whilst writing your review. To return to it you must search for the book again and your draft will be available to edit under the ‘ Reviews ’ tab. Make sure to ‘ submit ’ your review once you have completed it. • You will not be able to edit a review once it ’ s been submitted. • Check your approved reviews using Advanced Search - Reviews . REMEMBER to check your school email to see whether your review has been approved or not. You will always be given a reason if it has not been approved.

A book review is not...

A book review is …

A piece of writing that tells you about a book so that you can decide whether you would like to read it.

A piece of writing that retells the story. If you give away the plot you spoil the book for others.

Writing Your Review ✓ What did you like or enjoy about the story? For example, did it make you laugh, did you enjoy being scared by it, where the characters relatable? ✓ What did you dislike or not enjoy about the story? For example, was it meant to be funny but didn ’ t make you laugh, was the plot too complicated or unnecessarily confusing?

✓ Was the book too long, or too short or just right? ✓ How did you feel when you had finished the book? ✓ Who do you think would like this book?

Your book review MUST:

• Have all 3 review elements • Be written in complete sentences and correctly punctuated • Contain opinion about what you did or did not like about the book. Try to illustrate your opinion with examples

Your book review MUST NOT: • Retell the story • Contain ‘ spoilers ’

• Plagiarise reviews written by others • Be created using AI technology

Remember to write your review once you ’ ve finished the book so it ’ s fresh in your mind. There will be time in your weekly library lessons to write and submit reviews. We want to know your opinion, not someone else's or what AI might generate. Plagiarism and AI checking will be in place.

Merchant Taylors ’ School Library and Information Centre

The Big Read 2024 A.J. South - Senior Librarian

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