Cheshire Schools’ Book Award 2022

The Cheshire Schools’ Book Award is back! With last year’s award cancelled due to school closures, we are determined to make this year a real celebration of reading, and the unique fellowship that can develop between readers. As immersive and enjoyable as solitary reading can be – we are all for getting lost in a good book! – there is something extra fun about reading within a group, sharing opinions and predicting plots, debating endings and anticipating sequels. Whether members are all on the same page or genres apart, reading groups can be a great way for students to meet like-minded people from different social groups and school years, engaging in an activity that is set apart from lessons.

This year’s shortlist is a fantastic mix of genres, from powerful historical fiction in Phil Earle’s When the Sky Falls and Liz Kessler’s When the World Was Ours to the chilling dystopian landscapes of William Hussey’s The Outrage and Jonathan Stroud’s The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne. They explore subjects, such as the climate emergency in William Sutcliffe’s The Summer We Turned Green and social media in Tamsin Winter’s Girl (In Real Life), that have an increasing impact on the lives of young people. They feature fierce, frank characters, like Robin from George Lester’s Boy Queen and Paige from Holly Bourne’s The Yearbook, who embrace new identities, dismantling outdated expectations. They challenge readers, showing them situations, such as the refugee experience in A.M. Dassu’s Boy, Everywhere and Manjeet Mann’s The Crossing, that society has learnt to ignore. Above all, they are books that young readers will love.

Cheshire Schools’ Book Award 2022 Shortlist

Younger age category 

Boy, Everywhere by A.M. Dassu

This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler’s den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery … In a world where we are told to see refugees as the ‘other’, this story will remind readers that ‘they’ are also ‘us’.

Girl (In Real Life) by Tamsin Winter

What’s it like to grow up online and have every tantrum, every spot – even your first period – broadcast to hundreds of thousands of followers? A funny and heartfelt novel for fans of Geek Girl, from the award-winning Tamsin Winter: “Fast becoming a favourite for younger teenagers.” The Guardian Most parents try to limit their kids’ online exposure. But not Eva’s. Her parents run a hugely successful YouTube channel, and Eva is the star of the show. But Eva is getting sick of being made to pose in stupid mum-and-daughter matching outfits for sponsored posts. The freebies aren’t worth the teasing at school. And when an intensely humiliating “period party” post goes viral, Eva is outraged. She’s going to find a way to stop the channel, even if she has to sabotage it herself.

The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe

It’s the summer holidays, and thirteen-year-old Luke’s life has been turned upside down. First his older sister Rose moved ‘across the road’, where a community of climate rebels is protesting the planned airport expansion. Then his dad followed her.

Dad only went to get Rose back, but now he’s out there building totem poles, wearing sandals and drinking mead (whatever that is) with the best of them.

Can Luke save his family when all they want to do is save the planet?

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?

Inspired by a true story.

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

Vienna, 1936.

Elsa, Leo and Max have always been best friends, a special team of three. Then the Nazis come.

As a growing darkness descends around them, Leo and Elsa run for their lives, taking two very different paths across Europe. And Max, once their closest friend, now becomes the enemy as he is drawn into the Hitler Youth. Will the friends ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to?

Inspired by a true story, When the World Was Ours is an extraordinary novel that is as powerful as it is heartbreaking, and shows how the bonds of love, family and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times. 

Older age category 

Boy Queen by George Lester

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.

While his friends prepare to head off to University, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.

Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realizes there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .

With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

A trailblazing new novel about two teenagers from opposite worlds; The Crossing is a profound story of hope, grief, and the very real tragedies of the refugee crisis.

Natalie’s world is falling apart. She’s just lost her mum and her brother marches the streets of Dover full of hate and anger. Swimming is her only refuge.

Sammy has fled his home and family in Eritrea for the chance of a new life in Europe. Every step he takes on his journey is a step into an unknown and unwelcoming future.

A twist of fate brings them together and gives them both hope. But is hope enough to mend a broken world?

The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud

England has been radically changed by a series of catastrophes – large cities have disappeared and London has been replaced by a lagoon. The surviving population exists in fortified towns where they cling to traditional ways, while strangely evolved beasts prowl the wilderness beyond. Conformity is rigidly enforced and those who fall foul of the rules are persecuted: some are killed, others are driven out into the wilds. Only a few fight back – and two of these outlaws, Scarlett McCain and Albert Browne, display an audacity and talent that makes them legends.

The Outrage by William Hussey

Welcome to England, where the Protectorate enforces the Public Good. Here, there are rules for everything – what to eat, what to wear, what to do, what to say, what to read, what to think, who to obey, who to hate, who to love. Your safety is assured, so long as you follow the rules.

Gabriel is a natural born rule-breaker. And his biggest crime of all? Being gay.

Gabriel knows his sexuality must be kept secret from all but his closest friends, not only to protect himself, but to protect his boyfriend. Because Eric isn’t just the boy who has stolen Gabriel’s heart. He’s the son of the chief inspector at Degenerate Investigations ­­­- the man who poses the single biggest threat to Gabriel’s life.

And the Protectorate are experts at exposing secrets.

The Yearbook by Holly Bourne

Paige is used to staying quiet in the face of lies. Like how popular girl Grace is a such an amazing person (lie). How Laura steals people’s boyfriends (lie). How her own family are so perfect (lie).

Now Grace and friends have picked their “best” high-school moments for Paige to put in the all-important Yearbook. And they’re not just lies. They’re poison.

But Paige has finally had enough. And as she starts to find love through the pages of a book, she finds her voice too. Now she is going to rewrite her story – and the Yearbook is the perfect place to do it.

Paige Vickers: Most likely to… bring down the mean girls


The Cheshire Schools’ Book Award is entirely student-led, with students across the area nominating and voting for their favourite books. All secondary schools who subscribe to ELS are welcome to join in. Participation is free, fun, and it can help promote reading for pleasure throughout the school, encouraging lively and positive dialogue amongst students and staff.

For more information on how your school can join in, please email educationlibraryservice@cheshiresharedservices.gov.uk or ring us on 01606 275801.

Post by ELS librarian Samantha

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