Article, Reading

Books That Stop You In Your Tracks

What was the most recent children’s book you read that really had an impact on you and stopped you in your tracks – made you gasp, stop and think, or continue thinking about it long after you’d turned the final page?

We’re spoilt for choice with so many powerful children’s books being published each month.

When I asked this question of the teaching community on Twitter, I received many brilliant recommendations – some I’ve read and others I definitely need to add to my reading list. I’ve included the publishers’ synopses of the books as well as links to my own reviews.

Most Recommended:

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll, published by Knights Of

“A KIND OF SPARK tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief.”

Click here to read my review of A Kind of Spark.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, published by Orion Children’s Books


Twelve-year-old Jerome doesn’t get into trouble. He goes to school. He does his homework. He takes care of his little sister. Then Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat.


As a ghost, watching his family trying to cope with his death, Jerome begins to notice other ghost boys. Each boy has a story and they all have something in common… Bit by bit, Jerome begins to understand what really happened – not just to him, but to all of the ghost boys.

A poignant and gripping story about how children and families face the complexities of race in today’s world.”

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray, published by Puffin

“The City was built on a sharp mountain that jutted improbably from the sea, and the sea kept trying to claim it back. That grey morning, once the tide had retreated, a whale was found on a rooftop.

When a mysterious boy washes in with the tide, the citizens believe he’s the Enemy – the god who drowned the world – come again to cause untold chaos. Only Ellie, a fearless young inventor living in a workshop crammed with curiosities, believes he’s innocent. But the Enemy can take possession of any human body and the ruthless Inquisition are determined to destroy it forever. To save the boy, Ellie must prove who he really is – even if that means revealing her own dangerous secret . . .”

Click here to read my review of Orphans of the Tide.

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker, published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

“Ware can’t wait to spend summer ‘off in his own world’ and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called ‘normal’ kids do.

On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next to the camp. Soon Ware starts skipping Rec, creating a castle-like space of his own in the church lot.

Jolene scoffs, calling him a dreamer – he doesn’t live in the ‘real world’ like she does. As different as Ware and Jolene are, though, they have one thing in common: for them, the lot is a refuge. And when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware vows to save the lot.

But what does a hero look like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do?”

Other Favourites:

The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell, published by Usborne Publishing

“Desperate to become a shark caller to avenge the death of her parents, Blue Wing is instead charged with befriending infuriating newcomer Maple. At first they are angry and out of sync with the island and each other. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, can they overcome their differences and brave the deadliest shark in the ocean?”

Click here to read my review of The Shark Caller.

The Vanishing Trick by Jenni Spangler, published by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

“Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.

Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.

When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…”

Click here to read my review of The Vanishing Trick.

Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold, published by Stripes Publishing

“Juniper Greene lives in a walled city from which nature has been banished, following the outbreak of a deadly man-made disease many years earlier. While most people seem content to live in such a cage, she and her little brother Bear have always known about their resistance to the disease, and dream of escaping into the wild. To the one place humans have survived outside of cities. To where their mother is.

When scientists discover that the siblings provide the key to fighting the disease, the pair must flee for their lives. As they journey into the unknown, they soon learn that there’s cruelty in nature as well as beauty. Will they ever find the home they’re searching for?”

The Murder’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, published by Pushkin Children’s Books

“Sally Jones is an extraordinary gorilla and a brilliant ship’s engineer who sails the high seas on The Hudson Queen with her loyal friend the Chief. One day the shipmates are offered a mysterious job that promises to pay big bucks, but then disaster strikes, the job goes wrong and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder.

For Sally Jones this is the start of a grand adventure and a desperate quest to clear her friend’s name. By freighter, steam train and bi-plane the intrepid ape journeys from Lisbon to Bombay and beyond in search of the truth. But powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their own secrets…”

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge, published by Nosy Crow Ltd

“”If you go into the woods, Old Crony will get you.”

Secrets, spies or maybe even a monster… What lies in the heart of the wood? Charlie, Dizzy and Johnny are determined to discover the truth, but when night falls without warning they find themselves trapped in a nightmare. Lost in the woods, strange dangers and impossible puzzles lurk in the shadows. As time plays tricks, can Charlie solve this mystery and find a way out of the woods? But what if this night never ends…?”

Click here to read my review of The Longest Night of Charlie Noon.

Other Suggestions:

Freedom We Sing (Picture Book) by Amyra Leon (Author), Molly Mendoza (Illustrator)

The Perfect Shelter (Picture Book) by Clare Helen Welsh  (Author), Åsa Gilland (Illustrator)

This Rock That Rock (poetry) by Dom Conlon

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle (MG) by Victoria Williamson

Hungry Ghost (MG) by H.S. Norup

The Ship of Shadows (MG) by Maria Kuzniar

Efren Divided (MG) by Ernesto Cisneros

Turtle Boy (MG) by M. Evan Wolkenstein 

Can You See Me? (MG)  by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott

Night Diary (MG) by Veera Hiranandani

Howls Moving Castle (MG) by Diana Wynne Jones

Crater Lake (MG) by Jennifer Killick

His Dark Materials (MG/YA) by Philip Pullman

Crongton Knights (YA) by Alex Wheatle

A Monster Calls (YA) by Patrick Ness

The Last Paper Crane (YA) by Kerry Drewery

Bearmouth (YA) by Liz Hyder

After the Fire (YA) by Will Hill 

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

2 thoughts on “Books That Stop You In Your Tracks”

  1. I realllly love MG fantasy so when I read this I was squeeling with excitement!! Adding a lot of book from this list to my TBR. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

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