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Fourth Form Book Reviews

Fourth Form English Scholars have been shadow reading ‘The Yoto Carnegie Medal Shortlist’. The Yoto Carnegies are one of the UK’s most loved and longest-running children’s literature awards.  

Here our pupils share their views on some of the books they have read so far. We eagerly await the competition’s results, which will be announced on 21 June! 

When Shadows Fall  

“I enjoyed how this book presented more mature themes throughout as it enabled me to emotionally connect more to the characters and have sympathy for them. I also appreciated the fact that this book presented Kai as supported yet he felt alone and fell into self-destructive behaviours despite his friends’ efforts; I feel as though readers can connect to the feeling of loneliness to a certain extent, which can help them feel more engaged while reading this book.”

The Light in Everything  

“This book shared themes of adventure and struggle as we are able to see Zofia as strong minded and independent, however, she struggled as her family blended with Tom’s when their parents started to see each other. Throughout this book we can share Zofia’s pain and anger as their families blend but also watch her journey of acceptance and joy. This book is easy to connect with emotionally, however, it was not as challenging as other books in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure.”

Julia and the Shark  

“It is an enjoyable story showing both darkness and light when Julia moves to a remote island for the summer. I was captivated throughout the story and felt sympathy for Julia as she desperately tried to hold her family together while her mum’s obsession with the sharks pulled her family apart. Similarly, to The Light in Everything, the story shared strong emotional themes, however, lacked challenging vocabulary and sentence variations which could help readers with their English skills.”

Lilah P
(Priestley House)

The Blue Book of Nebo  

“I enjoyed that it was written from two perspectives which meant you could understand how different people viewed the same event. On the other hand, the book was mostly based on what had happened in the past, which meant there were a lot of flashbacks.”

When Shadows Fall  

“I enjoyed this because it dealt with serious topics like grief. On the other hand, I found the change in perspective confusing at times.”


“I found this interesting as it gave an old story a different perspective. On the other hand, because this was based on a previous story, I already knew how it would end.”  

The Eternal Return of Clara Hart  

“This story was interesting because it showed the character coming to terms with his mother’s death and working towards becoming a better person. On the other hand, the book was about a day repeating which made it slightly repetitive.”

Alice H
(Cedars House)

The Light in Everything  

“I enjoyed the emotional and heart-felt aspects of the book as well as the romance and bonds with Tom and Zofia. I feel that having chapters representing a different character also let me explore the views and experiences of Zofia and Tom, and how they are different. However, the writing in the book wasn’t very detailed or complex. There wasn’t much description, and the adjectives and general language made the book feel like a book made for a younger audience.” 

I Must Betray You  

“This book was a good read—there was a lot of suspense in the plot which made me want to read more, and the overall storyline was an exciting emotional rollercoaster. The story, being set in 1989 in the Romanian Revolution, gave historical and educational aspects to the book as we learn what lives were like at the time. In addition, I liked how the book was in first person as we got to read from the perspective of the main character.”  

Natalie Q
(Priestley House)

I Must Betray You  

“It is an amazing book about Romania and a boy who has been tasked with being a spy. It’s a thriller that challenges how society used to be and shows how much pain Romanian people have had to face in the past. The book is full of thrills and moments where we’re able to see into the different characters’ lives. The book takes you in as if you’re just another person in the world and allows you to be fully immersed.”  

The Silver Chain  

“This book is written entirely in verse. What at first seems to be a challenge in making the plot cohesive makes everything feel so much more real. The verse allows us to experience metaphors and layouts that make us understand the characters’ emotions in ways that can’t be done in a narrative form. It presents issues that immigrants face in this country, searching for their truth and coming to terms with mental health and a dysfunctional family.” 

Green Rising  

“In a world where time is running out for us to fight back against climate change, Green Rising gives us an amazing story that tackles issues of consumerism, corporations taking advantage of our planet and people, and how it really is up to young people to fight back. It gives us a wonderful commentary on social issues wrapped up in a bundle of an amazing science fiction.”


“It is a story of family that makes you feel like a part of their world. The way it’s narrated makes it feel like you’re just the character’s best friend and it makes it feel comfortable but still very moving to read.”

Joseph W
(Weymouth House)

Click here to learn more about The Yoto Carnegies.

Mr Vadaszffy
Head of English