CSBA24 shortlist 

A secret society of female detectives who fight injustice and scandal in Victorian England. A deep-sea mining rig with dark secrets to uncover. A dystopian London where a mythical creature needs protection. WEREWOLVES. The shortlist for the Cheshire Schools' Book Award 2024 covers a fantastic array of genres and subjects, from realistic family-centred stories to near-future nightmares.

All the books have been nominated by subscribing secondary students from across our seven local authorities, including Cheshire, Warrington, Halton, and Staffordshire. Schools have until Friday 26th April 2024 to read, discuss and vote for their favourite books. Participation is free, fun, and highly likely to involve the consumption of many and varied reading snacks.

Did we mention the werewolves?

We will delay no longer. Here are the ten books nominated for this year's shortlist. 

CSBA24 shortlist poster

Younger age category 

When I See Blue by Lily Bailey 


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New town, new school, but the bully is in Ben's head...

There are 4 things you should know about Ben:
1. He's 12 years old
2. He's the new kid at school
3. His special number is 4
4. He has a bully in his brain

Sometimes Ben's brain makes him count to 4 to prevent bad things happening. Sometimes it makes him tap or blink in 4s. Mostly it makes the smallest things feel impossible. And with a new school, a moody big brother, an absent dad and a mum battling her own demons, Ben feels more out of control than ever. But then he meets April, and with his new friend, Ben might finally figure out how to stand up to the bully in his brain, once and for all.

An authentic and affecting #ownvoices story about living life with OCD, from the inspiring author and mental health activist, Lily Bailey. Perfect for readers of A Kind of Spark and Wonder.

The Rescue of Ravenwood by Natasha Farrant 

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From the Costa Award winning author of Voyage of the Sparrowhawk comes an epic adventure with a call to arms: we must fight to save the most treasured things on our planet.

On the top of the hill, overlooking the sea, that's where you'll find a magical place . . .

To Bea and Raffy, Ravenwood is home. In its own way, the house rescued them, even if it did have a fallen-down tree taking up most of the kitchen. So the idea that it could be sold. Demolished even. Well, that's unthinkable. Then again, it's not like the children get a choice. But the truth is, we can all make our own choices, especially if we care enough . . .

A beautiful, soulful, exciting story about holding onto what's precious, and guarding the extraordinary nature that surrounds us.

Just Like Everyone Else by Sarah Hagger-Holt 

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 A commercial coming-of-age story for tweens exploring identity, family and self-acceptance, from award-winning author Sarah Hagger-Holt.

Thirteen-year-old Aidan can't breathe in his crowded family home. Running is his only respite from four loud sisters and involved, touchy-feely parents. Then his mum makes an announcement: she's having another baby. Only, this time it's not for her; she will be a surrogate for gay couple Justin and Atif.

Aidan is incensed. As if his family wasn't embarrassing - or big - enough already. But he's also scared. Aidan thinks he might be gay, and he's really struggling to accept this possibility. He's definitely not ready to come out, but what if being around Justin and Atif exposes him as gay?

If only he was just like everyone else.

Tyger by SF Said 

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In a strange alternate world, a young boy called Adam has uncovered something incredible in a rubbish dump in London.

A mysterious, mythical animal. A TYGER.The Tyger is in danger, and Adam and his friend Zadie are determined to help. However, they soon realise it isn't just the Tyger's life at stake: the world they live in is also on the precipice of darkness. Luckily, the two children have great powers within them, and the Tyger can show them how to harness what's inside.

Tyger isn’t simply a book – it’s a gateway into another world. SF’s enchanting storytelling and Dave McKean’s mesmerising illustrations will entrance and delight readers. This is a story to inspire and instil hope, as readers realise there are sparks and hidden powers within us all. We just have to know how to see, and release, them... 

Bite Risk by S.J. Wills 

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When everyone's a vicious beast, it's hard to spot the monsters... The first book in S. J. Wills' blockbuster teen horror series, perfect for fans of Stranger ThingsFear Street and Skulduggery Pleasant.

Sel Archer lives in a normal town with normal residents, except for one night a month... When the full moon comes out, almost all of the adults turn into werewolves, and it's up to the young people to protect themselves from danger.

But, as this quiet life begins to unravel, and the Turned start to escape, can Sel and his friends uncover exactly who – or what – is watching their every move, before it's too late?

Older age category 

The Girl Who Broke the Sea by A. Connors  

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Lily's emotional problems run deep – three miles deep.

After she gets kicked out of school for her destructive behaviour, Lily agrees to an unusual fresh start: going with her mum to live at Deephaven, an experimental deep-sea mining rig and research station located at the bottom of the ocean.

Lily instantly regrets her decision: claustrophobic and isolated, it's hardly her idea of home.

Turns out, Deephaven has problems of its own. The head scientist, they quickly learn, has disappeared - just as he was on the brink of a shocking discovery. In the darkness of the deep, something is stirring ... something dangerous.

And it's calling out to Lily.

Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher 

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'Do you feel safe?'

A powerful novel exploring how teenagers can be swept up into county lines. For fans of Punching the Air and Splinters of Sunshine.

Erik's life has been falling apart ever since his dad died. Homework and being good at school stop feeling important when you're the new man of the house. When Erik's bad behaviour attracts the wrong crowd, he's sucked into a terrifying new world of drug dealing, trap houses and violence.

Making money feels good but Erik soon learns that a small favour can become a huge debt.

And when his sisters' lives are threatened, Erik will have to cross one more line to save them.

Written in stunning verse, this is a poignant story about seeking safety and asking for help in times of crisis.

Ellie Pillai is Brown by Christine Pillainayagam

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The perfect coming-of-age summer romance by the most spectacularly funny and original debut UKYA voice.

My name is Ellie. Ellie Pillai... And I suppose I am a little bit weird, but then, aren't we all, just a little bit?

Most days, Ellie Pillai is somewhere between invisible, and not very cool - and usually she's okay with that. But suddenly, Ellie feels different. Maybe it's the new boy at school who makes her brain explode into rainbows every time she sees him (and also happens to be going out with her best friend), or maybe it's her new drama teacher, the one who seems to have noticed she exists. Suddenly, her misfit style, her skin colour, her songwriting and all that getting lost in the music in her head seem to be okay too. Because maybe standing out isn't a bad thing after all.

HappyHead by Josh Silver 

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We are in an epidemic. An epidemic of unhappiness. 

Friends, here is the good news: HappyHead has the answer.

When Seb is offered a place on a radical retreat designed to solve the national crisis of teenage unhappiness, he is determined to change how people see him and make his parents proud. But as he finds himself drawn to the enigmatic Finn, Seb starts to question the true nature of the challenges they must undergo. The deeper into the programme the boys get, the more disturbing the assessments become, until it’s clear there may be no escape...

The first in a thrilling, thought-provoking new series for fans of They Both Die at the End and Squid Games. 

The Agency for Scandal by Laura Wood 

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An all-female detective agency righting wrong at the end of the nineteenth century; infiltrating a scandalous upper class world straight out of Bridgerton and using their wit and bravery to unmask a villain.

Eighteen-year-old Isobel Stanhope is keeping a lot of secrets. There's the fact that she's head over heels in love with a Duke who doesn't know she exists; there's the fact that her family is penniless but nobody in society knows about it; and then there's her job at the Aviary, an investigative agency run by women that specializes in digging up scandal on powerful men.

When Izzy finds herself pulled into a case that involves gaslighting, blackmail, and missing jewels, as well as the Duke who holds her heart, can she and her friends untangle the web of secrets and lies to uncover the truth and protect the innocent? And when the stakes are so high, what happens when the crush she's been hiding begins to turn into so much more?

For more information on the Cheshire Schools' Book Award 2024, including how your school can sign up, please email Susannah Hill at susannah.hill@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk


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