Scar Town
Tristan Bancks
Publisher: Puffin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
ISBN: 9780143791812
Awards Year: 2024
Category: Book of the Year: Younger Readers


A missing father. A drowned town. A buried secret. Three friends on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth.

Seven years after Old Scarborough was drowned, a house is emerging from the water. Will and his friends Dar and Juno dare each other to explore it.

But when they find bones – and a stash of cash – they realise they’re not the only ones interested in its secrets.

Now they’re fighting for their lives against the men who want what they found. Will can’t leave the mystery alone, though. What if the bones belong to his missing dad?

A dangerous journey to uncover the truth in a town that wants the past to stay buried.

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The CBCA judges say...

This book tells a classic story in a thrilling and accessible way for readers aged 10-14. It commands the reader’s attention from its enthralling beginning, throughout an action-packed plot development and a dramatic conclusion. The setting of the drowned town is evocatively described, creating a foreboding mood that enhances the plot of the novel. The young protagonists are well-developed and have authentic responses to events, while the flaws of the adult characters are realistic, allowing readers to explore and extend their thinking about difficult relationships and situations. The mystery and thriller conventions are expertly balanced with Will’s character development as he navigates loss, criminal activity, corruption, and loyalty to family and friends.


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A Reading Time reviewer says...

Will and his family have always lived in Scarborough. Indeed, the town bears their name as they were founders. However, the town is not the same as it was when it was established as the old town is now below the surface of the dam that inundated it. As the dam wall develops a leak and parts of the old town begin emerging, mysterious things start to happen. Will and his friends Juno and Dar find themselves caught up in a frightening and threatening situation after they enter one of the houses that’s starting to emerge. The results of this escapade have far-reaching ramifications, especially for Will who finds many of the people he knows best, including family members, are not what they seem...


Teaching Notes for this book...

Penguin Random House, the publisher, has generously made teaching notes available for this book on their website.


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