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City of Rust

City of Rust

Published: 4 Mar 2021

Paperback / softback, 352 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Gemma Fowler

Published by Chicken House Ltd

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This book features in the Upper KS2 Silicon Valley collection which is part of The Reading Journey

Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee skywards. The danger is bigger than anything they'd imagined: a huge trash bomb, and its power-crazed creator, threaten to destroy the world ...

Tagged courage and environment

The Best Books Year 6 pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

An easy purchase pack of 50 curated books.

This pack includes recently published picturebooks, fiction, nonfiction and poetry with a focus on Reading for Pleasure.

The books are chosen by the Just Imagine selection panel, chaired by Just Imagine's Director Nikki Gamble, author of Exploring Children's Literature and co-author of Guiding Readers.

  • Brain Power
  • Beyond the Sky
  • Sisters of the Mist
  • The Colour of Hope
  • The Unmorrow Curse
  • Seed
  • The Insiders
  • The Book of Sisters
  • S.T.E.A.L.T.H: Access Denied
  • Skandar and the Unicorn Thief : 1
  • Ajay and the Mumbai Sun
  • You Don't Have to be Loud
  • Beyond Belief
  • Furthermoor
  • The Secret Sunshine Project
  • The Secret of Splint Hall
  • Super Sub
  • Like A Charm : 1
  • The Horror of Dunwick Farm
  • Sleepover Takeover
  • Freeze
  • Listen, Layla #2
  • The Book of Stolen Dreams
  • Class Act
  • Mason Mooney:Doppelganger Detective #2
  • Saving Celeste
  • Sisters of the Lost Marsh
  • The Chime Seekers
  • Frankenstiltskin: Fairy Tales Gone Bad
  • The Monsters of Rookhaven #1
  • How Was That Built?
  • The Elephant in the Room
  • Myths, Monsters and Mayhem in Ancient Greece
  • A Nest of Vipers
  • The Summer We Turned Green
  • Wild Child : A journey through nature
  • Welcome to Trashland
  • When the Sky Falls
  • A Street Dog Named Pup
  • On the Move: Poems About Migration
  • On Your Marks, Get Set, Gold! A Funny and Fact-Filled Guide to Every Olympic Sport
  • The Shark Caller
  • Dragon Mountain
  • Strange but True: 10 of the world's greatest mysteries explained
  • The Beast and the Bethany #1
  • Home Ground

The Library Boost for 11+ pack

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  • When the Sky Falls
  • The Lightning Catcher
  • Black Brother, Black Brother
  • Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow
  • Rise of the Shadow Dragons
  • A Glasshouse of Stars
  • Tremendous Things
  • Show Us Who You Are
  • The Swallows' Flight
  • The Acrobats of Agra
  • No Country
  • The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow
  • The Supreme Lie
  • Bone Music
  • Cardboard Cowboys
  • Worst. Holiday. Ever
  • Gamayun Tales I An Anthology of Modern Russian Folk Tales
  • Trilobite
  • In the Key of Code
  • Talking to Alaska
  • The Unexpected Find
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist
  • History of Rock For Big Fams and Little Punks
  • When We Got Lost in Dreamland
  • Proud
  • Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon

The Reading Journey Full Set UKS2 2021 pack

Easy purchase - add our curated pack to your basket with one click

  • Dog Man:Grime and Punishment #9
  • Tamarind & the Star of Ishta
  • When the Sky Falls
  • The Boy Who Met a Whale
  • The Shark Caller
  • World Burn Down
  • Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad
  • The Infinite
  • The Dream Team: Jaz Santos vs. the World
  • Dragon Mountain
  • The Lightning Catcher
  • Myths, Monsters and Mayhem in Ancient Greece
  • The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke
  • October, October
  • Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow
  • Indigo Wilde and the Creatures at Jellybean Crescent #1
  • The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh
  • Adam-2
  • A Glasshouse of Stars
  • You Must Be Layla #1
  • African and Caribbean Folktales, Myths and Legends
  • Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep
  • My Big Mouth
  • When Stars are Scattered
  • Orphans of the Tide
  • Icarus Was Ridiculous
  • The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.
  • On Your Marks, Get Set, Gold! A Funny and Fact-Filled Guide to Every Olympic Sport
  • D-Day Dog
  • Midnight Feasts: Tasty poems chosen by A.F. Harrold
  • Mason Mooney:Doppelganger Detective #2
  • The Biggest Footprint : Eight billion humans. One clumsy giant.
  • A Nest of Vipers
  • Wave Riders
  • Arctic Star
  • When Life Gives You Mangoes
  • Boy, Everywhere
  • The Language of Cat
  • The Monsters of Rookhaven #1
  • The Iron Man
  • Unbelievable Football 2 : How Football Can Change the World
  • How I Saved the World in a Week
  • The Thing At Black Hole Lake
  • The Undefeated
  • Comic Classics: Treasure Island
  • Where the Wilderness Lives
  • Class Act
  • Mason Mooney:Paranormal Investigator #1
  • Rescuing Titanic : A true story of quiet bravery in the North Atlantic

Reviewed by Kelly Ashley

City of Rust is the first middle-grade (ages 9+) offering from author Gemma Fowler.  This delicious, dystopian novel is the perfect mixture of Mad Max, Cogheart (Peter Bunzl) and The Tin Forest (Helen Ward) – a perfect choice for young readers who have a thirst for sci-fi adventures. The intricate, golden cover design by Karl James Mountford immediately draws the reader into a junkyard world, where waste is treasure.

The protagonist in City of Rust is Railey – a young inventor with an eye for engineering and a craft for cultivating scrapyard waste into magnificent, drone-racing machines. Atti, Railey’s best friend, is her bionic gecko – forged with the discrete purpose of piloting these drones.  The pair live in a world where discarded rubbish shapes the landscape, within the rust-lined streets of ‘the great container city of Boxville…’ (page 3) ‘…a city made from the scraps’ (page 5).

In contrast, Glass City (adjacent to the wasteland of Boxville) is a pristine sanctuary where the residents live free of their filth – quickly discarding their garbage for others in this world to deal with. As we are drawn into this alternate sphere, we learn that the people of Glass City took the decision many years prior to jettison mountains of detritus into the Earth’s atmosphere – everything from washing machines to rusted car parts to aeroplanes. Out of sight, out of mind is the philosophy of those living comfortably in Glass City.  Within the galactic ‘Soup,’ refuse has been building over the years, as it circles round and round in a menacing, litter-fuelled vortex.

This fast-paced novel is a race against the clock, from ground level within the city of Boxville and into the outer reaches of the atmosphere.  Our heroes discover that the collection of trash in the man-made ‘Soup’ has become dangerous to those living both above and below. Can Railey and Atti, along with new friends they meet along the way, save the planet? With twists and turns on each page, the reader is soon drawn into this exciting, other-worldly adventure.

As the setting of this novel is fantastical, some young readers may benefit from guided visualisation to help them live out the action in the story.  For example, how would you draw the container city of Boxville? What would the city look like if you were to walk along its streets?  What might the people look like who live here – what jobs would they have and how might they dress?

‘Boxville was a city made from the scraps.  Everything here had lived a hundred lives before, they had been made, then unmade and then remade again – the buildings, the clothes, the food, even the people.’ (page 5)

In contrast, how would you represent Glass City and its residents?

The city visible beyond the mountains was a sprawling, modern metropolis, clean and gleaming, filled with grand boulevards and lush, green parks.’ (page 76)

Opportunities to visualise and discuss this new world will deepen readers’ experience with the fast-paced action as it unravels. Whether read aloud or enjoyed as an independent read, City of Rust will leave its readers fizzing with wonder as they are invited to step into another world.

With over 20 years of education experience in both the US and the UK, Kelly Ashley currently works as an independent consultant, providing training and support for primary schools across the UK. Kelly's particular interest in language acquisition and vocabulary development has led to the publication of her first book, Word Power: Amplifiying vocabulary instruction (2019) - full of ideas for building a language-rich environment and top tips to Power-Up explicit vocabulary instruction.