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A Seven Letter Word

Written by Kim Slater

Books of the Month Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 13+ readers

LoveReading View on A Seven Letter Word

One of our Books of the Year 2016 | April 2016 Book of the Month Finlay is articulate, an excellent Scrabble player, which makes it so frustrating that the seven letter word that defines him is stammer. He’s always found it hard to speak, but since his mum suddenly walked out on him and his dad two years ago it’s much worse, making him the target of cruel bullying. The chance to enter a Scrabble tournament changes things: he makes a new friend in Maryam, recently arrived from Pakistan, and a real Scrabble expert. The tournament also offers Finlay new hope of finding his mum. From being about a boy struggling to express himself this grows into a tense story of truths being spelled out. The mystery element is cleverly played out and it’s satisfying too to see Finlay take on those ready to bully their way to power. 

Annabel Pitcher, Anne-Marie Conway and Aoife Walsh also write affecting contemporary stories about families. ~ Andrea Reece


A Seven Letter Word Synopsis

'My name is Finlay McIntosh. I can see OK, can hear perfectly fine and I can write really, really well. But the thing is, I can't speak. I'm a st-st-st-stutterer. Hilarious, isn't it? It's like the word is there in my mouth, fully formed and then, just as it's ready to leave my lips ...POP! It jumps and ricochets and bounces around my gob. Except it isn't funny at all, because there's not a thing I can do about it.'

Finlay's mother vanished two years ago. And ever since then his stutter has become almost unbearable. Bullied at school and ignored by his father, the only way to get out the words which are bouncing around in his head is by writing long letters to his ma which he knows she will never read, and by playing Scrabble online. But when Finlay is befriended by an online Scrabble player called Alex, everything changes. Could it be his mother secretly trying to contact him? Or is there something more sinister going on?

A Seven-Letter Word is an evocative and heartfelt story from the multi-award-winning author of Smart, Kim Slater.

A Seven Letter Word Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review Kim Slater's debut novel Smart. Click here to read the full reviews.

  • Daniel Pender, age 10 - 'This book was slow to get going but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it.'
  • Chloe, age 10 - 'I loved this book and all the suspense and mystery it had. It made me feel like I was watching it happen. It is about a boy called Kieran who is trying to solve a murder mystery.'
  • Elizabeth Tomlin, age 8 - 'I really enjoyed this story - in fact I read it over two nights.'
  • Sam Harper, age 10 - 'A very different mystery with a very different detective trying to solve it. Kieran believes that Colin was murdered but he needs to prove it and that's not easy when everyone thinks you're stupid.'
  • Adiella Norridge, age 10 - 'This book is amazing and definitely a favourite on my bookshelf!'
  • Amie Coffman, age 10 - 'I loved this book and so will you if you like a good mystery.  The clues are all there in front of your eyes - how will the mystery be solved? An exciting and thrilling read!'
  • Alice East, age 9 - 'Smart is a great book about a clever boy called Keiran, who is fabulous at drawing and detective work. A homeless person is dead the police don't care but at least Keiran cares.'
  • Annie Graham, age 11 - 'I absolutely loved this book! I hope that Kim Starter writes more books as I loved her writing style.'
  • Jemma Rubens, age 10 - 'A fantastic novel full of suspense!'
  • Lola Frary, age 10 - 'A murder mystery where no one cares about whodunnit...I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.'
  • Ben Brown, age 10 - 'Highly reccomended for 9-11 year olds who like great characters and an exciting plot.'
  • Ellen Faulkner, age 12 - 'Smart was the sort of book which pulls you in and grips you and when it lets go you think: wow. I loved it and it made me see the world in a different way.
  • Beth Honeyman, age 11 - 'A fantastic mystery novel for the tween to teen reader. It has some dark themes which stay with you. The artwork on the cover is amazing! Loved this book.'
  • Jasmine Harris-Hart, age 12 - 'An exciting murder mystery story about an artistic , clever and observant young lad in Nottingham.'
  • Isabel Kardos-Stowe, age 10 - 'Smart is a mystery but much,much more than that. It tells you about Kieran's home life as well. Dealing with real situations makes it even more moving and exciting. Amazing.'
  • James Harrison, age 10 - 'Smart was a pretty decent read because it was written well and the idea was good.'

A Seven Letter Word Press Reviews

Praise for Smart

‘A remarkable first novel’ Guardian

‘Debut novels don’t come much smarter than Smart’ Lancashire Evening Post

‘An amazing, enthralling and enticing debut’ Armadillo magazine

‘A lovely book with an even lovelier character in Kieran . . . Kim Slater is an author to watch’ Wondrous Reads

‘A heart-warming tale that could have readers laughing and crying in equal measure’ bookzone4boys

‘Fans of thoughtful contemporaries will be really impressed by this debut’ The Bookbag

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781509801121
Publication date: 24/03/2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781509801121
Publication date: 24th March 2016
Author: Kim Slater
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 13+ readers
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Reviewed by Children

About Kim Slater

Kim Slater honed her storytelling skills as a child, writing macabre tales specially designed to scare her younger brother! Taking her literary inspiration from everyday life, Kim's debut novel, Smart, has won ten regional prizes and been shortlisted for over twenty regional and national awards, including the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the Federation of Children's Book Groups Prize. Smart was also longlisted for the 2015 Carnegie Medal. Kim lives in Nottingham with her husband and has one grown-up daughter.

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