It was hard to decide which books I should include without making the list too long. But every book listed is a great read – as well as a read aloud – and best for ages 9 and up.
Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess, by Hilary McKay, and with illustrations sprinkled throughout by Nick Maland, continues where the original classic left off. It begins with a short summary of the original story, but quickly sets the tone of the story to come. The events that happen when the heroine, Sara, leaves Miss Minchin’s Seminary and the remaining girls takes on an amazing new story, but containing the classic feel of the original story.
See Saw Girl, by Linda Sue Park, is an eye-opening historical fiction about a young nobility-born Korean girl in the seventeenth century. Her life is restricted to living behind the walls of her residence until her arranged marriage when she grows a little older. The author includes historical background, and a bibliography, located in the back of the book.
Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins & Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate, by Lesley M. M. Blume, and wonderful pen and ink drawings by David Foote, is full of magical essence of these smallish sprites as the author delves deep into their many adventures and mischievous behaviors. There are prequel warnings and explanations prior to each tale with follow-up notes and further help in order to better understand their actions or reactions.
Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull, is the last installment of the popular Fablehaven series involving Seth and Kendra. They must travel a great distance where they are in search of the keys to the demon prison before the evil Sphinx recovers the five artifacts.
Out Of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper, brilliantly presents the viewpoint of fifth grader Melody as she deals with cerebral palsy. Even though she can’t walk, talk or even write, she can’t seem to let her classmates know that she’s really smart. When she is finally able to communicate, the story showcases her brilliance and versatility.
Woods Runner, by Gary Paulsen, concerns thirteen-year-old Samuel as he lives in the wooded and uncivilized area of frontier America and the Redcoats, along with the Iroquois, who are in battle with the Patriots. When Samuel returns to his cabin from the underbrush, he sees his parents captured and taken prisoner and he must follow them in order to save their lives. Mr. Paulsen places a short historically accurate account at the end of each chapter that parallels what Samuel just did or experienced.
The Doom Machine, by Mark Teague, is set in the year 1956 and young Jack is up early delivering newspapers when he sees a giant flying saucer land nearby. And so begins a tale that moves fast and is filled with adventure and humor – and terrific illustrations by Teague.
The Birthday Ball, by Lois Lowry, and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, is the perfect book for humor and good storytelling. Princess Patricia Priscilla is excited for her upcoming sixteenth birthday, but her parents have invited the most boring and foolish suitors. But – she has thought of another brilliant idea to break the strict rules and make this the ball beyond belief!
The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, and illustrated by Angela Barrett, is a magical story with wonderful undertones of perseverance and of overcoming great difficulties. This beautifully written story encompasses a realm of fairies that live and fly by night. The colorful pictures add to the enchantment of this story.
Tentacles, by Roland Smith, has cousins traveling with their scientist uncle in search of a giant squid. But they are about to find much more than they bargained for! Reader beware: this is a book that’s very hard to put down!
The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan, and illustrated by Peter Sis, is an extraordinary and enthralling tale of the childhood of poet, Pablo Neruda. This stirring story jumps off the page with both word and art. This celebration of language and the collaboration of the illustrations, will surely linger long after putting down the book.
Seven Keys of Balabin, by Paul Haven, takes place in a country similar to Afghanistan and is full of adventure and mystery. Twelve-year-old Oliver is about to set out on a mystifying adventure as he tries to discover what happened to a store owner who apparently has been kidnapped. But he is also about to unravel a 500-year-old mystery during his adventure.
The Cardturner, by Louis Sachar (who also wrote the bestseller “Holes”), has seventeen-year-old Alton becoming a cardturner for his blind Uncle Lester when playing bridge. This might sound like a boring subject to write a book about but this author has an uncanny talent to spin the most incredible tales – and make the reader become completely mesmerized.
African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways, by Avis Harley, and photographed by Deborah Noyes, has unique and beautiful poems and pictures. The acrostic wordplay makes this a willing book to enjoy, savor and learn from. Check out the “Nature Notes” and more acrostic information located at the back of the book.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, won this year’s Newbery Honor award and exemplifies the importance of family, honor and friendship. Young Minli, whose family is very poor, loves to listen to her father’s tales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon who knows all of the answers to life’s questions. When she sets off to find the Old Man she begins an adventure rich in language, adventure and colorful illustrations.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick, is a historical fiction book that takes place back in the turbulent 1860’s when runaway slaves were being helped by the “Underground Railroad”. Twelve-year-old Homer is living in terrible conditions under the rule of “…the meanest man in the entire state of Maine…”. But his life is about to change when he runs away.
The Search for Wondla, by Tony DiTerlizzi, is the beginning of a new series that will thrill the reader. The author of the Spiderwick series has created a new tale about a story set in the future with twelve-year-old Eva Nine who has been raised by a robot. The author has masterly illustrated two toned pictures as well as incorporated some new elements in this book. With the use of a webcam, there are several augmented reality pictures that add to Eva’s dimension.
The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan, is his new series, much like his thrilling “Lightening Thief” series, but this book is set in Brooklyn, New York. This page-turner begins with an explosion except this time the mythical gods are Egyptian.