Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More books for my now 13-year-old nephew

It's been nearly a year since I wrote a couple of blog posts (here and here) in response to my sister-in-law's request for books to give her 12-year-old after he finished Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, so maybe it's about time I wrote the promised follow-up post on more recently-published books he might like.

For starters, I'm going to send you to 50 Best Books for 11-and 12-year-olds, an excellently useful list by Brightly. I have not read the majority of the books in this list, so I've got some catching up to do! Here are a few quick highlights of the books on this list that I have read (all of which I can heartily recommend.) (Some of which count as classics, but, hey, you can never have enough classics.)

Dealing With Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede. Cute, funny fairy-tale-type story about an enchanted forest and a girl who, yes, has to deal with a dragon. (There's more in the series, too.)

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. Brutal honesty here: I thought the first book was great, the second was okay, and the third was unreadable. But if you like dragons, this one's a good pick.

Doll Bones, by Holly Black. She's a great writer with intriguing fantasies that are creepy but not too creepy.

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman. Not sure I'd recommend this fantasy trilogy to 11-year-olds, but sophisticated 13-year-olds will love it. It's pretty mind-blowing.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. A classic, often imitated, never equalled. Still funny

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein. This one's pretty recent! Contemporary puzzle-solving mystery. A library-lover's fantasy.

Hoot, by Carl Hiassen. Contemporary story about saving owls that's really, really funny.

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale. Okay, probably not something a tween boy would pick up, but honestly, it's got a great story. Anything by Hale is worth reading, but a 13-year-old boy might want to start with the graphic novel Calamity Jack, or the superhero story Dangerous.

The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. This is the classic that other puzzle-solving mysteries try to live up to.

When You Reach Me and Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead. Slightly mind-bending, very honest books about friendship and other stuff tweens worry about. She's an amazing writer. Liar & Spy is also just as good.

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli. He writes great contemporary stories about fitting in and standing out. If you liked Wonder, you should try this one.

Okay! I'm going to have to split this one into two posts as well. Do you have any recommendations I should add to my next post on great books for 12-13-year-old boys?


  1. Wow! You just listed most of my favorite books. Has your nephew read THE EIGHTH DAY trilogy by Dianne K. Salerni? Lots of action and a terrific premise. I also highly recommend THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander.

    1. Those are both books on my TBR I haven't gotten to yet. I've read lots of positive things about them.

  2. So many wonderful books! Is he too old for those John Fitzgerald Great Brain books? I loved those when I was a kid -- I think I read them when I was younger than 12, but I kept rereading them. They're fun on a reread! Oh, and what about Monica Furlong's Robin's Country? It's a super sweet Robin Hood story about a kid who can't talk and he joins up with the Robin Hood gang. It's delightful.

    OH AND ALSO Escape to Witch Mountain and Return to Witch Mountain? Those books are great! They've got telekinesis and stuff in them!

    1. Oh, gosh, the Witch Mountain books! I'd completely forgotten about them, and I remember loving them!

      I've never heard of Robin's Country: sounds like something I'd love. Will check it out.

  3. Ooh, I've read all of these from Phantom Tollbooth on down! Phantom Tollbooth was a huge hit with my boys, who are 12 and 14. The other one I thought of was Holes, and they also loved Hatchet and its sequels, My Side of the Mountain, and we're now reading Shakespeare Stealer together. I love how you're encouraging your nephew to read great books!

  4. Holes, of course, that one was great. I never did read Hatchet, but I remember loving My Side of the Mountain. Haven't heard of Shakespeare Stealer, but that's a great title!