By coincidence I’ve been making a great number of book recommendations for kids recently and have already received feedback that some of them have been quite successful. So, spurred on by this encouragement I’ve decided to share the recommendations in the hopes that needy parents and readers everywhere may benefit.
For boys age 10 and up:
Steampunk seems to be a popular genre with this group, particularly airship adventure.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
Along with Behemoth and Goliath these books tell the story of midshipman Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy so she can serve in the air service and Prince Aleksandar, rogue heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary during the first world war. This series has some fantastic alternate history technology.
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
The first book in the Predator Cities Quartet is packed not only with adventure but a truly unique vision of the distant future where cities drive around on tractor treads and consume one another.
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
A new series that serves as a prequel to the Mortal Engines books. Philip Reeve is highly prolific and has a remarkable skill for building wonderful pathos into his characters. So far there has been at least one moment in each of his books that has washed over me with a bittersweet melancholy.
Larklight by Philip Reeve, Illustrated by David Wyatt
While I’m on Philip Reeve I have to mention the Larklight series including Starcross and Mothstorm – a kind of loving parody of victorian era boy’s own adventure stories. Reeve has a fantastic imagination but I have noticed a tendency for the first book in each of his series to be very strong while subsequent volumes tend to not quite live up to the standard of the first book.
But those first books, Mortal Engines, Fever Crumb, and Larklight are so strong that I strongly encourage you to check them out.
For Girls age 10 and up:
There are a lot of directions I could go with this group but the request I got was for magic, dragons, fairies, and those kinds of fantasy elements. I do want to mention that some of my previous recommendations, although targeted at boys, do have strong female characters, especially Leviathan and Mortal Engines as well as the eponymous Fever Crumb, who is a girl.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, Illustrated by Ana Juan
A fairytale with lots of fantastic creatures and compelling adventures.
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Not technically magic but the kids in this story develop magical powers when they turn 13. Beyond the fun premise I found this book to be very well written – and a Newberry honor book to boot.
Into the Wild (Warriors, Book 1) by Erin Hunter
You may already be aware of the wildly popular Warriors series. Also not technically magic but the author has built a mythology around animal behavior, which is interesting and the girls in my daughter’s 4th grade class are obsessed with it.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Ok, magic. You may be familiar with the animated movie, which just happens to be one of my favorite Miyazaki films, but you should definitely check out the book by this very inventive and well-regarded fantasy author.
The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens
I haven’t finished reading this one myself yet but it comes highly recommended to us by a reliable 10-year-old aficionado and what I have seen of it so far is very promising.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?
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Let me know what you think.