Gift Guide 2011 #3: Young Adult Books — Mystery and Adventure

My smart and beautiful sister in law, Tammy, put together a list of great YA mystery and adventure books. Tammy teaches seventh grade at a private school, so she knows what works for both kids and grown ups. 

Here are her tips and reviews:

Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis

Thirteen-year-old Prue and her baby brother Mac are enjoying a day at the park in their hometown of Portland, Oregon when a murder of crows swoops in and carries Mac off into the forbidden wood on the edge of the city known as The Impassable Wilderness.   That begins this fantastic and adventurous debut novel from Colin Meloy and fantastically illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.  Meloy, best known as the front man for the band The Decemberists, has crafted an intriguing and a bit off beat book for early teens.  Younger readers should not be dissuaded by its length, 541 pages.  Meloy knows how to keep his readers entertained, and Ellis’ illustrations are fantastic.  The book is packed with adventure and danger as Prue begins her quest into the Impassable Wilderness to reclaim Mac.  Tie ins: The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection ; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ; The Sixty-Eight Rooms.

The name of this book is secret CoverThe Name of this Book Is Secret (The Secret Series) ;by Pseudonymous Bosch

Like the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events but not as dark and depressing.  I can’t keep these books on my classroom shelves.  6th and 7th grade boys seem to be drawn to them.  Mystery, magic and humor are all rolled into one.






The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

I keep referring to this book as Children of the Corn for preteens.  Jack’s parents are getting a divorce and decide that it is best if he goes to live with his aunt and uncle at their farmhouse in the middle Iowa.  Hazelwood is not a normal town, and as soon as Jack arrives things start to get even weirder.   Jack befriends a local girl named Wendy, her twin brother  who disappeared for years and suddenly returned mute and disfigured, and a boy who can see people and things others cannot.  The story is engaging, thrilling, endearing, and, at times, a little scary.  It will appeal to kids who like mysteries and adventure stories.




Cherub the recruit book 1 hard cover

The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore

The Recruit  is the first in this series which follows James Adams as he is recruited into a secret arm of MI 5 and a life of mystery, danger, and intrigue.  This will appeal to boys who like The Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz or James Bond.  There are currently 12 books in the series.  I literally had boys begging to have free reading time so that they could read.


5 thoughts on “Gift Guide 2011 #3: Young Adult Books — Mystery and Adventure

  1. Fascinating list of books! I may well buy everything on this list. My daughter might like Wildwood, and my son might like The Name of This Book is Secret, though he’s only 4th grade now.
    Does anyone know if the Alex Rider books appeal to girls* at all?
    *Gah, yeah, gender stereotyping. But my daughter insists on it.


  2. The Alex Rider series definitely appeals to girls, I just find that more of my male students gravitate towards them. And your 4th grader could definitely read The Name of this Book Is Secret series. It’s for about 4th and up. I’m going to put together a few more lists when I have some time this weekend. There is A LOT of fantastic new fiction out there for teens and preteens!


  3. Great list for me, ’cause it doesn’t include any of the books I’ve seen coming home, so it introduces new books. I’ll look forward to seeing Tammy’s extended list.


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