I have had some help with this post! Our 11 year old joined me to give some expert comments on the first set of books listed below. These are all books he has read recently, so along with a synopsis of the book, you can find his thoughts on the books.
And two very kind readers sent in some books that they recommend for this age group too, so instead of having 7 recommendations in this post I now lots more to share – thank you!!!
Time Travelling With a Hamster by Ross Welford
From the publisher – “My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve.”
On Al Chaudhury’s twelfth birthday his beloved Grandpa Byron gives him a letter from Al’s late father. In it Al receives a mission: travel back to 1984 in a secret time machine and save his father’s life.
Al soon discovers that time travel requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, setting his school on fire and ignoring philosophical advice from Grandpa Byron. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…
Time Travelling With a Hamster is a funny, heart-warming race-against-time – and across generations – adventure that you will won’t be able to put down.
From Master 11 – I would give it a 10/10 because it kept me engaged and made me want to keep reading. The author uses a big vocabulary and makes it fun to read. Ross Welford has lots of other great books I would recommend to read too.
Buy online – Time Travelling With a Hamster by Ross Welford
Stick Dog by Tom Watson
From the publisher – Stick Dog and his friends, Mutt, Stripes, Karen and Poo-Poo have caught the scent of hamburgers and what hungry stray could resist that lovely meaty waft? All they have to do is follow the smell, find the barbecue and eat the hamburgers. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. The dogs need a ‘Master Plan’ and they’re not short of ideas. They’re just short of ideas that aren’t ridiculous, or dangerous, or just very very silly.
With hilarious artwork, and an adorable four-legged hero, the story of Stick Dog’s quest for a delicious dinner is destined to be Top Dog.
From Master 11 – It is a good light read with a good plot and bad drawings! The drawings are made to look basic but this helps tell a lot about the story. I have read the whole series and they are very funny. I would give the series a 9.5/10.
Buy online – Stick Dog by Tom Watson
The Once Series by Morris Gleitzman
From the publisher – Once I escaped from an orphanage to find my Mum and Dad. Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.
Once I made a Nazi with a toothache laugh.
My name is Felix . . . This is my story.
Everybody deserves to have something good in their life . . . At least once.
From Master 11 – This is a serious series with many sad parts. The plot across the books is very good and a lot of things happened that I didn’t expect. I learnt a lot about World War II and what happened at that time. I would give the series a 9/10.
Buy online – The Once Series by Morris Gleitzman
The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams
From the publisher – London is in ruins, the people are hungry, and darkness has fallen across the land. Prince Alfred, a poorly and bookish child, has never left the safety of Buckingham Palace. But now there are strange goings on inside the palace walls – and Alfred’s life is about to change forever.
In the dead of night something terrible stalks the corridors. When Alfred’s beloved mother the queen is dragged off to the Tower of London, the boy must summon all his courage to embark on an epic quest to save her… and the entire world.
From Master 11 – This book is set in the future and I could relate the plot line to other books I have read. It is quite a big book but the author writes it in a way that made me want to keep on reading it. I really like David Walliams books and have read lots of them. I would give this book 10/10.
Buy online – The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams
Blueback by Tim Winton
From the publisher – Abel Jackson has lived by the sea at Longboat Bay ever since he could remember. He helps his mother each day and loves to dive. One day he meets Blueback, the biggest and most beautiful fish he’s ever seen.
When Abel’s mother is approached by developers she decides she must do something to protect their fragile piece of coastline, But can Abel and his mother save Blueback and Longboat Bay in time?
An achingly beautiful story about family, belonging and living a life in tune with the environment, from one of Australia’s best-loved authors.
From Master 11 – The storyline was good but I didn’t find this book as engaging as the others on the list. I would still recommend this book because it is very well written. I would give it a 7.5/10.
Buy online – Blueback by Tim Winton
The Mapmaker Chronicles by A.L. Tait
From the publisher – Quinn is back! He finished his race around the world and is living a quiet life on the family farm, until he discovers that the King’s enemies want to capture him. Quinn is forced to go on the run, taking to the high seas once more. Can he survive when he is double-crossed and left for dead?
BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE MAP is another thrilling adventure from A.L. Tait in the bestselling Mapmaker Chronicles.
From Master 11 – This is a really good series with a plot that keeps you can engaged and reading on to find out what happens next. The first one in the series was my favourite. I would give the series an 8/10.
Buy online – The Mapmaker Chronicles by A.L. Tait
Holes by Louis Sachar
From the publisher – Stanley Yelnats’ family has a history of bad luck, so when a miscarriage of justice sends him to Camp Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre (which isn’t green and doesn’t have a lake) he is not surprised. Every day he and the other inmates are told to dig a hole, five foot wide by five foot deep, reporting anything they find. The evil warden claims that it is character building, but this is a lie and Stanley must dig up the truth.
Wonderfully inventive, compelling and hilarious, Louis Sachar has created a masterpiece.
From Master 11 – I really enjoyed Holes. It was sad in some parts and the author made you really feel for the characters. I liked how the main characters name was Stanley Yelnats – Yelnats is Stanley backwards! I would give this book an 8.5/10.
Buy online – Holes by Louis Sachar
These next recommendations come from reader Lisa! Lisa is an experienced librarian at a secondary college who manages the library’s fiction collection amongst others. Thanks for your recommendations Lisa!
Golden Unicorn: Rise of the Mythix (Book 1) by Ahn Do
From the publisher – Some heroes are legends. Some legends are real.
The tyrant known as the Soul Collector hunts down anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique.
From Lisa – Adventure / Fantasy
The Smile Series by Raina Telgemeier
From the publisher – An autobiography in graphic novel format describes how the author lost two of her front teeth in an accident when she was twelve, and her subsequent struggles with various corrective dental techniques throughout adolescence.
From Lisa – Friendships / Growing up / Tween angst.
This is a graphic novel series. I am a firm believer we can’t be fussy about the format our reluctant readers are happy to attempt. Graphic novels are great for kids who just don’t like reading, or find novels challenging or intimidating. They are also a great bridge during the phase you mentioned when kids drop the reading habit – and there’s been an increase in quality graphic novels in recent years, which is great.
Buy online – The Smile Series by Raina Telgemeier
As Happy As Here by Jane Godwin
From the publisher – Three teenage girls from very different backgrounds find themselves sharing a hospital ward. When they witness a crime in the park below their window, they bond over trying to solve the crime and each one undergoes a profound change.
A beautiful coming-of-age story about identity, expectation, class, justice, society, fairness, and, above all, kindness
From Lisa – Friendship / coming of age / mystery
Buy online – As Happy As Here by Jane Godwin
Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks
From the publisher – One afternoon, police officers show up at Ben Silver’s front door. Minutes after they leave, his parents arrive home. Ben and his little sister Olive are bundled into the car and told they’re going on a holiday. But are they?
It doesn’t take long for Ben to realise that his parents are in trouble. Ben’s always dreamt of becoming a detective – his dad even calls him ‘Cop’. Now Ben gathers evidence and tries to uncover what his parents have done.
The problem is, if he figures it out, what does he do? Tell someone? Or keep the secret and live life on the run?
From Lisa – Mystery / suspense / ethical dilemmas. Actually, anything by Tristan Bancks!
From Nic – Our 14 year old read this book when he was 12 and loved it.
Buy online – Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks
My Life As An Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg
From the publisher – Candice Phee wants to bring light and laughter to those around her, and somehow she succeeds despite the bizarre mix-ups and the confusion she effortlessly creates. An uplifting comedy-drama from award-winning author, Barry Jonsberg.
This isn’t just about me. It’s also about the other people in my life – my mother, my father, my dead sister Sky, my penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Earth-Pig Fish and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension. These are people; with the exception of Earth-Pig Fish, who is a fish, who have shaped me, made me what I am.
I cannot recount my life without recounting elements of theirs. This is a big task, but I am confident I am up to it.
From Lisa – Friendship / acceptance / loss and grief. One of my choices for my Junior Book Club last year (Grades 7 & 8). They loved it, and it is now a movie titled H is for Happiness.
From Nic – I read this a few years ago and loved this book! I also highly recommend it.
Buy online – My Life As An Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg
The Simple Things by Bill Condon
From the publisher – Stephen has never met his great aunt Lola, and he doesn’t want to. She sends him money twice a year and he always writes back, but Lola is almost eighty – what will they have to talk about? When they arrive at her house, Stephen discovers she’s grumpy, scary and really, really old. He wants to turn around and go home, but his mum says they have to stay until Lola’s birthday – three weeks away.
Left to his own devices, Stephen learns about the simple things in life – like fishing, and cricket, and climbing trees – and the importance of family. Soon Lola entrusts Stephen with a great secret, and he realises that Lola has become more important to him than just an aunt who sends him money – she’s now a friend.
From Lisa – Family / Values. This is a gorgeous little novel, probably closer to 8 or 9 year age group, but it is easy to read and has a beautiful message.
Buy online – The Simple Things by Bill Condon
Finch by Penny Matthews
From the publisher – This coming-of-age novel for middle-grade readers is about accepting and celebrating differences.
Audrey is used to not fitting in. She knows she’s different – even her little sister calls her “Nerd Girl”. When her family moves to the country to live on a vineyard property, Audrey makes a secret friend: a boy, Finch, who seems to understand her as nobody else can. But there’s something mysterious about Finch. Who is he, really?
From Lisa – Acceptance / environmental issues
Buy online – Finch by Penny Matthews
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D Lapinksi
From the publisher – Pack your suitcase for a magical adventure! Perfect for fans of THE TRAIN TO IMPOSSIBLE PLACES and THE POLAR BEAR EXPLORERS’ CLUB.
At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside . . .
When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds’ magical travel society and explore other worlds.
But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness – and takes our world with it.
A magical adventure for 9+ readers that will take you to whole new worlds.
From Lisa – One of my book suppliers has said this book is going to be the next big kids bestseller! I haven’t read this one yet, but a few of my students have reported it’s a great read.
Buy online – The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D Lapinksi
When I asked for suggestions of books for this age group, it was right in the middle of the first set of stay at home restrictions for COVID-19. Ruth from New Zealand emailed with some excellent suggestions that were perfect for this time. They are books that her two youngest (11 & 14) were happily re-reading. Ruth felt they still found them funny and they were an easy comfort read for her kids.
I couldn’t agree more. When our 11 & 14 year olds get up at the moment (we are in the heart of winter and back into stay at home restrictions), even before they have breakfast, they grab a book and sit on a heating vent to read for a bit! Our 11 year old re-reads these books over and over too:
And I would also add the following to the re-read/comfort read list :
Ruth also recommended:
- The Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman – Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass
- Book of Dust Trilogy featuring some of the same characters in the earlier series
Thanks Ruth for your recommendations!
What are you 10 – 12 year olds currently reading?
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