Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fiction, Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Updating (June 2011) a list originally compiled in November 2008. I've included ideas for appropriate age but please note they are only suggestions. You may want to preview some books if you have a particularly sensitive child.

Note: I'm sure someone will ask so I'm going to say it first (lol). I haven't included the Harry Potter series because the kiddo isn't as keen on them as I thought he would be.

Roald Dahl

James and the Giant Peach The Witches George's Marvelous MedicineThe Twits Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Timeless classics, appropriate for any age imho although I've heard reviews against some of Dahl's themes.

Gerald Durrell's childhood memoirs and other books
My Family and Other Animals Birds, Beasts, and Relatives A Zoo in My Luggage Menagerie Manor The Whispering Land

Durrell's childhood antics in the Greek island of Corfu are marvelously captured in My Family and Other Animals and Birds, Beasts, and Relatives. The other three are about his adventures collecting animals for his zoo. Suggested for ages 8 onwards. Some mild, bawdy humor.

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning A Series of Unfortunate Events #2: The Reptile Room The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) A Series of Unfortunate Events #13: The End

Rumor is that it is a rare child who doesn't adore this 13-book series. It's a huge hit in our household mainly because the kiddo is very much into mystery and mayhem. Age 7 onwards, maybe even younger if you have an advanced reader.

Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery (Flavia De Luce Mysteries) 

Mystery-loving boys and girls alike will enjoy this very intelligently-written series. Kiddo's read the three and often bids me to keep a look-out for more novels expected to be published soon. Perfect for 7-year-old advanced readers and up.

The Mad Scientists' Club (Mad Scientist Club) The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists' Club (Mad Scientist Club) The Big Kerplop!: The Original Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club The Big Chunk of Ice: The Last Known Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club (Mad Scientist Club)

Another one of his frequent reads! Decent fun for any age. For books of a similar flavor, also check out the Alvin Fernald series by Clifford B. Hicks.

The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald Alvin Fernald, Mayor for a Day (Secret Panel Mysteries) Alvin Fernald's Incredible Buried Treasure Alvin Fernald, Foreign Trader (Alvin Fernald Mysteries) Alvin Fernald, Master of a Thousand Disguises

Leon Garfield

Smith Black Jack The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris John Diamond (Young Spitfire)

Absolutely brilliant renditions of the classic British ruffian. Perfect for the anglophile child (about 7-8 years old if he/ she's an advanced reader).

Another two Anglophile-friendly series we've loved:

PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie novels

Right Ho, Jeeves  Poirot's Early Cases Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) 

The following fed his mythology/ fantasy craze for a bit:

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3) The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy + Prequel by Jonathan Stroud

 The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) By Jonathan Stroud The Golem's Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2) Ptolemy's Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3) Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon

Not very cerebral but entertaining. I would classify this as young adult rather than for kids.

Philip Pullman's Dark Materials

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) THE AMBER SPYGLASS : ( His Dark Materials Trilogy #3 )

Kiddo read the first two books of the Dark Materials series and was fine (at 8 years old). He read about half of the third and I suggested he not finish as the themes felt a little too deep for his age. I will wait a year before suggesting he read it again.

Grooming young heroes and young villains: two series kiddo is still working through:
The Mysterious Benedict Society (3-book series) and HIVE (6-book series)

The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey H.I.V.E. The Overlord Protocol (H.I.V.E.) 

OTHER BOOKS we've entertained at some time or other on our night stands (or hope to entertain in the future) -- all likely to be appropriate for ages 8 onwards (possibly younger):

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (kiddo read this series only once which tells me it isn't extremely popular with him)
The Time and Space of Uncle Albert and others by Russell Stannard (recommended for its living science appeal, hit-and-miss with kiddo)
The Tale of Despereaux and other books by Kate DiCamillo (we found most of her books wonderful if a little sad)
L. Frank Baum's Oz Series
Mrs Frisby and The Rats of NIMH  by Robert C. O'Brien and A Rat's Tale by Tor Seidler (both are absolute delights!)
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (a little too dry for kiddo but I enjoyed it)
The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin (a little too dry and heavy for humor-loving kiddo but I enjoyed it. The fourth book, Tehanu, has mature themes, including a sex, mention of rape etc.)
The Great Brain series  by John D. Fitzgerald (fun for any age)
Homer Price, Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Priceby Robert McCloskey (fun for any age)
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Knight's Tale and Squire's Tale series by Gerald Morris
I, Robot books by Isaac Asimov
The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer
Books by E.L. Konigsburg (more young adult in flavor so perhaps age 10+ onwards might be a better bet for some of the books)
Books by Arthur Ransome
The Graveyard Book and others by Neil Gaiman
Abarat and sequels by Clive Barker (supposedly violent and bloody so please preview)
Ender's Game and sequels by Orson Scott Card
The Warlock in Spite of Himself (Gramarye series) by Christopher Stasheff (supposedly has mild sexual theme, please preview)
Comet in Moominland and others in the Moominland series by Tove Jansson
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and others by Eleanor Cameron


  1. Suji, what a great list! One fun (completely secular) read for the holidays is The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, by the author of the Oz books, Frank L. Baum. We plan to move on to the Oz books afterwards, as you are the second person to remind me about them in the past couple of days.

    We just finished Despereaux, and it was a great story. The movie looks like it may be halfway decent, too.

    Have fun!

  2. Hi Christina! We loved Edward Tulane by Ms DiCamillo :) And if you haven't already, check out A Rat's Tale by Tor Seidler! Excellent stuff!


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