Welcome to TweenCity!

Welcome to TweenCity!

This blog is designed to be a selection resource for children between the ages of 9-14, as well as a reader's advisory tool for both current and future librarians.

PLEASE NOTE: An appropriate age range is given for each title, however this is merely a suggestion. Children, especially tweens, read at many different levels which cannot be determined simply by age or grade level. Therefore, it is important to assess each child's reading level before suggesting titles. In addition, since this blog is designed for tweens only, some titles listed may also be appropriate for children older or younger than ages 9-14, but these ages will not be listed.

Ages 9-12: Elementary school level (Grades 3-6)
Ages 12-14: Middle school level (Grades 7-8)

Friday, August 12

Feldman, Jody. The Gollywhopper Games. Greenwillow Books, 2008. ISBN 978-0061214509. Ages 10-14.

Gil Goodson wants more than anything to start over in a new town with his family, somewhere where they are not constantly reminded of the Incident that ruined everything. So when the town’s Golly Toy & Game Company announces its 50th anniversary ultimate competition, Gil sees his chance to win enough to give them that new life. As one of thousands of kids competing in the competition, Gil must solve puzzles and master trivia, as well as complete physical stunts, better and faster than all the others. But will the attention he receives from the games be too much for his family after all the bad press? And does he have what it takes to win it all? Fans of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory won't want to miss this gollywhopper of a read!

Monday, August 8

Blume, Judy. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1970. ISBN 0689841582. Ages 10-12.

A lot is changing for Margaret—a new town, new school, new friends. Lucky for her she can always talk to God about what is going on. But when her new friends start asking her about her faith, how can she explain to them that she doesn’t go to church or belong to any one religion? Soon Margaret finds herself searching for the perfect religion for her—visiting a synagogue, attending church services, and participating in confession—all the while dealing with a changing body and new feelings she feels only God can understand. This timeless coming of age story is a must-read for all preteen girls.

Saturday, August 6

Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. David Fickling Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0375849763. Ages 9-12.

When Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim comes to visit, their mothers agree to take them for a ride on the London Eye, the largest observation wheel of its kind, so that Salim can get a one-of-a-kind view of the city. Waiting in the long line, the children are approached by a stranger who offers them a free ticket, which they give to Salim since he is the visitor. Ted and Kat watch as Salim enters one of the observation capsules and track his ride, but when the capsule returns and the other riders exit, Salim is nowhere to be found. Thus begins this captivating story as Ted and Kat attempt to solve the mystery of his disappearance, relying on Ted’s special skills and brain “that run on a different operating system” to discover their cousin’s whereabouts before it is too late.

Wednesday, August 3

Beil, Michael D. The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. ISBN 978-0375848148. Ages 9-12.

After Sophie sees the ghostly face in the church window next to their private school, she and her friends Margaret and Rebecca are quickly swept up in a mystery involving an eccentric old lady who has found a mysterious birthday card addressed to her estranged daughter containing the first of several clues in an elaborate scavenger hunt. With the help of some good friends and a pretty cool teacher, the girls work together to solve puzzles involving everything from religion to literature (and even math!), in the hopes of finding the treasure at the end before several other suspicious characters get their hands on it first. But will it be enough to bring a broken family together again? And can the girls do it without getting expelled—or even arrested?

Friday, July 29

Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004. ISBN 0399238611. Ages 9-12.

It’s 1935, and one of the country’s most infamous mob bosses, Al Capone, is behind bars on Alcatraz Island. 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to the island where his dad gets a job at the prison so they can send his older autistic sister Natalie to a special school in San Francisco. But when Natalie doesn’t get into the school, Moose has to give up baseball and after school activities in order to take care of her, and her eccentric and occasional difficult ways make life hard for Moose. But when he befriends the warden’s troublemaking daughter and the other children living on the island, he soon finds himself involved in an elaborate moneymaking scheme that has some surprising results.

Monday, July 25

Rennison, Louise. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. Harper Tempest, 1999. ISBN 0060288140. Ages 12-14.

In Georgia Nicolson’s journal, you’ll find out all sorts of things about this hilarious British teen. For instance, you’ll learn all about her wild cat Angus, her three-year-old sister who has a tendency to pee in Georgia’s bed, and her quest to learn all there is to know about kissing (snogging). And when Georgia’s friend Jas falls for a vegetable seller’s son, Georgia has loads to say about it, until she meets his older brother Robbie and subsequently dubs him “the sex god.” Soon Georgia is stalking Robbie’s “wet weed” of a girlfriend and stumbling through a couple of her own relationships before she realizes what she truly wants.

Friday, July 22

Nancy Drew, Girl Detective...Then and Now!

Keene, Carolyn. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #1: The Secret of the Old Clock. Grosset & Dunlap, 1930. ISBN 978-0448095011. Ages 9-12.

Nancy Drew becomes entangled in a case to determine the true heirs to the estate of the recently deceased Josiah Crowley. Nancy’s dislike for the Topham family, a snobbish, wealthy family that has laid claim to the estate,

prompts her to look into the matter, where she meets several friends and family of Josiah Crowley who are claiming that he wrote a later will. When one of them tells her that a clue to the location of the will was hidden in an old clock before he died, Nancy finds herself on a dangerous quest to find this mysterious old clock in the hopes of finding Josiah Crowley’s true will and providing for his rightful, and more deserving, heirs.

Keene, Carolyn. The Nancy Drew Files, Case #1: Secrets Can Kill. Pocket Books, 1986. ISBN 978-0671746742. Ages 10-14.

When Nancy Drew goes undercover as a high school student at Bedford High School in order to investigate a series of thefts, she expects it to be a piece of cake. But after someone sends her a videotape warning her to stay away, and then one of her main suspects ends up dead, Nancy finds herself even more determined to get to the bottom of this case. So when the line becomes blurred between allies and enemies, and she develops feelings for someone other than Ned, Nancy realizes that if she doesn’t figure things out soon, someone could get seriously hurt…or even end up dead.

Keene, Carolyn. Nancy Drew, Girl Detective #1: Without a Trace. Aladdin Paperbacks, 2004. ISBN 068986566X. Ages 9-12.

In the first book of this modernized version of the famous girl detective series, Nancy Drew gets caught up in not one, but two mysteries. While trying to determine who has been destroying the neighborhood zucchini patches and keep the neighbors from turning on one another, she meets a new neighbor, who kindly welcomes Nancy and her friends into her home. But things take a turn for the worse when her new neighbor discovers that her priceless Faberge egg is missing! Could the two crimes be linked? With the help of her friends Bess and George, Nancy is determined to get to the bottom of both of them, no matter what!

Monday, April 11

Schultz, John. (Director). (2011). Judy Moody [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Ages 9-12.

School is out and summer is finally here! But the excitement doesn’t last long for Judy Moody as she learns her two best friends are going away for the summer and her parents are leaving Judy and her brother Stink with their crazy Aunt Opal. There’s got to be a way to salvage this bummer summer! Then Judy comes up with a super contest to see who can have the most “thrilladelic” summer ever, but it’s hard to compete with one friend in Borneo and the other at circus camp. No matter... with Stink, Opal and her nerdy friend Frank, Judy discovers that the real thrills come from the unexpected experiences, as well as the people you share them with. Based on the series of books by Megan McDonald.

Thursday, April 7

dePaola, Tomie. 26 Fairmount Avenue. Penguin Putnam Books, 1999. ISBN 978-0399232466. Ages 9-11.

In dePaola’s first chapter book, he accesses the best story he could create—a real one.  The first in his 26 Fairmount Avenue series, dePaola tells of the trials and hardships his immediate and extended family must endure while waiting for their new family home to be built. Readers of dePaola’s picture books will recognize characters from those books in his own family—Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs, and Tom.  The book itself does not read like nonfiction or a biography, but more like just another one of dePaola’s stories with its familiar illustrations and vivid storytelling.  Readers will enjoy reading all about dePaola’s life without even realizing that they are.

Sunday, April 3

Fritz, Jean. Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1987. ISBN 978-0399214035. Ages 9-11.

Fritz brings to life the Constitutional Convention and all the drama that it entailed in this historically accurate account of the founding of our nation and its government.  As the country moved from thirteen colonies to “We The People,” much conflict and disagreement occurred between those who were for the national government and those who were for individual states. While the content could be dry and overwhelming, Fritz brings an element of excitement to the creation of our country’s very foundation—its government.  Young readers will enjoy the subtle humor and lightheartedness of the text, while older readers can supplement the text with the complete Constitution included in the back of the book.

Friday, April 1

Sis, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. ISBN 978-0374347017. Ages 9-12.

Growing up during the Cold War in Soviet-ruled Czechoslovakia, the author tells the story of his life behind the Iron Curtain, where children were taught to report their parents to authorities, anything deemed Western or American was forbidden, and many longed to be free. This book exists on several reading levels—there is the simple story at the bottom of the page that complements the author’s illustrations, and then there are the additional blurbs and comments written throughout the story that give it much more depth and meaning for more advanced readers.  While younger readers may not fully comprehend the story in its entirety the first time through, as they grasp the story’s meaning they can reread it with the additional commentary and get a better picture of the story as a whole.

Tuesday, March 29

Willard, Nancy. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1981. ISBN 978-0152938239. Ages 9-12.

Influenced by William Blake’s poetry, the reader is taken on a journey to a make-believe inn run by the poet himself, and populated by the very characters and elements of his poems. Written in the style of some of William Blake’s most famous poems, the author has created a world rich with elements from his poetry as well as the time period in London in which he lived.  The illustrations serve to convey the author’s profound love for all things Blake, but as a whole the two magically come alive to the delight of young readers.

Sunday, March 27

Williams, Vera B. Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart. HarperCollins, 2001. ISBN 978-0060294601. Ages 9-12.

When Amber and Essie’s father is taken to jail for forging a check, the two sisters must rely on each other to get through the hard times as their mother struggles to take care of the family. By telling this story using poems and illustrations, the author is able to convey much more emotion and meaning below the surface than with simple text.  Young readers will see two sisters who not only love each other very much, but who rely on each other for comfort and safety when the world they have always known is shattered.

Wednesday, March 23

Silberling, Brad. (Director). (2005). Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures. Ages 9-12.

***Beware! This is not a happy movie!*** The Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, think their life can’t get any worse after finding out their house burned down and their parents were killed. But when they are taken to live with their nearest relative, Count Olaf, life most certainly does. Putting the children to work, he is determined to try and kill them, and no one will listen or believe them when they ask for help. After a close call on some train tracks, the children are finally taken away and live with a series of new guardians. But Count Olaf will stop at nothing to get what he wants—he’ll trick, kill, or even marry anyone who gets in his way, including three poor little orphans. Based on the first three novels in the series by Lemony Snicket.

Monday, March 21

DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. Random House, 2003. ISBN 978-0375822735. Ages 9-12.

241 years ago, a city was created to save a race of people. A city designed to last 220 years. Now Ember is a dying city, threatened by eternal darkness as the city’s decrepit electric system begins to fail. With food and supplies becoming scarce as well, and a corrupt mayor who likes his position a little too much, it seems as though there is no hope. So when Lina finds her baby sister chewing on a piece of paper that looks like directions out of the isolated city, she teams up with her friend Doon to try and decipher the few words and letters that are still legible on the page. Together they discover the city’s long lost history and secrets regarding the purpose of Ember and why the Builders designed it. But can they really find a way out and save the citizens of Ember, and is it possible with the mayor and his guards watching their every move?

Friday, March 18

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN 978-0439023481. Ages 12-14.

In the future, the United States has been replaced by Panem, a collection of 12 different districts ruled over by the Capitol. As punishment for districts rebelling in the past, Panem holds an annual televised reality show called the Hunger Games. Here, each district must send one boy and one girl to compete to the death, for only one teen can survive and win the game. District 12’s Katniss finds herself competing after volunteering to take her little sister’s place, and things get complicated when Peeta, District 12’s other competitor, confesses his love for her.

Monday, March 14

Miyazaki, Hayao. (Director). (2001). Spirited Away [Motion picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures. Ages 9-14.

While moving to their new home, a sullen Chihiro and her parents stumble upon what looks like an old amusement park. Suddenly her parents are transformed into pigs and Chihiro discovers that they are trapped in a resort spa for traditional Japanese gods and spirits. Chihiro meets a young boy named Haku who encourages her to get a job from Yubaba at the spa if she wants to transform her parents back to normal. There she meets a series of characters who challenge and befriend her, and as she matures she finds the strength and love within herself to aid Haku and save her parents from a terrible fate.

Sunday, March 13

MacDonald, Betty. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. HarperCollins, 1947. ISBN 978-0064401487. Ages 9-12.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, with her upside-down house and wild imagination, is the love of children everywhere. But it is the grown-ups who turn to her in their time of need to find the cures for all of their children’s bad habits—something only she seems to know how to do. Like other famous nanny characters, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is no-nonsense when it comes to certain things, and full of fun and imagination when it comes to others. Younger tweens will respond enthusiastically to her ability to balance discipline with entertainment, and parents will love the underlying message of each individual story.

Friday, March 11

McDonald, Megan. Judy Moody. Candlewick Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0763612313. Ages 9-10.

Judy Moody is starting third grade, and she is not in a good mood about it at all. She gets stuck next to the annoying boy who likes her and eats paste, she doesn’t have the right clothes, and her brother Stink is such a bother. But when her teacher asks each of the students to make a “Me” collage, Judy finds she has a lot to say about herself, and a lot to learn about others in the process. Like so many of the other spunky and unforgettable female characters created, Judy Moody is certainly unforgettable and McDonald has created a character that is both endearing and hilarious. Reluctant readers and those bridging the gap between transitional fiction and regular chapter books will enjoy the occasional illustrations and manageable chapter lengths as well.

Wednesday, March 9

Meyer, Stephenie. Eclipse. Little, Brown and Company, 2007. ISBN 0316160202. Ages 12-14.

Bella must choose between her friendship with Jacob, a werewolf, and her relationship with Edward, a vampire. But when Seattle is ravaged by a mysterious string of killings, the three of them need to decide whether their personal lives are more important than the well-being of an entire city. In this third book in the series, the author satisfies readers by bringing Edward and Bella together again as they continue to fight off Victoria and her new coven of vampires. Continuing on from the previous book, she further develops the triangle between them and Jacob. Older tween readers will find themselves torn between Edward's old-fashioned, gentleman ways and Jacob's passionate advances.

Sunday, March 6

Meyer, Stephenie. New Moon. Little, Brown and Company, 2006. ISBN 0316160199. Ages 12-14.

When the Cullens, including her beloved Edward, leave Forks rather than risk revealing that they are vampires, it is almost too much for eighteen-year-old Bella to bear. But she finds solace in her friendship with Jacob; that is until he is drawn into a "cult" and changes in terrible ways. In the author's second book in the series, we find Bella falling apart after the loss of her true love, but picked up and put back together by a new love interest, Jacob Black. This installment introduces the werewolves, and forces older tweens to choose between their loyalty to Edward and their interest in Jacob. Tweens will also be intrigued by the introduction of the Volturi and be further drawn into the world of vampires.

Thursday, March 3

Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN 0316015849. Ages 12-14.

When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human. The author's story creates a world so real that even the supernatural elements seem possible. She creates a love story that most older tween romantics will fall for because it tells of a world where even the awkward girl gets the boy. But tween readers will also identify with themes of being different and overcoming all obstacles in order to be with the one you love.

Monday, February 28

MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. HarperCollins, 1985. ISBN 978-0064402057. Ages 9-12.

When Caleb and Anna’s father puts an ad in the paper for a wife (his first wife died when Caleb was born), the children are beside themselves with anticipation and fear. But when Sarah arrives from Maine to their plain prairie life, Caleb and Anna begin to wonder if she is too good to be true, and whether her longing for the sea will take her from them forever. Written for younger tweens, this short book can easily be read and understood by reluctant readers and those just starting to read chapter books. However, some children may need guidance with the concept of the death of a parent, as well as the historical implications of the time period with regard to advertising for a new wife.

Saturday, February 26

Nix, Garth. Sabriel. HarperCollins, 1995. ISBN 0060273224. Ages 12-14.

Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead. In this first book of the trilogy, readers are introduced to Sabriel and the Old Kingdom as she fights to save her father. Tweens will identify with her need to discover who she truly is and be drawn in to her quest to fight evil and find the only man who can truly give her those answers and show her what she is to become.

Tuesday, February 22

Levithan, David. Boy Meets Boy. Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. ISBN 0375832998. Ages 12-14.

In "this" school, the gay kids and the straight kids all get along just fine, the quarterback is a cross-dresser, and the cheerleaders ride Harleys--yet the road to true love is still a strange and winding path, as Paul discovers when he meets the boy of his dreams. While the idealistic peace between gay and straight students at Paul's high school is just short of utopian, the relationships and problems of the teenagers there are very real and believable. The story is a true study of love and relationships in an environment without hostility, and all older tweens will enjoy the variety offered in this simple tale.

Saturday, February 19

Tass, Nadia. (Director). (2004). Samantha: An American Girl Holiday [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Ages 9-12.

Following Samantha Parkington through the seasons of her life in Victorian New York, her prim and proper lifestyle becomes one adventure after another when she meets servant girl Nellie O’Malley and they become instant friends. Readers of the American Girl series will not be disappointed by this blending of Samantha’s six stories into one complete movie. The acting and cinematography are better than expected, and the unlikely bond between Samantha and Nellie is one that conveys a beautiful message to viewers that sometimes it is our differences that bring us together. Samantha’s good deeds do not go unnoticed, demonstrating the importance of selflessness and charity.

Friday, February 18

Burton, Tim. (Director). (2005). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures. Ages 9-14.

Based on Roald Dahl’s classic story by the same name, this movie tells the story of a young boy named Charlie Bucket, a kind caring boy who has very little but who has a very big heart. When he and four obnoxious and spoiled children find golden tickets in their Wonka chocolate bars and win a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it is a dream come true. But the eccentric Wonka is unsympathetic when one by one, the children break the rules and lose out on the grand prize, leaving Charlie to take over the chocolate factory. And Charlie is able to give Wonka something back in return—a real family and reconciliation with his father.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory contains some violence and verbal insults from both Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas at the expense of the misbehaving and spoiled children and their parents. The film uses classic Burton style, pairing dismal blacks and grays with bright, colorful scenery, making his vision a perfect pairing with Dahl’s eccentric story. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Wonka is first-class and stays true to the version of Wonka found in the text. While the film is entertaining, it does teach lessons about being humble and giving, not greedy and self-centered. The film is a wonderful companion to the book, and could be shown in both the age-appropriate classroom or in a library.

Tripp, Valerie. Meet Kit, an American Girl. American Girl Publishing, 2000. ISBN 978-1584850168. Ages 9-12.

Living during the Great Depression hasn’t truly affected Kit, until her father is forced to shut down his car sales business and the family resorts to taking in boarders to help pay the bills. While Kit is upset at first at how unfair the circumstances are, she soon realizes that changes can also be good. Kit is an adventurous young girl, full of life and excitement. Since the content and historical implications of the story are simplified, younger tweens will be able to fully comprehend the significance of living during a time such as the Great Depression. The American Girl series, geared more towards girls, is also a wonderful blend of both fiction and non-fiction, history in particular.

Wednesday, February 16

Howe, Deborah, and Howe, James. Bunnicula. Atheneum, 1979. ISBN 978-0689307003. Ages 9-12.

Something is definitely different about that new bunny the Monroe’s brought home, according to Harold the dog and Chester the cat. He sleeps all day and escapes from his cage at night. He has pointy fangs and black fur that looks like a cape. He even hates garlic! But when all the vegetables start turning white, their juices completely sucked out, it’s up to Harold and Chester to determine once and for all if their furry friend is really a … vampire?! And when the Monroe’s won’t listen, Chester takes matters into his own hands, forcing Harold to come to the rescue of a cute little misunderstood bunny.

Tuesday, February 15

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life As We Knew It. Harcourt, Inc., 2006. ISBN 0152058265. Ages 12-14.

Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family's struggle after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. This is a harrowing account of a catastrophic event through the eyes of a teenager. Throughout the story the reader sees glimpses of Miranda trying to be a normal teenager despite having to watch her world crumble around her. Older tween readers will find the idea of an asteroid doing such damage both fascinating and sobering. They will also relate to Miranda's questions of whether a God exists, feelings of responsibility for her family, and dealing with the repercussions of her parents' divorce.

Sunday, February 13

White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1952. ISBN 978-0060845940. Ages 9-12.

When Fern discovers that her father is going to kill the runt pig in a litter, she vows to nurse him herself. Naming him Wilbur, she forms a strong bond with the pig as he moves to live on her uncle’s farm. But Wilbur soon finds out that he is meant to be slaughtered later in the year. So with the help of his newfound friend Charlotte, a spider living in a web above his pen, they become determined to make him not just any ordinary pig. This beautiful story tells of the unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider, and how through much determination and sacrifice, anything can be accomplished. Reluctant readers will definitely want to pick this one up, as this story is a wonderful bridge from transitional fiction into chapter books with its simple story and use of sporadic and detailed illustrations. This is a must read for any child who is an animal lover.

Friday, February 11

Brashares, Ann. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Delacorte Press, 2001. ISBN 0385730586. Ages 12-14.

During their first summer apart, four teenage girls, best friends since earliest childhood, stay in touch through a shared pair of secondhand jeans that magically adapts to each of their figures and affects their attitudes to their different summer experiences. The book follows different storylines of four friends and their journeys of self-discovery. While each of the four friends is unique and deals with their own unique situations, tween readers will identify with aspects of each of their stories as they experience circumstances that especially speak to tween girls, including death, illness, sex, relationships, divorce, and friendship.

Wednesday, February 9

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods. HarperCollins, 1932. ISBN 978-0060581800. Ages 9-12.

The first book in the chronicles of the Ingalls family, Little House in the Big Woods tells of the family’s first home in a log cabin in the wild woods of Wisconsin. In a simple life surrounded by nature and not another house or town for miles, Laura and her family must rely on nature, their faith, and each other in order to survive and thrive. Younger tweens will delight in this timeless series as the reader is drawn into the simple life of the Ingalls family. Though the length and few illustrations throughout can be intimidating for reluctant readers and those new to chapter books, taken in steps the story can be enjoyed in small parts, especially the stories that Pa tells the girls about growing up and other adventures.

Tuesday, February 8

Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking. Puffin Books, 1950. ISBN 978-0142402498. Ages 9-12.

When Pippi Longstocking returns from sea to live on her own at Villa Villekula, it is much to the delight of Tommy and Annike, who are taken to Pippi immediately. For while she may refuse to act and behave like a normal child, that is what makes her special. The three embark on many adventures, including avoiding policemen, going to school, climbing trees, and saving the day. There are very few characters that can live up to Pippi’s legacy, for she is certainly one of a kind. Though the book leans slightly in favor of girls, the gender neutral plots and wild adventures are sure to appeal to both boys and girls.

Friday, February 4

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief. Knopf, 1998. ISBN 978-0679888390. Ages 10-13.

Sammy loves to watch people from her grandmother’s window with her binoculars, especially those at the “seedy” Heavenly Hotel across the street. But an innocent bit of spying turns dangerous when Sammy witnesses a burglary. And to make matters worse, when he sees her watching him—she waves! Now not only does she have to deal with her mother abandoning her and her first day of junior high, but also a criminal who will stop at nothing to keep her quiet. Too bad everyone keeps thinking she’s making it all up. Why won’t anyone believe her? And who is the hotel thief?

Wednesday, February 2

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki, and Houston, James D. Farewell to Manzanar. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973. ISBN 0913374040. Ages 9-14.

The true story of one spirited Japanese American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention, and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States. This true story offers a real look at Japanese Internment during World War II, but does so through a child's eyes, simplifying the experience in some ways. The content can be more appropriate for older tweens at times, dealing with issues like death and alcoholism. Tweens will identify with Jeanne's struggle to be herself when her family tells her it’s one thing and society tells her it’s another.

Sunday, January 30

Bray, Libba. A Great and Terrible Beauty. Delacorte Press, 2003. ISBN 0385732317. Ages 12-14.

After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, sixteen-year-old Gemma returns to England, after many years in India, to attend a finishing school where she become aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world. The author creates a seamless blend of historical and fantasy fiction, drawing readers into a world where powerful young women are deeply contrasted against the role of the Victorian woman. Unlike the society in which she lives, the Realms allow Gemma the ability to control and shape her destiny, and use her power to change the fates of others. Tween girls will relate to the story's four young women and find a little piece of themselves in each of them.

Thursday, January 27

Vaughn, Matthew. (Director). (2007). Stardust [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures. Ages 12-14.

To win the heart of beautiful but shallow Victoria, Tristan journeys beyond the stony wall into the fantasy kingdom of Stormhold to recover a fallen star. There, a dying king sets his four surviving sons on a quest for the crown, and the witch Lamia seeks the heart of the star. While the book this film was based on was originally written for adults, the story of Tristan speaks to older tweens who have ever felt the need to go to the ends of the earth for the one they love. It also tells of a boy who is eager to find out what his purpose is in life and what his true origins are, something that affects many tweens today. They will also enjoy the film's magic and adventure that accompany Tristan on his journeys.

Wednesday, January 26

Shankman, Adam. (Director). (2002). A Walk to Remember [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures. Ages 10-14.

Love brings together what peer pressure and lifestyles seek to keep apart. Jamie is a straight-laced preacher's daughter and Landon is an unmotivated delinquent. When events thrust him into her world, he begins an unexpected journey he'll never forget. While the book this film was based on was originally written for adults, the story speaks to older tweens as well and the film does a wonderful job of conveying the beautiful romance between good girl Jamie and bad boy Landon. Tweens will relate to issues of love, relationships, and religion found in the movie, and identify with aspects of both characters as they fight peer pressure and discover who they are meant to be.

Tuesday, January 25

Updale, Eleanor. Montmorency. Orchard Books, 2004. ISBN 0439580358. Ages 10-14.

In Victorian London, after his life is saved by a young physician, a thief utilizes the knowledge he gains in prison and from scientific lectures he attends as the physician's case study exhibit to create a new, highly successful, double life for himself. In this tale of thievery and deceit, tweens will be drawn to the main character's desire to reinvent himself, and eventually turn away from his life of crime to one of luxury and good. The author creates a level of intrigue with her portrayal of his dual personalities, and shows Montmorency as he progresses into a mindset where he can use his skills as a thief for the greater good.

Thursday, January 20

Pullman, Philip. The Ruby in the Smoke. Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1985. ISBN 0394895894. Ages 12-14.

In nineteenth-century London, sixteen-year-old Sally, a recent orphan, becomes involved in a deadly search for a mysterious ruby. Though Sally's quest to find her father's murder and solve the mystery of the ruby is a fantastic one set in unfamiliar times, tweens will identify with Sally's need to discover the truth and find her place in a world she has been thrust into all alone. Tweens will also enjoy the book's seamless blending of mystery, adventure, and historical fiction. While there is mild drug use, it is portrayed in a negative and harmful light.

Saturday, January 15

Crutcher, Chris. Whale Talk. Greenwillow Books, 2001. ISBN 0688180191. Ages 12-14.

Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students. TJ embodies many different aspects of everyday older tweens--he is multiracial, athletic, adopted, angry, and suffers from issues of abandonment. However, he takes all of these things with stride, and uses the best of them to try and save others. Many tweens will find aspects of his character that they can relate to, as well as the band of outcasts he forms his swim team with. Tweens will also be intrigued by the unconditional support of TJ's adopted, hippy parents.

Monday, January 10

Barker, Clive. Abarat. Joanna Cotler Books, 2002. ISBN 0060280921. Ages 9-14.

Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown, Minnesota, one day finds herself on the edge of a foreign world that is populated by strange creatures, and her life is forever changed. Candy's story is like many other fantasy novels involving young children--it is a story of a young girl desperate to escape the cruel realities of her world and submerge herself into another world that is the complete opposite. Tweens will relate to Candy because of this as she flees an alcoholic father and depressed mother, striking out on her own in a strange world in order to make some kind of difference.

Friday, January 7

Holm, Jennifer L., and Holm, Matthew. Babymouse: Our Hero. Random House, 2005. ISBN 978-0375832307. Ages 9-11.

Babymouse has quite the imagination, and dreams of being everyone’s hero. But when she must face Felicia Furrypaws in a game of dodgeball, it is up to Babymouse to save the day and win one for the team. Holm has created an incredibly normal and imaginative character in Babymouse. Set in the form of a graphic novel, younger tweens will delight in reading about Babymouse’s great adventures and delve willingly into her wild schemes and daydreams. Readers will cheer her on as she fights to stay alive in a game of dodgeball, and ends up surprising herself with what she can accomplish—finally becoming the hero she dreamed of.

Wednesday, January 5

Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1944. ISBN 978-0152052607. Ages 9-12.

Wanda Petronski is different—she has a different name, she is plain and poor, and she is shy and quiet. But Peggy, Maddie, and the other girls tease her because she claims she has one hundred dresses, even though she wears the same drab one every day. Maddie wishes they wouldn’t tease her, but does not speak up until it is too late and the Petronskis leave due to their poor treatment. Written for younger tweens, even reluctant readers with little experience reading chapter books will sail through this simple story. Girls may identify with the story more, and can learn about the cattiness and bullying that often occurs between them in real life. All readers will take away from the story the moral that just because someone is different does not make it right to tease and bully them.

Monday, January 3

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. ISBN 978-0679879244. Ages 10-14.

Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North. As Lyra is forced to grow up at a young age without a father or mother present, she takes on a motherly role when her best friend Roger is kidnapped. Selflessly attempting to save him and traveling to the ends of the world to bring him back safely, Lyra demonstrates that even in the most horrible of situations, sometimes love, compassion, and determination are all you need to find your place in the world.

Monday, December 27

Paolini, Christopher. Eragon. Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. ISBN 978-0375826689. Ages 10-14.

In Alagaesia, a fifteen-year-old boy of unknown lineage named Eragon finds a mysterious stone that weaves his life into an intricate tapestry of destiny, magic, and power, peopled with dragons, elves, and monsters. This is an epic tale of a boy whose simple life falls apart with the discovery that he is meant to be more than he could have ever imagined--a Dragon Rider. Tweens who love fantasy will love this first book in a series full of action and adventure, and identify with Eragon's solitary quest to discover who he truly is and what he is meant to do with his newfound abilities.

Monday, December 20

DiTerlizzi, Tony, and Black, Holly. The Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1: The Field Guide. Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN 978-0689859366. Ages 9-12.

When Jared, Simon and Mallory Grace move into the old Spiderwick Estate, they are unprepared for the magical and fantastic occurrences they experience. Eager to explore and learn more about their surroundings, they stumble upon an old book detailing the existence of fairies and other creatures. Readers eager to move on to chapter books will enjoy the simple books in the Spiderwick series, as they join the Grace children on adventure after adventure in the world of Arthur Spiderwick. Readers will not be satisfied with reading just this first volume, as it merely introduces the characters and setting for what is sure to be a wild adventure.