Monday, May 18, 2015

Top Ten Tween Books
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It's so much fun to play along, and this week is a freebie! I've chosen the topic of my Top Ten Tween Books, in no particular order.

Tweens are stuck between middle grade and YA and, gosh darn it! They deserve some good books too.

There doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule for what exactly a 'tween' book is (I generally think of it as 13-14 year-olds) so what I've picked out are books that strike me as more advanced than most middle grade fiction (higher concept, bigger stakes, more intense character development, longer books, etc.) that also don't dip into the more mentally scarring inclusions of YA (swearing, smut, etc.). I've got a little bit of everything in this list, so you'll probably find something you'll like.

Here are my top picks for the in-betweeners. These first three are books I've found in the last few years that I think will work really well for a tween audience. If you want to learn more about any title, just click on the picture.

THE EVER AFTERS series by Shelby Bach
Fantasy/Fairy tale retellings
Coupled with great story and magic, the main reason for this pick is the amazing character development. This deals with so many issues kids face during that in-between phase, as they're trying to figure out exactly who they are and what they think. Taking place during the main characters' 12th-14th years, this series takes on a lot of real-life issues with growing up, like making and losing friends, relating to parents, figuring things out for yourself, bullying, peer pressure, and learning how to do what's right. All while saving the world from a homicidal maniac. So, bonus.

THE WIG IN THE WINDOW by Kristen Kitscher

Best friends Sophie and Grace are convinced that their school counselor is a murderer. But after one false lead, nobody will believe them a second time. They'll have to prove it themselves, but will solving the mystery ruin their friendship? This is a great book, with wonderfully developed and clever characters, and it deals a lot with being the odd one out and figuring out who your real friends are.


A special library whose sole purpose is to track down books and writers all throughout history and attempt to preserve them any way they can. It talks about the sanctity of the written and spoken word, and especially the importance of the freedom to use them. There is a lot of sword fighting, time travel, Star Wars quotes, and the occasional Princess Bride reference. This is a perfect choice for the young or soon-to-be geek.

These next listed are all books I remember enjoying in my early teen years. (Ugh, so many cover redesigns. :P Maybe I should have done Top Ten Worst Cover Redesigns, instead...)

FINNEGAN ZWAKE series by Michael Dahl

This series may be tough to find nowadays, but they're good. While these books are fairly short, it is a bonefide murder mystery series. For kids. Those don't come around too often now, do they? Especially when they're actually done well. The narration is kept upbeat, and Finn himself is such a strange kid, that these never get scary, just exciting. Dahl does a great job keeping these appropriate for a young audience, and your reader will love trying to solve the mystery.

ARTEMIS FOWL series by Eoin Colfer

The plot, concept, and ideas in this series are complex enough to appeal to both MG and YA, so that makes it a perfect pick for those in-betweeners. Not only does it have fairies and magic, but also sophisticated sci-fi equipment, evil geniuses, and lovable bodyguards. It's hilarious, and it has it's emotional moments too. As a personal favorite of mine, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this.
ALEX RIDER series by Anthony Horowitz
Spy Thriller
Fourteen-year-old British spy. Need I say more?



Though these characters are all adults, it's a great book for tweens. Much like the Shrek movies, it takes a screwball comedy approach to the fantasy genre, and Wrede has a lot of fun with it. It's age appropriate for kids, and they'll love the quirky and hilarious characters while Princess Cimorene tries to save the kingdom from evil wizards.



This series deals with a lot of gray areas and morality issues as Draycos, a dragon-like alien, with the help of young con artist Jack, race to save his race from extinction, but the morality lesson is never at the expense of the heart-pounding action and it is always intriguing. Great stories, good cons, and space dragons.

SAFFY'S ANGEL by Hilary McKay

Meet the Cassons, a bizarre, eccentric, and completely lovable British family. I have several staple quotes from this series that mean entirely nothing outside of context -"Flag pants!"- and I listened to this book all through my teen years obsessively. This would definitely fall more into the tween category. There are several books about the Casson family, but this is the first and by far my favorite. This is a fun, delightful story about a young girl trying to find herself and her place in her family. Don't dismiss it just as a girl's book, either; my favorite character is the only brother of the Cassons, Indigo, and his daring efforts to overcome his fear of heights, and the youngest and fearless of the bunch, Rose, is absolutely hysterical.

ALIEN SECRETS by Annette Curtis Klause

Puck is a clever heroine and she's thrown into a high-stakes conspiracy involving an alien of a nearly extinct race and a sacred artifact. This is a great sci-fi for a tween reader; the description and detail aren't too complicated, but they aren't dumbed down either. This is a great mystery that will keep the pages turning, and the ending packs a pretty good punch.

Okay, I'm going to cheat a little. I'm adding an eleventh to my top ten, because I just can't leave out...

Ugh, my least favorite of
the redesigned covers. :P

I discovered these when I was about fourteen and I adored them. It's basically an Indiana Jones setup -world travel, ancient legends, rebel armies- with Vesper Holly who is anything but your socially acceptable Victorian schoolgirl. Now, Vesper is sixteen, but the books are fairly short, 150-200 pages, and the adventures are all-consuming. If you want to give your little girl a role model, Vesper Holly is a good one. This series will also appeal to boys -did I mention the Indiana Jones set up? But if they don't feel comfortable reading a book about a GIRL, let them know it's all narrated Doctor Watson-style by her guardian, Uncle Brinnie, who is hilarious and slightly clueless. Have no fear; there's no incessant girl talk here. Plus, Lloyd Alexander is a master storyteller.


  1. Nice list, there are quite a few that I haven't heard of before. Will have to add them to the TBR.

    1. I do love promoting those lesser known titles. ^_^

  2. The Alex Rider series is amazing! It's a shame the film series didn't work out though.

    Tween is in The Hobbit too for hobbits between 20-33 :)

    1. I've gotten behind on Alex Rider. I think I haven't read the most recent two. So. Many. Books. I do admit to watching the film obsessively as a teen. And listening to the soundtrack. I love that music so much.

      Hobbit-tweens. I like that. ^_^

  3. Love The Artemis Fowl books!
    My TTT:

    1. Ahh, nobody quite like Arty and Holly and the whole gang, is there?

      Very nice TTT, you have there, JJ. ;)