The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore–both my fourth and second graders inhaled this book. Science fiction/fantasy that involves three friends and the search for the Fountain of Youth. It mirrors much of my own reading in that there is a modern day story line, along with flash backs to 1908 and 1909. (Plus a fantastic old house). Older and more thoughtful readers will pick up more complex themes in this book, but those on the younger end will still enjoy it as well. Not everything is tied up with a nice neat bow in this story, and there is a lot to discuss and chew on. I highly recommend this book, and if you have the time to read it too, there is some great food for thought to discuss with your child.
Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean–this book had me at the silhouette illustrations. My sons probably didn’t even glance at them twice, but the story sucks you in from the very first page. This book is so imaginative and creative, and I think it really compliments the original well. This one is a little gentler, and less dark, but it still has some eeriness to it.
Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts–not for those with a weak stomach, this book is full of boy humor–passing gas, dog-poo sandwiches, and a character named Booger Eater. My ten year old loved this book, and finished in a few days. He’s heading to intermediate school next year, so I thought this book would be a casual introduction to the idea of a different school. It’s actually the fourth in a series, which didn’t bother my son, and we’ve put the rest on hold. I’ve heard other parents comment that these books are great for boys who don’t love to read, because they’re hilarious, easy to relate to, and the illustrations break up the text.
The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody–kids today are probably unfamiliar with the tale of the Pied Piper, but the beginning of this book gives a prologue, which is told from the point of view of the little lame boy who couldn’t follow the other children into the mountain. The story quickly takes off from there, beginning in modern day Hamlin, where Max and younger brother Carter are living in a rented apartment with their father, who is in Germany for work. When Max and Carter are lead away by the Pied Piper to a place called the Summer Isle, they discover the 130 original children, who haven’t aged at all. Max and Carter set out on many adventures, trying to make their way home. This is the first in a trilogy, and may be a bit dark for children younger than 4th grade. It’s extremely clever, suspenseful and exciting, and the sibling main characters are well developed and realistic.