Genre:Adventure Summary: When Jack and his little sister Annie first find a tree house in the Frog Creek woods near their house, they don't know exactly what the tree house is capable of doing. Soon, however, they find that Jack's love of books and Annie's belief in magic allows them to use the tree house to travel to different time periods and places, and the Magic Tree House's mistress, Morgan Le Faye, gives them tasks to complete in each setting. Other: This is a fun series, with interesting facts about the places visited in each book. However, there are a couple with ghosts, most notably the third but they do make a short appearance in the tenth. Besides those, the regular, short books are good and entertaining. The Merlin Missions introduce more magic, and though I haven't read all of them, ghosts do come out at least once. The adventures are still fun though. This is a good series that tries to be a little educational and fun at the same time. (Ages 7+) ~Amy
Dinotopia (Series)--Various authors
Windchaser is the first book.
*RA (Windchaser by Scott Ciencin) Genre: Adventure Summary: Dinotopia is an island like no other. It's the only place on earth where dinosaurs and humans coexist peacefully. Together, they have made their own secluded haven, but even on Dinotopia, things go wrong. It takes the courage and friendship of both humans and dinosaurs to keep peace on all corners of the land. Other: Most of these are pretty good, although they are sometimes a little bit flat. My absolute favorite is the first one: Windchaser by Scott Ciencin (which is why I read this aloud to my family). I recommend all the ones written by Ciencin; they are usually good. A couple Dinotipia's are a bit sad, but they are mostly light, enjoyable reads. (Ages 8+) ~Amy
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--E. L. Konigsburg
*RA Genre: Adventure/Mystery Summary: Claudia Kincaid wants to do something. She longs to break out of the monotony of her life as the oldest daughter of four. Tired of constantly being responsible for her three younger brothers, she decides to run away, but she wants to run away in comfort and only for a short time, which is partly why she takes along Jamie, her second-youngest brother, for money and companionship. After hours of planning, Claudia successfully runs away with Jamie to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a beautiful angel statue catches her eye. Before she goes home, she must find out the story behind it. Other: This was my first "favorite book." Claudia's carefully laid out plans feed every child's imagination for a period of living outside of home. She and Jamie are also polar opposites, which lends some humorous parts to the story. I loved it and needless to say, highly recommend it. It won the 1968 Newbery Medal. (Ages 8+) ~Amy
The Invention of Hugo Cabret--Brian Selznick
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: An orphaned boy struggles to both survive in a train station and keep his lost father's memory alive by working on their shared obsession. Hugo Cabret, after being apprenticed to his uncle as a timekeeper, spends all his spare time figuring out how to fix a mechanical man that his father was working on before he died, stealing bits and pieces of food to try to keep himself alive. When an old toymaker steals his father's notebook of drawings, however, his life routine breaks, and mysteries behind the mechanical man and the toymaker unfold. Other: This book is very unique in that it is made up largely of pictures, showing different "movie slides" of important parts of the book. In many ways, it is a celebration of the movies, and the old movie stills scattered throughout are very interesting. Overall, the story is sweet, and I really enjoyed it. (Ages 8+) ~Amy
The Whipping Boy--Sid Fleischman
Genre: Adventure Summary: Jemmy used to live in the dingy streets outside, but when he was commissioned as a whipping boy for Prince Brat, he finds himself in comfortable clothes and with plenty of food for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, Prince Brat is a brat (hence the nickname), and Jemmy is constantly being called in to act as his whipping bearer, as it is against the law to strike royalty. Therefore, the boys dislike each other, the Prince because Jemmy never cries during a beating, and Jemmy because the prince is so spoiled. When the two run away and end up kidnapped by bandits, however, they must work together to get out of the men's clutches. Other: This is a sweet book about friendship, and the characters are well-done. There is also some adventure and humor, so this book makes a great short, enjoyable read. It won the 1987 Newbery Award. (Ages 8+) ~Amy
39 Clues (Series)--Various authors, including Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, and Jude Watson
The Maze of Bones is the first book.
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: Amy and Dan Cahill are orphans living with their unlikable aunt Beatrice. Their only source of happiness is their visits with their loving grandmother Grace. When Grace dies, they are devastated, but they find that she left instructions for a centuries-old clue hunt to them and several more of their relatives. They find that they are a part of the most powerful family in the world, and whoever wins the hunt will have the power to control the world. Unlike their cutthroat relatives, Amy and Dan are young, inexperienced, and poor, but in order to keep the prize away from their family, they must work together to solve the puzzles taking them all over the world. Through it all, they might even be able to bring unity to the most broken family in the world. Other: This is a fun series, and my family all enjoyed it. The first few books were so-so, but the series got better as it progressed. It's sad at times, as a couple people do die, but the riddles, travels, and historical sites Amy and Dan encounter are interesting. (Ages 9+) ~Amy
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Series)--Lynne Jonell
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat is the first book.
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: Emmy can't understand it. Ever since she and her parents got rich with an inheritance, nobody in her class at school seems to notice her, and her once loving parents are always leaving her with her mean nanny, Miss Barmy. Then an accidental bite shows Emmy that her classroom rat has a special power. He can shrink people. Now she is stuck with a shrunken classmate and a shrinking rat. Apparently there are many rats of power, and her nanny is much more than she seems. Miss Barmy constantly tries to ruin Emmy's life, and Emmy has to deal with her while trying to help her friends, both rodent and human. Other: This is a fun, quirky series. Each book has a different adventure. The different rat powers are fun to read about. Miss Barmy can be pretty evil, however, so the first book can be a little sad at times. Nothing really bad happens though, so these are enjoyable, light reads. (Ages 9+) ~Amy
The Mysterious Benedict Society (Trilogy)--Trenton Lee Stewart
The Mysterious Benedict Society is the first book.
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire are all orphans, brought together by a mysterious advertisement proposing tests for gifted children. And gifted they are. They all pass, and together they make the Mysterious Benedict Society. Their job is to reveal the dastardly plan of an evil man brainwashing the minds of the entire city. Reynie is not sure if he is up to the danger, but he does know that for the first time in his life, he has friends. Between his cleverness, Sticky's knowledge, Kate's athleticism, and Constance's contrariness, the Mysterious Benedict Society can find their way out of almost any conflict, whether it be risky spy trips, rescue missions, or keeping themselves safe from the nefarious Mr. Curtain. Other: Our family really enjoyed these books. They have fun puzzles in them, and the different ways the four kids figure out all their problems are interesting. The characters are also very well-drawn. There is some mind-reading, but overall, it is a great series. (Ages 9+) ~Amy Prequel: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (scroll down to Ages 9+) Check out the website: http://mysteriousbenedictsociety.com/
Swindle (Series)--Gordan Korman
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: Griffin Bing is the Man with the Plan. There's almost nothing that he, along with his best friend Ben Slovak, lieutenant and tight spaces specialist; Antonia "Pitch" Benson, expert climber and athlete; Savannah Drysdale, animal tamer and kid zoologist; and Logan Kellerman, aspiring actor, can't overcome with a good, well-thought-out Plan, whether it be a stolen million-dollar baseball card, a boatload of animals, a very guilty (and unexpected) thief, a doomed pet show, or a kidnapp- (excuse me) dog-napping. Unfortunately, no Plan is perfect, and it takes ingenuity and a little bit of luck to salvage things when the Plans falls apart. Other: This was a fun, well written book. The way the team works together and the special talents and characters that make every plan possible is always fun to watch. Adventure, humor, ingenious plans, and narrowly avoiding disaster. What could be better? (Ages 9+) ~Faith/Amy
Cooper Kids Adventure Series--Frank Peretti
is the first book.
Genre: Adventure Summary: Jay and Lila Cooper and their archaeologist father are always searching for new mysterious sites to uncover. Sometimes they encounter more than they bargained for, including demonic powers, lost cities, and long past tragedies, but through faith and perseverance, they always make it through together. Other: I really enjoyed this series, but younger readers should exercise caution. In a few books, the content can get very creepy, especially in The Tombs of Anak, where a nomadic tribe gives goat sacrifices to their feared, six-fingered tyrant. A few people die in this series, but the details are not shown. Not all of the books are as dark as The Tombs though (there's one that's simply about Jay piloting a dangerous plane ride), and I believe that I started to read these books when I was ten. Just be careful reading these if you don't like reading scary books right before you go to sleep. That said, the Christian themes are great, and the stories are intense and engaging. (Ages 10+) ~Amy
Island (Trilogy)--Gordon Korman
Ship Wreck is the first book.
Genre: Adventure Summary: Six troubled kids are on a cruise that is supposed to help them shape up. There's Luke, who got caught with a completely unfamiliar gun in his school locker, framed by a guy who supposedly was his friend. Will and Lyssa are twins who get into fights so extreme that they sent each other to the hospital. Ian is the youngest, sent on the cruise because his parents thought he was watching too much Discovery channel. J.J. is the rich son of a celebrity, spoiled rotten. Charla is a workaholic who trained for her swimming competitions so vehemently that one day, her body had a breakdown. These kids must find a way to survive together when their ship sinks during a storm, the first mate deserts them, and they find themselves on their own on a deserted island. Or at least they wished they were alone. Between people with guns, starvation, thirst, and disease, it is very doubtful that they will all come out of this alive. Other: This is a fairly intense trilogy, but it's fun if one likes survival stories and adventure. I enjoyed the different characters and the fast-paced danger. One part with a bullet surgery is a little gross, but otherwise, it's good. (Ages 10+) ~Amy
The Swiss Family Robinson--Johann Whyss
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: The Robinson family must find a way to survive on a deserted island when their ship sinks off the coast. With the help of some salvageable supplies from the ship, the parents and their four boys are able to make a home for themselves on the strange island with exotic plants and animals as well as other unexpected wonders. Other: This would be the ultimate fiction survival-type book. It's a very well-written classic, with great characters and interesting settings. The different homes they make and the animals they tame are very fun to read about. It's thick and long, but my whole family enjoyed it very much and I highly recommend it. (Ages 10+) ~Amy
The Youngest Templar (Trilogy)--Michael P. Spradlin
Keeper of the Grail is the first book.
*RA Genre: Adventure Summary: Tristan, an orphan who was raised by monks, is 14 when a passing group of Templar Knights invites him to join them and become a knight. Leaving the monastery, he sets out and is outfitted and trained as a squire before being commissioned with his knight, Sir Thomas, to the Holy Land. Sir Thomas, however, is killed in a fortress siege, and Tristan is left responsible for the most desired relic of all Christendom, the Holy Grail. Tristan must keep it safe from greedy hands and cheat death at every turn, against battles, Muslim assassins, harried escapes, and the constant threat of capture by the evil Sir Hugh, who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Grail. Tristan won't have to do it alone though. A touchy archer, a warrior maiden, and a smart, tag along dog are there to keep him one step away from disaster, or die trying. Other: These books are full of battles, desperate plans, and treacherous deeds. They aren't my absolute favorites, but I enjoyed them, as did my family. The parallels to another, very well-known story involving the Shire Reeve of Nottingham (who makes an appearance in the last book) are laid out well and are fun to read. Partly because of this, the characters are very entertaining. Some battle scenes are detailed, but they aren't too bad, which is why I was able to read these books out loud. (Ages 11+) ~Amy
Banner in the Sky--James Ramsey Ullman
Genre: Adventure Summary: Rudi Matt is smaller than most boys and forced to work as a dishwasher when all he really wants to do is climb mountains. His mother refuses to let him climb because his father died on a mountain climb, but Rudi often sneaks off to do it on his own. He dreams of conquering the Citadel and planting his father's sweater on the peak as a banner in the sky. When an opportunity arises, the 16 year old jumps at the chance to fulfill his dream to make it to the top, meeting challenges both physical and emotional along the way. Other: This was an interesting and fun book. The different facts about mountain-climbing were a good touch. It's not incredibly action-oriented, but I still found it an engrossing read. It's a Newbery Honor book. (Ages 12+) ~Amy
Dreamhouse Kings (Series)--Robert Liparulo
The House of Dark Shadows is the first book.
Genre: Adventure/(Horror? If so, it's pretty mild.) Summary: What would you do if you find out your new "dreamhouse" has attic rooms that seem to randomly open onto past, and often dangerous, times? This is what happens when Xander and David King move with their family into a big, creepy old house. When stubborn, headstrong Xander finally finds out what's behind the doors in the attic, he is dropped into the middle of a Roman colusium. Despite Xander's warnings, his younger brother David insists on trying it out, and almost gets killed in the process. Both would have liked the peril to end there, but when a dark stranger kidnaps their mom, their world falls apart. They have to rescue their mom, and in the process, they learn of the past of the old house and their family's responsibilities as its keepers. Other: This series is fun, action-packed, and interesting. I liked the different situations that David and Xander find themselves in, although a few of the scenes can be a little grusome. I wouldn't classify this series as "horror," mainly because it can't hold a candle to some of the other zombie, vampire, and ghost books out there (in a good way). It's a good series, and when they get to see Jesus in Jerusalem, I was almost ready to cheer. (13/14+) ~Amy
The Book Thief--Markus Zusak
Genre: Adventure Summary: In the middle of World War II, Leisel has lost her family. She is taken to a small town in Germany, with Hitler lovers and haters. She has stolen a few books by this time and buried herself in them. Her adventures with her friend Rudy and her struggles as she tries to help the escaping Jews are detailed in this thought-provoking novel narrated by Death himself. Other: This is a very well-written, engrossing book. The perspective of a girl in a German town during WWII is interesting, as is the way Death narrates. Contrary to what is expected, he is not an extremely morbid narrator, as he is, of course, very matter-of-fact about himself. It can be somewhat disconcerting to have him as the narrator, though it is not as bad as I thought it would be. As a warning, this is an interesting but very sad book. Death makes it clear in throughout the book that the whole village will die, but the book is so well-written that I didn't stop. In the end, a few favorite characters die, but Zusak manages to lift the story and make a good ending despite this. (Ages 14+) ~Amy