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Tween

12 Must-Read Fantasy Adventure Tales for Tweens

by Kari Ness Riedel

fantasy-adventure-books-for-tweens
Photography by Seana Williamson

My 14-year-old son has devoured fantasy adventure novels since reading Harry Potter in elementary school. When asked why he keeps coming back to this story genre, he explained they are a great way to get immersed in another world, and they provide inspiring role models. The heroes or heroines often have some flaws, but at their core, they are kind, brave, and want to do good in the world. Simply put, he said, “Reading these types of stories gets my imagination going, which makes me think more broadly about my world and the person I want to be.”

Here are 12 fantasy adventure tales that will get tweens reading and thinking.

  • Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

    by Sangu Mandanna

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    Drawing is the only thing that helps Kiki escape her obsessive anxiety. She fills her sketchbook with Indian myths about evil monsters and brave warriors that her mom has told her since childhood. When her drawings come to life, she enters the fantasy world she created and faces her demons – literal and metaphorical – to save her real world. This action-packed tale is a perfect pick for fans of Rick Riordan and modern twists on mythology.

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  • Pages and Co.: The Book Smugglers

    by Anna James

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    Tilly’s bookwandering escapades continue in the fourth installment of this page-turning series. In this book, we follow a new character, Milo, along with Tilly as they go on an adventure-filled mission to rescue Tilly’s grandfather and Milo’s uncle, who were poisoned. To find a cure for the poison, they dive into two beloved stories — The Railway Children and The Wizard of Oz. Fans of these classics will love revisiting them through Tilly’s and Milo’s eyes.

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  • The Royal Ranger: Escape from Falaise

    by John Flanagan

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    The Royal Rangers series, an offshoot of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, is perfect for fans of action-packed hero’s journey tales with a touch of romantic intrigue. In this fifth book, Will and his apprentice Maddie must use every Ranger trick they know to escape captivity and free the prince. Daring deeds, witty dialogue, and dynamic characters make this series irresistible.

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  • Clarice the Brave

    by Lisa McMann

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    Themes of friendship, family, and getting past prior prejudices are at the heart of this animal adventure tale. A young mouse, Clarice, gets separated from her brother Charles after their ship’s crew declares mutiny. Clarice finds herself on a lifeboat with a small group of sailors, including the ship’s captain and his pet cat, Special Lady, while Charles remains on the ship. As Clarice and Charles struggle to find each other across the sea, they form new alliances and learn the true meaning of bravery to survive.

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  • Dragons in a Bag

    by Zetta Elliot, illustrated by Geneva B.

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    What would you do if you found out that your cranky old babysitter was a witch? This happens to Jaxon, a nine-year-old from Brooklyn, who helps “Ma” deliver three baby dragons back to their magical world. Mystery, magic, and humor collide in this excellent fantasy series that weaves in themes like segregation, appreciating our differences, and belonging in an age-appropriate way.

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  • Saving Fable

    by Scott Reintgen

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    Indira has been waiting her whole life to be cast as the hero of a story. She’s thrilled to be sent to the town of Fable and accepted to the Protagonist Preparatory school, where she will learn to be a well-rounded character. Disappointment hits hard when she gets chosen as a side character. But soon, she realizes something dark is happening in Fable, and it’s up to Indira and her friends to uncover the truth and save their world. Fans of fairy tales (and aspiring authors) will love this fast-paced, fanciful adventure tale.

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  • Children of the Fox

    by Kevin Sands

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    Mystery, magic, fables, and friendships abound in this highly bingeable book by the talented author of The Blackthorn Key. Callan is a skilled thief who gets summoned to do a job that would pay enough for him to retire from stealing and pursue the future he wants. But, of course, no job is as simple as it looks. Described as Oceans 11 with magic for tweens, this is the perfect book for fans of stories with warm-hearted characters and unexpected plot twists.

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  • The Phantom Tollbooth

    by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

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    If your child complains about being bored, hand them this book. When Milo gets bored, he goes through a tollbooth that mysteriously appears in his room. It turns out to be a magical portal that leads him to meet new friends like Tock, a ticking watchdog, and go on the adventure-filled quest of a lifetime. This classic fantasy tale is full of puns and figurative language and holds up with today’s young readers.

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  • The Lock-Eater

    by Zack Loran Clark

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    Melanie, an orphan living in a home with other orphaned girls, is an adventure-seeker with an uncanny ability to open locked spaces. When an automaton visits the orphanage seeking an apprentice for a local witch, he chooses Melanie for the job. As the two embark on their journey, she soon learns that things are amiss in the empire, and not everything is as it seems. Magical spells, thrilling battles, and unexpected alliances are all part of this epic fantasy about finding – and honoring – your true identity.

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  • Circus Mirandus

    by Cassie Beasley

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    Micah wants to help his dying grandfather reconnect with the magical Circus Mirandus that he remembers from his youth. Unlike most others, Micah believes his grandfather's stories and sets out to find the Light Bender, a circus member who promised a miracle to his grandfather. This story honors childlike wonder and the power of imagination while seamlessly blending fantasy with genuine emotions related to family and friendships.

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  • A Wish in the Dark

    by Christina Soontornvat

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    This beautifully told Newbery Honor-winning fantasy centers on Pong, a wrongly imprisoned orphan, and Nok, the privileged, justice-seeking daughter of the warden. When Pong escapes prison to find his best friend, Nok pursues him to save her father’s reputation. This Thai-inspired fantasy retelling of Les Misérables provides fast-paced, heart-pumping action scenes and an opportunity to reflect on big ideas such as poverty, privilege, and justice.

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  • The Uncommoners #1: The Crooked Sixpence

    by Jennifer Bell

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    After their grandmother lands in the hospital and their home gets invaded by strangers, Ivy and her brother Seb get transported to a secret underground world filled with everyday objects with extraordinary powers. There, they uncover family secrets and discover more about the history of this unusual place. Excellent world-building and relatable characters make this a satisfying read.

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