Summer 2015 Preview:
The Best Books for 9- to 12-Year-Olds

by Devon A. Corneal

Photo credit: Tim Hall, Cultura/Getty Images

Finally! Your kids are out of school and old enough to (sort of) fend for themselves. So why not encourage them to grab a book and head out to the big tree in the yard or pack a book in their swim bag? If they complain they don’t have anything to read, you can hand them one of these twelve amazing stories handpicked for kids from nine to twelve. Offer them a Popsicle too if you’re feeling generous.

  • Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures

    by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, illustrated by Maggie Stiefvater

    Think Tribbles crossed with Harry Potter and Nancy Drew and you’ll begin to understand the draw of Pip Bartlett. When the Fuzzles invade town, it’s up to Pip and her friend Tomas to figure out what’s going on and how to stop these adorable, yet easily flammable, creatures from taking over.

  • A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

    by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Mary GrandPré

    Miss Drake, an ageless and slightly irritable dragon, has a problem. Her longtime pet, a human, has died, and her new human pet Winnie seems to think she’s in charge. You see, 10-year-old Winnie believes that humans keep dragons for pets, not the other way around. But that’s not the only problem Miss Drake has. She needs to figure out how to stop Winnie’s drawings of magical creatures from coming to life and terrorizing San Francisco. These two are going to have to learn to work together if they’re going to put things right.

  • Under the Egg

    by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

    Available from:

    Theo Tenpenny has a problem. Her mother has some issues, her neighbor hates her chickens, and her grandfather has just died, leaving her in possession of what could possibly be a priceless painting by a Renaissance master that may or may not be stolen. Spend your summer with Theo as she tries to solve the mystery of the painting and you’ll never look at art the same way again.

    Also available from:
  • Infographics: Space

    by Simon Rogers, illustrated by Jennifer Daniel

    Have a “Star Wars” lover, “Star Trek” fan, or budding astronomer in your house? Get them this book and let them spend their summer nights with a telescope out under the stars. Filled with the thousands of facts I’ve come to expect from the Infographics series, this book is perfect for the stargazer in your house.

  • Anyone But Ivy Pocket

    by Caleb Krisp, illustrated by Barbara Cantini

    Ivy Pocket is an orphan with an attitude. Completely clueless, constantly misunderstood, and frequently deluded, she nonetheless finds herself in possession of a priceless necklace with strict instructions to deliver it to one Matilda Butterfield, a well-heeled, but bratty aristocrat. Things can only go downhill from there. Part Jane Eyre, part Lemony Snicket and a lot of fun, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is a must-read of the summer.

  • Ms. Rapscott’s Girls

    by Elise Primavera

    If you are a parent with a daughter you haven’t the time to raise, I urge you to take advantage of The Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. You don’t need to drop them off, a cardboard box will conveniently arrive at your doorstep. Just deposit one girl, seal the box, and you’re done. Snacks are provided. And never fear, the curriculum is excellent. The introductory program “How to Find Your Way” will ensure that your precious gem will be able to manage quite nicely in the big world without you. *Disclaimer: Only one child has ever been lost, and even that was only temporary.

  • Half a Man

    by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan

    Available from:

    From the author of War Horse comes a touching story of a young boy and his grandfather. Michael doesn’t understand his taciturn and physically scarred grandfather, but during a summer together on the Isles of Sicily, he learns to see the man behind the scars as the two navigate the waters of the island and their own emotional terrain.

    Also available from:
  • Echo

    by Pam Muñoz Ryan

    A fairy tale blends with modern day characters in this masterful new novel from the author of Esperanza Rising. The book begins with Otto, who meets three sisters and is caught in their prophecy, at the center of which is a harmonica. As the instrument travels through the ages, the story ensnares all who come in its path. This book weaves together fantasy, music, and unforgettable characters, bringing individual stories together in the final pages in a way both unexpected and magical.

  • Story Thieves

    by James Riley

    School is usually pretty dull for Owen, until one day he sees a classmate climbing out of a book. Turns out, Owen’s friend Bethany is half fictional and is jumping in and out of books to find her father who happens to be completely fictional. Owen does what any self-respecting boy would do with this information — he blackmails Bethany into taking him into his favorite series. Which turns out to be far more complicated than Owen ever imagined.

  • The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly

    by Ted Sanders, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

    My bus rides are never very interesting. Which is usually the case for Horace F. Andrews, too. But one day, Horace notices a sign with his own name on it from the bus window and things suddenly get very, very interesting. The sign leads Horace to the House of Answers, and he is drawn into a world of intrigue and adventure unlike anything he had ever imagined. With a dash of physics and plenty of magic, this is a perfect summer page-turner.

  • Shivers!: The Pirate Who’s Afraid of Everything

    by Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White, illustrated by Anthony Holden

    If you have a pirate lover in your home, he or she needs to meet Shivers, the unlikeliest and scarediest pirate who ever lived. Full of laughter, giant squid, and a loyal fishmate, this book will change how you look at buccaneers forever.

  • The Honest Truth

    by Dan Gemeinhart

    Mark is a normal kid with a dog and friends and big dreams. Mark, however, has cancer, and he’s not going to make it. So Mark decides to run away. Taking only the things most important to him — his dog, a camera, and a notebook — Mark heads off to climb Mount Rainier. In a sea of dystopia and fantasy, The Honest Truth stands out as a book about the world we live in, the choices we make, and the things we lose and gain along the way.