Our Recommendations for 9 to 12 Year Olds

The House of One Hundred Clocks by A.M. Howell

When Helena’s father accepts a job as clock-winder to one of the wealthiest men in Edwardian England, she and her beloved parrot Orbit are swept from their London home to a new life in Cambridge. There is only one condition: the clocks must never stop. Helena’s determination to discover why is the basis for a wonderful story, full of adventure - just who is leaving mysterious notes? Why are clock winding keys going missing? And who is the ghostly girl who always dresses as a boy? Howell writes sensitively about family dynamics, bereavement, and the early suffragette movement, and the pace of the narrative kept me hooked right up until the (very satisfying!) ending.

North Child by Edith Pattou

North Child by Edith Pattou is an epic, vivid retelling of the Norwegian folk tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with a hefty dash of Beauty and the Beast and a few sprinklings of Narnia thrown in. When north-born child Rose is visited by a huge white bear, it’s only the start of a remarkable quest that will change her life forever. North Child is a feast of rich storytelling, with a wonderfully courageous yet realistic heroine in Rose. It’s also the perfect escapist combination of myth, fairytale and love story - a lovely read for adults as well as children!

Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll

Emma Carroll brings 17th century Somerset wonderfully to life in this gripping novel that tells the story of Fortune, a young girl who must fight to save not only her friends and family from the devastating floodwaters that swept the West Country in 1607, but herself from accusations of witchcraft. Fortune is a wonderfully relatable heroine as she learns to trust herself and her instincts, finding her own way in a world that is not friendly to women. Done with Emma Carroll’s usual flair and gift for great storytelling, this is one of our favourite book group reads.

Alfie Bloom: The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent

When the remarkably normal Alfie Bloom receives a letter informing him that he is the heir to Hexbridge Castle, he suddenly finds himself in a world of flying bears and enigmatic butlers, time warps and Druid magic, and evil headmistresses who are most certainly hiding something. Along with his cousins and his new magical friends, it is up to Alfie to find out what, exactly, the secret of Hexbridge Castle is. This story is a wonderful light blend of magic, mystery and humour that entertains from start to finish - and is also the first in a series, so if you find yourself hooked there are already further adventures to dive into!

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

This is a cracking story, full of mystery, magic, monsters, friendship, and a generous helping of fish ‘n chips! Herbie Lemon, Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel in Eerie-on-Sea, finds his orderly world turned upside down when a young girl comes crashing through his window begging for his help in finding her long-lost parents. The two youngsters are plunged into a side of Eerie-on-Sea that the summer tourists never see – one of mermonkeys, legends, and fossil hunters. In the meantime, the legend of the malamander – half man, half fish – is stirring….

The Legend of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood

This is a masterful piece of storytelling, drawing on the legacies of Watership Down and fantasies such as The Hobbit. The young rabbit Podkin is the son of one of the greatest chieftains in the Five Realms. Spoilt and lazy, he isn’t exactly hero material – but when his warren is attacked by the terrifying iron Gorm, Podkin must step up to save himself, his family, and his home. This comes recommended by both adults and children, and is fast becoming a modern classic!

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton

This is a wonderful take on a who-dunnit for older children – full of magic, mystery, red herrings, and a talking cat! Seth is the downtrodden kitchen boy at the Last Chance Hotel, where his only friend is his cat Nightshade. Seth longs to be a chef, but when an important guest is poisoned by Seth’s special dessert Seth must prove his innocence – a task made all the more difficult when there’s magic afoot…

​Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love

Reading these thrilling tales you really are entering into another world with the characters from myth and legend bursting forth from the pages in Jeffrey Alan Love’s amazing illustrations. The stories of Odin, Thor and Loki are not for the faint hearted, as the gods are uncompromising beings, who create the world as they see fit, often fighting amongst themselves and paying scant attention to the welfare of us mere mortals!

​Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

If you’re looking for a children’s book in the 10+ age range then this would make an excellent choice. It is a beautifully written book telling the story of a unique friendship between a Native American boy and a young English boy, as settlers begin to colonise the New World in the seventeenth century. This is a wonderful story of lives lived close to nature and of the growing rift between communities who are unable or unwilling to understand one another.

​Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll

Humanity is at the heart of this perceptive and moving story. Set in February 1941, siblings Olive and Cliff are evacuated to Devon. Since their father’s plane was shot down over France and their older sister Suki is missing during the bombings in London, their family know only too well about the trauma caused by war. Emma Carroll’s writing is impressive: what appears as a clear, straight forward story of evacuation and the British wartime efforts on the home front is underlined with some very large moral issues relating to antisemitism and society’s ability to help refugees. This would make an excellent class read.

​Riddle of the Runes by Janina Ramirez

Vikings, runes, wolves, a feisty heroine and the quest for a mysterious casket…all the ingredients for the perfect adventure! Join Alva and her beloved wolf Fenrir as she investigates kidnappings, deciphers clues, and heads off on the trail of treasure – and her long-lost father. Full of historical detail and Norse mythology, this takes you right to the heart of Viking Scandinavia!

​The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

This is a beautifully written story about a family healing from tragic grief. It deals with some very difficult issues but Lucy Strange’s sensitivity and warmth makes this a tremendous piece of writing for children (and adults). Set in the aftermath of WWI, Henry’s family move to a new home for the sake of her mother’s health but the local doctor’s treatment is not what you’d expect from caring medical experts and Henry helplessly watches as her mother’s condition worsens. Henry is increasingly alone, reading her beloved books and exploring the woods behind her house, where amongst the dense branches and eerie sounds she discovers Moth, friendship and hope. Lucy Strange’s writing is reminiscent of traditional storytelling, full of charm with her language and descriptions are perfect pitch for the period setting of the novel – wonderful!

​Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

If you’re looking for a bold fast-paced adventure full of cliff-hangers, suspense and magic, then Sky Song has it all. Set in the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald at a time where the feuding tribes are hiding from an evil ice queen, it is down to Eska and Flint to change the fate of their land. Their journey is full of danger and discovery but this is also a story of friendship, the importance of understanding one another and belonging.

​What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid

This exquisite illustrated guide to the stars is bursting with mythology, art, history, and science. 100 pieces of magical art interweave fact and myth to create a book full of the night skies. Adults and children can revel in the enchantment and beauty of the constellations, the moon, the planets, the northern lights, deep space, and nebulae. It is a delightful ride through outer-space which will make you want to grab a pair of binoculars or simply a pair of boots… and get outside under the stars.

​The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

The book is set in 1909 where Sophie Taylor is an employee of Sinclair’s, the grandest new department store in London. However, before the store even opens, there’s a burglary in which Sophie is implicated and she needs the help of her friends Lily, Joe and Billy to prove her innocence. This is a superb adventure with great characters, creepy villains and a genuinely exciting plot. Excitingly, all the brilliant elements of Katherine Woodfine’s storytelling continue in the following instalments!

​Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin

Chloe Daykin’s superb debut novel Fish Boy, tells the story of Billy, an idiosyncratic boy who doesn’t really fit in at school, but who finds comfort in the natural world and his hero David Attenborough. Billy is a fantastic swimmer; a passion passed from his mum who is now too tired to leave the house due to an undiagnosed illness. This troubles Billy dearly and he increasingly seeks solace in his underwater world where one day he encounters a talking mackerel! Intrigued, he returns to the sea, drawn to its carefree allure. This is a book about friendship, with endearing, funny observations about the quirks of family life and finding one’s place. Chloe’s writing is beautiful, poetical and moving; truly fantastic storytelling.

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