(AR book levels in parentheses)
*The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (5.0)
The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life! When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past. In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?
*Call it Courage by Armstrong Perry (6.2)
Mafatu's name means "Stout Heart," but his people call him a coward. Ever since the sea took his mother's life and spared his own, he has lived with deep fear. And even though his father is the Great Chief of Hikueru--and island whose seafaring people worship courage--he is terrified, and so scorned. By the time he is twelve years old, Mafatu can bear it no longer. He must conquer his fear alone...even if it means certain death.
*The Cay by Theodore Taylor (5.3)
Phillip was so frightened he could hardly breathe. All around him were the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean...and the darkness.Blinded be the blow to his head when the ship was torpedoed, he was a drift on a wooden raft with the big old black man who worked on deck.Cast up on a remote and barren island, they begin an amazing adventure. One that allow Phillip to "see" for the very first time, how blind he had been before he lost his sight and experienced the kindness, wisdom, and love of a simple extraordinary man.
*The Chronicles of Egg by Geoff Rodkey (4.9-5.3)
It's tough to be thirteen, especially when somebody's trying to kill you. Not that Egg's life was ever easy, growing up on sweaty, pirate-infested Deadweather Island with no company except an incompetent tutor and a pair of unusually violent siblings who hate his guts. But when Egg's father hustles their family off on a mysterious errand to fabulously wealthy Sunrise Island, then disappears with the siblings in a freak accident, Egg finds himself a long-term guest at the mansion of the glamorous Pembroke family and their beautiful, sharp-tongued daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect.
*The Copernicus Legacy by Tony Abbott (4.8-5.3)
*Crispin by Avi (4.8-5.0)
*The Expeditioners by S.S. Taylor (5.1)
*Floors by Patrick Carmen (5.1-5.7)
Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel. There's mystery and adventure on every floor. There's no other place quite like the Whippet Hotel. Each and every floor has its own wacky design--and its own wacky secrets. The guests are either mad or mysterious. And ducks are everywhere. Leo Fillmore should know everything there is to know about the Whippet Hotel--he is the janitor's son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when four cryptic boxes are left for him...boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and an unexpected friend or two.
*The Genius Files by Dan Gutman (4.8-4.9)
With the real-kid humor that has earned Dan Gutman millions of fans around the world, and featuring weird-but-true American tourist destinations, The Genius Files is a one-of-a-kind mix of geography and fun. As Coke and Pepsi dodge nefarious villains from the Pez museum in California all the way to the Infinity Room in Wisconsin, black-and-white photographs and maps put young readers right into the action. And don't miss the next leg of the journey in The Genius Files: Never Say Genius!
*Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (5.7)
On his way to visit his recently divorced father in the Canadian mountains, thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is the only survivor when the single-engine plane crashes. His body battered, his clothes in shreds, Brian must now stay alive in the boundless Canadian wilderness. More than a survival story, Hathcet is a tale of tough decisions. When all is stripped down to the barest essentials, Brian discovers some stark and simple truths: Self-pity doesn't work. Despair doesn't work. And if Brian is to survive physically as well as mentally, he must discover courage. After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the Canadian wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.
*H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden (7.0-7.7)
Otto Malpense may only be thirteen years old, but so far he has managed to run the orphanage where he lives, and he has come up with a plan clever enough to trick the most powerful man in the country. He is the perfect candidate to become the world's next supervillain. That is why he ends up at H.I.V.E., handpicked to become a member of the incoming class. The students have been kidnapped and brought to a secluded island inside a seemingly active volcano, where the school has resided for decades. All the kids are elite; they are the most athletic, the most technically advanced, and the smartest in the country. Inside the cavernous marble rooms, floodlit hangars, and steel doors, the students are enrolled in Villainy Studies and Stealth and Evasion 101. But what Otto soon comes to realize is that this is a six-year program, and leaving is not an option.
*I Survived by Lauren Tarshis (3.8-4.6)
The horror of Hurricane Katrina is brought vividly to life in this fictional account of a boy, a dog, and the storm of the century. Barry's family tries to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina hits their home in New Orleans. But when Barry's little sister gets terribly sick, they're forced to stay home and wait out the storm.
*Jake Ransom by Jim Rolllins (5.0-5.2)
When a mysterious envelope arrives for Jake Ransom, he and his older sister, Kady are plunged into a gripping chain of events. An artifact found by their parents—on the expedition from which they never returned—leads Jake and Kady to a strange world inhabited by a peculiar mix of long-lost civilizations, a world that may hold the key to their parents' disappearance. But even as they enter the gate to this extraordinary place, savage grackyls soar across the sky, diving to attack. Jake's new friends, the pretty Mayan girl Marika and the Roman Pindor, say the grackyls were created by an evil alchemist—the Skull King. And as Jake stuggles to find a way home, it becomes obvious that what the Skull King wants most is Jake and Kady—dead or alive.
*The Island of Thieves by Josh Lacey (4.2)
"Only boring people get bored…Interesting people can always find something to be interested in."
That’s what Tom Trelawney’s father says, anyway. Tom shouldn’t have been interested in playing with matches but he was...bored. Now the shed is in ashes and strange Uncle Harvey is the only one willing to have him stay while his parents vacation. Tom soon discovers Harvey is going to South America on a treasure hunt and though nephews aren’t invited, he manages to tag along. Before it’s over he’ll drive a car, fire a gun and run for his life. Tom realizes that life may be about following the rules, but survival may be about breaking them.
*Joshua Dredd by Lee Bacon (5.0)
Middle school is tough already—but when your parents are evil supervillains and you’ve just discovered you have powers of your own, life can be a real challenge. Not only do bullies pick on Joshua, but do you see those supervillains over there trying to flood the world? The ones that everyone, including his best friend Milton, are rooting for Captain Justice to take down? They're the Dread Duo, and they just happen to be his parents. As if trying to hide his identity wasn't hard enough, Joshua has started leaving a trail of exploding pencils and scorched handprints in his wake, and only Sophie, the new girl in town with a mysterious past, seems unsurprised. When a violent attack at the Vile Fair makes it clear someone is abducting supervillains, and that his parents may very well be next, Joshua must enlist both Sophie and Milton's help to save them.
*The Last Musketeer by Stuart Gibbs (5.0-5.2)
Before they were legends, they were friends. All for one and one for all! On a family trip to Paris, Greg Rich's parents disappear. They're not just missing from the city—they're missing from the century. So Greg does what any other fourteen-year-old would do: He travels through time to rescue them. Greg soon finds out that his family history is tied to the legendary Three Musketeers. But when he meets them, they're his age, and they'll only live long enough to become true heroes if he can save them. To rescue his parents, Greg must assume the identity of a young Musketeer in training and unite Athos, Porthos, and Aramis—but a powerful enemy is doing everything possible to stop him.
*My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (5.2)
Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever.
*The Ninja Librarians by Jen Swann Downey (5.8)
When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase Moe—an unusually foul-tempered mongoose—into the janitor's closet of their local library, they make an astonishing discovery: the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians.
Their mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history.
Petrarch's Library is an amazing, jumbled, time-traveling secret base that can dock anywhere there's trouble, like the Spanish Inquisition, or ancient Greece, or...Passaic, New Jersey. Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society, fighting injustice with a real sword! But when a traitor surfaces, she and Marcus are prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?
*The Outlaws of Sherwood Street by Peter Abrahams (4.3-4.5)
Robbie Forester always knew life wasn't fair, but she never thought she could do anything about it—until one day when a powerful charm comes into her possession and guides her, her friends, and her dog Pendleton on the path to justice. Unfortunately, the path has gotten dangerous, and Robbie and her friends find themselves in a menacing world of thievery, arson, big yachts, and even bigger bank accounts. Will Robbie and her band of thieves end up in more trouble than they ever could have imagined?
*N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley (5.0-5.3)
A group of unpopular fifth graders run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, they transform their nerdy qualities into incredible abilities!
*Never Say Die by Will Hobbs (5.2)
In this fast-paced adventure story set in the Canadian arctic, fifteen-year-old Inuit hunter Nick Thrasher comes face-to-face with a fearsome creature on a routine caribou hunt gone wrong. Part grizzly, part polar bear, this environmental mutant has been pegged the “grolar bear” by wildlife experts. Nick may have escaped this time, but it won’t be his last encounter.
Then Nick’s estranged half-brother, Ryan, offers to take him on a rafting trip down a remote part of the Firth River. But when disaster strikes, the two narrowly evade death. They’re left stranded without supplies—and then the grolar bear appears. Will Hobbs brings his singular style to this suspenseful story about two brothers fighting for survival against the unpredictable—and sometimes deadly—whims of nature.
*The Nightsiders by Jonathan Maberry (4.9)
Milo’s Louisiana bayou is overrun with alien bug invaders and magical creatures in this start to a breathtaking series that’s “the perfect mix of science fiction and magic” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) from bestselling author Jonathan Maberry.
In a world filled with Bugs—monsters that ceaselessly ravage the Earth—Milo Silk has a hard time keeping his dreams separate from reality. So he keeps them locked up in his dream journal and hopes they’ll never come to pass. But too often, they do—like when his father disappeared three years ago. Lately, the Witch of the World has been haunting his dreams, saying he is destined to be the hero who saves everyone. But all Milo can think about is how he fears the Bugs will attack his own camp, and bring something even more terrible than ever before.
What Milo doesn’t know is that the Earth is already fighting back with its own natural power in the form of Nightsiders, magical creatures who prefer shadows to sunlight and who reside in trees, caves, and rivers. And the Nightsiders are ready to find an ally in Milo…
*Powerless by Matthew Cody (5.2)
Twelve-year-old Daniel, the new kid in town, soon learns the truth about his nice—but odd—new friends: one can fly, another can turn invisible, yet another controls electricity. Incredible. The superkids use their powers to secretly do good in the town, but they’re haunted by the fact that the moment they turn thirteen, their abilities will disappear—along with any memory that they ever had them. Is a memory-stealing supervillain sapping their powers?
The answers lie in a long-ago meteor strike, a World War II–era comic book (Fantastic Futures, starring the first superhero, Johnny Noble), the green-flamed Witch Fire, a hidden Shroud cave, and—possibly, unbelievably—“powerless” regular-kid Daniel himself.
*Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan (5.8-7.0)
He had always wanted to be a warrior. The Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways, made him nervous. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now fifteen year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't realize yet is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied .
*Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen (4.4)
Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad's second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who's younger. Even though they've all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it.
Sarah's dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They'll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It'll be an adventure, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
*The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (4.9)
Until the day his father returns to their cabin in the Maine wilderness, twelve-year-old Matt must try to survive on his own. Although Matt is brave, he's not prepared for an attack by swarming bees, and he's astonished when he's rescued by an Indian cheif and his grandson, Attean. As the boys come to know each other Attean learns to speak English while Matt becomes a skilled hunter. Though many months have passed, there's no sign of Matt's family. Then Attean asks Matt to join the Beaver tribe and move north. Should Matt abandon his hopes of ever seeing his family again and move on to a new life?
Left alone to guard the family's wilderness home in eighteenth-century Maine, a boy is hard-pressed to survive until local Indians teach him their skills.
*Tunnels by Roderick Gordon (6.5-7.2)
14-year-old Will Burrows has little in common with his strange, dysfunctional family. In fact, the only bond he shares with his eccentric father is a passion for archaeological excavation. So when Dad mysteriously vanishes, Will is compelled to dig up the truth behind his disappearance. He unearths the unbelievable: a secret subterranean society. "The Colony" has existed unchanged for a century, but it's no benign time capsule of a bygone era--because the Colony is ruled by a cultlike overclass, the Styx. Before long--before he can find his father--Will is their prisoner...
*The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds (4.6)
Kidnapping, family secrets, and adventure on the high seas—perfect for middle grade fans of historical fiction! What does it mean to be lucky? Luc doesn't really know. He was born with just one ear, his father constantly berates him, and his younger brother is already bigger and stronger than he is. But when he is chosen to become an apprentice to a local fisherman, his life takes a turn for the better. Luc is a natural at sea, and before long he and a teenaged girl who lives with the fisherman form a strong bond. That bond is tested when Luc is taken captive by a band of merciless pirates, and sold into slavery. Moving from 1485 to 1500, from France to Africa, from humble beginnings to a noble future, this historical fiction adventure will leave readers pondering the true meaning of good fortune.
*Will In Scarlet by Matthew Cody (5.5)
Will Shackley is the son of a lord, and though just thirteen, he’s led a charmed, protected life and is the heir to Shackley House, while his father is away on the Third Crusade with King Richard the Lionheart. But with King Richard’s absence, the winds of treason are blowing across England, and soon Shackley House becomes caught up in a dangerous power struggle that drives Will out of the only home he’s ever known. Alone, he flees into the dangerous Sherwood Forest, where he joins an elusive gang of bandits readers will immediately recognize.
*Will Wilder by Raymond Arroyo (5.3)
Will Wilder didn’t mean to unlock his otherworldly gift. But that is exactly what happens when Will “borrows” a sacred relic believed to protect the town of Perilous Falls for nearly a century. Even though his intentions are good, the impulsive twelve-year-old unwittingly awakens an ancient evil endangering all of Perilous Falls.
As boats sink and hideous creatures crawl from the rising waters, it is up to Will to confront a hellish enemy and set things right before it is too late. Along with his sweet—if lethal—great-aunt Lucille, the curator of a museum of supernatural artifacts, Will proves that the actions of one twelve-year-old boy can change the world.
*Young Samurai by Chris Bradshaw (5.8-6.7)
*The Zodiac Legacy by Stan Lee (4.8)
When twelve magical superpowers are unleashed on the world, a Chinese-America teenager named Steven will be thrown into the middle of an epic global chase. He'll have to master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac.