Best books for eleven year olds
Armoured bears, flying witches, adventures on the rooftops of Paris, a magical shop and an island with a terrifying secret make these books perfect for eleven year olds looking for a challenging, enthralling read! You might be tempted to dive in yourself, too...
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell(£6.99, Faber & Faber)
This magical story begins with a shipwreck and a mysterious baby being discovered floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. The baby is rescued by a scholar called Charles Maxim and named Sophie. Whilst Sophie is happy and cared for, she is convinced that her mother also survived the shipwreck. When Miss Eliot, the childcare officer, threatens to send Sophie away to an orphanage, Sophie and Charles set off on a thrilling adventure to Paris. Here Sophie meets Matteo, a boy who teaches her how to race and run across the rooftops. Will they be able to find Sophie's mother before it's too late? This is a beautifully written story about hope and pursuing your dreams. It is also thrilling and exciting, culminating in an electrifying, moving climax.
Outlaw by Michael Morpurgo(£6.99, HarperCollins Children's)
"With a wolf, you walk away slowly, and he'll leave you alone. With a bear you look him in the eye and stay still. But pray you never ever see an Outlaw…"
From the author of War Horse, Friend or Foe and The Butterfly Lion comes this dark, epic re-telling of Robin Hood. After a terrifying storm, a young boy ventures out to check on 'his tree', only to discover a skull once buried in the dirt, disturbed by the storm. To whom does it belong? In another time, in a strange forest, a young Robin Hood is rescued by a gang of Outlaws or 'creatures of the forest'. He vows to seek revenge against the evil, tyrannical Sherriff of Nottingham. Morpurgo expertly brings this well-known story to life filling it with action, colourful characters and a poignant ending.
The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie(£6.99, Kelpies)
The shop from nowhere can appear at any time, in any city. Its labyrinth of rooms contains wonders beyond belief. But to enter you must pay a price… Daniel is an orphan who, when trying to escape a gang of bullies, accidentally stumbles into the strange, magical Nowhere Emporium in Glasgow. This wonderful shop has brickwork as black as midnight and sparkles strangely in the light. Here he finds himself caught up in a twisting, thrilling adventure with breath-taking magic and evil sorcerers. Secrets, danger and lies lurk in the shadows, threatening to destroy this magical place. This is an intriguing, riotous, wild book with glistening language that leaps off the page and vividly creates a world of magic and mayhem. Young fans of Phillip Pullman, J.K Rowling and Neil Gaiman will devour this action-packed tale.
The Story of the Blue Planet by Andri Snær Magnason(£8.99, Pushkin Children's Books)
Far out, hidden in space, there is a blue planet. It is a beautiful and special place – and only children live there, free to do what they please. But one day Gleesome Goodday, the travelling salesman and 'DreamComeTrueMaker', arrives and promises to make the children's lives more fun. He shares with them his flying powder and even nails the sun to their sky. But his actions have terrifying consequences and two children, Brimir and Hulda, are thrust into a dangerous adventure in order to save their beloved planet. This is an ambitious, thought-provoking story which raises important issues about selfishness, greed, childhood, the power of stories and friendship.
Hamlet: A Shakespeare Story retold by Andrew Matthews(£4.99, Orchard Books)
One stormy night, snowflakes twirl in the wind and Hamlet, son of the former King of Denmark, is visited by the ghost of his father. Hamlet believes that his father was bitten by a poisonous snake, but the tormented ghost reveals a terrible secret… his evil brother Claudius is responsible for his death. Hamlet must avenge his father's murder. To trap Claudius, who has recently married his mother, Hamlet pretends to be mad and cuts himself off from kindness and good company. Will Hamlet avenge his father and reveal his uncle as a murderer? Or will his inaction lead him into a dark, terrifying series of events with dreadful consequences for those around him? Tony Ross's black and white illustrations bring this popular tragedy to life and this is a swift, easily-accessible re-telling of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays.
The Savage by David Almond(£6.99, Walker Books)
"You won't believe this but it's true. I wrote a story called "The Savage" about a savage kid that lived under the ruined chapel in Burgess Woods, and the kid came to life in the real world…"
So begins this moving fable about grief, grief, bullying and family. This is the story of Blue Baker and how he deals with the loss of his father and overcomes the terrifying taunts and abuse from the local bully, Hopper. Part story, part graphic novel, this is a gritty, frightening tale with a gut-wrenching conclusion, which serves as a wonderful reminder about the healing power of words. Utterly original, remarkable and touching.
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave(£6.99, Chicken House)
Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow… Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her father, a cartographer, once mapped, but exploring the island of Joya is prohibited by the strict governor and dictator who rules the land. When her best friend disappears, her father is arrested and mysterious things start happening on the island, Isabella sets out, with nothing but an ancient map, to find answers. As she bravely navigates the island's dangerous and ominous Forgotten Territories and learns the island's terrible secrets, far beneath the parched rivers and festering forests, a fiery, primordial beast is stirring from its slumber… This is a breath-taking, enthralling story, full of escapades, thrills and magic. Isabella is a captivating heroine and the writing is simple but beautifully rich, making this the perfect story for this age group.
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell(£7.99, Bloomsbury Children's Books)
This frosty, exciting adventure takes place in Russia and follows Feo, a wolf wilder, who spends her day caring for and nurturing the wolves who have been abandoned by their rich owners. She lives a happy, quiet existence, deep in the forest, with her mother Marina until General Rakov, an evil and corrupt dictator, decrees that wolves are a danger to society – they are terrifying creatures that must be killed. When her mother is arrested and held captive in St Petersburg, Feo must travel across the icy plains to rescue her. Along the way, she meets Ilya, a young soldier who dreams of much more, and a gang of angry children. Can they restore peace to the land, fight the insane Rakov and save Feo's mother? This is an atmospheric, engrossing story. Much like the Feo's wonderful, captivating wolves, the moving story races along with energy and power.
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman(£7.99, Scholastic)
This modern classic follows Lyra and her animal daemon, Pantalaimon, who live a care-free, wild life among the stuffy scholars at Jordan College in Oxford. When the enigmatic Lord Asriel visits and her friend, Roger, vanishes, a chain of events is set in motion that draws Lyra into a world of armoured bears, witches and the evil Magisterium, a powerful institution which seeks to end original sin and hide the existence of parallel worlds. This stunning story is perfect for older readers – it is challenging and complex and cleverly moves between political thriller, exciting adventure and magical fantasy. Pullman expertly creates a world that is similar to our own in many respects, but different enough to capture the imagination.
Wonder by R.J Palacio(£7.99, Corgi Children's)
You can't blend in when you were born to stand out...
This uplifting book has recently been turned into a successful Hollywood film, starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. The story follows August Pullman (Auggie) who desperately wants to be like every other ten year old. However, Auggie has a facial deformity; even after 27 invasive surgeries, he will never look normal. When Auggie's parents decide to send him to school, he is nervous – he has only ever been home-schooled and is worried about how others will treat him. Will he be able to convince his new classmates that he is just like them and deserves to be treated as an equal? This is a heart-warming book that skilfully manages to be thoughtful, humorous, uncompromising and touching, while sensitively exploring themes of bullying, family, friendship and fitting in. Wonder builds to an inspiring finale that will delight young readers with its important message about compassion and acceptance.