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Book recommendations please

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

My DD recently turned 12. She is in a full-time gifted school. I am looking for some good fiction recommendations for her. She is a concrete, sequential thinker, so series books usually appeal to her. She needs to read books that are at least a 6th grade reading level for school. Her ability is much higher (lexile of 1400+ for the last year), so no worries there. The difficulty is that as bright as she is, she is naive and a bit socially immature. While some 6th grade girls are into boys and shopping, she's still happily dressing her AG dolls, running around outside and playing on Webkinz. She has a couple of like-minded girlfriends, thank goodness. The disparity between her ability and maturity level is making choosing fiction very difficult this year.

She's really not ready for Twilight and such. She read and enjoyed Lemony Snickett, lost interest in Lion, Witch and Wardrobe after book 2. Enjoyed the Harry Potter books. Loved Percy Jackson books and the connections to mythology. Little Women and Jo's Boys were ok and the language in Swiss Family Robinson turned her off, as much as she loves the story. She reads a lot of non-fiction and magazines, devours Kids Discover, various golf publications, AG. Her favorite book of all-time is a little known one, The Girl With the Silver Eyes. Her favorite subject is history, preferably ancient. I would love for her to read books with girl protagonists.

I teach, but younger kids, and the fiction I'm more familiar with is far too simple for DD at this point. I would appreciate the help of all.

post #2 of 21
I loved The Girl with the Silver Eyes when I was a kid!

Has she tried the E. Nesbit books? The Wizard of Earthsea series? E. L. Konigsburg has some good books. Right now we're reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Right now my oldest like The 39 Clues series. The Anne of Green Gables books are great, and L M Montgomery has some lesser known books-- my favorites are the Emily of New Moon books and Jane of Lantern Hill.
post #3 of 21
Oh, and along the lines of The Girl with the Silver Eyes-- she might like Anna to the Infinite Power by Mildred Ames.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks! I've never met anyone who knew The Girl with Silver Eyes before. Her copy is well-loved. Whenever she doesn't have a book she likes, she reads it again. I will check out your suggestions. She liked The Mixed Up Files, I had forgotten about that. Maybe the other Anne books too. Thanks so much!
post #5 of 21
Ursula K LeGuin very cool

Does she like the Karen Cushman books? Might be a little young for her but they are historical novels about self-reliant, smart girls around her age...
post #6 of 21
*The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley are well-written fantasy classics.

*anything by Dianna Wynne Jones. Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm are favorites here.

*Tamora Pierce is a wonderful author. Either the Alanna books or the Circle of Magic books are great starters.

*If she hasn't already read them, you must find her The Secret Country, The Hidden Land, and The Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean. These books are truly perfect for gifted young people who love and embrace imaginative play at older ages than their peers. The writing is beautiful and Dean has the best feel for what it is like to be a brilliant, playful child. Seriously, I cannot recommend these highly enough.

I remember The Girl with Silver Eyes, too. I hadn't thought about that book in years.
post #7 of 21
Ah she sounds so much like I was in that grade and I was going to suggest Ursula LeGuin also.

post #8 of 21
Robin McKinley is a great choice. I'd add "Beauty" and "Spindle's End" to that list. (But not "Deerskin." Not for anyone under 25.)

I loved "Howl's Moving Castle."

I'd add "Dragonsong" and "Dragonsinger," by Anne McCaffrey.

Patricia McKillip's "The Changeling Sea" is good, but a little sad at the beginning.

If you're not religious, she might like "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife," and "The Amber Spyglass," by Phillip Pullman. If you're religious, that's probably a bad idea.

"The Hobbit" is a good choice at this age.

"Uglies" by Scott Westerfield.

"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeline L'Engle.

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card.

"Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

"The Darkangel" by Meredith Ann Pierce
post #9 of 21
The Karen Kushman books are wonderful. My kids really enjoyed Catherine, Called BIrdy. I thought of another author-- Gail Carson Levine. She wrote Ella Enchanted and a bunch of other books in that "updated fairy tale" genre. Her female protagonists are really awesome.
post #10 of 21
How about The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper? I think the first one is Over Sea, Under Stone.
post #11 of 21
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Fever, 1793
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

Armstrong, William. Sounder
Angry and humiliated when his sharecropper father is jailed for stealing food for his family, a young black boy grows in courage and understanding by learning to read and with the help of his devoted dog Sounder.

Auch, Mary Jane. Ashes of Roses
Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory shortly before the 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice
Wealthy Mr. Darcy and spirited Elizabeth Bennett dislike each other at first sight, and each must contend with their pride and prejudices while Elizabeth's mother plots economically advantageous marriages for all her daughters.

Bauer, Joan. Backwater
While compiling a genealogy of her family of successful attorneys, sixteen-year-old history buff Ivy Breedlove treks into the mountain wilderness to interview a reclusive aunt with whom she identifies and who in turn helps her to truly know herself and her family.

Blackwood, Gary. The Shakespeare Stealer
A young orphan boy is ordered by his master to infiltrate Shakespeare's acting troupe in order to steal the script of "Hamlet," but he discovers instead the meaning of friendship and loyalty.

Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker
At the age of six Ned Begay was sent to boarding school where he was taught English and forbidden to speak Navajo.But then he enlisted in Marines during WWII where he and other Navajos sent coded messages in their native language. Now he tells his story about combat in Hawaii, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and other islands in the Pacific to his grandchildren .

Cabot, Meg. All-American Girl
A sophomore girl stops a presidential assassination attempt, is appointed Teen Ambassador to the United Nations, and catches the eye of the very cute First Son.

Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game
An expert at simulated war games, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin believes that he is engaged in one more computer war game when, in truth, he is commanding the last Earth fleet against an alien race seeking Earth's complete destruction.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud Not Buddy
Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Erdrich. Louise. The Birchbark House
Omakayas, a seven-year-old Ojibwe girl lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847 and learns about her past.

Fletcher, Susan. Walk Across the Sea
In late nineteenth-century California, when Chinese immigrants are being driven out or even killed for fear they will take jobs from whites, fifteen-year-old Eliza Jane McCully defies the townspeople and her lighthouse-keeper father to help a Chinese boy who has been kind to her.

Greene, Betty. Summer of My German Soldier
Sheltering an escaped prisoner of war is the beginning of some shattering experiences for a twelve-year-old Jewish girl in Arkansas.

Hobbs, Will. Leaving Protection
Sixteen-year-old Robbie Daniels, happy to get a job aboard a troller fishing for king salmon off southeastern Alaska, finds himself in danger when he discovers that his mysterious captain is searching for long-buried Russian plaques that lay claim to Alaska and the Northwest.

Holt, Kimberly Willis. Part of Me: Stories of a Louisiana Family
Ten stories connect generations of a family living in the Louisiana bayous. Books and stories also connect the family starting with Rose who came from rural Texas to live with her estranged grandfather in 1939 and who lies about her age so she can drive the bookmobile to her great grandson Kyle who hates reading but who needing a summer job, finds one in the library.

Horowitz, Anthony. Stormbreaker
After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6.

Horvath, Polly. Everything On A Waffle
Eleven-year-old Primrose Squarp tells of her parents’ disappearance at sea, and her living arrangement with her Uncle Jack. Primrose's only refuge is at a local restaurant, where the owner, Miss Bowzer, serves everything on waffles; and I mean everything: bacon, eggs, steak, chili—even waffles!

Ives, Dave. Scrib
In 1863, a 16-year-old boy nicknamed Scrib travels around the West making his living writing and delivering letters, an occupation that leads to him nearly getting killed, being jailed as a criminal, joining up with the notorious Crazy James Kincaid, and delivering a letter from President Abraham Lincoln to a Paiute Indian.

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. Lily B On the Brink of Cool
13-year-old Lily has the most boring life in the world. Her dad never drives a mile over the speed limit and her mom actually makes the beds in hotels so the maid won’t think they’re untidy. Lily knows that she’ll never become a famous writer with a boring family like that, so when she has a chance to spend time with the glamorous LeBlancs’, she jumps for it, even though her parents and even her best friend do not approve.

Kindl, Patrice. Goose Chase
Rather than marry a cruel king or a seemingly dim-witted prince, an enchanted goose girl endures imprisonment, capture by several ogresses, and other dangers, before learning exactly who she is.

Levine, Gail Carson. Ella Enchanted
In this novel based on Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that makes her obey any order given her, including who she should marry.

Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia - Seven books in this series.

Luddy, Karon. Spelldown: The Big-Time Dreams of a Small-Town Word Wiz
In 1969, in the town of Red Clover, South Carolina, eighth-grader Karlene makes it to Shirley County Spelldown. Despite having a father who "can't seem to stay with the Twelve Step Program," a budding crush on Billy Ray and her fear of choking up has the support of her hard-working mother and a zany Latin teacher who opens up new worlds for her to make it to the state spelling bee and beyond. Some language

McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonsong
Forbidden by her father to indulge in music in any way, a girl on the planet Pern runs away, taking shelter with the planet's fire lizards who, along with her music, open a new life for her.

McKinley, Robin. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
Kind Beauty grows to love the Beast at whose castle she is compelled to stay and through her love releases him from the spell which had turned him from a handsome prince into an ugly beast.

Morpurgo, Michael. Private Peaceful
When Thomas, Peaceful's older brother is forced to join the British Army during WW I, Thomas decides to sign up as well, although he is only fourteen years old, to prove himself to his country, his family, his childhood love, Molly, and himself.

Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn
Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth's surface.

Patterson, Katherine. Jacob Have I Loved
Feeling deprived all her life of schooling, friends, mother, and even her name by her twin sister, Louise finally begins to fight back.

Paulsen, Gary. Mr. Tucket
In 1848, while on a wagon train headed for Oregon, fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket is kidnapped by Pawnee Indians and then falls in with a one-armed trapper who teaches him how to live in the wild.

Peck, Richard. A Long Way from Chicago
A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.

Peck, Richard. A Year Down Yonder
During the recession of 1937, fifteen-year-old Mary Alice is sent to live with her feisty, larger-than-life grandmother in rural Illinois and comes to a better understanding of this fearsome woman.

Peck, Richard. The Teacher’s Funeral
In rural Indiana in 1904, fifteen-year-old Russell's dreams of quitting school and joining a wheat threshing crew are disrupted when his older sister takes over the teaching at his one-room schoolhouse after mean, old Myrt Arbuckle "hauls off and dies."

Pratchett, Terry. Only You Can Save Mankind
Johnny Maxwell, 12, thinks he's a loser. His parents are on the verge of splitting up and he's not very good at the computer games that his friends like. But when his friend gives him a copy of the game Only You Can Save Mankind strange things start to happen, like it's hard to tell the difference between what is real and what's a game.

Shaw, Tucker. Flavor of the Week
Cyril, an overweight boy who is good friends with Rose but wishes he could be more, helps his best friend Nick woo her with culinary masterpieces which Cyril himself secretly creates. Includes recipes from the story. Includes a great recipe for cookies!

Sheldon, Dyan. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
In her first year at a suburban New Jersey high school, Mary Elizabeth Cep, who now calls herself "Lola," sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school.

Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Flipped
In alternating chapters, two teenagers describe how their feelings about themselves, each other, and their families have changed over the years.

Westerfeld, Scott. Uglies
Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Wrede, Patricia. Dealing with Dragons
Bored with traditional palace life, a princess goes off to live with a group of dragons and soon becomes involved with fighting against some disreputable wizards who want to steal away the dragons' kingdom.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thank you all. I will start looking at these during lunch. She wants new books to read and I'll be so happy to be able to give a little more guidance!
post #13 of 21
I was interrupted by a puppy begging for a walk! A few other suggestions:

Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (I haven't read it, but dd who is almost 14 y.o. is re-read it this weekend for the umpteenth time).

Karen Cushman's The Midwife's Apprentice and Matilda Bone

Sherlock Holmes - various titles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Jane Yolen and Robert Harris have a couple of historical fiction titles for YA - The Queen's Own Fool (about Mary, Queen of Scots) and Girl in the Cage (about Marjorie Bruce, the daughter of Robert the Bruce.

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, is a good re-telling of the fairy tale

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner has some fantasy elements, but is also an interesting portrayal of the time of Cromwell and the Roundheads in England. It's been years since I read it, and although it's listed for 10-12 y.o., for some reason I have a vague recollection of a sexually menacing scene - I may have been reading in something that wasn't there.

If she likes mythology, she may like Nancy Farmer's series with lots of Norse mythology: The Sea of Trolls, The Land of Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed. The protagonist is a boy, but he has a feisty girl side-kick. Personally, I found these books unevenly paced (the now-common curse of an author with a word processor and a weak editor), so it may be difficult to maintain interest at some points, but overall they are pretty good.

I second a lot of the recommendations above, particularly Jane Austen - DD started reading her last summer and loves her.
post #14 of 21
Rosemary Sutcliffe - the series about Roman Britain.

And as we segue into Arthurian mythology: Gillian Bradshaw's Gwalchmai trilogy.
post #15 of 21
Oh! Jane Yolen! "Sister Light, Sister Dark" is a great book.

And that made me remember Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising."
post #16 of 21
Oh, gosh, so many new books since I was that age... I think I might have to indulge in some of these for myself!
post #17 of 21
My 11 year old liked:

City of Ember
Mysterious Benedict society
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the suggestions. We have a long list to check out. I knew this site would be a great resource in this area.
post #19 of 21
I think our kids are very lucky to live in a time when there are so many great books to choose from.

A few other ideas:
Some of My Best Friends Are Books

On both Scholastic and the lexile site you can put reading level + interest level to get book ideas with brief plot descriptions so this would make it easier to find harder to read books with less mature subject matter.
post #20 of 21
The Girl with the Silver Eyes was one of my favorites too!!! I was actually just thinking about that book a few weeks ago...

Did anyone suggest Lois Duncan books? Stranger with my Face, Summer of Fear, The Third Eye, etc... One of them is about astral projection which I found fascinating.

Check to make sure they are appropriate for your daughter, but I remember loving them when I was young - can't remember what age, though.

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