Judy Blume - Superfudge
There was a series my Mom read to me around that age called Stores from Grandma's attic. Each book was a bunch of short stories set around the Little House time period. Very realistic stories and age appropriate.
You felt Edith Nesbit might be too scary, but "The Railway Children" is realistic and not scary that I remember.
I have been mentally going over my childhood bookshelves: have I mentioned Christine Noestlinger? Mostly teenage fiction, but also some preteen stuff that might be right (realism with some fantastical elements, IIRC).
James Kruess for DD1: : "Mein Urgrossvater und ich". Great language games and poetry! "Timm Thaler oder Das verkaufte Lachen". Some fasntastical elements, maybe a little scary. "Die glücklichen Inseln hinter dem Winde", Poetry and fantasy. There is lots more James Kruess, some of it realistic IIRC.
James Kruess for DD12 - poetry picture books for little ones: "Henriette Bimmelbahn", "Die ganz besonders nette Straßenbahn".
Ursula Wölfel! For DD1: "Fliegender Stern", "Sinchen hinter der Mauer", "Mond Mond Mond" (great book but holocaust allusions).
For DD2: "Suppengeschichten", "Lachgeschichten".
Early chapter books I can't wait to whip out for DS as soon as he is over his "no fiction, please, just Pippi Longstocking" phase, which might be right for DD2 soon:
Otfried Preussler: "Das kleine Gespenst", "Die kleine Hexe", "Der Raeuber Hotzenplotz" (all fairy tale elements). If she lokes books about animals: his award-winning recounting of "Kater Mikesch" by Josef Lada. For older kids "Die Abenteuer des starken Wanja" (fantastical elements), "Krabat" (all withcraft and wizardry, but it is SUCH a great story).
Michael Ende "Jim Knopf", "Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13".
Irina Korschunow: "Die Wawuschels mit den grünen Haaren".
Max Kruse: "Don Blech, "Urmel aus dem Eis".
"Hanni und Nanni" which I think is based on Enid Blyton but rewritten in German reminded me of the gazillions of children's detective stories she has written, and which will last forever. Bad stereotyping of girls though IIRC and kids younger than ten are always considered little and silly, which annoyed me no end when I read them...
DD also really liked Clementine. She devoured the AtoZ mysteries and the Magic Treehouse though. Recently she has been reading a series called the Amazing Days of Abby Hayes. She also really likes Roald Dahl - Matilda and the BFG were the faves so far. And we love Lois Lowry, she has a good sense of humor. Sounds like you're already reading Pippi. She might like the AG books, but I hear you on the can of worms. The worms took over my house already. Others we have in our list are Milly-Molly-Mandy, Boxcar children and the All-of-a-Kind family.
I don't know if this is too way out - but it's not fantasy, not scary, no animals etc, it's a semi-memoir translated from Japanese, about a little girl's experience in an alternative kindergarten that values individualism and quirky personalities. Right at the end, the school was bombed (WWII), but if I remember correctly, it was all said very gently and it's overall a very gentle book. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totto-Chan:_The_Little_Girl_at_the_Window
for your DD1, since she likes the little house books, the first four Betsy, Tacy books by Maude Heart Lovelace. similar in that the author was basically writing about her own childhood. mostly just the best friends playing together and growing up together though. she probably wouldn't like the rest of the series when the girls are in high-school and after, they do start to get a bit more drama-y
Regarding Betsy Tacy and the Penderwicks, which I recommended up thread, both—there is death in both. In The Penderwicks, the mom has died of cancer before the story begins so there are 4 girls and their dad. They don't dwell on the mom's death, but they do mention it and there is some reflecting back. It's not a huge plot element, though. In Betsy-Tacy (which my girls were loving as an audio book until...) there is a baby sister who dies. Is it Tacy's? I can't remember. It was some time ago that we listened to that and it was a big shock. My girls asked for it to be turned off after that and never wanted to go back to the story. Other than that one bit, it was a lot like Milly Molly Mandy which they also loved. I think that's why the baby's death was such a shock. So, just a heads up if you have a sensitive one.
Elizabeth Enright has a series about the Melendy family that begins with The Saturdays. They are dense and a higher reading level than the Little House Books, but they are charming, and each chapter is a somewhat contained story. They are adventurous, but nothing scary or traumatic--each chapter's excitement ends before the next chapter. I bought them in hardcover, because I think they take a lot of re-reading, and my DD's been re-reading them for a year and a half.
Patricia MacLachlan has a series that follows after Sarah, Plain and Tall. They have a little more emotional content than Little House, but they end on an upbeat note.
My son enjoyed My Father's Dragon and the two sequels, but they are obviously fantasy. They are very mild and silly. He also enjoyed The Twenty-One Balloons, which is a bit old-fashioned and again, kind of silly. My DH read that one aloud, and recommends it.
My daughter and I just discovered the Melendy Quartet last week visiting a new library. She just finished the first one and I've read the first two chapters. It's just about right, except that they do kind of treat the four-year-old as a baby. That wouldn't fly here with our three-year-old. Anyway, it's a nice find. Thank you. We will keep working on finding and trying some of your recommendations. Right now she's reading Mr. Popper's Penguins again. She really likes that one.
Oh, and we got the two Penderwicks books. Did I post that already? She liked them! Thank you!
Dd did read the My Father's Dragon books last year. Her school library had them. She liked them well enough, but I don't think they were quite the right thing. She hasn't read anything else like that since. They're also a bit simple for her normal fare. I'll have to ask her what her feeling is about them.
So many more titles to try and find. Thanks again!
Waiting on Inter-Library Loan...
Dd1 just read through the 50 early chapter books her sister got out of the library, re-read Mr. Popper's Penguins, re-read the two Penderwick books and is starting back in on the Melendy Quartet. I wish we could get the wonderful German recommendations on Inter-Library loan. In addition to all the Rylant and Rylantesque stuff dd2 is reading, she rediscovered Dr. Seuss at the library today and spent the evening reading those aloud. She thinks those are so funny. I wish our libraries had more books, though.
Thanks for the reminder about the Stories from Grandma's Attic books! I loved them as a child (also an asynchronous reader and VERY sensitive to "scary" or "grownup" themes) but had forgotten them until now! I loved the one when the heroine puts her tongue on the frozen flagpole... and the one where they put honey on their faces as advised by their mother's magazine, and make a big mess... the adventures were just my speed!
I can't really recommend any series (ds doesn't tend to like series except for the Guardian's of Ga'Hoole.
I like Lois Lowry books.
We have tons of books in our bookcase that we haven't gotten to yet. I'll pop back in when we've read more.
Oh, although it's not a part of a series, The Sixty Eight Rooms is pretty good.
I just wanted to come back after all this time and tell you all that your recommendations were super helpful. Dd1 read all the Trixie Belden books and adored them! She also absolutely loved the Anne of Green Gables books! Die Wilden Hühner was also a hit! She also really took took to Die ??? - ironically she didn't like the girl series. Oh, and Caddie Woodlawn was a hit, too. What a great little book! She also liked the Penderwicks - you guys are really awesome! She enjoyed The Trumpet of the Swan, too.
For the younger one, all the E.B. White books were a hit, as was the entire Nancy Drew series, the Harry Potter series and so many Cynthia Rylant books (I wish she had written more of those Cobblestreet Cousins books and the Highrise Private Eyes! Such fun books!) She also really loved the Minnie and Moo series.She liked Clementine and Ivy and Bean and also the Little House series. She likes Erich Kästner - thanks for the tips! She especially liked Emil und die Detektive. She also took to the Carolotta and Insel-Internat books.
Thanks so much for all your help!
Got any new books to recommend?
Dd1 really liked the Birchbark House series
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Goddess Girls
The Artemis series
The Wings of Fire series
The Land of Elyon series
Dd2 really liked the Clover Twig books
The Little House books
The Harry Potter books
Trumpet of the Swan
The Emily Windsnap series
all the Geronimo Stilton series
That's all I can think of now...
Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage (Magyck is the first one). They're about the level of intensity of the first 3 Harry Potter books, but big fat books. We listened to the audio. There are 7 of them. They're exciting, magical, and funny, but not as dark and heavy as the later Harry Potters.
Have you read much Corneila Funke? They're all fantasy novels, but your Harry Potter fan might like them and you could read in English and German. We liked the Inkheart series and before that the DragonRider and Igraine the Brave. Igraine would be the easiest, then DragonRider (though it's very thick) and then the Inkheart series.
For the old-fashioned feel, have you read any Eleanor Estes? My kids loved Pinky Pye (a cat) when they were little, although it's a long book, just very sweet and gentle. She has many others also.
I thought of one more series they might like. The first one is called "The Time Travelers" or "Gideon, The Cutpurse" depending on the edition and country. It's by Linda Buckley-Archer. There are three books in the series and it concerns a boy and a girl from now (more or less) who accidentally go back in time to the 1700s in England. There's a lot of history which might appeal to your Little House fan and of course some fantasy with the time travel. I thought it was really well done—we listened to the audio books in the car. (We do a lot of that.)
Oh, hey. How about The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley (no relation that I know of to Linda). It's a 9 book series I believe, though they aren't big fat books. Two sisters are descendants of the Brothers Grimm and have to come to grips with their responsibilities in the family business of keeping all the fairy tale characters in line. Lots of action and humor.