Series and Sequences
The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine (ages 8 and up, even younger if used as read-alouds)
- The Fairy's Mistake
- The Princess Test
- Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep
- Cinderellis and the Glass Hill
- The Fairy's Return
- For Biddle's Sake
The Princess Tales are lively and fabulous retellings of famous fairy tales. The Fairy's Mistake is more upbeat and cunning than the original tale of Diamonds and Toads, but it still stays true to much of the original story. The Princess Test is a sassy remake of The Princess and the Pea which presents readers with a fussy, fidgety, picky heroine prone to accidents and allergies. Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep breathes new life into the old tale of Sleeping Beauty. Cinderellis and the Glass Hill mixes the tale of Cinderella with the Norwegian fairy tale The Princess and the Glass Hill. (Instead of Cinderella, we have Cinderellis. Instead of a prince, we have Princess Charming.) All of the Tales take place in the land of Biddle. A smart, light series for the whole family to share.
Owlboy by Thomas E. Sniegoski (ages 8 and up)
- #1 Billy Hooten, Owlboy
- #2 Owlboy: The Girl with The Destructo Touch
- #3 Owlboy: Tremble at the Terror of Zis-Boom-Bah
- #4 Owlboy: The Flock of Fury
Billy Hooten would rather read his comic books - especially Owlboy - than deal with his classmates - especially the bullies. When he learns that Owlboy's adventures may be based on real stories, and when he dons the Owlboy costume, his life changes in ways he never could have dreamed. Where can you find walking skeletons, a talking firefly named Walter, and dust bunnies that are actually in the shape of bunnies? Nowhere other than Monstros City, a mysterious place beneath Billy's hometown of Bradbury, Massachusetts.
Check out my blog post dedicated to the series.
Learn more about the series at the official website!
Tales of The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker (ages 10 and up)
- The Frog Princess
- Dragon's Breath
- Once Upon a Curse
- No Place for Magic
- The Salamander Spell (this fifth book is actually a prequel)
A girl kisses a frog - but instead of him turning back into a prince, she turns into a frog! The popularity of the first book led to another . . . and another . . . and another . . . and I still want more! The quality is consistent throughout the series -- consistently fun and funny.
The Molly Moon books by Georgia Byng (ages 8 and up)
- Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism
- Molly Moon Stops the World
- Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure
- Molly Moon, Micky Minus, & the Mind Machine
Molly Moon is part Eloise, part Little Orphan Annie. She lives at an orphanage in Great Britain under the watchful gaze of a cold woman who does not particularly like children. Then Molly discovers a book on hypnotism at the library, and her world goes from dull to wow. Soon, she's traveling all over the world - and through time! Read more about the series.
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (ages 10 and up)
This easy, breezy read has a number of tongue-in-cheek references and events that mix the old-fashioned with the modern. For example, the two leads communicate using a messenger pigeon and call it P-mail. Twice Upon a Marigold, the sequel, was released in May 2008.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede (ages 10 and up)
- Dealing with Dragons
- Searching for Dragons
- Calling on Dragons
- Talking to Dragons
- Book of Enchantments (related, as opposed to within the series itself)
Dragons! Adventure! Defiance!
The Magic in Manhattan books by Sarah Mlynowski (ages 12 and up)
- Bras & Broomsticks
- Frogs & French Kisses
- Spells & Sleeping Bags
- Parties & Potions
Stir together the silliness of Bewitched and the hijinks of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, add the sassiness of a modern-day New Yorker and a sprinkling of sibling rivalry, and you've got a magical series. Read more about the Magic in Manhattan books.
Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil books by Rosemary Clement-Moore (ages 14 and up)
- Prom Dates From Hell
- Hell Week
- Highway to Hell
Maggie Quinn is a modern-day Nancy Drew who defeats demons while tossing off witty retorts. I recommend these witty, fast-moving stories to anyone and everyone who watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars. Read my interview with Rosemary Clement-Moore.
The Xanth series by Piers Anthony (shelved in fantasy for adults, so recommended for teens, not younger kids)
There are thirty books in this series to date, so I won't list them all here. The first book is A Spell for Chameleon. The first Piers Anthony book I read was actually non-fiction: Letters to Jenny, a collection of correspondence between the author and a young fan who was in a car accident which left her comatose. My mother read an article about the book and thought it sounded like something I would enjoy. She was correct. After reading Letters to Jenny, I found Demons Don't Dream, read it, and liked it. I then got A Spell for Chameleon and read the series in order. Demons Don't Dream is still my favorite in this series because it was the first Xanth I read.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (ages 8 and up; great for a read-aloud; illustrated)
Milo is always bored. Bored, bored, bored. Then he gets a package and a mysterious letter. Inside the box is a tollbooth, which he goes through after he puts it together. He finds himself in the Kingdom of Wisdom, which is occupied by many crazy characters.
This book is also one of my childhood favorites. It is filled with big words and wordplay. It has similarities to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, naturally, because both stories revolve around a young protagonist going on a journey to and through a fantastic land. Like Lewis Carroll, Norton Juster employs many great puns. The humor and sensibility of The Phantom Tollbooth is similar to that of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Have a dictionary handy and encourage young readers to look up the cool words they might not have seen or used before! After finishing the book, watch the movie and compare the two.
Have a Heart, Cupid Delaney by Ellen Leroe (ages 12 and up)
Of all of the books I've read that deal with cupids, Have a Heart, Cupid Delaney by Ellen Leroe is my absolute favorite. To earn her wings, a female cupid must observe four high school students on Earth. Delaney is assigned to make two pairs - each with one popular kid and one not-so-popular kid. Though she is determined to earn her wings and show her superiors that she can do her job, Cupid Delaney really messes up the plans when she herself falls in love! Read the rest of my review.
Note: There's a sequel entitled Meet Your Match, Cupid Delaney, but I think Have a Heart is stronger and funnier than the second book.
How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (ages 12 and up)
In a fun world where many people have fairies that grant them unusual bits of luck, Charlotte (Charlie) feels cursed by her gift: the ability to always get a good parking spot. She's not even old enough to drive yet, so others - such as her mum and a dim bully at her school - drag her into their cars to play passenger. Fed up, Charlie teams up with Fiorenze, a popular girl who has an all-the-boys-like-you fairy, and the two attempt to switch their fairies. Comedic chaos ensues. Read my full-length book review.
The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou (ages 12 and up)
Popular Heather and bookworm Veronica reach for the last copy of Queen of Twilight at the same time, both needing it for English class. Veronica has read and enjoyed the book before, while Heather only wants it for the sake of the assignment. When the bookstore cashier accidentally zaps the girls with the barcode scanner, the two teens end up inside of the story. As the book comes to life around them, they will have to use their wits and wittiness to stay one page ahead of the bad guys, and they must learn to work together in order find a way back home. A cute story-within-a-story that references and spoofs famous fantasies, The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey is best read with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Related Booklist: Fantasy Novels for Kids and Teens