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25 August 2011


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I think the following might fit the bill:
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton which is basically a mystery that spans three generations and has strong fairy tale elements woven in.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman which I loved!

Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.


If she wants fantasy/adventure with wit, M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril will fit the bill and it is a fantastic readaloud. Also, Enola Holmes is historical fiction, but I think Enola is a very modern girl and the books have a wicked sense of humour. Both series are enjoyed by hardcore Bartimaeus fans in my family who also enjoyed Harry, Percy, and the Hunger Games.


Maybe the Uglies series by Westerfeld? Or the Larklight series by Reeve - not contemporary, but definitely snarky.


She sounds like she'd like Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
Also, the Sammy Keyes mystery series by Wendelin Van Draanen.
And I second Enola Holmes, too.


What about Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath or Fly by night by Frances Hardinge?


For Fantasy: The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier and the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix

Contemp: the Dairy Queen series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

erin b.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede--also on the lighter side, but the whole series would make hilarious read-alouds.


The Bloody Jack series


Maybe Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy?

Lindsey Carmichael

Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series. Rolling-on-the-floor funny, and yet so profound.


I agree with Lindsey - the Wee Free Men is a must for reading aloud, if the reader can handle the brogue. Otherwise, get it on disc.

My son also liked Funke's Inkheart and Inkspell, though he was out of them by the time Inkdeath came out.


Ysabeau Wilce's Flora Segunda and Turner's Queen's Thief books.


my mom read "the phantom tollbooth" to me and my sister when we were little but it's still one of my favorite books and the wordplay is just hilarious! maybe "beauty" or "the blue sword"/"the hero and the crown" by robin mckinley and i feel like "the princess bride" by goldman has potential.


Here's my list of fantasies that fit the bill: Frontier Magic trilogy by Patricia C. Wrede; Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis, Abhorsen by Garth Nix; Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke; and anything written by either Heather Tomlinson or Franny Billingsley. I've also heard good things about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente.


All of the above, plus The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and the Cronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu

Hazel Edmunds

The Rogue Agent series from K E Miller are good fun and would be better being read aloud (don't get tangled with Karen Miller - one and the same person but the voice is completely different and some of it is VERY dark).

Sniffly Kitty

Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Margaret S.

Also any and all of the Moomin books by Tove Jansson. I didn’t really appreciate these until I was an adult, but a more sophisticated young reader might enjoy them.

Mistress Masham’s Repose by T. H. White.

I ripped through all the Robert Heinlein juveniles when I was that age. I expect they would be good for reading aloud, too.


If she liked Howl - read the rest in that series - I think there's three and try the Chrestomanci series too. I'd agree with Fly by Night and add Verdigris Deep, also by Hardinge (it might be called Well Witched in the US??). Oh and maybe some Eva Ibbotson? Either her historical novels or her fantasy - the fantasy is probably aimed at a slightly younger audience but makes for great read alouds. The secret of platform 13 is one of my favourites. And try Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

Quinny Ride


Alanna: The First Adventure
Or any of Tamora Pierce, really.


Cinda Chima's The Warrior Heir and the reat of the series.

Ms Avery

Seconding Garth Nix (although start with Sabriel, first and best in the trilogy), Chrestomanci, Moomins, Madeleine L'Engle. A Series of Unfortunate Events might be good too -- take a while to get going but the series gets pretty complex in the second half, and there's a lot of literary references that a precocious/snarky kid would probably get a kick out of.

Beth Kakuma-Depew

I'm seconding the Grimm Legacy, which is fun, light and very contemporary. There's a bit of romance but nothing beyond hand-holding. I'm also seconding Kat Incorrible, as a fun introduction to historical fiction, since it mixes in magic but stays true to period.


What about Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock? That book is GREAT on audio!

Rachel Boyce

I heartily recommend Wise Child by Monica Furlong, because the main character is so vivid, independent, and often difficult - a realistic kid character. Also, I loved the writing, which flows as you read aloud, but is simple and crisp.

Margaret S.

Sorry I messed up the font with my wrong tag! Let’s see if this corrects it—I hope!


Lloyd Alexander has good stuff. The ten & twelve year olds like The Prydain series, but Westmark might also be good; I haven't read it with an eye towards reading aloud, though.

My son and I read Wen Spencer's Ukiah books to each other, the first one is _Alien Taste_. There are some sex scenes, which we read separately because that just felt odd. We read parts of Scalzi's recent _Fuzzy Nation_ out loud. We've listened to a lot of Tamara Pierce audios on car trips, so those read aloud well.

Oh, oh, oh, oh -- Megan Whelan Turner. _The Thief_ is a marvelous read-aloud, and the sequels are even better books.


Speaking of Lloyd Alexander, the Vesper Holly books!

Guys, this is an AWESOME list: Thank you!


The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins is a sure winner. Also, try Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series in addition to Uglies mentioned above. The first book in Midnighters is The Secret Hour.


I second Tamora Pierce and Megan Whelan Turner. And will add the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage.


What about Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - definitely snarky!And the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth

What about "The Name of This Book is Secret" ... I actually read this one out loud myself and it was a lot of fun. Plus if they enjoy it there are the sequels to pick up as well.


I have not seen anyone mention Lemony Snicket -- she may have already read them -- but they are exceptional read alouds -- funny, thrilling and quite snarky, with the most charming narrative voice. (And an excellent female protagonist.) And she will enhance her vocabulary!

Jennifer Bradbury

I always fall back on the Kenneth Oppel "Airborn" series. So much fun.

Tina Zubak

I'll second Scott Westerfield trilogy that begins with Leviathan. It's steampunk but it has a very fiesty heroine. The Echo Falls series by Peter Abrahams is also a very good very contemporary mystery series with ongoing location/family drama. She may also like Shannon Hale's Princess Academy or Book of a Thousand Days.


I totally second The Phantom Tollbooth, and I'll add The Westing Game as well. If she can get over the language, I bet she'd love Sherlock Holmes. Ditto on The Hobbit, perhaps?


The Theodosia Throckmorton Series by R.L. LaFevers is set historically, but lovely. The Sisters Grimm series started pretty well, but at 12 she might be getting too old for them. I second the Eoin Colfer suggestion and also all of the Pratchett books. Outside of fantasy, there are some amazing classics that are great for that age. To Kill a Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables are books that can completely draw people of any age in.


Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel, His Dark Material trilogy by Phillip Pullman or Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.

Maureen E

Seconding Robin McKinley! Not Sunshine, but pretty much everything else.


Phantom Tollbooth.

How about the Sisters Grimm? Very funny and regularly snarky.


The Eyre Affair by jasper FForde.
The Graveyard Book and Coraline by Neil Gaiman


The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. Kiki Strike by Kirsten Stewart.


It's kind of my default for everything but Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan

It's not set modern per se but it's a fantastic read aloud and because it's light fantasy it's not really historical.

I definitely second Bartimaeus and Enola Holmes!


How does she feel about mysteries?
The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley (and sequels!!) features an 11-year-old, fiesty-as-Hades, brilliant heroine. Wonderful stories -- for adults and an intelligent kid.


I second The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It is absolutely FANTASTIC in so many ways and would make an AWESOME read-aloud.

I also second the Bloody Jack series (so much swashbuckling!), and put forth for consideration The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.


I really liked a book called Invitation to the Game when I was younger. It's sci-fi but really good. I read it a few years back to see if it was still good as an adult and it was.

Emily Calkins

My dad read Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories to me when I was around that age and I loved it! It's a book that, like Tollbooth, has so much wordplay that it really benefits from being read aloud.Eme


I second airborne, plus I first skulduggery pleasant.


Fourthing (or fifthing? I lost count) Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief books! Also the Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope. And I remember that when I was 12 I read The Scarlet Pimpernel and really enjoyed it, although it's...well, not modern.


Has anyone mentioned Kiki Strike? I imagine she might have already read it but if not will love the notion of running around in the tunnels under NYC. And yes to GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED.... it was far more fun and cheekier than I expected. And lots of snark plus a wicked spin at the end.

Caitlin Kittredge's THE IRON THORN is a darker steampunk/alt history adventure that has a host of creepy, smart aspects. There's a slight romance that will likely appeal to a 12 year old but it's more about action and has everything from the coolest house ever to bad bargains with fairy to a view of Boston that is all gears and asylums and well, lots of good stuff! ha! (The anti-Twilight, I think.)


The Hitchhikers Guide!


For contemporary: Lisa Yee's funny trilogy with the Rashomon-like element that all three books take place at the same time, each from a different person's point of view: Millicent Min, Girl Genius; Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time; So Totally Emily Ebers.

For fantasy: the series starting with Sorcery & Cecilia, by Patricia Wrede and Catherine Stevermer, which mixes regency period with magic and mystery and a good deal of humor. Very contemporary-feeling young women, considering the restraints of the period. And definitely Kat, Incorrigible, as mentioned above, for a younger regency protagonist with magic (and a more contemporary feel). Also maybe Hellspark by Janet Kagan, which is sci fi, has one of the coolest female protagonists I've ever seen (and she's snarky, though not humorous exactly), has a mystery to be solved, and very layered and interesting anthropological points throughout (about the different species gathered together on a world and their cultural misunderstandings). I found this book fascinating as a teen and it held up beautifully on adult rereading.

Yes to all of L.M. Montgomery, The Hero and the Crown / The Blue Sword, and especially The True Meaning of Smekday which is extremely snarky/silly.

Brooke Shirts

EVA IBBOTSON -- especially the historical fiction (such as Journey to the River Sea and The Dragonfly Pool)

I second the nomination of Francis Hardinge, Megan Whalen Turner, and Terry Pratchett.

As for something contemporary, hows about Sharon Creech (although it is admittedly low on snark)?


Oh! The Wednesday Wars would be perfect (and Okay For Now, a hot contender for this years' Newbery, which takes a minor character from Wednesday Wars and tells his story).

It's set in 1967/8, so contemporary-ish (has a lot of what happens that year, but has a modern feel rather than a historic feel). The main character is sure his teacher hates him because he's the only one left at school Wednesday afternoons when everyone else goes to Hebrew school or Catechism, so she is torturing him with various things including Shakespeare. Definite snark throughout (though it's not comic), very interesting and layered for the parents (one of my favorite middle-grade books of all time), lots to discuss. Shakespeare, baseball, the Vietnam war, problems with other kids and family expectations, a little romance, and just terrific writing.

Also, a lighter book, My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park, by Steve Kluger. My son and I had a blast reading this. Told from three points of view, written in various styles (report to teacher, blog, emails), it's just a fun and lovely book, but with plenty in there to keep everyone interested. Baseball, musicals, movies, orphans, teens with political causes, coming-out and a very sweet boy/boy does-he-like-me romance, and plenty of funny/sarcastic stuff, including a few lines we still quote.


The Kiki Strike books by Kirsten Miller.


Definitely the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.
The Curseworkers series by Holly Black is great - clever, hilarious, and very modern.
Also, Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry has a lot of depth and, I think, would make for a great read aloud experience.


Glida Joyce series and I second Mallorie's His Dark Materials Trilogy suggestion


A couple suggestions not yet mentioned
The Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman
The Seven Fabulous Wonders series by Katherine Roberts


Did you know you had this many readers?

Gregor the Overlander (quintet), definitely. Excellent pacing and character development, with a ton to talk about. And definitely has the modern-day backdrop to a fantasy/adventure.

The Maze Runner trilogy--action, adventure, great pacing. Characterization is a little weak, but the story is engrossing.

Bloody Jack is great, but the series does get a little racy as it progresses. Not anything super-questionable, but some suggestive remarks and plans for canoodling, though (as yet) it's never happened.

Evolution of Calpurnia Tate? But it's realistic/historical. Scientifically-minded, though! Gender expectations! Research!


How about Michael Scott's Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series? Fast-paced, contemporary + fantasy/mythology elements. Other recent fantasy picks would be Emerald Atlas and The Museum of Thieves. Also the Gary Schmidt books -- LOVED Okay for Now and there's a lot of snark factor there!

Citizen Reader

I second anything by Holly Black, very enjoyable stuff.
Would David Eddings's The Belgariad series be too old for her? I loved those at that age, along with Terry Brooks's Shannara books (if she likes fantasy). I've re-read and enjoyed all of those as an adult too, and found them enjoyable all over again.
And definitely Eoin Colfer. Lots of fun to be had there.
And now for something completely different--Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli? Maybe not snarky but kind of enjoyable all the same.

Grace Lillevig

Probably going to repeat a few here...
Bloody Jack - while it's historical, Jackie is very modern, IMO
Enola Holmes - Agree with previous recommendations...great heroine
Fablehaven - Since she enjoyed HP and likes fantasy, it's a fun series
His Dark Materials - If she (they) have read Sally Lockhart, then why not Pullman's other series
Anything by Tamora Pierce. Again, they're set in a middle ages type fantasy world, but her heroines (and heroes) are really great. Start with Alanna


Um, have you thought of some of the classics? If she is not afraid to ask questions about words she does not understand, how about:

"An Old-Fashioned Girl" by Louisa May Alcott (I imagine you have all ready done "Little Women" which contains one of the snarkiest characters in all fiction)

"Nicholas Nickleby" by Dickens is hilarious, as s "Dombey and Son" and how can you not do "David Copperfield" and "Oliver Twist"?

"Tom's Midnight Garden" by Philippa Pearce is short and perhaps a bit young, but one of the most perfect young person's stories ever written.

Rosemary Sutcliff's rendition of the Iliad "Black Ships Before Troy", or why not go to work and do the full Iliad and Odyssey? Just about anything by Sutcliff is pretty good.

"Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre", by the Brontes

"Dracula" and "Frankenstein", which my daughter just finished and found very intriguing, especially in the face of all the vampire popularity at the moment.

I did all of the above with my children very successfully. I confess that I did a lot of simultaneous translation into modern, simpler English when reading some of the above, but was worth it for the great stories.

I certainly second the "His Dark Materials" trilogy and the Eoin Colfer books.
Have fun!


The Oz books aren't contemporary, but there are a million of them and I loved reading them with my mom when I was younger. I still remember a lot of the details, and I think there is room for a lot of discussion there about race and stuff. Maybe not contemporary enough, though?


So many great suggestions here! I second The Wednesday Wars. It made me laugh out loud.


I third Robin McKinley. I've read them aloud, and they are good. Not Sunshine, for that age, but pretty much all the rest.


I think that's about the time when Bill shared Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with our snarky-smart precocious daughter.


I recommend the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan cooper. It starts off a bit old fashioned but then it gets more modern and snarky towards the end. I also recommend The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and the illustrations by Tony Diterlizzi are absolutely amazing.
p.s. Maybe the Casson Family Series by Hilary McKay?

Quinny Ride

I definitely second Kiki Strike. Very snarky.
Also the _Agency_ books. Historical spy stuff.
And...hmm... _The Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel_ series. Very smart and snarky.


The Ally Carter spy books

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Any and all Scott Westerfield books

The Bloody Jack Series


Dark is Rising is a great series. I loved Anne McCaffrey at that age (I still do).

Diane Adams

I loved Diane Duane's "So you want to be a wizard series." I also recommend Justine Larbalestier. We read Susan Coopers The Boggart and The Boggart and the Monster aloud. They were hilarious, a great juxtaposition of modern and old.
I just read Death Cloud by Andy Lane, the new book about Sherlock Holmes as a youth. Lots of great vocabulary and places for discussion about history, American and British relations,(and France).


The Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale-- ten books. Combination of fantasy, adventure, mystery, and more.

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