Before you offer your kids any of these great new action and adventure books, make sure they don’t have much homework, because they won’t want to put them down!
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, by Kwame Mbalia
Tristan Strong has felt broken since he failed to save his best friend Eddie from a school bus accident. He’s lost his first boxing match, disappointing his family, and he’s been sent to his grandparents in Alabama to get over it all. There he finds himself at the beginning of the fight of his life when a little doll-like creature, Gum Baby, sneaks in to steal Eddie’s journal. In the struggle to get it back, Tristan rips open the sky, and falls into MidPass, a world whose people are hunted by iron monsters. It’s a place where all the stories his grandmother told him of John Henry, Brer Rabbit and co., and the gods of Africa, are real, and Tristan’s hole in the sky has let in new horrors. Now he has to help save it. Can he use the power of stories, and the magical boxing gloves he’s been given, to fix the hole in the sky? This is a rousing story of magical adventure, great friends and allies, foul monsters, and a boy who finds he is strong, after all. It’s a perfect read for any middle grade kid looking for adventure and inspiration!
Homerooms and Hall Passes, by Tom O’Donnell
In a magical realm, five young adventurers live a life of treasure hunting and monster slaying. To relax, they meet every week for a game of Homerooms and Hall Passes, where each plays an archetypal eighth-grader (the barbarian fighter, for instance, plays a Nerd). It’s all good fun until an ancient curse sends them to middle school, for real. Now, instead of rolling the dice, they actually have to study for tests and make friends through actual interactions, and it’s hilariously traumatic for them! Albiorix, the young wizard, has perhaps the hardest time—he was the Gamemaster, and doesn’t have a middle school persona in this strange new world, and so must lurk in the shadows of the school. Things get even worse when the cursed magic kicks in again, threatening both their new world and their old. It’s tons of fun, and a must-read for any young gamer!
The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times, by Cressida Cowell
Xar, a wizard boy with dangerous witch magic, Wish, a Warrior girl who can work extraordinary magic, and their odd assortment of mostly magical friends have come far in their quest to collect the ingredients they need for a spell to defeat the evil witches once and for all! But the last two are the hardest, and collecting scales from the monstrous Nuckalavee might be beyond them. Especially with witches, and Wish’s Warrior Queen mother, hot on their trail, and a traitor in their midst! Fully of thrilling dangers, wild magic, and lots of humor, this third book in the Wizards of Once Series is a fun ride with great characters through a wondrous world!
Frostfire, by Jamie Smith
Only a few are chosen to bond with the sentient glacier of Sabira’s wintery home. And of those chosen, not all succeed. Sabira makes the pilgrimage to the top of the glacier’s mountain to find her own frostsliver, but though the binding works, and she can communicate with the magical ice, she must fight to save herself and her injured uncle when an avalanche cuts them off from home. Nature is not the only danger she must overcome, for at the heart of the mountain is an all too human threat to all she holds dear. It’s a gripping survival story of a girl with incredible determination, full of wintery danger and with a lovely touch of magic.
A Way Between Worlds, by Melanie Crowder
All Griffin wanted to do was find his parents. But when he passed through a portal in an old lighthouse, he found his way into interconnected magical worlds. As told in The Lighthouse Between the Worlds, Griffin managed to escape with his parents from the world of Somni, whose totalitarian Priests are determined to take over all the worlds. Unwittingly, Griffin has helped them succeed. With the Earth portal still open, the Priests are using their powers of mind control on Earth’s military and will soon be unstoppable. On the watery world of Maris, Griffin must find the powerful music of the ocean that can block the Priests’ control, and take it back to earth, while his friend Fi, whom he met as a spy on Somni, returns to her home world to revive its magic of green and growing things. The various worlds and their magic are wonderfully fun to explore, and the struggle to save them is gripping reading!
The Hippo at the End of the Hall, by Helen Cooper
Ben’s invitation to the Gee Museum is delivered by bees. In the museum’s rooms full of natural history collections and treasures collected by the Gee family from around the world ages ago, he finds magic, and the truth about his father, who died many years ago off on an expedition of his own. But the museum is in danger of being demolished and its collection scattered. With help from the creatures who make the Gee museum their home (including the titular hippo), Ben sets out to find a way to save it. But not all the magic in the museum is friendly, as Ben learns the hard way. The danger is real and gripping, and Ben is a great character to cheer for. And the museum, brought to life in the many illustrations, is a wonderful place to visit.
The Beast, by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs
Nico, Opal, Tyler, Emma, and Logan are still figuring out their new job keeping monsters from coming out of the Darkdeep, an ancient whirlpool beneath their houseboat clubhouse, and dispatching those that do make it out (introduced inThe DarkDeep) . They’d hoped the Darkdeep would stay quiet for a while. It didn’t. As the kids hunt out more secrets about their new job, they find the Darkdeep is just a small piece of a bigger problem—there’s an interdimensional rift out in the ocean that’s even worse! Now they must figure out how to shut that down, or the world will be destroyed, and in the meantime, their town has been taken over by a monster-hunting reality show, jeopardizing their secrets… A sure hit for anyone who loves stories of kids coming together to fight ancient evil!