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Books aimed at Young Teens

Ages 13 to 14


Absolute Power

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

The New Heroes, second-generation superpowered youngsters, have to make difficult decisions when their leader Colin runs away and they are under political attack from the worldwide Trutopian organisation led, unknown to them, by their enemy Victor Cross and the mind-controlling Yvonne.

Comic-book style superhero action; mind-control; the morality of military action; morality of prison conditions; human cloning.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

The "Alex Rider" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

(synthesised) Alex Rider, in some spectacular set piece, (foils a robbery / spikes an evil plan / discovers a hidden plot), at which point MI6 then call him in to tell him that they'll tidy up whatever mess he left behind, but that it would be useful if he were to infiltrate (a computer game company / a Cuban holiday resort / the home of a suspiciously rich man) armed only with (explosive chewing gum / acidic toothpaste / a metal-detecting yo-yo).

Attractive and mostly unobjectionable action-paced young spy stories. Occasional very mild references to a teenage girl's precocious interest in boys. General air of amorality among main characters.

Adventure, Boys

Amongst the Hidden

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Luke is a third child in a world where only two are allowed per family, because of shortages.

A sideswipe, although ambivalent, at current policies and ideas about keeping population levels down to avoid shortages. Luke's farming family are close despite the problems of keeping him hidden. Jen's richer family have also risked many things to keep her safe.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Ark Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex, recuperating in hospital, is mistaken for Paul Drevin, son of a rich businessman, and kidnapped.

Adventure, Boys

The Arm of the Starfish

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

17-year-old Adam Eddington is going to Europe to spend the summer working on a Portuguese island with the famous biologist Dr O'Keefe.

Accessible mild adventure story. Family closeness with faith, extending to friends. Dolphin intelligence.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Arthur - The Seeing Stone

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

12-year-old Arthur de Caldicot is the younger son of a lesser landowner in the Welsh Marches at the turn of the 13th century.

Firmly-rooted and very human take on 13th century life in England, mixed in with the story of the mythical Arthur. Simple, if sometimes superstitious, faith.

Arthurian, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, Magic

Badger on the Barge

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

A series of 5 short stories, each portraying an adolescent coming to terms with a situation.

The stories seem intended to highlight the tensions surrounding a young adolescent. No age is mentioned, but 13 or 14 would make sense in most cases.

Growing-Up, Short

Baldur's Bones

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Timid 14-year-old Finn is recently orphaned and is staying with the elderly Meg & Bill.

Uninspired spooky story redeemed somewhat by the friendship between two different youngsters.

Friendship, Spooky

The Big Pink

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Angela, a fat 13-year-old, is sent to her aunt's girls' boarding school when her parents go to Pakistan as missionaries.

There is some rather vulgar indelicacy making it especially unsuitable for boys, but on the whole it's a readable teenaged girls' school story.

Girls, Growing-Up, School

Blitzcat

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Lord Gort, a cat is trying to find her owner, an RAF pilot.

A pleasant read for the most part; the action is seen either through the eyes of the cat, always couched in such terms as a cat would be expected to understand, or through those of the person to whom she's presently attached. The story is marred by the section concerning Sergeant Smith, who keeps a collection of pin-up girls, and the married woman who makes love to him on a hilltop.

Animal, Historical, War

A Bone from a Dry Sea

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Li, an intelligent Aquatic ape lives four million years ago on the shores of an African Sea; Vinny, now, is helping her father discover the fossilised remains of Li's tribe.

Interesting, helping the imagination discover the relationship between modern and ancient Africa; divorced parents; the birth of intelligence in mammals.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Bronte Girls

Style: Weak

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

A father and mother are convinced that the 20th century will corrupt their three daughters and so they buy a secluded farmhouse and base their life on the Bronte family.

Girls, Romantic, Thought-provoking

Buddy

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Buddy Clark's father finds a job which Buddy - rightly - suspects to be dodgy.

A typical story of a young teenager in a separated family, with his father involved in criminal circles. A small smattering of vulgarity. Not especially memorable.

Boys, Gritty, Growing-Up

The Changeover

Style: Weak

Attitude: Take Care

Laura, a 14-year-old New Zealander, turns to prefect Sorenson Carlisle - a witch - when her brother is possessed.

Magic

Crocodile Tears

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Alex agrees to help MI6 in return for their ridding him of a journalist who's learned about his secret life.

More of the same from Alex Rider. Page-turning adventure stuff, pleasing to boys, dramatic and well-researched, but without any particular characteristic to set it apart from the rest of the series or from other books in the genre. Alex selflessly puts his life at risk to confound an evil scheme with no hope of reward. A crook uses his apparent (but unreal) conversion to Christianity as a mask for his continued criminal schemes. A thought-provoking if disturbing kidnap scene. Alex continues to fail to grow, but has at his disposal a tremendous ability to think and act his way out of dangerous situations, coupled with an amazing stamina and determination: A "Boys' Own" Boy.

Adventure, Boys

The Death Collector

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

George Archer finds himself under attack from a group who want the information in a diary of which he possesses the only remaining fragment.

Some grotesque scenes involving reanimation of men and animals by mechanical means. A fraudulent séance with a serious element. Possibly lethal violence used in self-defence by the protagonists.

Adventure, Macabre, SciFi

Demon Thief

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Kernel Fleck, able to see lights invisble to everyone else, frightens his parents when he returns from a mysterious absence with his younger brother Art.

Some shocking scenes as innocent people are killed grotesquely. Kernel's devotion to rescuing his younger brother. Dervish & Shark's loyalty to Kernel.

Fantasy, Horror, Macabre

The Door Within

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Positive

Aidan Thomas comes across a set of scrolls which tell a story in which he mysteriously becomes embroiled, travelling to The Realm to join the elite warriors of King Eliam in their attempt to sway the undecided people of Mithegarde.

Perseverance and loyalty to ones Ruler and fellow warriors. Acceptance of ones responsibilities however difficult. The hidden strengths people possess. Partial Christian allegory. Rather creaky style and language.

Adventure, Fantasy

Double Or Die

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

James Bond becomes entangled in the schemes of a rich gambler when a schoolmaster leaves mysteriously and sends James' friend Pritpal a cryptic letter explaning his departure.

Action-packed detective-cum-adventure story, combining fairly realistic if sometimes sickening action sequence and crossword-style puzzles. One boy is poisoned by being forced to swallow Gin. Several boys deceive their teachers and guardians in order to help James. Fast driving by a young teenager which ends in a crash.

Adventure, Boys

Eagle Strike

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex is holidaying with Sabina and her family in the south of France, when he sees Yassen, whom he recognises from [Stormbreaker].

Adventure, Boys

Earthfasts

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

David & Keith are schoolboys who meet a drummer boy on the hillside for whom am hour-long journey down a tunnel has taken three hundred years.

Fantasy

The Empty Sleeve

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Peter Gannet is apprenticed to a locksmith in Covent Garden.

Historical

Escape From Genopolis

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Usha and Arlo meet in the gladiatorial Circus, she as a recaptured slave who must fight for her life, he as a Natural who's been raised among citizens and who is now trying to return to the Regions outside the city to find his family.

A warning story about the dangers of cloning and genetic manipulation.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Faerie Wars

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Pyrgus, Prince of the Purple Emperor of the Faeries, is accidentally transported to Mr Fogarty's house and must rely on Henry and Mr Fogarty to return him to the Faerie Realm.

Family separation because of a lesbian affair. Commonplace acceptance of family breakups. One disturbingly camp character. Brief unintended voyeurism.

Fantasy

The Falconer's Knot

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Chiara, sent to a convent without any feeling of a vocation, meets Silvano, seeking sanctuary in the nearby monastery when the two houses are asked to provide pigments for the painting in the Basilica in nearby Assisi.

Lightweight whodunnit. Positive and coherent portrayal of the religious life, vocations and love among young people.

Detective, Growing-Up, Historical, Romantic

Feather Boy

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Robert Nobel, class pariah, becomes involved with the elderly and dying Edith Sorrel who persuades him to overcome his fears and to go to the top of Chance House, a derelict building nearby, and to make her a coat of feathers so that she -- like the Firebird in the legend -- might sing again.

Friendship, Growing-Up

Flambards

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Set in the years before the Great War.

This is the first of the popular Flambards books (Edge of the Cloud, Flambards in Summer, Flambards Divided et al.) and is aimed at teenagers.

Historical

The Garbage King

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Mamo & Dani form an unexpected alliance while each is sleeping on the streets, and together they join a gang of streetboys, begging but not stealing.

Growing-Up, Thought-provoking

The Giver

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jonas is about to turn 12, the age when people in his futuristic community become adults and are assigned jobs.

SciFi, Thought-provoking

Goggle-Eyes

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Helen is upset about her mother's boyfriend; her friend tells Helen of the difficulties she had coming to terms with her own mother's "boyfriend" (both are middle-aged) whom she nicknames "Goggle Eyes".

Coping with, Family

The Great Harlequin Grim

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Glenn Jackson has to adjust as he is uprooted from his home in Burnley to a village in Cumbria, but his mother refuses to come without explaining why and he finds it difficult to fit into the village community.

Marital difficulties with some attempt at reconciliation. Implied and condoned dishonesty by the main character and others. Some sensuality between 14-year-olds. Commonsense portrayal of a character with hearing difficulties. Negative portrayal of a religious character.

Coping with, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up

The Guardian of Isis

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

A story set some 40 years after "The Keeper of the Isis Light" when the original settlers on Isis have grown older and a new generation is growing up.

SciFi

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

The Prussian bombardment of London at the end of the 19th century left it demoralised and easy prey to demons of various sorts, known as wych-kind, leading certain men and women to become wych-hunters.

Fantasy, Magic

Here Lies Arthur

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Gwyna, escaping from raiders, is rescued by Merlin from the river and in turn helps him to deceive the impressionable warriors into believing in a Lady of the Lake, guardian of a mystical sword she bequeathes to Arthur.

Revisionist take on the Arthurian canon, suggesting the truth behind the magical elements of the stories. Slightly disturbing questions of sexual identity. Marital coldness and subsequent infidelity. Some brutal deaths and a little earthiness & indelicacy.

Arthurian, Growing-Up, Historical

Hitler's Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

In 1940 two German-speaking teenagers who have escaped the Nazis and are now living in England are parachuted into Germany to retrieve a young girl who is believed to be an important bargaining piece in the war between the powers.

Mediumweight adventure story. Bravery, heroism and loyalty by youngsters in perilous situations. Very mild, brief sensuality between teenagers. Apparently successful dowsing of the children’s location by a German diviner. Strong respect for human life and dignity.

Adventure, Friendship, War

The Hollow Land

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A series of short stories rather in the mould of Alan Garner.

Friendship, Short

The House in Norham Gardens

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Clare, a 14-year-old orphaned when young, is living with her great-aunts in the draughty big Victorian house her family has always owned when she finds the tribal tamburan her great-grandfather brought back from New Guinea.

A multi-layered book, exploring cultures which differ by place and by time. Clare's level-headedness and responsibility in the face of her elderly aunts' occasional inability to focus on the real world. The robust history and interests of Clare's aunts.

Growing-Up, Historical, Spooky, Thought-provoking

House of Secrets

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Polly sets out as an inexperienced maid in the big household of Swallowcliffe Hall, trying to find her feet while helping friends, being helped by others, and trying to ignore the scorn of some more experienced maids.

Conventional upstairs-downstairs story. Friendship & scorn for a newcomer. Circumspect subplot about an illegitimate child and the suggestion that he be aborted.

Historical

Izzy, Willy-Nilly

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Izzy, 15, accepts a lift home after a party from a boy who's had a bit too much.

Kit's Wilderness

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

13 year old Kit Watson has moved back to his ancestral town of Stoneygate, an old mining town in northern England.

The Lake at the End of the World

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in 2025 in a post-ecological holocaust Australia (we assume).

SciFi

Little Soldier

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Kaninda is a 14-year-old East African whose country is at war with itself.

War

The Looking-Glass Wars

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Princess Alyss Heart flees to 19th-Century England when her aunt stages a palace coup in their home of Wondertropolis, killing Alyss' parents the King & Queen.

A fresh reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. Some violent deaths and oppression. Perseverance and bravery in the face of exile and persecution. Apparent magical creation of life.

Adventure, Fantasy

Lord Loss

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Grubbs Grady sees his family horribly killed and is taken in by his father's mysterious brother who explains that the family is cursed and that he must learn to defend himself from demons and to play chess to help fight the curse.

Brief but shocking, grotesque horror, enough to send the main character into an asylum. Otherworldy demonic creatures and their master. Grubbs' family's closeness contrasted with his father's infidelity to his wife when away on business.

Fantasy, Horror, Macabre

Man in Motion

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Lloyd (13) leaves his friends in a Hampshire village and moves to an (unspecified) city elsewhere in England with his (divorced) mother and student sister.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

The Flock splits up when Max & Fang visit Dr Martinez to have Max's chip removed and the younger ones are captured and taken back to The School, the lab they grew up in.

Disappointing conclusion to the series. Fast-paced cartoon-style violent action with some casual references to scientific killing (of unwanted clones, hybrids etc). Redemption of a hated character. Continued loyalty of the winged youngsters to each other although with some rifts over the best course of action.

Adventure, SciFi

Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

When Fang is badly injured in a battle with new, fiercer Erasers, the Flock are forced to go to hospital where they are interrogated by the FBI but then taken under the wing of Anne and go to live at her home and go to normal school.

Slow-paced extension to the first book, developing little and establishing few new elements. The older children start to discover relationships with the opposite sex. Iggy finds his real family but they are only interested in the financial possibilities he offers.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Max and the Flock, children with wings, have run away from the School, the lab complex where they spent the first part of their lives locked in cages and experimented on.

Grotesque and disturbing genetic and behavioural experiments on young children with commonly fatal results. Tremendous love and supportiveness between the six children. Max's efforts to make sure she and the others do the right thing. Positive reference to religion. The children's desire to know whether they have parents and who they are. Some thefts by the children in difficult circumstances. Serious violence.

Adventure, Moral Issue, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Midnight Fox

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Tom, a townie, stays with his farming uncle and aunt, convinced he will hate every minute.

Animal, Coping with

Mission Telemark

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Four youngsters are sent into wartime Norway to destroy a Nazi heavy water plant, preventing the Germans from developing nuclear weaponry.

Disappointing. An awkward mixture of kids' caper and wartime resistance story. Courage and heroism in extreme physical conditions. Highly credible Scandinavian setting. Less credible characterisations. Tacit acceptance of suicide.

Adventure, War

The More the Merrier

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Ralph's family have invited the relatives around for Christmas Day, although not certain relatives who turn up anyway, and Ralph weaves his way skilfully through the chaos which ensues, trying to keep his own end up in the face of variously annoying relatives.

Family, Humorous

The "Mortal Engines" Quartet

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Edifying

Tom Natsworthy, an orphaned History apprentice on the Traction City of London, is sent in disgrace to the city’s Deep Gut after a bullying fellow-apprentice taunts him into a fight.

An engaging and uplifting story set against an imaginative future backdrop. Cyborg stalkers built around dead bodies. Romantic suicide. Christianity as a force for reconciliation.

Adventure, SciFi

Mostly Harmless

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Tricia Macmillan is taken by alien Grebulons to the 10th planet in the solar system, Ford Prefect raids the offices of the Hitch Hiker's Guide in search of a new assignment, discovers it's been taken over by Vogons, and steals the Mk II Guide, Arthur Dent hitchhikes round the galaxy a bit before settling down as The Sandwich Maker on a primitive planet, at which point Trillian turns up with their teenage daughter and leaves, the Mk II guide arrives, closely followed by Ford, whose spaceship is stolen by Arthur's daughter Random.

Humorous, SciFi

The Named

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Ethan must train a new apprentice in a hurry before setting off to 13th-century Westminster to make sure that History follows its true path.

Fine, but nothing special; time travel and subsequent dilemmas

Fantasy, Time-Travel

A Parcel of Patterns

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Plague is brought to the Derbyshire town of Eyam in 1665 by a parcel of dress patterns sent up from London.

Historical

Pawnee Warrior

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Darryl must do the best he can for his racing pigeons while keeping at bay his mother, pregnant with twins, his father, who doesn't want the pigeons, Warren, the school bully, and Susan Duckins and Suzie McAllister, who both have designs on him for entirely different reasons.

Animal, Friendship, Growing-Up, School

Pendragon - The Lost City of Faar

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Bobby & Press have followed Saint Dane to Cloral, a world covered completely by water, to prevent him from pushing as many worlds as he can to the point of chaos.

Fantasy

Pendragon - The Merchant of Death

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Bobby Pendragon has just kissed his girlfriend for the first time when his Uncle Press turns up and demands that he accompany him on a mission of vital importance which turns out to be through a portal which takes them to another world.

Poorly written; unobjectionable

Fantasy

Pendragon - The Never War

Style: Poor

Attitude: Take Care

Bobby finds Saint Dane manipulating things in 1937 New York, and must work out what link there is between a New York gangster, the Nazi Party, the Hindenburg Airship disaster and Saint Dane's plan for total chaos.

Fantasy

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Percy Jackson finds himself on a quest to rescue his satyr friend Grover, at the same time finding the Golden Fleece which alone can save the poisoned tree that protects Camp Half-Blood.

Based on the idea that the Greek gods are real and take root wherever civilisation is strongest, at present in the USA. Single-parent families as a commonplace. Rites-of-passage style story involving finding inner strengths and powers, overcoming magical and monstrous adversaries, and knowing when to trust people.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Percy Jackson once again finds himself on a quest when his friend Annabeth is captured and used as bait to lure the goddess Artemis in a bid by the Titans to take back the world they lost to the Olympian Gods.

Good-hearted and entertaining adventure story with modern takes on classical legends. The ongoing battle between the selfish Titans and the amoral Greek Gods. Instances of bravery, selflessness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Complicated family arrangements where an absent parent is an Olympian.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical

Point Blanc

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

14-year-old Alex Rider is asked once again by MI6 to go on a mission: this time, to infiltrate an exclusive Academy set high in the French Alps.

Adventure, Boys

Private Peaceful

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Like many other English soldiers in WWI, 'Tommo' Peaceful is too young to fight, however he lies about his age.

Historical, Thought-provoking, War

Prove Yourself a Hero

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Jonathan Meredith, son of a rich horse-dealing family, is kidnapped and held to ransom.

A worthwhile read.

Adventure, Thought-provoking

The Quantum Prophecy

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

10 years after all the superheroes and supervillains in the world disappeared in the wake of a titanic battle, a few youngsters start to develop superpowers, but are soon kidnapped by a mysterious organisation.

Comic-book style superhero action; moral dilemmas, some driven by visions of the future.

Growing-Up, SciFi

The Rag & Bone Shop

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jason, a shy 12-year-old, is questioned about the death of his friend Alicia, not realising that the interrogator is already convinced of his guilt.

A delicate dialogue between an ambitious and unscrupulous police investigator and a boy, friend to the young children in the area, whose friend has been killed.

Coping with, Detective

Ruby Holler

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Sairy & Tiller, an elderly couple, foster Dallas & Florida and help them to appreciate that not everyone is an enemy.

A lightweight plot supported by interesting characters. The perils of an institutional upbringing vs the pleasures of a simple family home. Positive depiction of the possibilities still offered to and by an older generation.

Growing-Up

Ruler of the Realm

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Henry is captured by aliens and then turns up in the Realm only to be part of a plot to capture Holly apparently with a view to mating with her while possessed by a demon.

Middling adventure story. Background of family breakup including a lesbian affair and a younger girlfriend. A few faintly disturbing descriptions. Loyalty and heroism among young characters.

Adventure, Fantasy

Running out of Time

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

When a Diphtheria epidemic starts in the village of Clifton in 1840, Jessie's mother explains to her what the adults in the village all know: that the year is in fact 1996, but the inhabitants of the village chose to live as though in the 19th century as an experiment and a showcase.

Contrasting the simple 19th century lifestyle with its modern unsympathetic equivalent. Ambivalent at the end as to which is better.

Growing-Up, Historical

Running Scared

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Set in mid-80's East London.

Adventure

Sakkara

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Sakkara is a secret US base to which young superheroes Danny, Colin and Renata are taken when their identities are exposed.

Lightweight young superhero thriller with typically violent action scenes. Slightly disturbing prophetic images. Impossible moral decision leading to a character's death.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

Sandwriter

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

Antia, a princess, is sent to a desert kingdom, ostensibly to be married, but with the instructions from her tutor (on whom she has a crush) to find their secret.

SciFi

Scavenger Hunt

Style: Poor

Attitude: Objectionable

A scavenger hunt is organised by the mysterious Mr Partridge.

Fantasy, Horror

Scorpia

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex, taking advantage of a school trip to Venice, finds his way to the headquarters of Scorpia, where Yassen had hinted he could find out about his father.

Adventure, Boys

Seed Time

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Tony's best friend at school has learning difficulties, problems at home, and is adept at getting himself into and out of trouble.

Two boys play truant and lie to their parents to get back an historical artefact they saw on a school trip; their parents, teachers and a policeman are understanding while pointing out what is wrong.

Coping with, School

The Silver Child

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Six children, each endowed with a particular gift, feel called to Coldharbour, rubbish-filled mudflats where ships were once built.

Fantasy

SilverFin

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

James Bond is a new boy at Eton and must learn the ropes quickly, while fending off the bullying tactics of George Hellebore and his cronies.

Boyhood adventure with some slightly frightening genetic experiments.

Adventure, Boys, Historical, War

Skeleton Key

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

On the run from the Chinese Triads after foiling one of their plans at the Wimbledon tennis championships, Alex Rider is loaned out to the CIA to infiltrate a Russian ex-General's secret base on an island near Cuba.

Adventure, Boys

The Sleeping Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A story within a story: Bun, now 12 years old, tells a story of his blindness two years before, and of how a sword he found in a hole under their field led him to King Arthur's resting place and helped him recover his sight.

Arthurian, Coping with, Friendship, Mythical

A Song for Summer

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Ellen, defying her aunts' idea of what a modern young woman should do, takes up the role of Housekeeper at a school in Austria run on alternative lines for children of rich parents.

Marriage as merely a convention. Generosity and maternal care by Ellen for the children and others in her charge. Bravery of those helping Jews escape from Nazi detention. Ironic view of militant spinsters, pretentious playwrights, and alternative lifestyles.

Growing-Up, Romantic, School, Thought-provoking

Space Trap

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

Valerie, Susan and Frank are caught in a matter transporter and taken as pets for entertainment of experiment.

SciFi

Spindle's End

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Katriona brings home baby Rosie from her trip to see the christening of the new princess.

A modern retelling of an old fairy tale without sacrificing traditional sensibilities. Simple joys of life in a backwater. Uncomplicated friendships and family. Generosity without asking anything in return. Casual reference to divorce.

Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

Stan

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Stan, 14, runs away from his foster home in London, trying to reach his brother in Ireland.

Gritty, Growing-Up

Standing in the Shadows

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Grace, more tomboy than girl, is finding it hard to work as a kitchenmaid, especially when the male staff are leaving to join the army in France and her father needs help in the stables.

A conventional period story, unoriginal but inoffensive. Horror and uselessness of War. Challenge to traditional work patterns. Family strength even in disagreement. Old story about an illegitimate child.

Family, Historical

Starseeker

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Luke Stanton, a gifted young musician, falls in with a local gang after his father dies but when he starts to rob an old lady's house, he finds himself drawn into her life.

A gifted boy runs with a gang to rob a house; the boy's mother apparently sleeps with a man; a childless woman keeps a child she finds injured by the roadside; existence as music; delight in music as a gift; the support of another girl for the boy who's trying to come to terms with himself

Coping with, Growing-Up, Thought-provoking

Step By Wicked Step

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Five children are waiting in an old house for the rest of their school group to arrive.

Making the best of divorced family situations.

Growing-Up

The Sterkarm Handshake

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

The Time Tube allows people from the 21st century to travel to the 16th to negotiate deals which will bring now unknown produce from an unpolluted world.

Adventure, Time-Travel

Stormbreaker

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex Rider believes his uncle guardian to be a banker.

Adventure, Boys

Stravaganza - City of Masks

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

16-year-old Ariana is drawn to the lagoon city of Bellezza in her world, while in ours Lucien, being treated for cancer, finds himself there, whole and well, when he sleeps.

Travel between parallel worlds with correspondingly dissimilar religion. Complex issues of life and death. Accepted pre-marital relations. Coping with fatal illness. Strained loyalty between two worlds.

Fantasy, Time-Travel

Stravaganza - City of Stars

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Fairly Positive

Georgia, taunted by her older step-brother, finds solace in horse-riding and the friendship of the owner of a curio shop where she buys a winged horse which transports her at night to the Talia of 400 years ago.

Some crude taunts about women and horse-riding. An unjustified suggestion that an older man is a sexual predator. Casual assumptions about annulment of marriage. Morally problematic subplot involving an apparent suicide. Contrast between Georgia's difficult family and Paolo's cheerful and large one. The Duke's true love for his family despite his machiavellian attitude.

Fantasy, Time-Travel

The Swallow and the Dark

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Sam is diagnosed with Spengler's Syndrome, a terminal illness, and must come to terms with his own mortality.

A story which tries sincerely to balance and contrast life and death for a modern youngster and his counterpart in the Great War, but which ultimately lacks depth. Inconclusive look at life & death; divorced family background

Coping with, Historical, Time-Travel, War

The Sword of Shannara

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

First in a series of "Shannara" books.

Fantasy

Talking in Whispers

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

15-year-old Juan Larreta is the only survivor when the car in which is travelling with his father and best friend is ambushed by agents of the military Junta in Chile.

Adventure

They do things differently there

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Charlotte falls in with a quiet girl in her class and discovers another side to the town they live in.

An antidote to superficiality, revelling in vivid imagination; rather wild idea of three warring orders of Nuns.

Girls, Growing-Up

Voyage

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of the voyage of several hundred Jews fleeing prewar Europe across the Atlantic.

Historical, Romantic, War

Warriors of Camlann

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Dan & Ursula have just escaped from Roman Britain and find themselves in Arthurian Britain a few centuries later.

Adventure, Arthurian, Historical, Magic, Time-Travel

The Wind Eye

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bertrand, a widower Cambridge professor with two daughters, has married Madeleine, a widow with a son.

Family, Magic, Time-Travel

The Wish List

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Meg and Belcher are both killed as they argue about letting an old man bleed to death whose flat they've tried to burgle.

Quirky take on the afterlife. Amusing in many places and sympathetic treatment of an old man trying to right the wrongs of his life. Probably rather dubious theologically. (But who knows?)

Humorous, Thought-provoking

Witch Child

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Mary's grandmother is burnt as a witch in the mid 17th century.

Historical, Magic

Yaxley's Cat

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Rose, mother of Timothy (13) and Jane, is holidaying with her children on the Nortolk coast, partly to get away from her too-efficient businessman husband.

Family, Spooky