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Books beginning with S


Sabriel

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Fairly Positive

Sabriel, 18-year-old daughter of the Mage Abhorsen, has to free her father and defeat his enemy before taking on his roles and responsibilities.

Conventional heroic valour and loyalty. Sisterly gentleness of an older girl with younger ones. Brief mention of sexual topics and an overheard sexual encounter. Concepts of necromancy and journeying between Death and Life. Considerable loss of life and gruesome injury in the final battle.

Adventure, Fantasy

Saffy's Angel

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Saffy, the second of four children, discovers that she is adopted and is determined to regain the Angel her grandfather left her in his will as a mark of something which is really hers.

A lighthearted look at family and friendships. Cheerful and close family, although the father is effectively living elsewhere. Positive look at wheelchair-bound youngster.

Family, Humorous

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

The Sanctuary Sparrow

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Liliwin, a wandering minstrel, is thrown out of Daniel Aurifaber's wedding feast after a jug is broken during his juggling act.

Detective, Historical

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

The Scent of Magic

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rachel and Eric are just learning to control the powers they discovered on Ithrea when a party of High Witches arrives on Earth to avenge the death of Dragweena.

Fantasy, Magic

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

The Secret Garden

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Mary Lennox, living in her uncle's lonely house on the Yorkshire Moors, finds the joy of living when she discovers the Secret Garden, locked away ten years before.

Classic, Growing-Up

The Secret of Castle Cant

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Lucy Wickright discovers a plot to kill the Baron and take over the Barony by controlling the young heir to the title.

Whimsical palace intrigue which turns quite nasty. Trust and friendship between two young girls. An illegitimate child acknowledged. Caricatured villainy resulting in the deaths of loved ones.

Adventure, Fantasy, Girls

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

Shadow Beast

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Meg, Jonny, Filch and Art try to connect Mr Frederick's lost cat, a sudden plague of rats, and mysterious activity down in the sewer.

Adventure, SciFi

Shadowmancer

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Parson Demurral is using the power of the Keruvim to bring him the power he wants; Raphah, helped by Thomas and Kate, has to recover the Keruvim and stop Demurral before he ends the Time of Captivity and lets loose the fallen Seruvim.

Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Magic

The Shakespeare Stealer

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Widge is a poor orphan who has the rare ability to write a unique coded shorthand.

A fast-moving historical novel that introduces you to life in 16th century London among the actors of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It depicts friendship, loyalty and honesty in a positive way.

Adventure, Historical

The Shapeshifter Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

In [Finding the Fox], Dax Jones discovers that he can turn into a fox and learns that he is one of the Children of Limitless Ability (COLA), to be educated in a secret government school on the Cornish coast.

Children with extraordinary powers: telekenesis, shapeshifting, healing, telepathy, illusion, dowsing and pyrokenesis. Common and sometimes comical acceptance of dialogue with the dead. All the children are motherless for plot reasons. Friendship and support among the children and between them and their teachers. Occasional plot-related brutal or vindictive behaviour including an attempt to auction the gifted children into slavery.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking

The Sheep Pig

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Babe, a piglet, is won by the farmer in the village show, and is adopted by the farm's sheepdog Fly.

Animal

The Ship That Flew

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Peter buys a model ship and discovers it to be magical, having the power to grow and shrink and to travel to distant places and times.

Magic

The Silver Branch

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rome's control over Britain is swaying, and two young Roman soldiers find themselves flung unexpectedly into the power politics of British leadership.

Politics & adventure in Roman Britain. Courage & loyalty to friends and family.

Adventure, Boys, Classic, Historical

The Silver Chair

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Eustace returns with Jill to Narnia where they must travel across little-explored areas of the land to find a prince lost for years.

A Quest tale, taking Eustace and Jill through hardships, trials of friendship and faith in their guide, and near-despair as they have to rescue a lost prince from his captor, a witch. Death as a return to life.

Animal, Classic, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Magic

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

Silver on the Tree

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Will, Bran and the Drews are gathered in Wales for the final part of the quest begun with the finding of the grail in Trewissick.

Awkward storyline; some nice set pieces; Good & Evil as two opposing forces

Arthurian, Magic

The Silver Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The story centres round the Balicki family set against the bleak landscape of war-torn Warsaw and the wreck that is post war Germany.

Classic, Family, 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

Skybreaker

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Matt Cruse learns of the location of the lost airship Hyperion, reputed to be carrying vast wealth.

An enjoyable adventure, if a little slow-moving in places. The pseudo-Edwardian setting with its valve-and-steam technology provides the atmosphere for what is a fairly conventional adventure plus romance story with no real issues. The supporting characters are mostly cardboard but the main leads have just enough depth to them, the female characters in particular having strengths and weaknesses without compromising their femininity.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Seafaring

Slaves of the Mastery

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The story is set five years after its predecessor and the city of Aramanth has completely changed.

Adventure, Fantasy

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

Smith

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Smith is a 12-year-old pickpocket in Dickensian London.

Adventure, Historical

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A funfair comes to a small town and a couple of boys, Jim & Will, discover some rather sinister attributes of the fairground owners and crew, notably a carousel which can make you older or younger.

Classic, Macabre

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

Song Quest

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Because she can talk to the Merlee sea creatures who have the power to grant safe access to ships, Rialle is taken by the Second Singer Toharo when he travels on a diplomatic mission to the mainland Karchlord, a mission which also includes looking out for a rebellious and runaway novice.

Fantasy

The Son of Neptune

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Percy Jackson has lost his memory of Camp Half-Blood and battles his way to the Roman Camp Jupiter where he must convince the Roman demigods that he isn’t a threat to them while he tries to recover his memory.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

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

Spellfall

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Natalie, kidnapped by Hawk, a low-class wizard who wants her to be the thirteenth member of his spellclave, escapes with his son Merlin, and finds her way to Earthaven.

Slight family difficulties; Strong friendships; Weak style

Magic

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

A Spoonful of Jam

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Elsie Hollis is terrified of the gang in the next street, and auditions for a part with the local repertory company simply to stay out of the way; she is astonished when she is actually given the part.

Growing-Up, War

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

Starcross

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Art, Myrtle and Mrs Mumby visit the new Starcross hotel on an asteroid near Mars only to discover that a more sinister scheme is afoot, involving mind-controlling top hats, a time-travelling ship from the American War of Independence, and a set of French Secret Agents.

Imaginative cybersteam adventure story. Slightly less pacy than the original. All manner of heroism, bravery, self-sacrifice, humour, and gentle romance.

Adventure, Fantasy, Growing-Up, Humorous, Romantic

The Star of Kazan

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Annika, found by Sigrid and Ellie on a walking trip, is brought up by them in the house of the Professors, until Frau Edeltraut comes along and reveals that she is Annika's mother.

Heartwarming story of one girl's steadfastness in the face of deception and hardships, and the lengths her friends go to to help her.

Friendship, 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

The Stone Book Quartet

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

4 interlinked short stories covering one rural Macclesfield family over some 3 centuries.

Historical, Short

Stone Heart

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

With the help of the Gunner from the Royal Artillery War Memorial and Edie, a girl of his own age who has special part to play, George is drawn into the war between Spits -- the human statues of London -- and Taints -- the gargoyles and monsters, until he finishes what he started when he inadvertently damaged a statue outside the Natural History Museum.

Fantasy adventure based around the statues of London. Persevering friendship, self-sacrifice and generosity. A religious character portrayed as untrustworthy. Slightly awkward mixture of straightforward physical battles and a mystical quest. Broken family backgrounds including implied violence between father and daughter. Occasional mild coarseness.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

The Stones of Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A mediaeval boy living at Green Knowe discovers that by going to the stones behind the house, he can meet the people who have lived and will live in the house.

Classic, Historical, Magic, Spooky

Stormbreaker

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex Rider believes his uncle guardian to be a banker.

Adventure, Boys

Strange Meeting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

John Hilliard rejoins his battalion near the front in World War I.

Friendship, Historical, War

A Stranger at Green Knowe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ping, the young refugee who stayed with two friends at Green Knowe in "The River.

The opening section, describing Hanno's childhood in the jungle is descriptive and moving. While the book is clearly aimed at the younger reader, the issues involved are not to be dealt with lightly: the author describes the loneliness of the caged animal, tempering this with the friendship of the zookeeper. Ping is forced into stealing to keep the creature fed.

Classic, Magic

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 Swallows and Amazons Series

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

Three families of children enjoy themselves outdoors in general, and sailing in particular, over several holidays.

Classic set of gentle outdoor adventure stories, often with a sailing theme. Healthy combination of imagination and down-to-earth competence in outdoor pursuits. Nicely-rounded characters inhabiting an inter-war landscape where children are allowed a wide degree of freedom but where politeness and consideration are uppermost. The books' uncomplicated style coupled with their outdoor milieux is like fresh air to a modern reader.

Classic, Friendship, Growing-Up, Seafaring

The Swish of the Curtain

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Positive → Edifying

As the summer starts, the Halfords move to Fenchester and strike up a friendship with the Fayne & Darwin families, prompting the youngsters to pool their talents and put on a play for their friends and acquaintances.

An undemanding story of youthful ambition and success. Dated but still very readable. Family tensions between children's ambitions and parental plans. Warmhearted generosity and good humour both in public and in private.

Classic, Family, Historical

The Sword of Shannara

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

First in a series of "Shannara" books.

Fantasy