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Books set in Contemporary


Adam's Ark

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Adam, unable to communicate with other humans on account of his autism, finds that he can talk to animals telepathically, and this helps him become more confident as he tries to find out why he should have been chosen to receive this particular gift.

Family strain caused by an autistic child. Hidden strengths behind apparently disadvantaged boy. Ecological slant to humans' treatment of the planet.

Animal, 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

Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

One story from two memoirs; the orphaned evacuee who wants to find his roots and his daughter who achieves this.

Two memoirs; the first of a London evacuee from WWII, sent to Australia, where he grew up with the idea of finding his elder sister in England, by sailing a yacht back to GB. He died and – the second memoir – his daughter did the journey alone and met her aunt.

Adventure, Biographical, Documentary, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up, Romantic, Seafaring, Thought-provoking

The Amber Cat

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The imminent arrival of Robin's uncle Charley during Robin's bout of chicken pox causes his mother to reminisce about the days she spent with Charley, Nick and the slightly mysterious Harriet.

A combination of ghost story and family fun.

Family, Humorous, Spooky

The Amulet of Samarkand

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

When Nathaniel summons the Djinn Bartimaeus to steal the eponymous amulet from magician Rupert Lovelace as an act of petty revenge, his plan gets out of control and ends in tragedy for the people he lives with.

Witty and well-paced fantasy adventure. Humorous summoning of Djinni as servants. A childish act of revenge resulting in tragic deaths. Bravery & determination to combat an evil scheme.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The "Animorphs" series

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Half-a-dozen youngsters witness the crash of a flying saucer and are given the power to take on the body of any animal they can touch by the Andalite pilot before he is killed by his arch enemy Visser Three of the alien Yeerks: slugs who take over other creatures' bodies.

Conventional young teenage pap. Some redeeming features based on the friendship between the children and the occasional heroism displayed by them, their allies, or on one occasion one of their enemies. Mostly though black-or- white goody-baddy stuff with sporadic moralising.

Adventure, SciFi

Ark Angel

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

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

Adventure, Boys

Artemis Fowl

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Artemis Fowl, a 12-year-old criminal mastermind, comes from a long line of rich Irish criminals; however in recent years his father, now missing and presumed dead, managed to squander a substantial amount of the family's fortune and drag the name Fowl into disrepute.

Enjoyably different take on the world of Fairies; the 12-year-old main character's amorality in achieving his ends

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Arctic Incident

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Artemis Fowl wants to find his father, held hostage in Russia; Holly Short wants to find who's supplying the goblins with human technology; Foaly wants to find out who's disabled all the LEP Technology and pointed the finger at him.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Eternity Code

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The C-Cube, built by Artemis Fowl partly from Fairy technology, and therefore capable of breaching the Underworld's defences, is stolen by a shady American businessman who will do anything to obtain power.

Artemis' growing sense of responsibility to his family and to his employee, Butler. Holly's friendship for Artemis & Butler leading her to risk her job for them.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Artemis Fowl steals the world's most sought-after painting, but becomes entangled in a revenge bid by Opal Koboi against those who thwarted her previously.

Adventure with a little agonising by Artemis over the direction he should take.

Adventure, Friendship, Humorous, Magic

Astercote

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Peter and Mair Jenkins come to live in a village when their father becomes headmaster of the school there.

Intriguing, mixing semi-supernatural with modern superstition.

Coping with, Spooky

Avenger

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Elena becomes involved with a hi-tech mastermind nicknamed Dark Star when she asks him for help, and is drawn into his terrorist plot to gain revenge against the world.

Standard military thriller requiring little interference from the reader's intelligence. Amoral treatment of human beings as expendable pawns. Elena & Danny's loyalty to each other. Brief crude language.

Adventure, Boys

The "Babysitters Club" series

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

There are over a hundred books in this series, all quite short, very popular with younger girls.

Generally positive feel. Young teenage friends taking responsibility in different situations. General acceptance of complicated family setups.

Family, Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up

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 Battle of Bubble and Squeak

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

Sid Parker is given two gerbils by an emigrating friend.

A short book, pithy and true-to-life.

Coping with

Beyond the Chocolate War

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Sequel to "The Chocolate War": Archie Costello still runs the Vigils and therefore the school; Brother Leon is headmaster.

There's little positive to say here; Jerry, while convalescing on his uncle's smallholding in Canada appears to find solace in God, but it is clear that this relies more on the peace of the church than anything else.

Gritty, School

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

Blue Moon

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Mia and her boyfriend go too far in the fields one day and Mia finds that she is pregnant.

Abortion treated as matter of fact by everyone except the mother-to-be.

Coping with, Moral Issue

The Boggart and the Monster

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Boggart of Loch Ness is woken up when the Boggart of Castle Keep comes by.

Friendship, Magic

The Boggart

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A Boggart is a creature of the Wild Magic, a kind of house-elf, but which delights in mild mischief without a sense of responsibility.

Friendship, Magic

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

Boy Soldier

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Danny discovers that his former-SAS grandfather Fergus is back in England, and goes looking for him.

A young man and his girl friend trying to help his wrongly-accused grandfather to clear his name.

Adventure, Boys

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 Bus People

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Bertram is a school minibus driver on the "Fruitcake Run", picking up various handicapped children.

Short, Thought-provoking

Caddy's World

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Caddy grows up quickly as her family focuses on her dangerously ill baby sister while her friends start to pull apart while trying to keep together.

Amusing family story. Friendship between four girls who are growing up. Problems faced cheerfully by a family whose newborn sister might not live. Realistic sibling relationships.

Family, Girls, Growing-Up

The Casson Family Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

The Casson family cope with everyday life, their friends, and each other.

Affectionate understanding in a realistic, if occasionally off-beat, family setting. In spite of the sometimes unconventional activities of the Cassons, the family setting is very robust with mostly unspoken affection at its core. Humorous and fresh with believable characters and situations. Eve & Bill are effectively separated. Tom's parents are divorced (and his father has had a daughter by his new girlfriend). Saffy's parents are an unmarried woman and a married man. Bill has a girlfriend in his London flat, and one of Caddy's many boyfriends looks for a while as though he's going to become Eve's partner, but in the end doesn't.

Family, Humorous

The Chamber of Secrets

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

At the start of the school term at Hogwarts, several people are attacked and turned to stone and Harry is suspected of being the heir of Slytherin, responsible for reopening the Chamber of Secrets in which a monster is known to dwell.

Entertaining schoolboy adventure with magic elements and some rulebreaking.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

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

Charm School

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Bonny's family has only just moved into the area, her Dad's stuck in a lay-by somewhere and her mother has to take a bookkeeping course at the community centre so Bonny is signed up for an all-day Charm School.

Light-hearted dig at the obsessive preoccupation of young girls with their appearance

Growing-Up, Humorous

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

The Tooting family restore a classic camper van with a view to travelling abroad, only to discover that it has wings and a mind of its own.

Quirky and heartwarming story about a making the best of every opportunity when all you’ve got is a flying car.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

The Chocolate War

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Trinity is a contemporary Catholic boys' high school in the States, run by an order of brothers.

A Catholic school dominated by a shadowy group of masterful students, vice-happy and with no fear of authority.

Gritty, School

Cloudy-Bright

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Sam, a Bradford student, gets to know Jenny, a Kingston schoolgirl when he uses her father's camera.

Unexceptional boy-meets-girl story; some references to Sam's previous sex.

Romantic

Copper

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Copper Beech is sent to the Marble Mountains to rejoin her family whom she has never met; when she gets there she learns that her father and mother both disappeared 6 years ago.

Fantasy

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 Dark is Rising

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Will Stanton, seventh son of a seventh son, wakes on his 11th birthday to discover that he is the last of the Old Ones, destined to aid The Light in protecting the world we live in against The Dark.

A boy coming to terms with new-found powers and responsibilities; family life; love for music

Growing-Up, Magic

Dear Del

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Fran is looking forward to a girl of her own age coming to stay, until Del arrives and turns out to be a citywise girl of mildly outrageous appearance who's not averse to scrawling graffiti and to taking things she wants without paying for them.

Contrast between semi-rural quiet family life and an embittered city teenager, who dresses and acts slightly outrageously. Positive attitude towards an autistic teenager.

Coping with, Growing-Up

Dear Nobody

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Helen becomes pregnant with her boyfriend's baby and as she is so young and distraught she does not know whom to turn to.

Coping with, Moral Issue

Dear Olly

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Intelligent and talented 18-year-old Matt travels to Africa to help war-injured children, leaving his widowed mother and younger sister Olly behind.

Positive and thought-provoking look at the effects of war on the children of Africa, and on the difference one determined young man can make.

Animal, Growing-Up, Thought-provoking, War

The Demon Headmaster series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

There are five ? books in this series: The Demon Headmaster; The Prime Minister's Brain; The Revenge of the Demon Headmaster; The Demon Headmaster Strikes Again; and The Demon Headmaster Takes Over.

Fantasy, Friendship

The Demon Headmaster

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Dinah Glass joins the Hunter family as foster child to initial disapproval from Lloyd & Hunter who don't want a girl in the family.

Fantasy, Friendship

The Devil's Children

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Nicky Gore is left alone in London after a strange compulsion takes hold of the population of Britain to revolt against mechanism and technology.

Using a slightly fantastic near-future to highlight the differences and similarities between different races, and our dependence on technology. Dignity and strong family bonds of the Sikhs; Quiet friendship of Gopal & Ajeet with Nicky; Positive place for older relatives within the community

Coping with, Fantasy

The Divide

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Accidentally crossing The Divide, Felix finds himself in a world where humans and science are myth and mythical creatures and magic are real, although with different names.

Coping with, Fantasy

Dog Friday

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story begins with Robin in hospital after he has been attacked and badly injured by a dog.

Family, Friendship, Humorous

Dogsbody

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Sirius, the personification of the Dogstar, is exiled to Earth and given the lifespan of a dog to discover the whereabouts of the Zoi, a celestial tool of immense power which was allegedly used by him to destroy another Luminary.

Entertaining story mixing fantasy and reality. Intelligent celestial beings. Arawn and his hounds from Welsh mythology. An Irish girl who draws strength from her dog when her father is imprisoned for terrorism. Family tragedy. Non-judgemental references to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Animal, Coping with, Fantasy

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 Image

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

David is resentful at having to spend a week with his grandad after his grandma has died, but discovers a story which his grandfather has kept hidden for many years.

Growing appreciation for the life led by ones grandparents, and the secret burden they've had to bear.

Family, Historical

Drift

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rafe, a westener, and Taweena, a native American Indian, visit the cave of a bear and are carried off on an ice floe.

The whole book is geared to showing how unaware the white people are and how deficient their philosophy is, compared to the nature-wise Indians.

Adventure, Coping with

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

The Edge of the World

Style: Poor

Attitude: Positive

A couple of youngsters find that they can step sideways into a parallel world which equates geographically to their own, but is barren.

Magic

The "Everworld" Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A group of friends, after indulging in some daft sorcery, find themselves trapped between two worlds, switching between them as they wake and sleep.

Fantasy

The Exiles at Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Ruth, hiding in the school library when she's feeling ill, rashly fills in a form to sponsor an African schoolboy, writing her age in such a way that it looks like she's 18.

Slightly wacky but realistic family of girls. Determination not to let down the African schoolboy they've rashly promised money to. Their ingenuity in trying to get money for a good cause. Valuing older people.

Family, Humorous

The Exiles

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Mr & Mrs Conroy send their daughters to stay with their grandmother while they spend a modest windfall on having their house extended.

Unstated family warmth. Sense of honour and courtesy the girls show in public.

Family, Humorous

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

Far Out!

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Ruby and Slate separately see an unusual card on the noticeboard advertising an Audition for Life.

Fantasy, Growing-Up

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

Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Natalie, at 17, is about to go to college.

Coping with

The Fire Within

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

David, a student, takes lodgings in the Pennykettle household, looked after by Liz, mother of 10-year-old Lucy.

Lightweight and quirky style. Slightly odd family situation. Easy acceptance of an outsider.

Animal, Humorous, Magic

The First Book of Samuel

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

11-year-old Samuel is the only child of his father's second marriage; the youngest sister of the first marriage lives with them.

Growing-Up

Fish Feet

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Erik Shaw is a 15-year-old footballer, ballet dancer and keen student.

Solidly-written story of a young man with an unconventional ambition; his mother's and later his father's support; his growing friendship with a ballerina, in spite of her brother's animosity; the girl's father's abuse of his family

Growing-Up

Fly, Cherokee, Fly

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Darryl finds an injured pigeon and looks after it, helped by the advice of a local pigeon fancier.

Animal, Friendship, Growing-Up

Forever X

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The Shepherds (Anne & Jack with children Joy and Mel) are on their way to the Lakes when their car breaks down fortuitously near a B&B.

Family, Humorous

Foster Family series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The parents of a girl take on a series of short- and long-term foster children.

A matter-of-fact series dealing with the various problems of fostering children

Family, Girls

Frozen in Time

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Edifying

Ben & Rachel inadvertently wake their Great Aunt and Uncle Polly & Freddy, cryogenically frozen since the 1950s and still 12 years old.

Lightweight plot from an interesting premise. Nice juxtaposition of old and new attitudes to people and society. Bravery, courage and affection in difficult circumstances. Moderate violence in justifiable self-defence.

Adventure, SciFi, Thought-provoking, Time-Travel

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 Ghost of Thomas Kempe

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

James Harrison's family have recently moved into a cottage in a village.

Magic

Gideon Ahoy

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of Gideon, a 16-year-old deaf and retarded boy, who is given a job on a barge for the summer.

Family, Thought-provoking

The Goblet of Fire

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter enteres his 4th, eventuful, year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

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 Golem's Eye

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Nathaniel and Bartimaeus try to discover who’s controlling the Golem they believe is responsible a series of high-profile acts of destruction across London.

Engaging magical adventure story with some intriguing discussions about moral convictions and the rise and fall of empires.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

Granny was a Buffer Girl

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jess is about to start a year abroad as part of her language degree.

Historical, Short

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 Great Piratical Rumbustification

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three young boys are left in the charge of a rather piratical babysitter when their parents go out to a business dinner.

Humorous

Greenwitch

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Trewissick grail, found in [Over Sea, Under Stone] has been stolen.

Adventure, Arthurian, Magic

The Grey King

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Will Stanton has a bout of hepatitis and is sent to Wales to recuperate.

Atmospheric story, merging everyday and magical worlds; everyday friendships amidst mysterious events

Arthurian, Magic

The Half-Blood Prince

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Back at school now the Ministry has acknowledged Voldemort's return, Harry has to cope with Dumbledore's extra lessons for him, Ron's impetuous and public relationship with Lavender and Hermione's response, while preparing himself for the battle he knows must inevitably occur between himself and The Dark Lord.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

The "Harry Potter" Series

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter is orphaned at the age of one, his parents killed by the powerful dark wizard Lord Voldemort whose spell unaccountably rebounds off the baby Harry, leaving his attacker helpless and half-dead.

Appealing adventure stories set in a world where evil is gaining the upper hand. Some magical elements. Simple presentation of good and evil. Mostly virtuous leading characters, but some aspects are less praiseworthy. Mostly delicate relationships between the sexes. Established atmosphere of friendship and respect among the nonetheless realistic characters.

Adventure, Friendship, Growing-Up, Magic, School

The Haunting

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

8-year-old Barney Palmer is aware that he is being haunted by a small boy, whom he suspects to be the ghost of his great-uncle Cole, supposedly dead these 50 years, and special friend of his great-uncle Barnaby who has just died.

Family, Magic

Heroes of Olympus

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Following on from the [series:percy-jackson original Percy Jackson series], the gods of antiquity are under threat from the earth goddess Gaia and cause the Greek Demigods to throw in their lot with their Roman counterparts whose existence had been hidden from them.

Classical gods fathering half-blood children. Young characters maturing as they overcome adversity. Some very mild young-teen romance based on a trusting friendship and shared adversity. Many classical references in a modern setting.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

Hiding Out

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

The Castles & the Fletchers are driving back thro' France to Calais and stop for a picnic.

Adventure

His Dark Materials

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Lyra Belacqua a 12-year-old girl believes herself to be an orphan and is brought up in Jordan College, Oxford, in some recognisable but different England.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

The Earth is to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Humorous, SciFi

Holes

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Stanley Yelnats, sent to a harsh young offenders' camp in the desert when he is wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of shoes, finds his place among the other boys and offers to help one of them, nicknamed Zero, who is illiterate.

Quirky and feelgood story. Bearing misfortune optimistically. The benefits of helping others. Living in the shadow of a curse.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Humorous

The Hollow Land

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

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

Friendship, Short

The Homeward Bounders

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jamie Hamilton inadvertently discovers "Them": a mysterious group controlling his world as a board game.

Adventure, Friendship, SciFi

The House on Falling-Star Hill

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Tim follows Sarre into the world of Tallis where huge birds and animals are the means of transport, and where an evil Duke is trying to take over the kingdom.

Entertaining fantasy adventure, although a little lightweight. Noble ideals promoted. Some mildly gruesome or unsettling episodes.

Fantasy, Growing-Up

Hush, Hush

Style: Weak → Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Nora Grey finds herself partnered for the Sex Education course in Biology by the dark and unknown Patch who seems to be able to tell her a lot about herself, making her uncomfortable in the process.

Dark and Light angelic beings closely akin to humans and who can possess humans to a limited extent. A very physical attitude to sex education although without anything explicit. Some self-sacrifice by friends and relatives for each others' good.

Romantic, Spooky

I'll Go My Own Way

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Cat McPrie, daughter of a Travelling family, is trained by her father in the ways of poaching &c.

Growing-Up

Indigo's Star

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Indigo, returning to school after glandular fever, keeps his worries about being bullied from the rest of his family, except that Rose finds out and spills the beans, leading Saffy and her friend Sarah to barge right in and subdue the gang leader.

Affectionate understanding in a realistic family setting. Ill-feeling owing to separated parents taking new partners.

Family, Humorous

Inventing Elliot

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

13-year-old Elliot Sutton is picked on and bullied at school, so when his family moves to a new house in a different area, he wants to make a fresh start at his new school.

Friendship, School, Thought-provoking

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.

Jake's Tower

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jake lives with his mother and her violent boyfriend.

Family, Gritty

Johnny and the Dead

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Johnny Maxwell can see the dead people in the graveyard who are like normal people, but dead.

Humorous, Magic

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.

Leaving Emma

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Emma's best and only real friend Tem is moving away at the same time as Emma's dad is spending several months abroad for his job, leaving Emma disconsolate and unsure how she's going to get on.

Growing-Up

Little Soldier

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

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

War

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

The Lost Hero

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

Jason, Piper & Leo are thrown into the world of half-blood children of gods and embark on a quest to free Hera-Juno from the clutches of a mysterious enemy.

Classical gods fathering half-blood children. An enjoyable if slightly disappointing adventure quest. Heroism as friends help friends and people have to work together to save the lives of others.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

The Magician's House Quartet

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

This is a series of four books, written intentionally as a series.

Animal, Magic

Magnus Powermouse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Magnus is a big mouse at birth and grows still bigger by eating Patent Porker Pills meant for the pigs.

Animal, Fantasy

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

A Map of Nowhere

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Nick Miller (mid-teenage) is forced by his older brother's motorcycle gang - which he secretly wishes to join - to become friendly with Joseph Fisher, whose family run a small shop out on the fens.

Gritty, Moral Issue

The Mark of Athena

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Fairly Positive

The joint Greek-Roman crew of the Argo II must sail to Rome to confront Gaia whose plan is to overthrow the Olympian Gods altogether.

Adventure, Boys, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythical, Romantic

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

Meltdown

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

Danny & Fergus, in return for a clean slate, agree to help bring down an impenetrable drugs empire which threatens the very fabric of society.

By-the-book SAS youth thriller with closely-described gruesome action, military jargon, and no real development of the characters. Very fleeting mention of unsavoury topics. Military-style ruthlessness on both sides. An uncomdemned killing by a sympathetic character.

Adventure, Boys

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

The Midwinter Watch

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

A hundred years ago, an inventor discovered a clock that could turn back time.

Adventure, SciFi, Spooky

Minnow on the Say

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Roger makes friends with Adam Codling, who lives in the Codlings' family house, once grand but now neglected, with his aunt Dinah and his grandfather.

Classic, Friendship

Mirrors

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A collection of short stories by different authors, each one having to do with mirrors.

Short, Spooky

A Monster Calls

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed

Conor is a boy who cannot accept the reality of his mother dying.

How a young boy copes with the impending death from cancer of his mother.

Boys, Coping with, Family, Fantasy, Gritty, Growing-Up, Moral Issue, School, Thought-provoking

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

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

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Style: Classic

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Widowed fieldmouse Mrs Frisby turns to the rats for help when her family's house is threatened, only to find them abnormally intelligent and with technology.

A gentle story, highlighting a mother's love for her children and the risks she'll take to help them. Normal animal behaviour combined with intelligent actions and, in the case of the laboratory-enhanced Rats, developed technology which they're giving up.

Animal, Classic, Thought-provoking

My Friend Walter

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Bess Throckmorton attends a family reunion and meets the ghost of her ancestor Sir Walter Raleigh of cloak-over-puddle and tobacco fame.

Spooky

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

The Night-Watchmen

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Henry has been ill and wanders around the town while convalescing until he meets two unusual tramps: Josh and Caleb.

Magic

The Order of the Phoenix

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

As his fifth year at Hogwarts fast approaches, Harry Potter the young wizard is certainly in adolescence, with mood swings and outbursts of rage.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

Over Sea, Under Stone

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The Drew family and their Great Uncle Merry are staying in a Cornish house on holiday when the children find an old map which seems to lead to some treasure buried "Over the sea and under the stone".

Straightforward adventure story, slightly dated; ordinary family life

Adventure, Arthurian, Family, Fantasy

The Owl Service

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three teenagers, a visting step-brother and sister and a local lad, find a dinner service decorated with a design which can be seen as owls or as flowers.

Magic, Spooky

A Pack of Lies

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

A series of short stories under the amusing umbrella of a rather mysterious young man who gets a job in an antiques shop and tells each customer a story about the item he's thinking of buying.

Lightweight and amusing series of short stories. One story is about a young Jesuit priest at the time of the Reformation who is sheltered by a lady with whom he falls in love and is forced to marry her to prove his uncelibate state.

Short

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

The Penderwicks

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The four Penderwick sisters befriend Jeffrey when staying in a cottage in the grounds of his mother's house.

Endearing holiday story of four sisters and a boy. Jeffrey's mother, alone since his father left, is about to remarry. Mr Penderwick treats his daughters gently, admonishing them sometimes in Latin.

Friendship, Girls, Growing-Up, Romantic

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

The Philosopher's Stone

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Harry Potter is an eleven-year-old orphan living with his uncle and aunt Mr & Mrs Dursley and his cousin Dudley.

A school tale with magical embellishments; the friendship between the main characters.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

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

Postcards from No Man's Land

Style: Average

Attitude: Objectionable

Jacob Todd has come to Holland to celebrate the Battle of Arnhem where his grandfather fought and died.

Growing-Up, War

The Prisoner of Azkaban

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The whole wizard world is on the alert after Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, the wizard prison.

Adventure, Friendship, Magic, School

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

Ptolemy's Gate

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

As the British Empire starts to implode, the ruling Magicians are unable to subdue the dissent of the increasingly magic-resistant Commoners.

Magic & Djinni in an alternative modern world. Friendship and affection with a light dusting of humour. An appeal to the honour and morality present in people despite the apparent pragmatism of their day-to-day struggles. Heroic self-sacrifice for the common good.

Adventure, Fantasy, Humorous

Pure Dead Brilliant

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Baci has invited her fellow classmates from the Institute of Advanced Witchcraft to stay, unaware that one of them is a demon from the Hadean Executive, after the legendary Chronostone.

Family, Humorous, Magic

Pure Dead Magic

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Luciano Strega-Borgia has gone missing after storming out of the castle, and his wife has to go on a training course for witches, so she engages a Nanny who sidesteps the younger Strega-Borgia's attempts to repel her and takes on the running of the house, which soon becomes a complicated business.

Family, Humorous, Magic

The "Pure Dead" Series

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The general plot lines involve various or all of the family members finding themselves in self-imposed scrapes and trying to get out: Titus creates too many mini clones, Damp sends the family's pet rats off by email, the house roof falls in, Luciano is kidnapped by the mafia when he walks out after a row, Ffup finds herself giving birth to the Loch Ness Monster's baby, etc.

Fun; Close family; Some earthy humour

Family, Humorous, Magic

Pure Dead Wicked

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

The roof of Stregaschloss has collapsed, and the Strega-Borgias are forced to live in the local hotel while their house is being repaired.

Family, Humorous, Magic

Red Sky in the Morning

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

12-year-old Anna Peacock is determined to look after her baby brother Ben even though he is hydrocephalous.

Loving acceptance of a handicapped child. The stress this places on his familiy. General attitude of respect towards elderly or less capable people (including a harmless kleptomaniac). Anna's efforts to hold things together. Faith seen as meaningful if not entirely understood. Some vulgarity among teenage girls.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up

The Rinaldi Ring

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Eliot's American mother dies in a mugging and he stays with his English cousins while his father comes to term with his grief.

Spooky

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

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

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 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

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.

How a piglet on a farm is trained as a sheep-‘dog’ and wins trials

Animal, Family, Fantasy, Friendship, Humorous, Short

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stormbreaker

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Alex Rider believes his uncle guardian to be a banker.

Adventure, Boys

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

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

The Thief Lord

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Prosper and Bo run away from their uncle and aunt and are caught up in a group of Venice street kids who get money by selling stolen property brought to them by The Thief Lord.

Openness of the Venice children in taking in two runaways. Apparent living off stolen goods. Church/confessional used merely as the rendezvous point for a meeting to arrange a robbery.

Adventure, Fantasy

Time Stops For No Mouse

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Hermux Tantamoq is a watchmaker living a quiet and comfortable existence until an attractive and dashing lady fails to return for her repaired watch.

A gently entertaining book, without originality, but with charm.

Adventure, Humorous

The Time Witches

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The head of the Light Witches, Sir Chadwick Street, is about to marry Hilda Bluebell when she is carried back in time by the evil Wolfbane.

Over simple; emphasis on simple pleasures, loyalty and generosity

Fantasy, Magic

Tom's Midnight Garden

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Tom Long is in quarantine for measles, which his brother Peter has caught.

Classic, Magic

The Transformation of Jennifer Howard

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

18-year-old Jennifer Howard is devastated when her older brother dies of AIDS and after a failed suicide attempt, decides to stay for a while in a Shaker-like Christian Community nearby.

A positive view of a strict Christian community; some ambiguity in the feelings Jennifer has for Wayne; Charles Howard is seeing another woman with his wife's knowledge (but not consent)

Growing-Up, Moral Issue

Treasures for Cousin Crystal

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three children of (roughly) 1, 8 and 10 are put with a childminder when their parents are both forced to work away for a while.

Family, Humorous

A Twist in Time

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Cosy (short for Cosima) finds herself getting used to a foster family just as she is starting at the school to which she's earned a scholarship.

Even if one were to extract the subplot of the ghost girl -- which is reminiscent of Charlotte Sometimes -- the story has a gently courageous feel: Cosy struggles hard because her Father's dead and she and her ill mother have kept each other going for years. At one point she gives in -- all her mother's efforts have only landed her in hospital -- but one of her foster sisters cajoles her roughly out of her mood and she goes on to make a good friend and do well at school.

Family, Girls

Up on Cloud Nine

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The narrative is led by Ian, a 14-year-old schoolboy, at the hospital bed of his best friend Stolly (Stuart Terence Oliver) who's just recovering from a serious fall, which may or may not have been from an attempt at suicide, which has left him with breaks and bruises and concussed.

Play-like appreciation of the life of an unusual boy; the support and friendship of the main characters and their families. Possible suicide attempt.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Humorous

Viaduct Child

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Dushma lives in a society where being registered is everything, she is not registered with the authorities due to a defect during pregnancy and so she is not entitled to do anything.

Coping with, SciFi

Victory

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Present-day Molly finds a fragment of the Victory's flag in the binding of an old book and starts to feel the echoes of Sam Robbins' life on board Nelson's ship at Trafalgar.

A lightweight pair of stories, each with its own poignancy, drawn together by the fragment of a flag from HMS Victory. Honest efforts of a family remarried after widowhood to get along. Brutality of life at sea in Nelson's Navy. Friendship and emnity on board ship. Cheerful and concerned family life. Very mild sexual references.

Family, Time-Travel, War

The Village by the Sea

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The story of an Indian village family, roughly contemporary.

Family, Growing-Up

The Wall and the Wing

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Gurl discovers that she can become invisible at will, then runs away from her orphanage after being forced to steal and defraud to support the Matron's extravagant lifestyle.

Offbeat children's adventure, combining modern day America with a faintly surreal and macabre cast of caricature villains, urban misfits and mysteriously powerful characters. Loyalty and friendship between youngsters. One mysterious character whose role resembles a guardian angel. Soul-searching after the youngsters steal and defraud in difficult circumstances.

Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

Which Witch

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Arriman Canker is the mighty Wizard of the North of England.

Humorous, Magic

The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy

Style: Weak

Attitude: Positive

12-year-old Lucy returns to Hagworthy to stay with her aunt.

Magic, Spooky

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

The Wizard's Promise

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

The Griddas, fighter witches released by the High Witches to fight the Wizards, have turned and destroyed the High Witches themselves; and now they are turning their attention to Earth, and in particular to the child Yemi, and Rachel and Eric have to muster the newly-awakened magic of the children of Earth to defend the planet.

Fantasy, Magic

Worlds Apart

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Susan lives with her mother and has no idea who her father is.

Family, Romantic

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