Book Reviews For Category: Ages 12-14

Children’s books for the early teen years, not yet young adults, but no longer little ones

The Sky at Our Feet

Children's book - Sky at our Feet

Published: 2018
Theme: Bravery
Best for: 10 and up

“I’m terrified to see my mother being taken away. I want to pull her out of there, and hold her hand as we run back to our apartment. I don’t do any of that. I’m sacred and angry and sad.” From beginning to end, this adventure in New York City brings us to see the immense courage of immigrant families under threat.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

Wolf Hollow

Children's book - Wolf Hollow

Published: 2016
Theme: Defending the Truth
Best for: 12 and up

“The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and what I did mattered. So much, sometimes, that I wasn’t sure I wanted such a burden. But I took it anyway…” A worthy piece of literature for young readers, somewhat a milder version of Kill a Mockingbird, but with less brutality and perhaps more heart.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned


Children's Book - Ahimsa

Published: 2017
Theme: India’s Independence fight
Best for: 12 and up

“Ma handed Anjali one of the two prasad trays as they headed into the hall. Anjali gave a ladoo to her father and bowed to him in pranaam. He raised his hand over her head to bless her…” We journey to a village in India during the struggle for independence, and live with freedom fighters, including a young girl and her mother…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

The Inquisitor’s Tale

Children's Book - Inquisitor's Tale

Published: 2016
Theme: Religious Tolerance
Best for: 12 and up

“Louis of France is not yet thirty, and already he is the greatest king in Europe. His armies have never been defeated. This war is different… He is fighting three children. And their dog.” I don’t know how he pulled it off, but along with the historical description, Gidwitz adds contemporary outrage, and humor as well, giving perspective on the bizarre behavior of the human race!

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

The Lost Island

Children's Book - The Lost Island

Published: 2006
Theme: Adventure
Best for: 11 and up

“This adventure really began on early spring morning when I was fourteen years old. I remember it all so clearly, from the moment I stepped out into the still dark yard and went to unlock the stable door.” Written like a page out of the Celtic past, the adventures of two young lads searching for their dad on a lost island is exquisitely crafted…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned


Children's Book - Threads

Published: 2016
Theme: Child Labor, Doing Good
Best for: 12 and up

“The sounds of the sewing machines that masked the constant grumbling of my belly would surely mask the sound of ripping paper. The guard now had his head tilted back, his eyes shut…” This recently-published children’s book takes on child labor directly and dramatically, and how one person can make a difference for others.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary

The Hired Girl

Hired Girl - Historical Fiction Children's Book

Published: 2015
Theme: Historical Fiction Coming of Age
Best for: 12 – 14

“I have escaped! I have achieved the first stage of my emancipation! In a little while I will go on to Baltimore–and from thence I will begin my new life.” This beautifully written historical fiction children’s book is quite hard to put down.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Biography, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Inspiring for Girls

The Lions of Little Rock

Children's Book - Lions of Little Rock

Published: 2012
Theme: Civil Rights
Best for: 11 to 14

“I think a friend is someone who helps you change for the better. And whether you see them once a day or once a year, if it’s a true friend, it doesn’t matter.” This is a compelling and important book for today’s world, and yet, it was painful to read, because I wished none of it were true…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned


Zia - Children's Book

Published: 1976
Theme: Native American tragedy
Best for: 12 and up

“Misson Santa Barbara, where the Padres were taking us, was near the Island of the Blue Dolphins…Perhaps if I went there, I could find one who would help me reach the island and bring Karana back.” A wonderful work of historical fiction, this children’s book is a sequel to Island of Blue Dolphins, and also offers a chilling look at the treatment of Native Americans by missions.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

The Children of the King

Children of the King - Children's book

Published: 2014
Theme: Bravery
Best for: 14 and older

“We’d never been through a war, so we didn’t know what war was like. We thought it would be an adventure. Later of course, we realized the truth: that war is almost the opposite to an adventure…” This is a complex, serious book about a very serious topic: war. It asks the question, What is bravery? What does it take to show one’s bravery?…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

The Best Man

Children's Book - The Best Man

Published: 2016
Theme: Middle-school life
Best for: 11 and up

“We all need goals,” he said. “Here’s one: Stay away from people who don’t know who they are but want you to be just like them. People who’ll want to label you. People who’ll try to write their fears on your face.” This terrific, humorous middle-school story covers bullying, teachers, cliques, change, parental divorce, and gender identity, just to name a few…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary

Ghost Hawk

Historical Fiction Children's Book: Ghost Hawk

Published: 2013
Theme: Injustice
Best for: 11 and up

“To make a tomahawk for your son, you needed the stone blade, and the wooden shaft, and time. In my father’s day, there was still time…” I couldn’t put this historical fiction book down. From start to sad ending, the trauma of the battle for land in early America is a compelling read…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Jeremy Fink- Children's Book

Published: 2011
Theme: Meaning of Life
Best for: 11 to 13

“After five years, he has sent me a message with one instruction, to open this box on my thirteenth birthday. Somehow, no matter how impossible it might seem, I am going to do exactly that.” If you want an uplifting, somewhat philosophical children’s book, for a child who is wondering about the meaning of life, this is it…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary


Children's Book: Wonder

Published: 2012
Theme: Accepting Differences
Best for: 11 and up

“I’m kind of used to how I look by now. I know how to pretend I don’t see the faces people make. We’ve all gotten pretty good at that sort of thing: me, Mom and Dad, Via. Actually, I take that back: Via’s not so good at it.” Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: this is a stunning, daring, heart-opening children’s book.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Will Sparrow’s Road

Will Sparrow's Road - Historical Fiction Children's Book

Published: 2012
Theme: Coming of Age
Best for: 11 and up

“Will Sparrow was a liar and a thief, and hungry, so when he saw the chance to steal a cold rabbit pie from the inn’s kitchen and blame it on the dog, he took it – both the chance and the pie…” First and foremost, this is a beautifully written piece of children’s historical fiction literature. The fact that the story and characters are interesting as well is icing on the cake..

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

Will in Scarlet

Children's Book: Will in Scarlett

Published: 2013
Theme: Robin Hood
Best for: 10 and up

“Killing wolves is supposed to teach me to be a great lord of men? Aren’t there any books on the subject?” This children’s book is full of action. While it’s not written as a historical fiction, it gives a good view of the class disparity, and why one would rob the rich and give to the poor.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Truckers – Bromeliad Trilogy 1

Bromeliad Trilogy Book 1

Published: 1998
Theme: Science Fiction
Best for: 11 and up

“Be quiet! You know the words of Arnold Bros. (est. 1905)! Everything Under One Roof. Everything! Therefore, there can be no Outside. Therefore you’re from some other part of the Store. Corsetry. Or Young Fashions…” The first children’s book in The Bromeliad Trilogy is filled with humor, puns, social commentary, and a clever plot. I admit to laughing out loud …

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary


Children's Book - Wintersmith

Published: 2005
Theme: Coming of Age
Best for: 12 and up

‘Tiffany had never been able to find out much about the librarians. They were a bit like the wandering priests and teachers who went even into the smallest, loneliest villages…It was said they could tell what book you needed just by looking at you…” The mastery of this children’s book is the way everything is woven artfully into one exquisite whole, even while each part, each character, stands out clearly…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Inspiring for Girls

The Second Mrs. Giaconda

Historical Fiction Children's Book: The Second Mrs. Giaconda

Published: 1975
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: 12 to 14

“Why, people ask, why did Leonardo da Vinci choose to paint the portrait of the second wife of an unimportant Florentine merchant when dukes and duchesses all over Italy and the King of France as well, were all begging for a portrait by his hand? Why, they ask, why?” This is quite a lovely way to introduce older children to the world of Leonardo da Vinci, and his painting of the Mona Lisa, and history of the Renaissance.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Classics, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

Esperanza Rising

Children's Book - Esperanza Rising

Published: 2000
Theme: Social Justice
Best for: 9 and up

“Abuelita smiled, reached over, and pulled the yarn, unraveling all of Esperanza’s rows. “Do not be afraid to start over,” she said.” What better way for children to become true citizens of the world than by reading honestly written books about serious issues, in this case the treatment of Mexican immigrant farmworkers during the depression…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned


Children's Book: Echo

Published: 2015
Theme: Power of Music
Best for: ages 10 and up

“Have you ever considered that one person might play the mouth harp and pass along her strength and vision and knowledge? So that the next musician who plays it might feel the same? It is true…” The thread that weaves the three main characters together is the power of music to redeem even the darkest of situations…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

The Dreamer

Children's Book - The Dreamer

Published: 2010
Theme: Live your dream
Best for: 8 and up

“He peeked out… and saw that the wind had also possessed his mittens. They looked like ghostly hands waving good-bye in the Chilean sky. Where were they headed? Whose hands would they cover next? ..’Where is the storehouse of lost and found?'” As I put this exquisite children’s book down, I wiped my eyes, and marveled at the quick journey I had just taken into the heart and mind of Pablo Neruda…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12, Biography, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Chu Ju’s House

Children's Book - Chu Ju's House

Published: 2005
Theme: Genuine Sacrifice
Best for: 10 and up

“In so loud a voice I was sure her words carried over the hills, Nai Nai said, “Send us a boy to care for us in our old age and not another worthless girl.” I, Chu Ju, was that worthless girl. Nai Nia’s harsh words made my eyes sting with tears.” In another beautifully written children’s book of historical fiction, Whelan brings alive a foreign culture and foreign era, making us live and breathe with it.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

The Lost Track of Time

Children's Book - The Lost Track of Time

Published: 2015
Theme: Imagination
Best for: 9 and up

“In those days, possibilities fell to the ground like rain. Each one was a brilliant bit of light, etched with a message. ‘It’s a possibility,’ people would say whenever they found one and, if they liked what it said, they’d pop it into their mouths and chew on it.” In this allegorical children’s book, similar to The Phantom Tollbooth, we journey to an imaginative land, The Land of Possibilities, which is now in a sorry state.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky

Children's Book: Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky

Published: 2014
Theme: Prejudice
Best for: 11 and up

“It struck Tomi then that Mom had changed a little just in the months since Pop was arrested. She had always done what everyone else wanted. Now for the first time in her life, she was in charge.” More and more, I’m struck with the power of literature to educate children about injustice, and this book is a great example…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Where the Streets Had a Name

Children's Book: Where the Streets Had A Name

Published: 2008
Theme: Hope over Despair
Best for: 12 and up

“The nostalgia suffocates me… I am but six miles from Jerusalem and I am not allowed to enter it. Never again will I see the place where I was born, nor the home I entered as a bride. My olive trees, Hayaat. Oh, how I miss them!” I’ve barely finished wiping the tears from my eyes as I head to the computer to review this stunning, heartbreaking, honest, account of life in occupied Palestine…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland

Children's Book: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland

Published: 2011
Theme: Beyond Illusions
Best for: 12 and up

“My mother was widowed by a real estate agent some years ago, and I never finished the encyclopedia..(When) we asked, ‘Why do we not have a Papa?’ she said, ‘Your Papa is the Library, and he loves you and will care for you…'” If you can accept a Wyvern (who looks like a dragon but is only a remote cousin) that has a Library as a father, then you will not only be able to read this children’s book, you will get the humor in the above quote…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary

Dragons of Silk

Children's Book - Dragons of Silk

Published: 2011
Theme: Family
Best for: 12- 14

“Everything changes, child,” Grandmama observed calmly. “Me, you, the world… Who knows what the future will bring? The one thing that doesn’t change is the family. It always comes first. Keep everyone in it safe. Keep them happy.” Laurence Yep is a fabulous chronicler of Chinese culture and Chinese American culture This particular children’s book includes both, as it traces a family from 1835 in China to 2011 in America…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

A String in the Harp

Children's Book: A String in the harp

Published: 1976
Theme: Myths and Magic
Best for: 9 and up

“Something was coming, Peter knew it, and he was pretty sure he was going to be involved in it. Against his skin the Key felt hot. There was no vibration as yet but… Peter was afraid and yet he couldn’t take it off.. he was drawn to it.” This is a challenging book to read, but it is worth putting the effort in, as it takes us into the myths and magic of the Welsh people, traveling back in time, and merging with the present…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Classics, Waldorf-Aligned

Liesl and Po

Liesl and Po: Children's book

Published: 2011
Theme: Friendship
Best for: 11 and up

“Essence was not physical matter, Po knew. No one could touch it. No one could destroy it either… People could push and pull at you, and poke you, and probe as deep as they could go… But at the heart and root and soul of you, something would remain untouched.” This creative children’s book weaves a drama that almost feels Shakespearean, as many characters with their own mission all collide in the same place and same time…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary
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