Book Reviews For Category: Ages 12-14

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

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

The Moorchild

Children's Book - Moorchild

Published: 1996
Theme: Self-discovery
Best for: 12 and up

“She was not much in the habit of thinking, only of howling her bitter, lonely anger at her exile from all she knew and understood- her homeland, the Folk, and their paths crisscrossing the moor.” Neither the human world nor the fairy world is perfect; in this profound book, you get to see both their flaws, and their glory…

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

When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me - Children's Book

Published: 2009
Theme: Time and Time-travel
Best for: 10 and up

“It’s the jumping, from one diamond to the next, that we call time, but like I said, time doesn’t really exist. All the diamonds on the ring are happening at the same time….All the diamonds exist at once.” Here’s a children’s book that attempts to bring the question of Time to a child’s mind, simply to evoke profound inquiry, and, have some fun…

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

Every Soul A Star

Every Soul A Star: Great Children's book for teens

Published: 2008
Theme: Finding yourself
Best for: 11 and up

“The big deal is that we’ll be living in the middle of nowhere! There will be NOTHING around us for miles and miles. No people. No restaurants. No stores. No movie theaters. NOTHING. Who lives like that?” In this very thoughtful children’s book, we watch two teen girls, and a teen boy, go through terrific transformation, discovering who they really are…

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

West of the Moon

Children's Book - West of the Moon

Published: 2014
Theme: Overcoming obstacles
Best for: 12 and up

“Many coins. To take them would be stealing. But if it’s a troll’s treasure? Is it a sin to steal what’s already stolen? Stolen Thrice: once from humans by trolls, then from the trolls by the goatman. And finally– Stolen from the goatman by me.” Weaving together a number of Norwegian and universal fairy tales, this is a tale you could imagine written by the Grimms…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary

Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s - A great children's book

Published: 2013
Theme: Acceptance, Transformation
Best for: 11 and up

“I’ve got some toddler memories, but my first sequence recall is kindergarten… My parents said the place was going to be all kinds of fun. It wasn’t. It was here that I first committed the crime of questioning the system.” A fabulous children’s book, told through the first person character of a genius who also may have autism. Her very presence brings out kindness in others.

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

Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting - Great classic Children's Book

Published: 1975
Theme: Value of Life
Best for: 12 and up

“I”m not exactly sure what I’d do, you know, but something interesting- something that’s all mine. Something that would make some kind of difference in the world.” This book leads the reader to a fairly sophisticated understanding of moral choices, set in a magical story.

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


Children's Book - Hawksmaid

Published: 2010
Theme: Bravery
Best for: ages 11 and up

“Mattie felt a sudden dizziness. Just for a second or two, it was almost as if she herself were tumbling through the air. And once again the boundaries that separated human beings from birds seemed to dissolve.” A wonderful creative look at the early life of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, with lots of equality for women thrown in…

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

The Great Unexpected

The Great Unexpected: Children's Book

Published: 2012
Theme: Dealing with change
Best for: 9 – 12

“We didn’t think we were tragic…All any of us wanted was for somebody to care about us, and if we couldn’t have that, then at least somebody who wouldn’t be too mean and who would feed us from time to time.” In this book, the children’s reality merges with the reality of spirit, and it’s hard to tell one from the other in the end.

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

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Children's Book - East of the Sun

Published: 2013
Theme: Coming of age FairyTale
Best for: Girls 12 and up

“So her days and nights passed and rolled into weeks and months, and she lived in the enchanted palace with the bear. Each afternoon she would turn from whatever she was doing to see the bear standing, watching her…” With beautiful descriptive language of the landscape and the characters, this retelling of the classic fairy tale has a surprising ending…

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


Children's Book - Hatchet

Published: 1988
Theme: Survival
Best for: boys 11 and up

“…he learned the most important rule about survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work… the self-pity had accomplished nothing.” About a third of the way through the book, when it became clear this was really about survival in it’s truest sense, I was hooked on the mesmerizing story.

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

Bud, Not Buddy

Bud Not Buddy - Children's Book

Published: 1999
Theme: Resilience
Best for: 9 and up

“We were all standing in line waiting for breakfast when one of the caseworkers came in and tap-tap-tapped down the line. Uh-oh, this meant bad news, either they’d found a foster home for somebody or somebody was about to get paddled.” Humor, pathos, drama, history, and emotion create an intensely beautiful and impactful piece of children’s literature…

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

The Watsons Go To Birmingham -1963

Children's book: The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963

Published: 1995
Theme: Family
Best for: 11 and up

“”Lona, what you teach these babies up North? Don’t they know how to give no one a proper hug?” Grandma Sands reached up over Byron’s head. “A little short on hair but we gonna get on just fine, what you think, By?” Country kids meet city kids. Northern kids meet life in the South, circa 1963. Sibling rivalry. Delinquency. Parental decisions. The ground this book covers is astounding…

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

Elijah of Buxton

Children's book - Elijah of Buxton

Published: 2007
Theme: Freedom and Slavery
Best for: 12 and up

“I’d started with ten fish and now I was down to six, and even though I ain’t particular worthy at my schooling, it’d take a whole lot of doggone humbug algebra and trickaration geometry to make ten percent of ten come out to four.” In this skillfully written historical fiction children’s book, we see the world through the eyes of a freeborn child, whose parents had been slaves.

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

My Contract with Henry

My Contract with Henry - Children's book

Published: 2003
Theme: Protecting the Environment
Best for: 11 and up

“Mrs. Stark’s classroom was an unlikely place to meet a rebel. So when we opened our literature books to a new chapter on Monday I was shocked to see a person who actually looked interesting. Henry David Thoreau was standing at the bottom of the page…” For anyone who loves the transcendentalists, and especially teaching children about them, this children’s book is a treasure.

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

Beware, Princess Elizabeth

Children's book - Beware Princess Elizabeth

Published: 2001
Theme: Queen of England
Best for: 12 to 14

“So my sister was now queen. And because she had triumphed, I was next! This was the moment, standing in the knot garden, when I realized that someday I, too, would become queen of England…” In this historical fiction children’s book, we get a very good look at the way power can corrupt even the best of people…

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

Starry River of the Sky

Children's book - Starry River

Published: 2012
Theme: Forgiveness
Best for: 9 to 12

“It is better to light a lantern than to bemoan the darkness,” Madame Change said softly to herself, as if in a dream. “Can’t we light more lanterns, then?” Peiyi said eagerly, “to make up for the light of the moon?” In another lovely children’s book, Grace Lin deftly weaves a dramatic story of forgiveness around the retelling of classic Chinese tales.

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

Rain Reign

Children's Book

Published: 2014
Theme: Accepting Differences, Autism
Best for: 11 and up

“I hear lots of things I’m not supposed to hear, and lots of things nobody else is able to hear, because my hearing is very acute, which is part of my diagnosis of high-functioning autism…” This entire work of fiction is written in the voice of an autistic child, displaying all her unusual tendencies, such as obsession with homophones and prime numbers…

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

The Expeditioners (Books 1 & 2)

Children's book - The Expeditioners

Published: 2012, 2014
Theme: Fantasy Exploring
Best for: 12 and up

“We Explorers have always been redrawing the maps. That map was no less correct when it was made than the ones made by Ortelius or Mercator. A map of the world isn’t a fixed thing. We know only what we can see.” This series is superb. The adventures, the dangers, the daring, the unstated metaphors to today’s warped political world, are both disturbing and important…

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

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Children's Book: Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Published: 2013
Theme: Power to Create
Best for: 8 and up

“[The Gods] did tell one another what they would make once they got back to work, if only they had the energy, and if only they had the time, but in truth their world was still unfinished, still had many gaps and spaces in it, and there was still much making to be done.” This book has a profound message for all ages – within each of us is the power of the Gods to create our world, and… we must be responsible…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Children's book - Butterfly Hill

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

“Everyone in Chile has an explanation for earthquakes. I say that the earth has the right to yawn and stretch just as I do in my bed when I don’t want to wake early for school, and also has the right to sneeze as we all do when covered in dust.” Profound and poetical are the best two words to capture the new children’s book by Chilean author Marjorie Agosin about a young girl forced into exile from Chile…

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

Saving Lucas Biggs

Children's Book - Saving Lucas Biggs

Published: 2014
Theme: Friendship and Love
Best for: ages 11 and up

“The present is here and here and here, a sky full of light, a path under your feet, your hair lifted by wind, the smell of flowers, green grass, red rocks, all of it tumbling toward summer, and all of it yours. All you have to do is set fear aside and stretch out your hand.” This children’s book offers so many messages – about hope, friendship, the Quaker ideals of peace, and the power of the present moment, and does so amidst a very contemporary drama…

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

Shakespeare’s Secret

Shakespeare's Secret Children's Book

Published: 2005
Theme: Middle School Anxieties
Best for: 6th grade and up

“Hero smiled at him. Her father was always clueless about her real life. She felt a strange mixture of pity and gratitude. It was good to be home, in the bright, safe kitchen… her parents bustling obliviously just a few feet away.” An unusual stew of elements – adjusting to a new school, bullying, a missing diamond, and Shakespeare’s real identity – create an interesting story.

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

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Children's Book: Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Published: 2009
Theme: Beyond Stereotyping
Best for: 12 and up

“We’re supposed to talk about real differences and perceived differences, and…I just don’t know. Sadness feels the same, whether it’s in Lexington or here in Thunder Creek.” This beautifully written, heartfelt children’s book gives us a direct experience that caring for others not only yields the greatest happiness, but transcends social class…

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

The Star of Kazan

Children's book: Star of Kazan

Published: 2004
Theme: Trust and Loyalty
Best for: 12 and up

“The world was so beautiful in those days, Annika. The music, the flowers, the scent of the pines…” “It still is,” said Annika. “Honestly, it still is.” Filled with unexpected twists and turns, with terrific characters, and with a cliff-hanger, but happy, ending, this children’s book is terrific from start to finish.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Children's Book - Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Published: 2009
Theme: Self-determination
Best for: ages 11 and up, especially girls

“Granddaddy and I sat motionless for a good five minutes and then quietly collected our things and moved on. On the way back, he spotted the rarest and most delicate object in the wild, an old hummingbird’s nest, fragile and expertly woven, smaller than an eggcup.” Imagine a children’s book which mixes together life in a rural southern town in 1899, a big dose of Charles Darwin, the natural world, and the coming of age of a young girl. If you think this is an implausible mixture for a children’s book…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Inspiring for Girls

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Children's Book Mysterious Benedict

Published: 2007
Theme: Friendship, Commitment
Best for: 11 and up

“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood…Best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” There is quite a bit of wisdom to digest in this highly unusual children’s book, not to mention many puzzles to solve. It is a book that is borderline fantasy…

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

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Children's Book Carry On Mr Bowditch

Published: 1955
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: ages 10 and up

“The troops from Andover appeared in there dashing red uniforms, every button shining, leather gleaming…The church bells chimed. Then a great shout went up. For there was President Washington – a tall, commanding man, riding horseback to enter the town.” Here’s a children’s book that is so informative, it’s a little hard not to compare it to a dull textbook that might teach the same subject. The subject matter is navigation, discoveries, and life at the time of the American Revolution.

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