Charlotte and Stevie, booksellers at our Aberdeen Unionbridge bookshop, have picked out some of their recommended holiday reading for children aged 9-12 and teenagers…
It takes no time at all for the initial excitement of weeks and weeks off school to become boring – really boring, and really quickly.
Well, that’s where our selection of brilliant books, old and new, weird and wonderful, comes in…
For ease, we’ve split them into age ranges – where language, plot complexity and subject matter seem to divide them – but a good book is a good book, whatever age you are.
Holiday reading for 9-12 year olds
This is absolutely fantastic – a charming, light-hearted Victorian mystery. Lord Ashton discovers three feral children in the woods around his estate and decides to adopt them – making the governess very unhappy. It’s like a brilliant mix between A Series of Unfortunate Events and Nanny McPhee, both funny and heart-warming.
The School for Good and Evil, Soman Chaniani
Prepare to read The Next Big Thing. Every year two children are kidnapped from Gavaldon and taken to the School for Good and Evil, where they learn to be either a beautiful storybook princess or an ugly wicked witch. This book takes the traditional fairytale and turns it on its head; it’s beautifully illustrated and a fantastically epic story.
The Secret of Platform 13, Eva Ibbotson
This is my favourite childhood novel (after Harry Potter) it’s smart, funny and wildly exciting. Every nine years a doorway to another world opens for twenty-four hours only. One day the newborn Prince of the land below Platform 13 is kidnapped and taken above to the human land. When another nine years has passed and the doorway opens, a rescue is staged but it turns out the Prince does not want to come back… Filled with ogres, fey, harpies and hags, this is a really brilliant story.
Eddie Dickens, Philip Ardagh
This is hilarious – perfect for fans of David Walliams or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Set in the Victorian times, a mysterious illness is making Eddie Dickens’ parents crinkly round the edges and smell like hot water bottles, so he is sent to live with Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud. I cannot recommend this enough, it is honestly one of the funniest (and weirdest) books I have ever read.
Charmed Life, Diana Wynne Jones
Set in a parallel world where magic is strictly controlled by the Government, this is a brilliantly funny and charming story with an intricate plot. Cat and Gwendolen are invited to live in Chrestomanci the enchanter’s castle and the story twists and turns from there. This is a must read for any magic fan, it’s splendid.
Holiday reading for teenagers
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Jane is an orphan. She’s not witty or cheerful or beautiful, but she is the perfect heroine. She takes a governess’ job working for the mysterious and arrogant Mr. Rochester and they begin to fall in love… But sometimes love doesn’t conquer all. This is a brilliant novel, a suspenseful gothic romance perfect for an escapist summer read.
Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder
What holiday is complete without a bit of beachside philosophising? Sophie receives a couple of anonymous letters asking what appear to be simple questions, but they lead her on a journey of discovery through the history of philosophy. Then we meet Hilde and it turns out all is not as it seems. This is a unique book, a blend of fiction and philosophy, perfect if you want a bit more from your summer read.
The Diviners, Libba Bray
Set in the 1920s, this is a proper romp of a read. It’s impossible to put down – and at nearly 600 pages that is quite a feat. Evie is sent to stay with her Uncle in his mysterious museum in New York, and then the bodies start appearing… This is so creepy and unsettling and romantic and just fab – I loved it.
The Adventures & The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes is enjoying a bit of a revival at the moment, with films and TV shows on both side of the pond doing very well. As always though, the originals are still the best. These stories are intriguing, exciting and very “bromantic”. This collection includes sixteen of the best stories, including some all time favourites.
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
Cassandra and her family live in a crumbling castle in a state of genteel poverty, with every day much like the rest. Then an American family move to the neighbourhood and Cassandra begins to fall in love. This is a fantastically written story, the characters stay with you for a long time and the castle is so beautifully described it feels like another character with its own distinct personality. It’s a perfect summer romance/coming of age novel.
10 Things We Shouldn’t Have Done, Sarah Mlynowski
One summer, one beach house, no parents, lots of parties and a hot pink hot tub….. This is the ultimate summer read. A cool story of teenage rebellion, first love and friendship with fantastic characters and a big twist. Reading this is one thing you definitely should do.
The Bride’s Farewell, Meg Rosoff
So romantic – I utterly adored this sweet and poignant tale. Set in the 19th century with a kick-ass heroine on a quest for truth. Warning – ready your smelling salts girls – contains utterly swoon-worthy scenes.
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, David Almond
Billy Dean is a very special boy living in a horror filled post apocalyptic world. From the author of Skellig, this is brave, smart and tender. Written phonetically with mis-spellings that brake yur hart and brilliant for boys too.
Charlotte & Stevie, for Waterstones.com/blog