Author Archives: En-Szu

September 28, 2016

Whatever After Readalikes

Posted by at 1:18 am in Reads, Whatever After | Permalink

Whatever After booksOh, to live in a fairy tale! Talking animals, magic spells, exciting adventures . . . it would be so awesome. Well, it would be awesome if you managed to stay out of trouble, that is — and trouble is exactly what Abby and her kid brother Jonah end up in after stumbling through a magic mirror and into the worlds of their favorite fairy tales. After accidentally turning the stories upside down, they have to use their wits and bravery to turn them right-side up again. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, you probably already love this fantastic series. Once you’ve finished the latest book, chances are you’ll be looking for more fun fairy tale adventures–and that’s why we’ve put together this list of our favorite Whatever After readalikes!

Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel
It can be hard to live in the shadow of a famous parent. It’s even harder if that parent is famous for being a villain, and has been banished to live on an isolated island with other villains—and you’re stuck there, too! That’s the life Mal, daughter of Maleficient, and her friends (all children of Disney villains) have on the Isle of the Lost, where the only thing to do is learn how to be evil. But when a small break in the protective dome appears and activates Maleficent’s scepter, the kids are in a race against each other to find it first and use it for their own reasons…

Princess Academy
14-year-old Miri has lived a humble existence in the humble mining village of Mount Eskel, where it is expected that she will work in the quarry just like her family when she is old enough. But an unexpected prophecy by the king’s priests that the next princess will come from Mount Eskel turns Miri’s world on its head! Sent to a special academy with all the other eligible girls from the village, Miri must learn how to behave like a princess. But will living a life she’s only dreamed of be worth it?

The Tail of Emily Windsnap
Even though Emily Windsnap and her mom live on a houseboat, Emily’s never learned how to swim…and she finds out why during a swimming lesson at school: her legs turn into a fishtail! Thanks to her newfound ability, she discovers an underwater mer-city close by and learns more about who she is and her mysterious past. Determined to reunite with her merman father whom she’s never met, Emily embarks on a journey to find him — and learns several shocking things along the way!

The Wide-Awake Princess
Thanks to a spell from a fairy named Moonbeam, Princess Annie can’t be affected by magic. So when her older sister Gwendolyn — also known as Sleeping Beauty — falls asleep, Annie is the only person at the castle left awake. It’s up to Annie now to find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake, and she sets off across the land in search of eligible princes to break the spell. Along the way she meets all manner of fairy tale characters…and maybe even finds a love of her own.

Ella Enchanted
When Ella is born, a well-meaning fairy gives her a “gift” that turns out to be more of a curse: Ella must obey any order that is given to her, even if it puts her in danger! She’s determined to break the curse, but not before she goes on a wild adventure involving evil stepsisters, ogres, giants, and a very charming prince. This funny book presents the story of Cinderella like you’ve never heard it before, and is sure to become one of your favorites!

Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
On their twelfth birthday, twins Alex and Conner are given a book of fairy tales from their grandmother. It contains all the stories she used to read to them when they were younger. Suddenly, the book comes to life and plunges the twins into the magical Land of Stories — a land where all the fairy tale characters they read about are alive. The only way home is by following instructions in a mysterious journal to complete the Wishing Spell, which requires collecting eight special items from the Land of Stories. But it’s no easy task, and along the way Alex and Conner discover that they have a very special tie to this magical, wonderful land.

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends
What if you decided not to follow your pre-written destiny? Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, is supposed to follow in her mother’s footsteps. At Ever After High, the special boarding school for the children of fairy tale characters, each student is required to sign the Storybook of Legends on Legacy Day to fulfill their destinies as princesses, princes, and villains. Raven isn’t too sure she wants to be evil . . . but refusing to follow her fate might prove disastrous not just for her, but everyone else in the Snow White story!

What do you think, fairy tale lovers? Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other recommendations for fans of Whatever After? Share in the Comments below!

En-Szu

September 14, 2016

12 Books for When You Are 12

Posted by at 1:24 am in Reads | Permalink

Recommend me!Being 12 can be downright confusing. You’re not a teenager just yet, but not really a kid anymore. Everything is changing: your friends, your family, your likes and dislikes, even your body. (Whaaaaaat? Gross!) Talk about having your world turned upside down! But that’s why we have great books. Get inspired by extraordinary characters and their even more extraordinary tales in this list of the 12 best books for when you are 12.

The Golden Compass
12-year-old orphan Lyra Belacqua has lived her whole life scampering around Oxford with her daemon, Pantalaimon. But when she stumbles across a dangerous conspiracy, she is forced to flee to the unknown North—where armored polar bears battle, children are being abducted and experimented on by a mysterious and sinister society, and Lyra uncovers dark truths about her past, and the universe, that could completely alter the course of the future.

The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm
Tendai, Rita, and Kuda have been holed up in their mansion far too long—but when they escape to explore the world outside, they find themselves confronted with dangers beyond their wildest imagination. In the world of 2174 in Harare, Zimbabwe, the siblings find themselves kidnapped by gangsters and bounced from one awful situation to the next…all while being pursued by a strange detective agency their parents have hired. This bizarre, funny, and downright fascinating tale of the future will take you on one wild ride and have you wondering what the world will look like in 158 years.

The Graveyard Book
Brad is anything but normal…but you could probably say it’s because of how he was raised. You see, Brad was raised as the only living thing in a graveyard. His whole world has been ghosts and other supernatural beings. As he grows older, his love for his graveyard family—and fear of the outside world—grows.

Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl is no ordinary 12-year-old. He’s a brilliant criminal mastermind, and has done a pretty good job managing his family’s criminal enterprise. He’s also on the hunt for something very, very valuable…fairies. When he captures fairy Holly Short, he thinks he’s landed on a goldmine. What he fails to realize is that Holly and her fellow fairies are anything but the gentle fairies of lore: they’re armed, and they’re ready to fight! But are Artemis’ intentions really all bad?

A Wrinkle In Time
Meg’s father has been missing for over a year. One dark and stormy night, a Mrs. Whatsit visits the family and reveals that she is a magical being who can read thoughts. She informs Meg that her father isn’t just missing on this planet—he’s lost somewhere in the fifth dimension, and it’s up to Meg, her brother Charles, and her friend Calvin to rescue him from whatever evil is holding him captive. This wild inter-dimensional tale is an absolute must-read!

The Giver
In Jonas’s world, everything is in perfect order. Nobody fights, nobody hurts, nobody is poor, nobody gets sick. At the age of 12, each member of his community is given their career assignment. Jonas is assigned a very unusual job, however: he is to be the new Receiver of Memories. It’s no easy task for anyone, let alone a 12-year-old. He begins training under The Giver, who is the only one who knows of what life was really like before everything was perfect…and now that Jonas knows the truth, will he let things continue to be the way they are? Or is there meaning, and even happiness, in imperfection?

The Dark is Rising
On his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton learns that he is actually the last of the Old Ones, immortals who fight the great forces of evil. To save the world, he must first find the six Signs of the Light and unite them. But the world of magic and good and evil that Will has discovered is far more complex and sinister than he ever could have imagined…

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Karana has lived on Ghalas-at, also known as the Island of the Blue Dolphins, her entire life. She lives in the village with her father, the chief, and her brother. After a trade agreement goes terribly wrong, ending in many deaths, her fellow villagers leave—but Karana and her brother Ramo are left behind. Karana will have to rely on her survival skills and strength to stay alive until someone comes to rescue them, but soon tragedy strikes again and Karana must learn what it truly means to be brave…and be human.

Al Capone Does My Shirts
Moose Flanagan, age 12, has to move with his family to Alcatraz Island in 1935. His father got a job working at the infamous prison, and his autistic younger sister Natalie can go to a special school nearby in San Francisco. Moose is pretty miserable—he had to give up a pretty great life back in Santa Monica, and his life now is lonely and frustrating. But he’s about to make a friend (or two) in the most unlikely of places…

A Long Walk to Water
Two parallel stories—one taking place in 2008, and the other in 1985—explore the lives of two different people and how they collide. In Sudan in 1985, Salva’s classroom daydreaming is violently interrupted by what begins a harrowing journey of survival and escape. Over 20 years later, Nya spends must walk eight hours a day to collect water for her family, most of which is contaminated. How these two tales intertwine is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and will give you so much hope for how we can love one another.

Counting By 7s
12-year-old Willow Chance is a genius who is a sponge for information. She leads a pretty quiet life, and finds comfort in counting by 7s. But when her world is turned upside down by tragedy, she will be challenged in ways she never could have imagined—and through it all, she shows the power of survival, finding hope, and finding family where you least expect it.

The Thing about Jellyfish
After her ex-best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting because things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, and complicated friendships.

Have you read any of these books? What other books do you think every 12-year-old should read? Share in the Comments below!

August 29, 2016

Find the Dolphin Picture Puzzle

Posted by at 1:49 am in Games | Permalink

Find the Dolphin!

You know those pictures where everything looks the same, but you have to find the thing that is different? Well, we’ve got one for you that I drew myself!

Look at this big flock of seagulls and see if you can find the dolphin hiding in there.

dolphin

Did you find it? Tell us in the Comments what you think of my picture puzzle!

En-Szu

August 24, 2016

Books for Going to a New School

Posted by at 1:02 am in Reads | Permalink

Recommend me!

Summer vacation may be over, but the fun is just beginning—welcome back to school, everyone! The first day of school can be really daunting especially if you are in a new school: Will you like your new teachers? Will you make new friends? Did you wear the right outfit?! But there is no need to fret. You’re going to have the best year ever. I can just feel it! In the meantime, start your year off on the right foot with these wacky, moving, and fun books that will give you the courage to face a new year in a new school.

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Some homework assignments can be a real drag. Some can change your life. When Leigh Botts moves to a new town with his mom and starts at a new school, he struggles to fit in and make new friends. He’s also really angry at his dad for leaving him and his mom. But an assignment to write to his favorite author–in Leigh’s case, Boyd Henshaw–leads to an unexpected friendship that will both give Leigh hope and open his eyes to the world around him.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

If you’re like me, every fall you wait anxiously for your Hogwarts acceptance letter to arrive (I’ll probably be waiting until I’m 99!). In the meantime, no fall is complete without revisiting Hogwarts through the amazing, amazing Harry Potter books! Join this unlikely hero as he is plunged into the mysterious and exciting world of witchcraft and wizardry, making the most unexpected of friends and fighting the greatest force of evil to have ever existed.

Dork Diaries

Phew! There’s drama from day one for Nikki Maxwell at her new school, and it doesn’t show any sign of letting up soon. Mean girls, crushes, new friends, and annoying little sisters–eighth grade looks like it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. But Nikki knows how to have a good laugh, and you will too while you read this hilarious, heartwarming book!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Greg Heffley is having a pretty wild and wacky first year of middle school. He has bully woes, friendship woes, family woes…all he wants to do is stay at home and play video games! Sadly, that’s definitely not how he’s going to spend the rest of the year. Instead, he’ll be getting into all sorts of wacky, hilarious messes (both with and without his best friend Rowley) and learn what being a middle schooler is really all about.

Matilda

Matilda is a genius. Unfortunately, her parents don’t appreciate or even acknowledge her brilliance–they just see her as annoying. Things at school aren’t much better, and when Matilda catches the eye of the sinister headmistress Miss Trunchbull, things take a turn for the worse. That’s when Matilda discovers that she actually possesses a remarkable gift…and she’s going to use it to turn her life around!

Schooled

Capricorn—better known as Cap—has never been to a real school before. Until his grandmother was hospitalized, he was homeschooled by her on a farm commune. Now he’s been taken in by a social worker and has to attend school for the first time in his life. Cap’s strangeness makes him a target for bullying, but he’s not about to react in the way anyone expects…and he’s going to change the lives of a lot of people in some very unexpected ways!

Spy School

Ben Ripley has always known what he wants to be when he grows up: a spy for the CIA. But Ben is hardy suave spy material—he’s awkward and nerdy, and he’s better in the classroom than he is at espionage. So he’s very surprised to learn that he’s been recruited into a top-secret  junior CIA academy…until he learns it’s been a case of mistaken identity. Nonetheless, Ben is determined to prove that he really does have it takes to be a spy!

What is YOUR favorite book about being in a new school? Did we miss one? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

En-Szu

July 18, 2016

Find the Eel Picture Puzzle

Posted by at 1:07 am in Games | Permalink

Find the Eel!

You know those pictures where everything looks the same, but you have to find the thing that is different? Last time, I drew one with a squid. Well, I drew a new one for you!

Look at this big bunch of elephants and see if you can find the eel hiding in there.

Find the eel

Click on the image for a larger view.

Did you find it? Tell us in the Comments what you think of my latest picture puzzle!

En-Szu

June 22, 2016

8 Books for When You Are 8

Posted by at 11:59 am in Reads | Permalink

8 Books for When You Are 8

Eight is great! Hooray for the great year eight! We’ve put together a list of the eight best books to read when you’re eight. From silly to magical, these books are perfect for any eight-year-old. How many of these have you read?8for8

The Year of Billy Miller
Starting second grade is nerve-wracking enough. Now imagine starting it with a big lump from a concussion on your head! Billy Miller can’t seem to catch a break, and that’s just the beginning of the school year. There are lots of ups and downs to his year, and Billy Miller is really nervous — but sometimes the best support comes from where you least expect it.

Where the Sidewalk Ends
These poems range from funny to wild to simply bizarre, and you won’t be able to put this book down! Have you ever wondered how long it takes to eat a whale? What happens when a crocodile goes to the dentist? If you ever wanted to know the answer to these questions — or just love silly stories — you HAVE to read this book. It’s the best!

Ramona Quimby, Age Eight
Of COURSE this book is a must-read for every eight-year-old! For bouncy, loud Ramona, turning eight is yet another great adventure. But with things at home kind of rocky, and Ramona having her own problems with bullies and annoying little kids, year eight is proving to be anything but easy. With her upbeat attitude, though, Ramona is going to show age eight who’s boss!

Amelia Bedelia
Housekeeper Amelia Bedelia means well, but takes every instruction she gets literally — like “dressing” the chicken in tiny clothes! What will happen when the Rogers family, who hire her to clean the house while they’re out for the day, returns to Amelia’s version of completed chores? You’ll have to read this super-silly book to find out!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
If you’re into magical adventure, the Chronicles of Narnia is a journey you simply can’t miss. Four siblings find themselves mysteriously transported to the magical land of Narnia, where centaurs roam, animals talk, and a terrible spell by the sinister White Witch has left the land in winter for one hundred (!!!) years. But these special children have been brought to Narnia for a reason, and they’re about to discover why . . .

Nate the Great
Nate, a young detective who loves (LOVES) pancakes, is on his biggest case yet: his friend Annie asks him to help her find a missing portrait of her dog, Fang. Sleuthing his way from clue to clue and suspect to suspect, Nate also solves several other mysteries along the way. Now how’s THAT for being a kid detective?

 Matilda
Matilda is a super-genius. Too bad her family is super-terrible, and can’t appreciate her special mind! Thankfully, Matilda finds an ally in her teacher at school, Miss Honey. But even together they are no match for Matilda’s selfish parents and the horrible headmistress Ms. Trunchbull . . . that is, until Matilda discovers her magic power that may just be her ticket to a happily ever after. This modern-day fairy tale is bound to be a book you can’t put down and will want to read over and over again!

The Magic Treehouse
This AWESOME series is one that is perfect to start at age eight (and with 55 books in the series so far, it’ll be a while before you run out of books to read). Jack and Annie are two siblings who discover a magical treehouse that sends them across time and space to solve mysteries and collect clues. From the North Pole to Ancient Egypt, Jack and Annie meet all sorts of fascinating people and creatures and learn amazing things. Extra awesome: It was recently announced that The Magic Treehouse is going to be turned into a live-action movie!

Which books from this list have you read? Which books do you think every eight-year-old should read? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

En-Szu

June 21, 2016

Find the Squid Picture Puzzle

Posted by at 1:50 am in Games | Permalink

Find the Squid!

You know those pictures where everything looks the same, but you have to find the thing that is different? Well, we’ve got one for you that I drew myself!

Look at this big bunch of eggs and see if you can find the squid hiding in there.

squid egg puzzle

Click the image for a larger view.

Did you find it? Tell us in the Comments what you think of my picture puzzle!

En-Szu

June 15, 2016

10 Books for When You Are 10

Posted by at 1:53 am in Reads | Permalink

10 Books for When You Are 10

Yeah for double-digits! If you’re new to the double-digit club, or even if you’ve been a member for a little while, be sure to check out this list of books that every ten-year-old has GOTTA read.10 books for when you are 10

Walk Two Moons
Salamanca’s mother has gone missing, so Sal and her grandparents set off on a road trip from Ohio to Idaho to look for her. During the trip, Salamanca tells a series of fanciful stories about her friend Phoebe whose mother, coincidentally, also went missing. But the real story is the one being written by Sal during this life-changing trip, as she learns more about herself . . . and what really happened with her mother.

The One and Only Ivan
Ivan the gorilla has spent 27 years behind glass walls in a shopping mall. He doesn’t really remember his life before in the jungle, and is used to his everyday routines living in captivity. That all changes the day he meets Ruby a baby elephant, and his whole world is turned topsy-turvy! This Newbery Medal-winning book is a MUST-read. It’ll make you laugh; it’ll make you cry. Don’t miss out.

Wonder
Ten-year-old August Pullman is starting fifth grade and he’s really nervous because he’s never been to a regular school before. Though he likes playing video games and Star Wars like other kids his age, August was born with a facial difference that makes him look unlike other kids. Auggie is about to have a life-changing year, but he’s not the only one who is going to be transformed–everyone he meets is about to learn what it means to be human, to fit in, and to be extraordinary.

Wings of Fire
An ancient treasure has kept seven dragon tribes at war for years, but a prophecy involving five baby dragons — or dragonets — could bring an end to the endless fighting. So five dragonets are collected and raised in hiding, trained to fight and bring about the end of the war. However, they are held against their will, and when they escape, they unwittingly redefine their destinies . . . and the destiny of dragons everywhere.

Number the Stars
For ten-year-old Annemarie, who lives in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen in the year 1943, things are getting steadily worse. She loses her older sister, Lise, in a car accident, and now her best friend Ellen is in danger. Ellen and her family are Jewish, and as the Nazis begin rounding up the Jewish people to send them to concentration camps, Annemarie and her family take in Ellen and pretend that she is Annemarie’s sister . . . but how long can they keep up the act before they are discovered?

Bud, Not Buddy
In Flint, Michigan, ten-year-old orphan Bud Caldwell only has a few objects to remember his mother by as he gets sent from foster home to foster home. One of these objects is a flyer for the famous jazz musician Herman E. Calloway and his band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression. Convinced that Herman must be his father, Bud runs away to find him — and ends up on one hilarious, heartwarming journey! (Check out our book trailer.)

Tuesdays at the Castle
Eleven-year-old princess Celie lives in Castle Glower, a magical castle that sprouts a new secret passageway or room each day . . . and it decides who gets to be king. When Celie’s parents are declared dead and her older brother becomes king, Celie is suspicious. Are they really dead, or is there something more sinister afoot? With the aid of her siblings and the castle itself, Celie is about to find out!

Flora and Ulysses
When ten-year-old Flora, lover of comics, rescues the squirrel Ulysses after an unfortunate run-in with a vacuum cleaner, the last thing she expects for the revived squirrel to do is develop superpowers. But that’s exactly what happens, and Ulysses (who can now fly and has super-strength, and can write poetryis about to open up a world of possibilities for super-cynical Flora. This Newbery Medal-winning book is bound to open your eyes and warm your heart, too!

El Deafo
Cece loses her hearing when she is just a toddler, and has to wear a very bulky, embarrassing hearing aid called The Phonic Ear. Cece’s worried The Phonic Ear is getting in the way of her making a real friend, but she soon discovers that The Phonic Ear is a lot more powerful than most people realize . . . and it may not just only be her “superpower,” but a way for her to find her inner superhero. Watch the video!

Warriors
Do you ever wonder what your pet cat gets into when he’s running around outside? Wonder no longer! In this exciting and excellent series, cat Rusty finds four clans of wild cats living in the forest near his home. As he is taken in by the Thunder Clan to train as a warrior apprentice, he discovers the deception and deceit that threaten to overthrow clan order . . . but all of that pales in comparison to the greater threat lurking just beyond the forest.

Which books from this list have you read? Which books do you think every ten-year-old should read? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

En-Szu

June 13, 2016

Hamilton Personality Quiz

Posted by at 1:05 am in Music, Personality Quiz | Permalink

Which Hamilton Song Are You?

There are a lot of things we can’t get enough of: books (of course), chocolate, puppies, and…the Hamilton soundtrack! In case you aren’t familiar with the amazing-ness that is Hamilton, it is a Broadway musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the face on the $10.00 bill). If you haven’t heard the soundtrack yet, don’t delay—it’s pretty incredible. I’ve spent a long time listening to the soundtrack on repeat.

All the songs on the Hamilton soundtrack are too good to have just one favorite, but take this HAMILTON SOUNDTRACK PERSONALITY QUIZ to find out which song most matches your personality. Which song are you? The sweet and sentimental “Helpless”? The daring “Guns and Ships”? Find out below!

You would most like to live in this time period: a) the 1950s. b) the 1980s. c) Ancient Rome. d) the future. e) the present.

Your friends would best describe you as: a) silly. b) driven. c) daring. d) confident. e) sweet.

If you were an animal, you would most likely be: a) a sloth. b) a wolf. c) a cat. d) a parrot. e) an otter.

Out of these book series, your favorite is: a) Diary of a Wimpy Kid. b) Dork Diaries. c) Percy Jackson and the Olympians. d) Harry Potter. e) Whatever After.

Your worst trait is: a) being too possessive. b) being jealous. c) being too recklessly daring. d) being conceited. e) being too sensitive.

Of these desserts, your favorite is: a) an ice cream sundae. b) cake. c) brownies. d) cookies. e) pie.

Your favorite subject is: a) Language Arts. b) Math. c) Science. d) Art. e) Music.

If your life were made into a movie, it would most likely be: a) a comedy. b) a soap opera. c) an action movie. d) a sci-fi adventure. e) a romance.

Your favorite pair of shoes are: a) cowboy boots. b) a well-loved pair of canvas sneakers. c) a pair of high-tech running shoes. d) flip flops. e) classic and a little dressy.

You just found out that your parents got you tickets to see Hamilton for your birthday. Your reaction is: a) That’s all? You wanted a unicorn! b) You make sure you’re allowed to do whatever you want with the tickets, and then sell them to some kid at school for $8,000. c) You make your best friends compete in a backyard talent show. The winner gets to go with you to see Hamilton! d) Scream and faint. When you revive, run into your Hamilton-themed room to blast your favorite Hamilton songs on repeat for the next 24 hours. e) Put on your own musical presentation to thank your parents for their unbelievable generosity, and tell them you finally forgive them for giving you a baby brother instead of the puppy you asked for.

Ready for the results? Read on. Continue reading

June 1, 2016

11 Books for When You Are 11

Posted by at 1:12 am in Reads | Permalink

11 books for when you are 11

Being eleven isn’t easy, but you’re in luck: we’ve got a great list of eleven classic books that every eleven-year-old should read. They’ll help you through the trickier moments, give you something to laugh about, and take you on some pretty wild adventures!

The City of Ember
Humankind has survived the end of the world in the city of Ember, protected by a dome overhead and surrounded by darkness. For 241 years, humans have lived in this city lit by lamps. There used to be instructions to get out, but they have been long lost . . . or have they? With blackouts happening more often and storerooms getting dangerously empty, it’s up to friends Doon and Lina to find a way to save humanity.

Holes
Poor Stanley Yelnats has been wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile disciplinary facility in the middle of the desert. This is no surprise to Stanley, who comes from a family seemingly cursed with really, really bad luck–but he’s not ready for the mystery that is Camp Green Lake. Each day, the boys at Camp Green Lake have to dig a hole that is 5 feet deep by 5 feet wide. It’s supposed to help them to “build character” . . . or is it? What are they REALLY digging for, and why?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
After an extra-freaky incident (involving an algebra teacher turning into a man-eating monster during a school field trip), dyslexic Percy Jackson suspects that not everything in his life is as it seems . . . and he’s right. It is soon revealed that his father is the Greek god Poseidon, and Percy  flees to Camp Half-Blood and train with other demigods (half-god, half-humans) to prevent an all-out war from erupting between the gods!

Smile
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth-grader, but when she damages her front teeth during an accident, the next few years are anything but normal! Raina has to deal with painful headgear, braces, retainers, and surgeries on top of the regular drama of crushes, physical changes, and family problems. It seems like Raina can’t catch a break, but the valuable lessons she learns along the way just might make everything worth it.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
When Kenny’s older brother Byron–who is always getting into trouble–takes his shenanigans too far, the whole Watson family of Flint, Michigan, heads south so that Grandma can teach him a thing or two. But as the Watsons fall into one hilarious misadventure after another, a very dark moment in American history suddenly strikes–one that will change not only the Watson family, but the entire nation.

Out of My Mind
Eleven-year-old Melody, who has cerebral palsy, can’t walk or talk. But on the inside, she’s a genius with a photographic memory and brilliant mind. When her family gets her a computer, she’s able to “speak” for the first time. But being able to share her mind with the outside world can be heartbreaking, and it’s going to take a lot of inner strength for Melody to finally find her voice.

Hoot
Roy is used to being the new kid at school, but this time around at Trace Middle School, things are going a little differently. Roy’s accidentally become arch enemies with the school bully, and he’s befriended misfits, Beatrice and Mullet Fingers. And then there’s the baby burrowing owls . . . and the pancake house that’s threatening to force them out of their habitat. Roy and his new friends are on a mission to save the owls, but when it’s their word against the grown-ups, they’re going to have to fight with everything they’ve got.

Stargirl
When Stargirl first arrives at Mica High, she is so strange that no one knows what to make of her. Her schoolmates fall in love with her quirky ways and happy attitude at first, but her popularity is short-lived, and it’s not long before she becomes the butt of every joke . . . for the same things that made her so lovable to begin with. Leo, who admires Stargirl still, wants to help her to fit in again. But will making Stargirl “normal” fix her problems?

Esperanza Rising
Esperanza leads a lovely life in Mexico, where she is treated like a princess and surrounded by love and kindness. But when tragedy strikes, Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee to the United States. Life in the U.S. is very difficult, as they have to take jobs as migrant workers. But in spite of the grueling work and poor living conditions, Esperanza begins to realize that happiness may, in fact, come from within . . .

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
For the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, things keep going from bad to worse. After they are orphaned in a fire, the three siblings are sent to live with the sinister, greedy Count Olaf. Olaf is after their inheritance money, but the Baudelaire kids have a trick or two up their sleeves–and they are determined to foil his plans!

The Mysterious Benedict Society
Eleven-year-old orphan Reynie Muldoon, after answering an unusual ad in the paper and completing a series of competitive tasks, has been selected to join a secret society with three other gifted children. What he doesn’t anticipate is that he’ll be trained by a criminal mastermind to help him take over the world–not exactly what he signed up for!

Which books from this list have you read? Which books do you think every eleven-year-old should read? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!