The best amazing children’s adventure books about family and exploring

Sarah Scheele Author Of Ryan and Essie
By Sarah Scheele

Who am I?

I am a farm girl who lives in rural Texas, surrounded by big blue skies, cornfields, and winding gravel roads. After avidly reading every children’s book and young adult novel I could find, including classics like Louisa May Alcott and J.R.R. Tolkien, I took to writing without thinking twice about it. I’ve published over 10 MG, YA, and New Adult books and I alternate between writing realistic family dramas and high fantasy, with a dose of science fiction that sprang up on its own and fits neatly somewhere between the other two. And then I read more books and plan to write more of them too.


I wrote...

Ryan and Essie

By Sarah Scheele,

Book cover of Ryan and Essie

What is my book about?

Ryan and Essie is a space adventure about a dangerous planet, a hidden past, and two kids who journey far from home. At first Ryan, the introspective son of an astronomer, and Essie, the spunky daughter of a rancher, don’t feel much connection to each other. They care more about getting where they want to in life than about listening to others—which is all well and good until they can’t follow instructions.

When Essie accidentally sends them through a wormhole, they find themselves on a distant planet called Caricanus. In a world fallen into darkness and filled with creepy ruins and followers of a questionable deity named Trisagion, they are rapidly in over their heads and their careless decisions can have fatal repercussions.

The books I picked & why

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Cecile & The Kingdom of Belamor

By Marilyn F. Churchill,

Book cover of Cecile & The Kingdom of Belamor

Why this book?

This beautiful volume of three stories about a princess who deals with a spider-enchantress, a pair of feuding wizards, and a benevolent old dragon in her kingdom features pristine, gorgeous illustrations and a sweet-but-strong heroine. I just really love how Princess Cecile is a brave and sensible person and the twist that the real Cecile actually lives in our world and writes about Belamor was really smart, gently suggesting that princess stories are not just escapist fantasy, but an important part of self-expression for young girls as they grow up. It’s rare for me to find anything that so perfectly captures this idyllic genre. Marilyn Churchill has created a new fairy tale.

Cecile & The Kingdom of Belamor

By Marilyn F. Churchill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cecile & The Kingdom of Belamor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this three-part epic adventure, Cecile wakes up in a dream, and finds herself in the Kingdom of Belamor. The fourteen-year-old is unaware that she is, in fact, the Princess of this realm. She soon discovers that a beautiful enchantress has cast a spell over the kingdom and usurped her throne! And when she confronts this compelling, and powerful opponent, she learns what it really takes to be the Princess of Belamor. 
    Now fifteen, Cecile's dream of a peaceful reign is literally shaken when a dragon hidden under the castle awakens after five hundred years of slumber. She must decide…


Sleep, Merel, Sleep

By Silke Stein,

Book cover of Sleep, Merel, Sleep

Why this book?

This fantasy novel is about a girl who can’t cope with the lack of attention she’s receiving since her baby brother was born. He is very ill and has to use an inhaler so Merel’s parents are always tired and don’t notice her. The story is engrossing and heartwarming as Merel has become so angsty that she refuses to sleep and does nothing but scream. Eventually, she loses the ability to sleep at all. During a trip to a fantasy land to try to get her lost sleep back so she can be normal, Merel learns to accept her family and to feel affection for her baby brother. The story deals with regression about a new sibling in a fascinating way.

Sleep, Merel, Sleep

By Silke Stein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sleep, Merel, Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Merel's life has changed. Since the birth of her sick baby brother, her parents seem to have forgotten she exists. But when she finds a tiny silver violin in her bedroom, things take a turn for the worse. Merel learns that her sleep has abandoned her and that she must embark on a perilous journey to recover it, or stay awake forever.

Together with her devoted toy sheep, Roger, Merel sets out in search of a place called Lullaby Grove. She meets a sleepy king with an obsession for feathers and a transparent old man on a night train going…


Keekee's Big Adventures in London, England

By Shannon Jones, Casey Uhelski (illustrator),

Book cover of Keekee's Big Adventures in London, England

Why this book?

This picture book blends fiction and non-fiction in a brilliant package. It’s part of a series about little KeeKee, a cat who is bursting with the innocence and curiosity of young children, as she travels the world to famous cities. In London, she sees some of the main tourist landmarks and has tea with a certain elegant old woman in Buckingham Palace. I think the book simply stands out because it’s so sincere. KeeKee’s excitement about everything is palpable and while the book has some sound facts in it, it brings the big world down to a tiny, friendly pint-size and is filled with joy.  

Keekee's Big Adventures in London, England

By Shannon Jones, Casey Uhelski (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Keekee's Big Adventures in London, England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“KeeKee’s Big Adventures in London, England is part travel guide, part exploration—an adventure not to be missed." —Foreword Reviews

“A charming, beautifully illustrated guide to the English capital for kids."—Kirkus Reviews (Top Indie Picture Books 2019)

Winner of 2020 Readers’ Favorite Awards: Gold Medal Children’s Picture Book and Illustration Award; & Gold Mom’s Choice Award

Travel lovers, get ready to explore in KeeKee’s Big Adventures in London, the 5th book in the award-winning series.

Join KeeKee, the globe-trotting calico kitty, on her latest brilliant adventures in London. Along with her friend Willamb Sheepspeare, she whisks readers through the majesty of…


Esme's Gift

By Elizabeth Foster,

Book cover of Esme's Gift

Why this book?

This is the second book in a YA series, a sequel to the also excellent Esme’s Wish. It features fantastic, to-swoon-for writing that builds a lavish water-based alternative world called Aeolia. In the first book, Esme’s mother disappeared but Esme found her in Aeolia. What I love about this second book is how it develops the family relationships as Esme tries to convince her father that his wife is alive in a fantasy land while her mother’s antagonist in Aeolia, Nathan Mare, turns into one of the best villains I’ve seen in a while. Detailed and menacing with his obsession with talent (called Gifts in Aeolia) because he doesn’t have a Gift, and ultimately convincing as a bad guy, he offers some subtle and thought-provoking reading.

Esme's Gift

By Elizabeth Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Esme's Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift - the power to observe the past - and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.
In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends - old and new - travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.
Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope…


Sir Scrap Metal

By Joan Dee Wilson,

Book cover of Sir Scrap Metal

Why this book?

This charming chapter book turns a typical story about three children and a new pet on its head by exploring a creative idea—the adoption of a stern, dignified small robot instead. And Sir Scrap Metal is no ordinary robot, but a secret agent working for an animal protection agency. While the kids solve a mystery with his help, the transfer of furry friend to cold titanium friend was very skillful. I never thought I could care about a robot as much as a dog or cat, but this book reminded me what pet stories are about. To those who love them, pets are both superheroes who complete special missions and also buddies who want to belong—whether they bark or meow or chirp or emit monotone robotic statements.

Sir Scrap Metal

By Joan Dee Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sir Scrap Metal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Young sister, Dree, saves a battered and broken robot from being recycled by a dubious store owner, Mr Fitch, while on vacation with her two older brothers at Grandma's cottage near Lake Superior. Her new companion turns out to be a very sophisticated robot, Sir_12.80, used to track illegal animal smuggling baring an inscription Sir_12.80. It is being sought for its black box data by its creator, Agent Rouso, after it was thrown from a helicopter and dragged along the rocky shore by a big slobbery dog.
Renamed Sir Scrap Metal by Dree, and restored via solar energy the little…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in robots, sleep, and dragons?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about robots, sleep, and dragons.

Robots Explore 72 books about robots
Sleep Explore 12 books about sleep
Dragons Explore 129 books about dragons

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Klara and the Sun, and Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! if you like this list.