The best middle grade books that feature an adventurous journey

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my life journey so far in the outdoors of northern Ontario, Canada. Before I became a conservation officer, I worked for twelve years in a wilderness park as a canoe ranger. I also had eighteen sled dogs and taught dogsledding and winter survival. I’ve always been drawn to reading adventure stories, so when I finally became an author (in my forties. It’s never too late), I naturally wrote the kind of books that I grew up reading. Now I love that I get to share my passions with readers.  I hope you find some books of interest on this list and join me on a journey into a new adventure.


I wrote...

Book cover of Ice Dogs

What is my book about?

Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.

The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Terry Lynn Johnson Why did I love this book?

Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, live in a school bus – which is pretty fascinating in itself. Who hasn’t dreamed of escaping to a simple life on the road every now and then? What makes this story even better though is the rich, quirky characters and how each deal with grief in their own way. A beautiful family adventure.

By Dan Gemeinhart,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Five years. That's how long twelve-year-old Coyote and her dad, River, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation. It's also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters.

Coyote hasn't been home since, but when she learns that the park in her old neighbourhood is being demolished - the very same park where she, her mum, and her sisters buried a memory box - she devises a plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state.

On the way, they'll pick up an eclectic group of folks. Lester…


Book cover of A Wolf Called Wander

Terry Lynn Johnson Why did I love this book?

I adored this book! Not only was I astounded at the believable way the author expertly tells a tale from a wolf’s perspective (no small feat to be realistic here) but it’s also based on the true story of the actual wolf OR-7. I was fascinated to be drawn into this journey and world. And the scrumptious illustrations throughout are icing on the cake. 

By Rosanne Parry, Mónica Armiño (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Wolf Called Wander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller

The wolf star, brightest of all in the summer sky, shines over my home ground. I know every hidden lake and rocky ridge, but if my pack is not in the mountains, then it is no home to me. I feel a howl deep inside, but dare not let it out.

Swift lives with his pack in the mountains, until one day his home and family are lost. Alone and starving, Swift must make a choice: stay and try to eke out a desperate life on the borders of his old hunting grounds, or strike…


Book cover of Peak

Terry Lynn Johnson Why did I love this book?

Peak is a climbing addict in trouble with the law. But he gets to join his estranged father on an expedition to climb Mount Everest. The catch is that his dad just wants to use Peak as a promotion for his climbing company. Peak has to navigate complex relationships, all while trying not to die. I loved the adventure, but also the window into why so many risk it all to reach the top.

By Roland Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he's left with two choices: wither away in juvenile detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But Peak quickly learns that his father's renewed interest in him has strings attached. Big strings: He wants Peak to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit - and his motives are selfish at best. Even so, for a climbing addict like Peak, tackling Everest is the challenge of a lifetime. It's also one that could cost him his life.Roland Smith has…


Book cover of Alone in the Woods

Terry Lynn Johnson Why did I love this book?

The dialogue between the two former friends seriously transported me back to grade school. On top of the authentic voice, throw in the fact that these poor girls are lost in a National Forest with nothing but their bathing suits. Ugh! My skin itches with bug bites just thinking about it. The writing is so good, it also manages to make the Northwoods sound like a lovely place. 

By Rebecca Behrens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alone in the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the author of The Disaster Days comes a thrilling survival story, and lost in the woods children's book, about two former best friends who must work together to stay alive after getting lost in a remote national forest.
Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends...until they aren't. Jocelyn's not sure what happened, but she hopes the annual joint-family vacation in the isolated north woods will be the perfect spot to rekindle their friendship.
But Alex still isn't herself when they get to the cabin. And Jocelyn reaches a breaking point during a rafting trip that goes horribly wrong.…


Book cover of The Last Bear

Terry Lynn Johnson Why did I love this book?

I love books that show a bond between humans and animals. Especially well-researched books. And this story certainly captures it all with a sweet encounter between a lonely polar bear and a girl. Between the environmental tidbits, the plight of polar bears, and also the unique storyline, this book should be on everyone’s radar. 

By Hannah Gold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Bear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Imagine making friends with a polar bear... The Last Bear is perfect for readers of 8+, beautifully illustrated throughout by Levi Pinfold - winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and illustrator of Harry Potter 20th anniversary edition covers.

WINNER OF THE 2022 BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD
WINNER OF THE 2022 WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR CHILDREN'S FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR AT THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS 2022
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INDIE BOOK AWARDS 2022

"This is an important first novel, important for us, for polar bears, for the planet. It is deeply moving, beautifully told, quite unforgettable." Michael Morpurgo.…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Englishman who fell in love with a 300-year-old former sausage curing hut on the side of a Slovenian mountain in 2007. After years of visits spent renovating the place, I moved to Slovenia, where I lived and worked for many years, exploring the country, customs, and culture, learning some of the language, and visiting its most beautiful places. I continue to be enamored with Slovenia, and you will regularly find me at my cabin, making repairs and splitting firewood.

Sam's book list on books about Slovenia

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who…

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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