The best middle grade books of magic and adventure

The Books I Picked & Why

The Land of Roar

By Jenny McLachlan, Ben Mantle

Book cover of The Land of Roar

Why this book?

The Land of Roar celebrates the power of imagination. It’s a rollicking, mad-cap adventure about eleven-year-old twins who think they are too old for games until…the fantasy world they invented when they were little comes to life. I love this book because every trope of fairies, dragons, mermaids, witches have been twisted and done afresh. It’s clever, funny and warm.


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The Witches

By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

Book cover of The Witches

Why this book?

Spooky and magical! I remember staying up all night to finish this one when I was a child. It’s scary but so, so exciting. The real thrill comes from the idea that magic is all around us, alongside us in our everyday lives. The relationship between the boy and his grandmother is warm and loving, and their positivity is what provides the hope and joy in this book.


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The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife: Book 1

By Maz Evans

Book cover of The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife: Book 1

Why this book?

Magic comes in many forms and the version in this book is fast, funny, and modern. Scarlett has trouble controlling her emotions – something children will really connect with – but whenever she tries to push her feelings down, they find a very clear way of bursting out. Maz Evans knows how her readers think and speak: the dialogue and setting feel so alive and authentic; and she knows what makes them laugh.


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The Midnight Guardians

By Ross Montgomery

Book cover of The Midnight Guardians

Why this book?

This book is beautifully written, with a classic feel. It’s set in wartime England and draws on old green magic and folklore, as well as the power of belief. The Midnight Guardians is a quest story, full of enchantment and warmth. Col’s three imaginary friends come to life to help him race across a snowy English landscape to save his sister. It’s a glorious book with excitement and danger as well as humour and heart.


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Dragon Mountain

By Katie Tsang, Kevin Tsang

Book cover of Dragon Mountain

Why this book?

Dragon Mountain is fast and cinematic, full of excitement and thrills. It’s the story of a group of children at a holiday camp, who find a secret entrance to a world of dragons. There are battles and races and high-speed chases. I’ve always loved stories with a training session segment where the character learns new skills and, really, who wouldn’t want to learn to fly a dragon?


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