The best book for young readers about surviving danger and seeing your dream come true

Why am I passionate about this?

This is very simple as to why there is passionate engagement with the themes listed within each of the five titles chosen. It's about engagement with the story which immediately comes from strongly identifying with the characters and events. The ‘identity factor’ is vital in drawing the reader in, and it's the mystery when writing a story or book which doesn’t begin with a prescribed plan. The mystery is really what creates the story and its characters, wanting to see what happens on the next page. With the reader, after having read a few pages, feeling the compulsion to read on, fully committed, emotionally involved, intrigued, and passionately caught up in the story.


I wrote...

A Horse Called El Dorado

By Kevin Kiely,

Book cover of A Horse Called El Dorado

What is my book about?

Pepe Carroll, the hero of A Horse Called El Dorado, has to leave his father during a military conflict and escape through the jungles of Colombia with his mother which is the first part of his story of survival. His adventures are continual survival. How he finds his grandparents in a far away country and good friends of his own age who identify his dream which will take him into “the world of horses.” How he survives. How he discovers what he must achieve and achieves it is his story. Told in a way that makes it real in every way. There is hardship, trouble, breakthrough and joy at least for Pepe, despite what he is witness to on his journeys.     

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Ship That Flew

Kevin Kiely Why did I love this book?

Peter is on his way home from school and discovers a crooked laneway. Soon he looks through the bay window of a junk shop and is ‘drawn’ towards one item inside: a little ship. There is a strange conversation between Peter and the owner of the shop who says, "All the money in the world wouldn’t have bought this ship once [...]. It would cost all the money you have in the world and a bit over!" The man in the shop sells it to Peter.

Along the beach on the way home the ship turns into a real ship with sails. The book is not only about the many adventures with his brothers and sisters involving time travel to many lands but has an overarching plot that one day Peter will have to return the ship where he bought it. Only then will he discover about the ship and what has happened. The closing chapter is as stirring as all the other episodes when Peter has grown into a young man, returning the ship along the crooked laneway to the very same shop and the same owner.

By Hilda Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ship That Flew 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?

When Peter sees the model ship in the shop window, he wants it more than anything else on Earth. But this is no ordinary model. The ship takes Peter and the other children on magical flights, wherever they ask to go. Time after time the magic ship takes them on different exciting adventures, to different countries, and to different times. And why should magic ever end?


Book cover of The Adventures of Henry Penn

Kevin Kiely Why did I love this book?

In being faithful to the ‘first’ books I ever read The Ship That Flew and The Adventures of Henry Penn. Henry Penn is a Penguin and daydreamer. He wants to be a poet. Some of the story involves his creative life writing/reciting from his ‘secret’ little book the “Lays of Ancient Penland.” The close of the story recounts an episode after the Kipper War when there is a celebration concert and Henry performs his first poem!

The town’s people (Penguins) dominate the story. The Kipper War (is a funny episode) against the Pirates to recover the stolen hoard of fish belonging to the Penguins. Important in all of the books chosen are the illustrations, for instance, the illustration of Henry in school at the back of the class ‘caught’ by the teacher staring out the high windows.

By Isobel St Vincent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Adventures of Henry Penn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Blue Fairy Book

Kevin Kiely Why did I love this book?

Lang’s story telling is compelling opening up for the reader the timeless characters of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, Jack the Giant Killer, Jonathan Swift’s “A Voyage to Lilliput” from Gulliver’s Travels, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstilzkin, Why the Sea is Salt, Goldilocks, Blue Beard, Snow White and many others. 

My sister and brother (older than I) used to read aloud from, not only The Blue Fairy Book but the Red Book and the Green Book. These stories were the first I’d heard, and were so real I believed the characters would be present in my life. Grimm’s Tales ‘told’ by Lang becomes an exciting guidebook for a young person growing up. This aspect was ‘proven’ to me by the co-existence of these characters as archetypes in terms of life events and situations. My conviction is that the storyline, characters, and the progression of events in fiction fully engage and fully reward the experience of reading.

By Andrew Lang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Blue Fairy Book 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?

"The Blue Fairy Book" is Andrew Lang's classic selection of popular fairy tales. Contained in this work you will find the following tales: The Bronze Ring, Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, The Yellow Dwarf, Little Red Riding-Hood, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, Cinderella; or, the Little Glass Slipper, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was, Rumpelstiltzkin, Beauty and the Beast, The Master-Maid, Why the Sea is Salt, The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots, Felicia and the…


Book cover of The Oregon Trail

Kevin Kiely Why did I love this book?

I began to read this book in childhood because it was in our house (sent as a present from an Aunt living in America) and it intrigued me by the title and the illustrations of buffalos, coyotes, bears, the landscape, rivers, canyons, and the covered wagons in a circle with people and their belongings, bedding down by campfires under the starry skies […] The episodes easily captured my attention. Parkman is documenting the first settlers crossing the Mid-West Plains towards the Rockies. This is really ‘a page turner’ and classic of travelogue adventure, even though I had never heard the genre term ‘travelogue’ on first reading. It also reads like a fantasy and provides the reader who has never been to the United States with a longing to go there. Books are parallel to life and in this case for me, I did reach the Origen Trail, walked some of the tracks left by the covered wagons from the era when Parkman made his journeys, saw buffalos, travelled in a covered wagon at the State Fair, and otherwise worked in Idaho and the Pacific North West.   

By Francis Parkman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Oregon Trail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Keen observations and a graphic style characterize the author's remarkable record of a vanishing frontier. Detailed accounts of the hardships experienced while traveling across mountains and prairies; vibrant portraits of emigrants and Western wildlife; and vivid descriptions of Indian life and culture. A classic of American frontier literature.


Book cover of Kidnapped

Kevin Kiely Why did I love this book?

I read Stevenson’s A Childhood Garden of Verses and then Kidnapped the novel which I enjoyed far more than Treasure Island. In Kidnapped the hero David Balfour is beset by challenges that ‘doubles’ his adventures. Kidnapped is more intensely engaging because instead of imagining yourself part of a group, you ‘become’ David Balfour alone beyond mere suspense into elements of horror and which he survives. It was my first experience with a Gothic novel. This is the sort of book where you forget everything and are transported within David Balfour’s journeys by land and sea.

What I still remember is the compelling nature of the narrative: how his Uncle plans to destroy him, how he loses his inheritance, how he is captured and thrown into the hold of a ship, how he lives as an innocent fugitive, and as a warrior fighting for his life. Stevenson’s method is the passionate prose that is present in the opening chapter when Balfour arrives at his Uncle’s house and is deceived by the hospitality and the welcome which proves to be false and full of danger. Stevenson’s vigorous style is intoxicating, each sentence enlivens the action; the pace of the book, the events, and happenings to the hero are so real in the mirage created by the language and storytelling. The mirage comes to life.   

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Kidnapped as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12.

What is this book about?

Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, swashbuckling novel about a young boy who is forced to go to sea and who is then caught up in high drama, daring adventure and political intrigue.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by Louise Welsh and features black and white illustrations.

Headstrong David Balfour, orphaned at seventeen, sets out from the Scottish Lowlands to seek his fortune in Edinburgh. Betrayed by his wealthy Uncle…


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Split Decision

By David Perlmutter,

Book cover of Split Decision

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

What is my book about?

Jefferson Ball, the mightiest female dog in a universe of the same, is, despite her anti-heroic behavior, intent on keeping her legacy as an athlete and adventurer intact. So, when female teenage robot Jody Ryder inadvertently angers her by smashing her high school records, Jefferson is intent on proving her superiority by outmuscling the robot in a not-so-fair fight. Not wanting to seem like a coward, and eager to end her enemy's trash talking, Jody agrees.

However, they have been lured to fight each other by circumstances beyond their control. Which are intent on destroying them if they don't destroy each other in combat first...

5 book lists we think you will like!

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