79 books like Island of the Aunts

By Eva Ibbotson, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Here are 79 books that Island of the Aunts fans have personally recommended if you like Island of the Aunts. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Screaming Staircase

By Jonathan Stroud,

Book cover of The Screaming Staircase

Wayne Thomas Batson Author Of Dreamtreaders

From the list on fantasy with a unique ingredient or twist.

Who am I?

I believe with all of my heart that each one of us was created with two achingly powerful inner drives: 1) the longing for new worlds and 2) the desperate urge to do something meaningful. I simply could never believe that human beings are all simply cosmic accidents produced by some sort of cosmic casino. I believe God created people and gave us each an instinct to seek our true home. The books I write—all 22 of them—are tales of flawed individuals, thrown into unexpected, life-changing events, and given the chance to journey through many astoundingly lush worlds, all in an effort to do the seemingly impossible.

Wayne's book list on fantasy with a unique ingredient or twist

Why did Wayne love this book?

Imagine a contemporary fantasy, driven by sword-wielding, swashbuckling, mystically empowered, ghostbusting teenagers. Yup. That is the cool twist in Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. Series.

He’s best known for the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and takes all of his fantasy worldbuilding craft to design a modern world where ghosts are not only real but common and quite deadly to us living folk. You will fall in love with Lockwood and Lucy, sense the tension between them, and yet be relieved to discover that their connection isn’t the predictable stuff of typical teen romance.

The remarkable ghosts are similar to fantasy races. Rather than elves, gnomes, warlocks, etc., you have screamers, wailers, howling maids, and a whole host of specific ghost types that I dare not spoil. If you like fantasy with a touch of creepy, you’ll love Lockwood & Co.

By Jonathan Stroud,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Screaming Staircase as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment…

Fly By Night

By Frances Hardinge,

Book cover of Fly By Night

Sheila Grau Author Of The Boy with 17 Senses

From the list on middle grade with breathtaking imagination.

Who am I?

I am an author of five books for children. I am also an avid reader of middle grade fiction, especially speculative fiction. I love exploring other people’s imaginations. It’s not only entertaining, but incredibly inspiring. Like most people, when I discover a book that I love, I can’t wait to share it with my friends. I hope you love these selections as much as I do! It was really hard to limit myself to just five. 

Sheila's book list on middle grade with breathtaking imagination

Why did Sheila love this book?

Imagination + beautiful writing. I love books that surprise me. Whether it’s with imaginative settings, intricate plots, beautiful writing, or humor. Surprise me, and I’m hooked. For me, no writer does this better than Frances Hardinge. Her books are incredibly unique. There is nobody who writes like her, who thinks up plots like her. Any one of her books is a trip on a totally new adventure. I started with Fly By Night and have read everything by her since.

By Frances Hardinge,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fly By Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad. Mosca Mye was born at a time sacred to Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butterchurns, which is why her father insisted on naming her after the housefly. He also insisted on teaching her to read-even in a world where books are dangerous, regulated things. Eight years later, Quillam Mye died, leaving behind an orphaned daughter with an inauspicious name and an all-consuming hunger for words. Trapped…


By Liesl Shurtliff,

Book cover of Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin

Jessica Lawson Author Of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

From the list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales.

Who am I?

I grew up reading all kinds of stories, but I was also a big fan of playing outdoors. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was always a favorite of mine, but as an adult, I realized something…the one main female character who was my age, Becky Thatcher, didn’t seem to like adventure at all! I loved the idea of Becky being as much of a mischief-maker as the boys – and that became my first novel, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. I love retellings of classics and how they respect the original story, but are also able to imagine a new path! I hope all readers have adventures, inside and outside of books!

Jessica's book list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales

Why did Jessica love this book?

Rump by Liesl Shurtliff is a funny and poignant fractured fairy tale based on Rumpelstiltskin. It breathes new life into a character that has been typecast in the past as somewhat one-dimensional. I love that this author made tweaks to the original tale and brought another fairy tale character, Red Riding Hood, into the mix as a support system. I love the idea of origin stories that make readers think twice about judging supposed villains. Imagination abounds from this author, and the reader learns so much about Rump throughout his journey; both strengths and internal wounds that can be healed. This story has it all: humor, adventure, and heart.

By Liesl Shurtliff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This funny fractured fairy tale goes behind the scenes of Rumpelstiltskin. New York Times Bestselling author Liesl Shurtliff "spins words into gold [Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor winner]."

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell,…


By Akwaeke Emezi,

Book cover of Pet

Erik Christopher Martin Author Of The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book One

From the list on middle-grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ protagonist.

Who am I?

The world is an amazing, diverse place that needs stories that represent everyone. I identify as gender fluid and am part of my city’s LGBTQIA+ community. For kids, there aren’t enough stories that feature non-straight cis protagonists where that identity isn’t the focus. LGBTQIA+ kids exist. They are normal. Let a gay kid go into space. Let a teenage lesbian solve a mystery. Let a trans girl defeat a dragon. Let an ace teen be a witch. Everybody deserves their adventure. 

Erik's book list on middle-grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ protagonist

Why did Erik love this book?

The City of Lucille has gotten rid of all its monsters.

That’s what Jam, a teenage trans girl, believed until the demonic-looking Pet emerged from one of her mother’s paintings. But despite their monstrous appearance, Pet isn’t the monster, but came forth to hunt a monster already living among the people of Lucille undetected. 

Pet contains vivid imagery, powerful themes, and a sensitive and brave protagonist. Be bold. Be vigilant. Monsters never entirely go away because we are the monsters.

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

She stumbled backwards, her eyes wide, as the figure started coming out of the canvas
She tried to be brave. Well, she said, her hands only a little shaky, at least tell me what I should call you.
Well, little girl, it replied, I suppose you can call me Pet.

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson…

At the Sea Floor Café

By Leslie Bulion, Leslie Evans (illustrator),

Book cover of At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems

Matt Forrest Esenwine Author Of Once Upon Another Time

From the list on children’s poetry collections about animals.

Who am I?

Ever since my parents gave me a copy of Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems, I have enjoyed a lifelong love of poetry. Now, as a traditionally-published children’s author, I have had numerous books and poems published over the years, including books that began as poems, like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) and Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021). My poems can be found in various anthologies including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (N.G. Children’s Books, 2015) and Construction People (Wordsong, 2020) as well as Highlights for Children magazine.

Matt's book list on children’s poetry collections about animals

Why did Matt love this book?

Leslie Bulion combines her love of science and poetry to create fascinating, fun, and memorable books. While she has published several animal poetry collections, At the Sea Floor Café stands out for its exceptional balance of science fact and literary value.

Leslie is extremely skilled at finding the perfect poetic forms and phrases to do her subjects justice while never veering off into overt didacticism. Fun and surprising, this book is perfect for the nature science lover in the family.

By Leslie Bulion, Leslie Evans (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked At the Sea Floor Café as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dive in--to award-winning, funny science poetry about a remarkable array of sea creatures! AT THE SEA FLOOR CAFE: ODD OCEAN CRITTER POEMS is a creative nonfiction companion to elementary and middle school ocean studies.
Let s visit a habitat shallow and deep,
and boiling hot, where acids seep,
and frigid and pressured and mountainy-steep,
Come explore the sea!

Examine odd critters, enormous and tiny,
sunlit reef toasty and arctic ice briny,
jelly-ish, delicate, venomy, spiny,
They all live in the sea!

What sea creature literally spills its guts when disturbed?
Why do bottlenose dolphins wear sponges on their heads?


Misunderstood Shark

By Ame Dyckman, Scott Magoon (illustrator),

Book cover of Misunderstood Shark

Cassandra Federman Author Of This Is a Sea Cow

From the list on children’s stories about ocean animals.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the ocean and all of its inhabitants for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I discovered my dad’s SCUBA license and it blew my mind that I was related to someone who was allowed to explore the underwater world! Later, when I got to college, I took advantage of two exciting opportunities. First, I got my own scuba license. Second, I studied abroad in Belize, where I conducted manatee research by tagging, tracking, and rescuing manatees. I enjoyed the time I spent with the animals, but not the lab work. Now I express my passion for sea creatures in the books I write.

Cassandra's book list on children’s stories about ocean animals

Why did Cassandra love this book?

This book introduces some basic facts about sharks in an original, laugh-your-pants-off kind of way. The misunderstood shark derails jellyfish’s live TV broadcast with his questionable behavior. Readers will be left to debate the shark’s actual intentions and to discuss the cool shark facts they learned along the way. The supporting characters in the book also have fantastically funny dialogue. Every inch of this book is fun! And again, kids will be laughing and learning at the same time.

By Ame Dyckman, Scott Magoon (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From bestselling author Ame Dyckman and illustrator Scott Magoon comes the laugh-out-loud story about a Misunderstood Shark who just wants to show the world who he really is...

Every beachgoer knows that there's nothing more terrifying than a... SHARRRK! But this shark is just misunderstood, or is he? In a wholly original, sidesplittingly funny story, New York Times bestselling author Ame Dyckman and illustrator Scott Magoon take this perennial theme and turn it on its (hammer)head with a brand-new cheeky character. The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a... SHARRRK! Poor Shark,…

The Pout-Pout Fish

By Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna (illustrator),

Book cover of The Pout-Pout Fish

Kelly Bennett Author Of Not Norman: A Goldfish Story

From the list on “finny” picture books about fish.

Who am I?

I love fish—to look at and read about—not to eat! Fish are unlike other pets. You can’t hold them, or pet them, and you certainly can’t “play” with them the way you can other pets. But for some reason, just looking at them makes me laugh. And because fish don’t say much besides “glug” (although some kinds sing and grunt) we need to imagine what they are thinking and feeling which makes for funny and surprising stories. And, yes, I have pet goldfish: an orange one, Norman, and a black fantail named Knot. 

Kelly's book list on “finny” picture books about fish

Why did Kelly love this book?

Pout-Pout fish is a grumpy looking, grumpy acting fish who “spreads the dreary-wearies all over the place” and everyone he encounters tries to talk him out of being grumpy. Simple as that, but not! The Pout-Pout Fish books, every one of them, combines three elements that make a fabulous read-aloud: fun/interesting to look at; fun and easy to read; fun satisfying ending. Diesen’s Pout-Pout bouncy rhyming rhythm will jolly the grumpy out of everyone—whether fish or human. Yes, the refrain will get stuck in your heads—in a good way!

By Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pout-Pout Fish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"Deep in the water,
Mr. Fish swims about
With his fish face stuck
In a permanent pout.

Can his pals cheer him up?
Will his pout ever end?
Is there something he can learn
From an unexpected friend?"

Swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading "dreary wearies" isn't really his destiny. Bright ocean colors and playful rhyme come together in Deborah Diesen's fun fish story that's sure to turn even the poutiest of frowns upside down.

Citizens of the Sea

By Nancy Knowlton,

Book cover of Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From the Census of Marine Life

Sandy Sheehy Author Of Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder

From the list on the amazing world of coral reefs.

Who am I?

For more than four decades, Sandy Sheehy has been diving tropical coral reefs from the Caribbean to Australia. Starting when she was around five sitting in her pediatric dentist’s office where she noticed an aquarium stocked with colorful fish, her fascination with the underwater world has grown. Becoming a freelance journalist allowed her to call on experts and activists around the world to help her satisfy her curiosity and share what she learned.   

Sandy's book list on the amazing world of coral reefs

Why did Sandy love this book?

Unlike the books I’ve recommended above, Citizens of the Sea is packed with gorgeous four-color photographs by some of the world’s top underwater photographers. The close-ups are downright amazing. National Geographic made a brilliant call in having Nancy Knowlton write the text. Not only is she a renowned coral reef biologist and the former Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian National Museum for Natural History, she also writes so lucidly and engagingly that even her articles for peer-reviewed journals make engrossing reading. 

By Nancy Knowlton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The astonishing diversity of ocean life will wow you in this riveting book, perfect for all ages, by marine scientist Nancy Knowlton. Citizens of the Sea reveals the most intriguing organisms in the ocean, captured in action by skilled underwater photographers from National Geographic and the Census of Marine Life. As you read lively vignettes about sea creatures' names, defenses, migration, mating habits, and more, you'll be amazed at wonders like; The almost inconceivable number of creatures in the marine world. From the bounty of microbes in one drop of seawater, we can calculate that there are more individuals in…

Hello, World! Ocean Life

By Jill Mcdonald,

Book cover of Hello, World! Ocean Life

Alyssa Clements Author Of The Size of Everything: Ginormous Galaxies, Itty-Bitty Quarks, and Me

From the list on children’s science for Christian families.

Who am I?

I’m a third-grade teacher turned book editor and writer who loves learning about the fascinating world God has made and exploring how it all points back to him. During my time in the classroom, I worked at a Christian classical school where my grade’s scientific focus was astronomy. I loved introducing my students to this awe-inspiring, gigantic universe that we are a part of and considering together just how big, powerful, and loving God must be to have designed and created it all. I am also mom to two wonderfully curious children who love to read, explore, and ask big questions. 

Alyssa's book list on children’s science for Christian families

Why did Alyssa love this book?

You cannot go wrong with any of the board books in the Hello, World! series.

This one about ocean animals is a recent go-to in our home, and I was fascinated to learn that octopuses have three hearts, blue blood, and nine brains! With bright illustrations and easy-to-understand yet captivating scientific information, these books are wonderful for curious, young scientists eager to learn about God’s world.

My kids also love the Solar System and My Body books in this series. There’s no age too young to start teaching our kids about the intricacies of God’s creation, and this series is an excellent resource for families looking for engaging, scientifically rich books that do just that.  

By Jill Mcdonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hello, World! Ocean Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn from home and explore the world with these fun and easy board books!

All young children love to play in the waves at the beach. Here's a Hello, World! board book that teaches them all about oceans and the creatures and plants that live there.

Hello, World! is a series designed to introduce first nonfiction concepts to babies and toddlers. Told in clear and easy terms ("An octopus has eight arms. Can you count them all?") and featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! is a perfect way to bring science, nature, and culture into the busy world of a…

How to Hug a Pufferfish

By Ellie Peterson,

Book cover of How to Hug a Pufferfish

Sandra Horning Author Of The Giant Hug

From the list on children’s books about hugs.

Who am I?

As a children’s author of board books through picture books (Baby Code series, Chicks!, Bizarre Birds, and The Biggest Pumpkin) and as a librarian, I love books that make children feel good and loved. When I was working on my picture book The Giant Hug, I researched what other hug books had been published. There weren’t many back in 2002, but I continued to be on the lookout even after mine was published. I’m happy to report that there are quite a few hug books out there now, spreading love, hugs, and kindness to readers of all ages. We all need them!   

Sandra's book list on children’s books about hugs

Why did Sandra love this book?

Author-illustrator Ellie Peterson’s recently published book How to Hug a Pufferfish is much needed in today’s world. It’s a story not only about giving hugs, but also about asking permission to give a hug. In an engaging and fun way with cartoonish illustrations, Peterson uses the prickly pufferfish to humorously show that not everyone wants to receive a hug all the time. If you’re a pufferfish, you need to be asked. It’s a book about consent for the youngest readers, presented in the sweetest age-appropriate way you can imagine. I will definitely be reading this at my story time, and might even gift this to a few prickly adults! 

By Ellie Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Hug a Pufferfish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A picture book about a group of underwater friends who learn to ask for permission before showing their prickly, pufferfish pal some love.

So, you want to hug a pufferfish...

Who could blame you? That friendly, gap-toothed grin is hard to resist! Only, when Pufferfish is hugged or touched unexpectedly by their friends, things can get a little…spiky.

It’s not that Pufferfish doesn’t ever want hugs—it’s just that they need to have a say in when and how they’re hugged. Luckily, they have great friends who are willing to listen and learn the best ways to show Pufferfish some love…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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