Sonja from Switzerland asked in the Comments section a short while back if I'd offer some reading suggestions for her three kiddos, ages 7-12. They're Narnia and Star Wars fans, but at least one of them also likes detective and animal stories. They all read slightly below "grade level," for whatever that's worth. I thought I'd throw out a few here, but I'm hoping some others will chime in.
In return, Sonja is offering all of us roundtrip tickets to Switzerland, and an all-expenses-paid vacation in a bucolic chalet high in the Swiss Alps! With cheese! And chocolate!
Okay, maybe not. Let's just help a mama out of the goodness of our hearts, shall we? ;-)
For a child who loves mysteries and detective stories, I'm thinking of ...
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (Oh! There is finally a fourth novel in the series, coming out in April!)
Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
For a child who loves Narnia/Star Wars (i.e. fantasy stories with clear depictions of good vs. evil), I'm thinking of ...
The Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan (haven't read these myself yet)
For a child who likes animal stories, we like ...
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The Fledgling by Jane Langton
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert O'Brien
For a child who wants stories of kids "just like me," -- i.e. strong, believable characters in somewhat realistic settings, I'd suggest ...
Frindle by Andrew Clements
The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
Sideways Stories from the Wayside School by Louis Sachar (So funny!)
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Hope that helps, Sonja! Does anyone else have some fun-and-worthy middle-grade reading suggestions that might fit these categories?