Here you’re find more book reviews and suggestions for your 12 year olds (7th graders) in a variety of genres. The first list of book recommendations for 12 year olds is here. Or, for more challenging books, check out my Best Book for Teens list. For a bit easier books, read the Best Books for 11-Year Olds.
More Recommended Books for 12 Year Olds 7th Graders
The Sisters Club by Megan McDonald REALISTIC
Meet the Sisters Club: twelve-year-old Alex, aspiring actress and born drama queen; eight-year-old Joey, homework lover and pioneer wannabe; and smack in the middle, ten-year-old Stevie, the glue that holds them together — through dinner disasters, disputes over stolen lucky sweaters, and Alex’s going gaga over her leading man. Great for 12-year-old girls.
Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson
By the same author as 100 Cupboards, this is a creative, thrilling, action-packed time-traveling adventure. Our hero, Sam Miracle, is a foster kid with two bad arms, who sees things that no one else can — things in a parallel world. Of course, he’s got enemies who wish to stop him. In fact, those enemies have killed him many times in past versions of the world. But with the help of a wise Native American healer, a Native American priest, the two personality-filled snakes that have become his arms (!), and his friend, Glory, maybe, just maybe, Sam can live and save the world.
Cast Off: The Strange Adventures of Petra de Winter and Bram Broen by Eve Yohalem
Petra escapes her abusive Dutch father by disguising herself as a boy and stowing away on a merchant ship. She’s befriended by a boy but soon discovered. The adventure of the two friends set amidst the history is absolutely fascinating. It’s a great book!
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
This book hooked me from the first page, taking me on a coming of age story that was both heartbreaking and filled with hope. Perry is well-loved by his mother and her friends. . . in prison. That’s where Perry has lived since he was born eleven years ago. But in an unexpected and unpleasant turn of events, his best friend’s stepfather, the new District Attorney, forces Perry to leave the prison. Not only that, the DA tries to stall Perry’s mother’s parole hearing. Perry discovers the stories behind the inmates’ lives, hoping that they’ll be helpful in reuniting him with his mother. This story will stay with you long after you read the last page.
The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey
13-year-old Kit is angry about everything. It’s 1905 in a Nevada gold mining town, her mother’s just died of the flu, her classmates and teachers mock her, and her dad gets murdered by his mining boss. Kit is determined to bring Mr. Granger, the mine boss, to justice. Her grit lands her a job at a newspaper where she can investigate more about the mine and Mr. Granger’s misdeeds. The author skillfully sets the historical stage with interesting details like the only motor car’s constant flat tires. Smart writing, an interesting plot, plus a compelling main character combine to make this a great read.
Out of Abaton, The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis
In this unique, amazing reimagined Pinocchio story, Pinocchio is an automa who has been sent by the magical, imprisoned king of Abaton, a land with elemental magic, to a fugitive alchemist named Geppetto. Geppetto believes the king sent Pinocchio to be his new son and sets out to rescue the king. As their adventures ensue and they get separated, it’s clear that Pinocchio is becoming flesh and blood, a real boy with feelings and independent thoughts. He meets and befriends half-beasts (chimeras) with Abaton origins, a slave boy, and the sylph princess of Abaton, all who work with him to rescue Geppetto and the king, who end up in the belly of the Deep One. It’s an exciting, interesting story with a very surprising, fantastic ending.
Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas by Jonathan W. Stokes
Addison and Molly’s archeologist aunt and uncle are kidnapped for their specialized knowledge about the Incas and their famed, hidden treasure. But the kidnappers have underestimated the persistence and brilliance of Addison and Molly who, with their friends, pursue the treasure and their aunt and uncle. Action-packed.\
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari
I read this cover to cover in one sitting, totally mesmerized. This book is a journey of grief with a tempting allegorical shadow world where Charlie and Imogene Price’s mom is “alive”. But not everything is right in this shadow world where you lose memories, especially the sad ones, to “feed” family members who have died. Charlie is afraid he’ll lose his sister, Imogene. forever to the shadow world, like he did his best friend, Frank. So well-written, this is a thoughtful treatment of emotions and grief — I highly recommend it, especially for book club discussions.
Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail
Growing up means crushes, . . . awkward crushes. That’s why Gracie helps out her friend Sienna who is scared to text the boy who likes her. In the spirit of Cyrano and middle school drama, you’ll find this to be a realistic, amusing story of middle school romantic challenges that works out just fine in the end.
Tales from the Haunted Mansion Vol 1 The Fearsome Foursome as told by mansion librarian Amicus Ravenswood
“It began at a lunch table, where a good number of friendships are born.” I love this first line! And yes, it does begin in a cafeteria where four kids learn they all have something in common — horror stories. When their clubhouse is mysteriously destroyed, they receive invitations to visit a creepy Gothic mansion. There they meet a corpse-like “librarian” who says he wants to tell the kids stories about . . . themselves. Well-written with illustrations, scary story fans will enjoy this story of friendship and terror.
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis
This beautiful story will grab your heart! Dess is a surviver who is reunited with her baby brother in his long term foster home which Dess helped him get after she called social services on her mother. The foster family loves on both kids but their biological daughter Hope struggles between jealousy and compassion for her new sibling. Just as Dess finally starts to trust her foster family, her mother wants her back. (Oh, and interestingly enough, the foster family is black and Dess is white.) There’s way more to the story of course but you should know that it’s a thought-provoking coming-of-age book about family and hard choices.
Bot Wars by J.V. Kade
Trout’s dad disappeared in The Bot Wars. When Trout makes a plea for his missing dad on a vid that goes viral, things go crazy FAST. Like the government trying to kidnap him. What do they know that he doesn’t know? A fast-paced, excellent adventure!
Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
I was hooked by this mysterious plot about a boy named Noah whose parents one day tell him they’re moving to East Germany, he has a different name and birthdate, and they must never talk about what’s going on or what they really feel. It’s in 1989. Once there, Noah who is now called Jonah meets a sad little girl named Claudia. While there are some plot holes that are never addressed, this story gives us a glimpse into the fearful environment of this communist country just before the Berlin Wall comes down.
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
This is an amazing, beautiful story about facing your feelings, even big, huge depression sadness. It’s also a story that mixes the allegory of an imaginary kingdom named Everwood, a place Finley has written about forever but now finds in the back of her grandparent’s house, with the hope and healing that only pretend play can offer children. This is also a mystery story — what happened to make Finley’s father leave and never return? and why does Finley’s grandma hate the neighbors so much? Some Kind of Happiness is multi-layered, thought-provoking, and exquisite that addresses the big topics of divorce, secrets, and depression.
Messenger The Legend of Joan of Arc A Graphic Novel by Tony Lee and Sam Hart
HISTORICAL / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Tween and teen readers probably don’t know the true story of Joan of Arc. While the authors don’t claim that this is anything but fiction, I would say it’s closer to nonfiction since it’s based on historical facts. It’s amazing to see Joan never waver in her convictions and stand strong in the face of doubt and eventually death. This is an excellent depiction of her life.
Summerlost by Ally Condie
This is a dealing with grief, coming-of-age, mystery, and friendship story all in one sweet story. Cedar, her younger brother, and her mom spend the summer after her father and other brother’s death in a small town with a Shakespeare festival. Cedar befriends Leo who helps her get a job at the festival. The duo also start giving unofficial tours about the town’s most famous resident, an actress who died under mysterious circumstances.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Although it may sound like a heavy book, this is a funny, realistic story about growing up and living in a culture that is not your own. It’s the late 1970s and Zomorod (Cindy) and her family are back in the U.S. from Iran –again. She’s desperate to fit in with the other kids but faces both family pressures and anti-Iranian prejudice.
Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull FANTASY
I endorse this series mostly. The last few books got a bit dull for me but I loved the first few. Two siblings visit their grandparents who they learn run a mythical creature refuge called Fablehaven. Of course, this kids not only discover this secret, but mayhem and adventure ensue.
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Composting HISTORICAL
If your kids aren’t interested in Chinese history, they will be after reading this novel. Ming lives in rural communist China with his father, who finds artifacts for the museum. A discovered terra-cotta soldier who comes to life and befriends Ming. They must work together to protect the soldiers and Emperor Qin’s tomb. I like how the authors wove in historical photos and information. It sounds like a silly premise for a story but it worked — and was very good.
The Menagerie by Tui Sutherland FANTASY
Stuck in a small town in Wyoming just after his mother disappeared, Logan’s life gets even more strange when he finds a griffin under his bed. Which he learns is connected to Zoe Kahn, a very strange girl in his class at school. Who tells him about their family’s menagerie for the protection of magical creatures. Soon the duo realize that the griffins didn’t escape, they were let out. Now they must find the culprit fast before the menagerie is shut down. A quick, fun read!
The Wells Bequest by Polly Schulman SCI-FI
I just started this book and can already tell that would be a good book for kids who love science and adventure. The hero, Leo, loves science and is researching for a school report (in a magical library of objects) when he stumbles on robots and other inventions from science fiction novels. It is up to him to journey through time to warn scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. Second in The Grimm Legacy series.
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny ADVENTURE FANTASY
So you may know that I’m a scaredy cat but I did it – I read a slightly scary book. (It would only be scary to young kids I think.) And I was impressed! Not only is this story compelling and interesting, the symbolism and life lessons were stunning. So, the plot . . . Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There Charlie begins to have the most horrible nightmares — nightmares that blur between reality and dream. And when the witches steal Charlie’s brother into the nightmare world, he goes to rescue his brother. Charlie and his friends must learn to face their fears in order for the nightmare world not to have access to the real world.
Skulduggery Plesant by Derek Landy FANTASY
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross SCI-FI
Dystopian middle-grade! The world is covered by a deadly “fog” that kills humans so the humans live only on the highest mountain peaks. Our heroes, a band of scavenging orphans, are trying to find something in the world below that they can sell in order to travel to another city where they can treat the cloud sickness of their beloved mother-figure. I loved the suspense, the fascinating world, the characters, and the happily ever after. I couldn’t tell from the ending if there will be more books because thankfully there was no cliff hanger.
Took: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn GHOST
This author is who you want to read if you’re into ghosts and scary stuff. Took is a creepy tale of little girl kidnapping by an evil witch named “Old Auntie” who turns the girls into slaves. Daniel knows he can save his little sister and does with a little help from the witch’s descendant and new friends.
Reckless by Cornelia Funke FANTASY
Reckless begins a new series by one of my favorite authors of all time, Cornelia Funke, and is the last name of the main character, Jacob. I’ll leave it to you to decide if he is he appropriately named but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to guess.
Jacob abandons his life in the real world for one behind an enchanted mirror in his father’s office. Jacob can only speculate why his father disappeared, he’s been gone for years, missing since Jacob was quite small.
In Mirrorworld, Jacob travels with Fox, a clever woman who prefers her fox skin to her human skin. When Jacob’s younger brother Will (who is actually an adult and so is Jacob) follows Jacob to Mirrorworld one day, he is attacked by a stoneman, a Goyl. Will’s wounds begin to turn him into a Goyl, only he will be made of jade.
The story is filled with Grimm fairy tales — fairies, a candy house, unicorns, a Tailor, magic, spells, dwarfs and such. I like Reckless. Mostly. It is much darker than her other books, I’m still trying to accept the shift and look forward to the next book in the series. (Read an excerpt here.)
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan HISTORICAL
The writing, plot development, and characterization are masterfully done but I honestly think this should have been a shorter novel. It’s broken up into three shorter stories because the three stories tie together at the end but wow it was long — almost 600 pages. I read it but can’t see many kids reading it. That being said, this book takes place during different years around the second world war time period. The thread that ties the characters together is a most magical harmonica. (I loved that!) I do recommend this book, it was lovely and very well-written.
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy HISTORICAL FICTION MYSTERY
I LOVE this fantastically developed historical fiction story for several reasons – the girl-centric history is really interesting (and empowering), the characters are so well-developed you feel as if you know them, and the plot is a grand adventure! The author imagines a friendship between Ada Byron, genius daughter of Lord Byron and the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author who almost could have been friends in real life but for about a decade of years. Mary joins Ada to study with Ada’s tutor and the duo form a detective agency. In this first adventure, Mary and Ada learn about another historical figure who invented hypnotism and solve the case of a stolen heirloom.
Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey ADVENTURE
Who would think that the pirate ghosts in his bedroom would help the quiet, shy Lewis find adventure and bravery? Well, maybe you the reader would. Seven Dead Pirates is an excellent pirate adventure about growing up and about getting the rowdy ghost pirates to behave, sneak to their ship in a museum so they can fight another ghost pirate crew for it and steal it.
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands FANTASY
Christopher’s apprenticed to an apothecary whose just been murdered in the same way as many other apothecaries. He and his best friend decide to solve the puzzles and find new clues to find the culprits for these horrible crimes. They hope it’s not the dangerous cult they’ve been hearing about — and are as surprised as us when they find out what’s really going on. Part historical, part fantasy, and all adventure.
Seaborne: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch ADVENTURE
In this well-written, fantastic action and adventure novel, Dean Seaborne grows up on a pirate ship as their best spy and con-artist. But when he messes up the latest mission, he must pass himself off as the long-lost prince of the mysterious island of Zenhala. Once there, he must find and steal the treasure for the pirates. But strangely, Dean really might be the long-lost prince and he’s not sure he wants to rob the island anymore.
The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr MYSTERY
A lonely orphan named Edie is forced to leave her only known relative, and live at a strict boarding school in order to surreptitiously protect Anastasia, the Russian prince’s daughter. While she’s at it, she’s also supposed to discover what is behind all of Anastasia’s problems. Edie thinks there’s something fishy going on; that someone is trying to make Anastasia believe she’s going crazy. But, it’s not so easy to tell — it could be that Anastasia is lying. Then she learns that the headmaster knew her mother and was her mother’s sworn enemy. This is an engrossing mystery tangled with compelling characters and emotional resonance.
The Rig by Joe Ducie SCI-FI
Oh, this was a deliciously good action story. I loved how the author wove in the science-fiction elements with a realistic story of incarcerated kids who are mistrusting, and find that there are a few people in the world that they can trust. This detention center is on an oil rig in the ocean. But Drake is determined to escape — especially after he discovers what the Rig is really doing.
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett HISTORICAL / FANTASY
This is a breathtaking story; a fable about life set in Nazi Germany. We follow three Gypsy siblings who have witnessed the capture of their family and friends. While walking and searching for food, they find an abandoned zoo, with talking animals. That’s all I’ll reveal. You NEED to read this beautiful story. It will change your life.
Jack Templar Monster Hunter: The Templar Chronicles: Book One by Jeff Guns (SERIES) FANTASY
I liked this first book of the series — when he’s attacked by monsters, more than once, Jack learns he’s a Monster Hunter who is now fair game to be hunted. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but is more of an adventure with monsters which happens to include zombies. (First book is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.)
Red Blazer Girls by Michael Beil MYSTERY
Are these sleuths in school uniforms modern-day equivalents of Nancy, Harriet, or Scooby? Not really, they’re just three nice girls who decide to help out a weird lady, and end up hiding under tables, tackling word puzzles and geometry equations, and searching rather moldy storage rooms for “the stuff that dreams are made of” (that’s from an old detective movie). Oh, and there’s A Boy, who complicates things. As boys often do.
Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses by Ty Drago (SERIES) SCI-FI
A great kids-must-save-the-world book with a unique zombie/alien twist. Aliens are taking over corpses and reanimating them. Only some kids can see the real zombie beneath the alien “masks” — our hero gets the zombie sight and is rescued by a group of zombie fighters called Undertakers. He convinces the Undertakers group to stop being defensive but to be more aggressive and determine how to kill the corpses. I liked this book a lot!! (Free on Kindle Unlimited.)
Crime Travelers by Paul Aertker (A Lucas Benes Novel) ADVENTURE
This action-packed adventure of teenage spies proves that kids are totally capable, smart, and able to handle anything — even brainwashing, crime, and a stolen baby. All in Paris!
The Chess Queen Enigma A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gelason HISTORICAL MYSTERY
I thoroughly enjoyed this 2nd book in the Stoker and Holmes series. The two compelling main characters, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes, become entrenched in the mystery of a missing chess queen that is thought to unlock treasures and power.