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Deborah Abela’s Book List for Ages 8-12

Deborah Abela is a best-selling author of children’s books, including Grimsdon, The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, New City, the Ghost Club series, the Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series, and the Spyforce series.

There are so many exciting books to recommend for this age group. They are not little kids anymore but aren’t yet teenagers. Some of them want to grow up fast, others are happy to linger in a little longer in stories for their younger selves. Below are a mix of books I love…told with humour, heart and huge talent.

Let’s start with humour. The ridiculously funny Lemony Snicket and David Walliams are wordsmiths with the pen and their wit. In both we have clever turns of phrase, brilliantly funny twists, but also, especially in Walliams, moments of quiet human loveliness and fragility.

For touching novels that deal gently with issues of loss and change we have Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, and The Naming of Tishkin Silk from Glenda Millard’s The Kingdom of Silk series. A novel that stayed with me long after I was finished, was Wonder. This debut novel about a smart, plucky kid called August quickly won fans all around the world and rightly so!

Counting by 7s focuses on a young girl who is at odds with the world and faces a terrible tragedy that makes her feel even more out of place. Amongst a group of other misfits, she has to carve out a new life and does so with great style. Against the Odds was written by a librarian who had always wanted to write and I’m so glad she did. This is a moving account of a young girl’s dad who is a doctor who travels once a year to war zones, but this time, he goes missing.

One of my favourite books is A Monster Calls. This novel was taken up by Patrick Ness when its creator, the brilliant Siobhan Dowd, died of breast cancer. She had the ideas, the characters, but what she didn’t have was the time to bring it to life. Patrick Ness has done her great honour.

Morris Gleitzman is a master at creating characters who face some of life’s most difficult moments, but always with great love and humour. For wonderful flights into fantasy, Jonathan Stroud has given us a 5000 year old mouthy demon in The Amulet of Samarkand.

Historical fiction for this age group is very popular as history is seen through the eyes of kids their age and one of my favourites is Hitler’s Daughter, where author Jackie French asks, what if Hitler had a daughter?

I have to end with Shaun Tan’s, The Arrival, with its wordless sepia panels, which meticulously detail the confusions, pleasures and surprises of one man as he ventures into new lands.


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