Tag Archives: comics

Winning middle fiction

By popular demand, here’s a list of fiction suitable for keen upper primary and lower secondary school readers.

My caveat is that no list caters to all tastes or abilities. I’m also a firm believer that the right book finds its perfect reader; please explore libraries and bookstores (slowly) and see what catches the eye.

This list is skewed so that it starts with titles suitable for younger readers and progresses to more mature books – YA fiction suitable for younger readers.

I know of numerous other middle fiction novels that come highly recommended – John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series is a good example. That said, I’m confining this catalogue to books/series I’ve read all or part of. Feedback is welcome. I hope the young reader in your life finds hours of escapism here.

Film tie-in Coraline cover
Film tie-in Coraline cover


Star Wars Academy (series) – Jeffrey Brown
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) – Jeff Kinney
Staying Alive in Year 5 – John Marsden
The Samurai Kids (series) – Sandy Fussell
The Greatest Blogger in the World – Andrew McDonald
Nicholas (series) – Rene Goscinny
Chess Nuts – Julia Lawrinson
The Detachable Boy – Scot Gardner
The OK Team (series) – Nick Place
Odd & the Frost Giants – Neil Gaiman
Wildwood – Colin Meloy
Sadako & the Thousand Paper Cranes – Eleanor Coerr
Matilda – Roald Dahl (and James & the Giant Peach, etc.)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
The Billionaire’s Curse (series) – Richard Newsome
Percy Jackson (series) – Rick Riordan
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Lab – Jack Heath
A Series of Unfortunate Events (series) – Lemony Snicket
The Spiderwick Chronicles (series) – Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Wonder – RJ Palacio
Tomorrow When the War Began (series) – John Marsden
Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling
The Lord of the Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkien
Skulduggery Pleasant (series) – Derek Landy
Two Wolves – Tristan Bancks
Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan
Taronga – Victor Kelleher
Blaze of Glory (series) – Michael Pryor
Zeroes (new series) – Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti
Skellig – David Almond
I am Number Four (series) – Pittacus Lore
Vulture’s Gate – Kirsty Murray
The Princess Bride – William Goldman
The Spook’s Apprentice (series) – Joseph Delaney
Contest – Matthew Reilly
The Rider – Tim Krabbe
Alex Rider (series) – Anthony Horowitz
The Hunger Games (series) – Suzanne Collins
So Much to Tell You – John Marsden
Blood Ninja – Nick Lake
The Underdog (series) – Markus Zusak
Cherub (series) – Robert Muchamore
Every Breathe (series) – Ellie Marney
Illuminae (new series) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Graphic novels and comics:

Tintin (series) – Herge
Rapunzel’s Revenge – Shannon Hale
Calamity Jack – Shannon Hale
Asterix (series) – Goscinny & Uderzo
Calvin & Hobbes (series) – Bill Watterson
Drama – Raina Telgemeier
Sisters – Raina Telgemeier
Artemis Fowl (series) – Eoin Colfer (also available as novels)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (manga) – Hayao Miyazaki
Joe the Barbarian – Grant Morrison
Yowamushi Pedal (manga series) – Watanabe Wataru
Guardians of the Galaxy (series) – Brian Michael Bendis
Marvel Civil War (series) – Mark Millar

The Skull Cave

Back when I was a kid, stumbling across a comic, pretty much any comic, was like finding a gold nugget. The Great Aunts used to have stacks of Women’s Weeklies featuring Mandrake the Magician, the cousins had a treasure trove of Beagle Boys and Scrooge McDuck and the barber generally had bundles of my favourite at the time, The Phantom.

There never seemed to be consecutive copies so the stories didn’t flow too well but that was almost a secondary consideration. I was a sucker for the Ghost Who Walked, lived in a Skull Cave with his dog, Devil, and flew around the world fighting crime. I’d have killed for a Skull ring that punched a skull imprint into bad guys’ jaws. (Green Lantern rings came later.)

Today, following a quick rip through Wikipedia, I’ve learned that one author, Lee Falk, wrote Mandrake and The Phantom. He must have been a predecessor of Stan Lee, who seemed to be responsible for many of my favourites (Fantastic Four, Mighty Thor) as I grew older.

Interestingly, while I was at Bike Club last night I got chatting with the lads about books that got them reading as boys. One of my fellow after-dark crazies cited the Beagle Boys, Casper and Richie Rich as providing his early motivation to read, followed by the Hardy Boys. Comics were and still are an important way into literacy for many boys.

Another mad biker said he’d been reading the re-released Famous Five books to his kids. We all had fond memories of Enid Blyton’s gang of young sleuths. I know the Hardy Boys have had a make-over as a graphic novel series and recently learned the Famous Five have been modernised in book form and animated for TV. Once a good story, always a good story.

Anyway, here’s a pic from a family holiday earlier this year. It reminded me of the Skull Cave and made me want to dive back into boyhood adventuring. Given that I’d just been pulverised surfing, I had to make do watching my son clambering around the cliffs…

Skull Rock, Kennett River