10 Adventure-Filled Middle Grade Reads | Summer Reading 2020

Ten adventure and survival fiction titles to keep summer reading fresh and exciting.

Arctic expeditions, parasitic plants, impossible treks, and devastating disasters; characters must endure it all in these stellar selections of adventure fiction.

The Disaster Days by Rebecca Behrens. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. ISBN 9781492673316.

After the earthquake, Hannah discovers that her island town is completely cut off from the mainland and the phone towers are down. Her only lifeline is the emergency services broadcasts on the radio. With no adults, Hannah and her babysitting charges, Zoe and Oscar, must use all their resources to survive. 

The Forbidden Expedition by Alex Bell. illus. by Tomislav Tomic. S. & S. (Polar Bear Explorers’ Club: Bk. 2). ISBN 9781534406490.

In this series sequel, Stella Starflake Pearl is eager to go on her next adventure as the first female member of the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. Her anticipation is halted by the discovery that she is an Ice Princess, her mother was a cruel Ice Queen, and the witch Jezzybella murdered her parents and wants to harm Stella.

Running Wild by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Holiday House//Margaret Ferguson Bks. ISBN 9780823443635.

Willa has been doing the lion's share of work ever since her grieving, alcoholic father moved her and her brothers to the Alaskan frontier. Finally, she reaches her limit and convinces the twins to run away with her. Combining elements of survivalism, resilience, and adaptation to the unknown, Bledsoe skillfully weaves a tale of adventure and coming of age on the Alaskan frontier.

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter. HMH. ISBN 9780358003199.

April, an independent and scrappy orphan, is whisked away to gloomy and ostentatious Winterborne Home after her involvement with a fire. Questions abound as April is warmly welcomed into the mansion whose family namesake has been missing for over a decade—and somehow, the key April's mother left her bears the Winterborne insignia! A modern thriller flavored with classic adventure, this novel is well suited for middle grade sleuths.

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The Horse of the River by Sari Cooper. Harbour. (A Camp Canyon Falls Adventure: Bk. 1). ISBN 9781550178777.

Twelve-year-old Gillian is a first-time camper at Canyon Falls Camp, a sleepaway camp in the Canadian wilderness. After an accident puts her with the toughest horse at camp, Gillian and General fall into a dangerous river and get separated from their trail group. Girl and horse must survive on their own overnight in the woods. This is an appealing, tidy adventure novel for the horse enthusiast.

Storm Blown by Nick Courage. Delacorte. ISBN 9780525645993.

This suspenseful tale of survival centers two characters in different countries attempting to outlast a fictitious megastorm. Fans of Lauren Tarshis’s “I Survived” series who are ready to move on to lengthier selections will gravitate toward this title. 

The Lost Tide Warriors by Catherine Doyle. Bloomsbury. (Storm Keeper’s Island: Bk. 2). ISBN 9781547602728.

Book two in the series finds Fionn learning to accept his destiny as the island’s next Storm Keeper. Struggling to access the magic awakening within him, Fionn faces an unexpected crisis: supernatural Morrigan’s evil followers are swarming Arranmore, intent on restoring her to power upon the winter solstice just three days away. Vivid setting, perilous adventure, and distinct characters make this a strong second entry in a planned quartet. 

96 Miles by J.L Esplin. Tor/Forge/Starscape. ISBN 9781250192301.

A perfect storm of events leads John and Stew to be left home alone during the worst blackout the country has ever known. When strangers come and steal their supplies, the brothers are forced to trek to a ranch they know will help them. Readers who enjoy realistic survival stories will not be able to put down Esplin’s debut. 

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. Knopf. ISBN 9781524773007.

In this phenomenal kickoff to an enthralling trilogy, three teens are thrown together when rain drenches their home for days, causing violently parasitic black plants to take over their small island and beyond. Anya, Petra, and Seth realize they are the only ones immune to the sweet, toxic liquids emitted by the alien plants. Their various reactions to their startling immunity are realistic and relatable as the trio develop tender bonds in order to survive this catastrophic attack. 

A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry. illus. by Mónica Armiño. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. ISBN 9780062895936.

Swift, a yearling wolf, is separated from his family after a rival wolf pack attacks and claims his family's territory as their own, and makes a thousand-mile journey across the Pacific Northwest to find a new home. Inspired by the story of OR-7, a real wolf naturalists tracked in the wild, Parry perfectly conveys her character's curious, alert, and social nature. 

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