The books on this list were well-liked by girls age 9+, but some boys age 12+ read and enjoyed them as well. The Y.S. Ling mysteries have been described as an “edgier” Nancy Drew mystery series. I read the first one, The Spy in the House, and I agree. Plus, they are totally absorbing. With punchy dialog. And great character development. Good stuff. I was a big Nancy Drew fan for awhile as a kid. I loved those books, but the reader hears so much about Nancy’s hair, her clothes, her house, her car, and her boyfriend that it can feel claustrophobic after awhile–especially with all the active identity-seeking we see in young readers. I think the Y.S. Ling mysteries may be more relatable because the main character is less defined. We mostly hear about her courage and curiosity, which I feel are excellent traits to encourage in young readers. Don’t be put-off by the first couple of pages. They are graphic, but realistic. Plus, that’s probably the most graphic part. The rest is pretty tame. Here’s the list:
- Pirates! The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates by Celia Rees
- The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston (many students said this was the best book they ever read)
- I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin
- A Spy in the House by Y.S. Ling
- The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Ling
- The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Ling
We listened to the audio version of Pirates!. I highly recommend the audio version. It was a great way to relax between activities, and it gave everyone something to look forward to the next day.