8 Adventurous Novels to Make You Feel Like a Kid Again

May 3 2022
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There is something so magical about going on an adventure, letting your inner child out to run wild. You’ll feel like a kid again running through the woods with your friends looking for imaginary treasure or turning playgrounds into pirate ships. These eight adventure novels will absolutely make you feel young again.

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief
by A.F. Steadman

This book is so whimsical and endearing, with vicious flying unicorns and high-stakes adventure. Skandar dreams of being one of the selected few chosen to leave the Mainland and become unicorn riders. But after a series of unfortunate events, he fails his exam, and his careful plans for the future are crushed. That is until he learns of an evil threatening the Island. When a stranger arrives with an even stranger message, Skandar knows he must do anything to save the Island. But as he forms friendships and bonds with the other riders, keeping his secret becomes even more dangerous than he feared.

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Skandar and the Unicorn Thief
A.F. Steadman

Soar into a breathtaking world of heroes and unicorns as you’ve never seen them before in this fantastical middle grade debut perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson and Eragon series!

Skandar Smith has always yearned to leave the Mainland and escape to the secretive Island, where wild unicorns roam free. He’s spent years studying for his Hatchery exam, the annual test that selects a handful of Mainlander thirteen-year-olds to train to become unicorn riders. But on the day of Skandar’s exam, things go horribly wrong, and his hopes are shattered…until a mysterious figure knocks on his door at midnight, bearing a message: the Island is in peril and Skandar must answer its call.

Skandar is thrust into a world of epic sky battles, dangerous clashes with wild unicorns, and rumors of a shadowy villain amassing a unicorn army. And the closer Skandar grows to his newfound friends and community of riders, the harder it becomes to keep his secrets—especially when he discovers their lives may all be in graver danger than he ever imagined.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
by Fredrik Backman

Seven-year-old Elsa is best friends with her very crazy 77-year-old grandmother. Elsa adores her grandmother’s stories at night; her wonderfully woven fairytales feel like home. But then her grandmother dies. In the wake of her death, she left behind apology letters to all the people she had wronged in her life. Elsa tracks down each of the recipients, finding herself in places she never expected and learning the truth behind her grandmother’s nighttime fairytales. This book is contemporary with a wonderful, fantastical element that is great for all ages.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Fredrik Backman

A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

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When We Were Vikings
by Andrew David MacDonald

Everyone wants to be a hero in their own right, and Zelda is no different in that regard. Obsessed with Vikings, she lives her life by their code and a series of rules to help her make sense of the world. Born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, 21-year-old Zelda lives with her brother, Gert, but life has not been easy for them. Struggling financially to support himself and his sister, Gert resorts to some rather unsavory means to make ends meet. Zelda takes it upon herself to put her Viking strength to the test in order to save her family. With a memorable cast of characters, humor, and tragedy, MacDonald has crafted a unique coming-of-age novel that will be an adventure like no other.

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When We Were Vikings
Andrew David MacDonald

Indie Next Pick for February 2020
Book of the Month January 2020
LibraryReads January 2020 Pick
Bookreporter New Release Spotlight
New York Post “Best Books of the Week”
Goodreads “January’s Most Anticipated New Books”
The Saturday Evening Post “10 Books for the New Year”
PopSugar “Best Books in January”
Book Riot Best Winter New Releases

“Zelda is a marvel, a living, breathing three-dimensional character with a voice so distinctive she leaps off the page.” —The New York Times

“Heartwarming and unforgettable.” —People

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:

1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

“A most welcome and wonderful debut” (Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter), When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all...we are all legends of our own making.

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The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly

Another adventure story to add to your TBR, but don’t be fooled: THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS is a dark fantasy about the loss of innocence after a tragedy. It’s part horror, part fantasy, and all parts an incredible journey. After the death of his mother, 12-year-old David surrounds himself with books. But alone in his bedroom, the books begin to whisper. Trying to escape into his imagination, reality and fantasy melt together before his eyes, sending him into a twisted fairytale full of monsters and secrets. If you enjoy the Grimm Brothers’ writing and want to check out a haunting and yet somehow true and beautiful look at the transition into adulthood through a fantasy lens, then you’ll want to read this book.

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The Book of Lost Things
John Connolly

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

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Amari and the Night Brothers
by B. B. Alston

I am so excited about this middle-grade series that really readers of all ages will love. Amari is an incredible character who will sweep you off your feet as she attempts to navigate the supernatural world in search of answers about her brother. Quinton Peters is missing, and no one seems to care, despite the fact that he was the golden child of their low-income neighborhood with not one, but two different Ivy League offers. The only one desperate for answers is his 13-year-old sister, Amari. While digging through his closet, she finds a briefcase he left for her and discovers there was so much about her brother she didn’t know. Like the fact that magic is real, supernatural creatures exist, and he’s secured her a summer tryout with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Now Amari will have to compete with the wealthiest kids who’ve been training for this their entire lives if she ever hopes to find out what happened to Quinton. You do not want to miss out on AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS.

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Amari and the Night Brothers
B. B. Alston

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The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson
by Quinn Sosna-Spear

This is a fun middle-grade fantasy adventure with a lot of depth, a whimsical setting, and great characters. The story follows Walter Mortinson, a young and imaginative inventor who lives in a small town where children are expected to grow up and work at their tedious jobs. His mother demands that he gives up his wild and at times disastrous inventions to work in the mortuary business. But when Walter finds an unusual letter inviting him to be Horace Flasterborn’s apprentice, he flees his small town in the family hearse.

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The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson
Quinn Sosna-Spear

“Contains elements of Oz and Harry Potter with a healthy dollop of Willy Wonka thrown into the mix.” —Kirkus Reviews

In this sweeping and inventive debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and Tim Burton, a prodigal inventor flees his home to find his destiny.

In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.

Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to meet his destiny.

Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.

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Sag Harbor
by Colson Whitehead

Grounded in reality, this historical fiction character-driven adventure is one that will stay with you. Whitehead is an incredible writer with flourishing sentences and atmospheric prose that will drop you right into the reality of Sag Harbor through the lens of teenager Benji. There are no dragons (unless you count the ones from D&D) to slay or epic battles to win as our protagonist attempts to navigate the world of Sag Harbor, a small African American community in the Hamptons, versus his life as one of the only black students at his Manhattan prep school in the mid-80s. While his love of horror movies spelled out doom at school, he hopes that his summer at Sag Harbor will be different. With three wonderfully free months to run around with his summer friends, the reader gets an intimate look into Benji’s world in this incredible lifelike coming-of-age novel.

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Sag Harbor
Colson Whitehead

Benji Cooper is one of the few black students at his elite Manhattan prep school. But every summer, Benji escapes to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own in the Hamptons. And although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that the summer of ’85 might be one for the ages.

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Gallant
by V.E. Schwab

Schwab knows a thing or two about magical adventures, secret doors, hidden secrets, and shadows that come to life, and her newest book does not disappoint. The only thing Olivia Prior has of her mother is a journal filled with strange musings and even stranger ink paintings. She has never felt at home at the Merilance School for girls. So when a letter from her mother’s estranged family arrives begging her to come to Gallant, she hopes for warm embraces and a loving family. Instead, she learns that her uncle is dead, and her standoffish cousin wants her to leave at once. Despite this, Gallant feels like home and Olivia will do anything she can to stay. If Olivia is to solve the secrets of the house, and the shadows behind it, then she’ll need to learn the truth about her past to save the future.

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Gallant
V.E. Schwab

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Photo credit: iStock / Kate_Koreneva

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