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Wonderful and Unknown Children’s Books for 9 Year Old Boys

Jo Ward itcherThere are lots of good new books for nine year olds around at the moment. If they are enjoying them, then brilliant. If they are a bit more reluctant to read, what books could you offer up to persuade them? Here is a selection encompassing the more modern trends like ‘The Kane Chronicles’ through to the best of the old favourites like ‘The Indian in the Cupboard.’ ~ Jo Ward

Which Book Next?

Whether you’ve got a nine-year old who reads or not, the problem is the same. What books do you get them? If your child is a reader then keeping pace with them will cause headaches – quick, find the next book before they finish this one. If they aren’t, then you are on a quest to find a book that might just grab their attention and show them that Reading Is Fun.

In both cases the question is the same. What book? Here are some children’s books for nine year old boys that might just work.

10. ‘Skellig’ (David Almond, 1998)

Image Source: Kehsblogs

“What are you?” I whispered. He shrugged again. “Something,” he said. “Something like you, something like a beast, something like a bird, something like an angel.” He laughed. “Something like that.”

Michael is not a happy boy. His baby sister is seriously ill and the house his family have just moved into is falling apart. So Michael takes refuge in the garage, and soon discovers he’s not alone out there. There is a man out there – old, and covered with cobwebs, and clearly in pain. Michael and the girl next door, Mina, take care of him and gradually uncover just who, or what, he might be.

David Almond has written some excellent books for children, all with a slightly or overtly mystical or fantastical element. This is a good place to start discovering this under-rated author.

Angels aren’t old men covered in cobwebs, are they?

9. ‘The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler’ (Gene Kemp, 1977)

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The Headmaster had lowered his head into his hands and was surveying the disaster through laced fingers. “That child,” he said, ”has always appeared to me to be on the brink of wrecking this school, and as far as I can see, has, at last, succeeded.”

Tyke Tiler has a best friend, Danny Price. The two of them are often in trouble. Danny is not very clever and is often picked on and Tyke stands up for him, encourages him and helps him. But the two of them together always seem to end up causing mayhem.

Their last term at Cricklepit Combined School is particularly eventful, culminating in an adventure on the school roof.

This is not ‘Just William’ though – although the book is light-hearted in style, it has some serious undercurrents and the scrapes are not all silly pranks. Danny is a child with some serious problems and Tyke’s loyalty to him is a strong theme. This makes it an ideal book for a 9 year old, as it combines fun with some serious food for thought.

What on earth is Tyke Tiler up to now?

8. ‘The Brilliant World of Tom Gates’ (Liz Pichon, 2011)

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Anger is just a cowardly extension of sadness. It’s a lot easier to be angry at someone than it is to tell them you’re hurt.

Tom Gates is a bit of a dreamer, who loves to draw, and is often in trouble. This is a world away from a valiant-child-hero book which often feel as though they dominate newer fiction. He’s a real character in a real world – often bored at school, not doing his homework, teasing his sister and planning the career of his band. There are a couple of plots but mainly it is the story of his days which are as jumbled as those of any other boy.

Written in short bursts, like a journal would be, together with fun illustrations and an engaging main character, this is ideal for those children who haven’t got great tolerance for long, concentrated periods of reading, but instead like to read in short bursts.

‘Just William’ for modern kids – join Tom as he muddles his way though life.

7. ‘The Iron Man’ (Ted Hughes, 1968)

Image Source: GD Price

“If you’re all so peaceful up there, how did you get such greedy and cruel ideas?” The dragon was silent for a long time after this question. And at last he said: “It just came over me. I don’t know why. It just came over me, listening to the battling shouts and the war-cries of the earth – I got excited, I wanted to join in.”

Hogarth, a young boy from a rural town, is fishing in a stream when he comes across an Iron Man. He decides to tell the adults as he is unsure what to do, but they are unsure too and decide to trap it. Hogarth must save it. When a huge bat-like creature from outer space appears and starts to threaten the Earth, it is Hogarth who realises that the Iron Man is their best hope.

A true classic, this is divided into five chapters and is written in a simple style that makes it perfect for a young reader. Together with a gripping plot line, in which adults do not always know best, it is a great book for nine year old boys.

Can Hogarth help save the earth from the dragon by enlisting the Iron Man?

6. ‘The Red Pyramid’ (Rick Riordan, 2010)

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We only have a few hours so listen carefully. If you’re hearing this story, you’re already in danger. Sadie and I might be your only chance.

Carter and Sadie Kane might be brother and sister but they have lived very different lives since the death of their mother. Sadie has lived with their grandparents in London, while Carter has travelled the world with their archaeologist father. They are not exactly close, but during a visit to the British museum, something goes very wrong and the two siblings are forced to face the fact that Ancient Egypt may not be so ancient after all.

A dangerous quest around the world ensues as the children try to elude and defeat the fearsome Egyptian God Set and uncover some family secrets in the process.

An action packed adventure for a thrill seeking nine-year old boy, with battles against ancient gods – got to be a winner.

5. ‘Mortal Engines’ (Philip Reeve, 2001)

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“Is it … dead?” asked Tom, his voice all quivery with fright. “A town just ran over him,” said Hester. “I shouldn’t think he’s very well…”

Imagine a world in which cities were like giant machines, free to roam and to engulf all smaller towns and cities that get in their way. Problem is, prey is becoming scarce. London is in hiding from bigger cities trying to eat it. Tom lives in London. He’s an apprentice historian who turns hero when he saves the life of Mr Valentine, the Head Historian and a man he admires.

When he witnesses the attack, Tom chases the attacker, right through the waste chute and out into the Out-Country. And he finds himself teaming up with Hester, the attacker, scarred after surviving a massacre that killed her parents. Together, they are on the hunt for a murderer. This is, again, for a confident reader but it is quite violent (which may appeal to some boys!) so look over it yourself first if you are unsure.

One of the first, and best, dystopian books for younger readers – where will our cities take us in the future?

4. ‘The Time Hunters’ (Carl Ashmore, 2010)

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The budgerigar’s head slanted left and, for the briefest of moments, Becky had the strangest feeling it was watching her. Then, to her surprise, the budgie tapped three times on the glass. Becky couldn’t believe it. The budgie did it again.

Another sci-fi/fantasy book, but this time one that is fun as well as packed with adventure and number one in a brilliant series of books for kids age 9. Becky and Joe are spending the summer with their eccentric uncle. Becky likes sleeping and Facebook – she does not relish the prospect of a boring summer with Uncle Percy.

The weirdness begins with an attack by a rogue budgerigar. It gets even stranger when they arrive to find Uncle Percy tending to a sabre-toothed tiger. A few dinosaurs and mythical creatures later, Becky and Joe are off on a quest to find the Golden Fleece-and the adventure really begins.

Full of adventure with a hefty sense of fun, this is a brilliant book for boys or girls and should be accessible to readers of all abilities.

An adventure with Will Scarlett (yes, him off Robin Hood) to find a mythical Golden Fleece? When you’ve spent time with dinosaurs, this should be easy!

3. ‘The Haunting’ (Margaret Mahy, 1982)

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When, suddenly, on an ordinary Wednesday, it seemed to Barney that the world tilted and ran downhill in all directions, he knew he was about to be haunted again. It had happened when he was younger but he had thought that being haunted was a babyish thing that you grew out of, like crying when you fell over, or not having a bike.

Eight year old Barney hasn’t seen ghosts for a long time, so the appearance of a little boy in old-fashioned clothes spooks him, not least when it whispers to him: “Barnaby’s dead. Barnaby’s dead. I’m going to be very lonely.” Is the ghost talking about him? Barney’s real world is solidly normal and this ghost is terrifying. But his mother’s family seem to suspect something.

A cross between a story of the super-natural and a mystery, this is a book that hooks you in and keeps you guessing.

Who is the child that Barney can see, and why does he keep saying that Barnaby is dead?

2. ‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ (Susan Cooper, 1965)

Simon scrambled to his feet and went to crouch close to him, peeking at the manuscript on his knee. “Then the map must show where the grail is. I say, suppose we find it! What will it mean?” “It will mean all kinds of things,” Great-Uncle Merry said grimly. “And not all of them pleasant, perhaps.”

The first book in one of the best children’s series ever written, in my opinion. But it is challenging so you need a confident reader.

This starts out as an almost Famous Five style quest. Barney, Simon and Jane are on holiday in Cornwall when they stumble across an old map which seems to link them to some treasure from the time of King Arthur. But as events start taking a strange turn, it becomes clear that they are mixed up in something a lot bigger than a hunt for treasure.

They are mixed up in the oldest battle of all, that between Good and Evil. Although the book feels like an adventure story to begin with, it soon whirls away into magic and a whole new level of story-telling.

An old manuscript, a great-uncle who seems to be the only one who understands, and always the sense of being watched. Can the children defeat the rising powers of the Dark?

1. ‘The Indian in the Cupboard’ (Lynne Reid Banks, 1980)

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Suddenly he saw him. But he wasn’t on the shelf anymore, he was in the bottom of the cupboard. And he wasn’t standing upright. He was crouching in the darkest corner, half hidden by the front of the cupboard. And he was alive. Omri knew that immediately.

The plastic Indian Omri is given for his birthday is not his sort of thing, so he puts it in his cupboard and locks it. But it seems the cupboard is magic as the toy comes to life.

So far, so simplistic. The difference here is that the Indian is not just a toy brought to life. He is Little Bull, an Iroquois brave. The magic has not brought him to life so much as transported him from his own world into Omri’s. He is an Indian brave, not a toy, and as Omri learns about the world Little Bull comes from, so he learns about responsibility when you have someone’s life in your hands.

And then when his friend Patrick decides to bring a cowboy to life, it is the start of a whole new set of problems.

A magic cupboard can bring problems as well as opening your eyes to new worlds.


Two Heads Are Better than One

I got a nine year old book addict involved with choosing books for this list – he knew the more recent ones while the older classics are mine. Between us I hope we got it right.

What do you think?

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