A Quest is Afoot!

Cleveland Park LibraryStaff Picks

A Quest is Afoot!

Middle grade novels about journeys and adventure

I have always found the idea of a quest kind of fascinating. Setting off with a purpose with your friends by your side and excitement before you has always appealed to me. Of course real life isn't always filled with noble steads waiting for your command and kings in need of a brave volunteer to set out on a daring mission. So instead I read. There are too many great quest books to cover in just one list but what follows are some of my favorites.

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
What initially drew me to this book was the hilariously intriguing subtitle "Or, three magical children and their holy dog". What I found inside was a well written adventure story about three children who are thrown together and decide to become renegades of the law in order to save sacred texts from being burned as heresy. Their quest to get the books to safety is told in fits and starts by different people who witnessed the events being described. Usually this piecemeal storytelling gets old but it is handled well in this case and keeps you wanting more the entire time.

For another fun medieval quest book look for the Perilous Princess Plot which I described on my list Zany Miscellany.

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
Playful and fun this book is an obvious choice for this list. Anne is an orphan ready to set out from her hum drum life and seek her own fortune. Joined by her trusty friends Penelope and Hiro she does just that and find all the adventure she could ever ask for. This book plays with a lot of stereotypes in children's literature but doesn't take itself too seriously which makes it a really funny lighthearted read.
For another story of a girl who is ready to seek adventure try Giant's Beware! by Jon Aguire - and of course the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce- one of my all time favorite girl power series.

Grounded by Megan Morrison
This is a retelling of the story of Rapunzel and in my opinion it only improves it. Rapunzel starts out being a naive spoiled child in love with her captor whom she believes is simply protecting her from the evil world. But when Jack pays her a visit (yes that Jack) she leaves her tower and sets off on a mission to save the fairies and in the process transforms into a strong independent heroine. I think fairy tale re-tellings are really hard to do well but Morrison makes it look easy in this engaging rollicking adventure.

If spin offs are your thing try The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor for a fun take on Alice in Wonderland.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Strangely enough this is another fairy tale spinoff this time based on the story of the Snow Queen. Like Grounded, I found this book only added to the original story. Hazel's friend Jack starts pulling away from her and she finally realizes that his heart has been frozen by the evil queen and sets out into the forest to save him. The storytelling is great but what really sold me on this book was the friendship between Hazel and Jack. Hazel refuses to give up on her friend no matter how many people tell her that boys and girls don't stay friends forever and Jack is just growing up. And she turns out to be right! True friendship for the win!

For another story of a daring rescue (this time a sister saving her younger brother from kidnapping crows) try Wildwood by Colin Meloy. 

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos
This is a fun addition to the list because the quest depicted in these pages takes place through time travel. Margaret uses an old family tradition to travel back in time to save her father from an unfair punishment. This book was fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.