Following three witches as they search for their stolen possessions, Spell on Wheels is a great story about friendship, acceptance, and dealing with the past. The author has worked on a lot of other comics and has collaborated with my favorite podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. This story is a good read for a car trip, since it parallels with the road trip in this book, and because this is the type of book you read in one sitting. It’s just too good to put down for very long. Minimum age: 14.
5. Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
Taking place shortly after the events Awkward, which has been mentioned in a previous list, Brave is about a secondary character in the first book and what he deals with when he’s not in art club. This is a great book because it shows that everyone has troubles in their life, whether they show it or not. During the events of this story, Jensen deals with exclusion, dress code troubles, and friendly teases that aren’t so friendly. Despite all the negative treatment he gets, Jensen always keeps his head up and his eyes on the prize- becoming an astronaut. Minimum age: 11 or 12.
4. Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale
I found this gem in the back corner of my school library, and took it out five times throughout the year. As a kid whose favorite Disney princess was Rapunzel, and who loved horses, this book’s whole idea appealed to me immensely. It takes place in a Wild West-like universe where Rapunzel’s evil adopted mother has used her witchcraft to make the surrounding areas devoid of plant life and most water. When Rapunzel discovers this, she joins forces with a bandit named Jack to vanquish Gothel and maybe even meet her real family. Minimum age: 9.
3. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
This is one of the most popular graphic novels that I know of, and was one of the first that I read. It’s the true story of Raina Telgemeier and how a dental injury in the sixth grade follows her all throughout her teenage years. Unfortunately, the recovery process is only a portion of the drama in Raina’s life- between an earthquake and confusing boys, she certainly has her plate full. It’s not a typical “they all lived happily ever after,” but that doesn’t mean Raina isn’t happy. She just finds her happiness in different places. Minimum age: 10.
2. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. When she develops a sudden interest in roller derby, she’s unpleasantly surprised to find out that Nicole has decided to go to dance camp instead. Thus begins the hardest summer Astrid has ever faced, as she tries to juggle lying to her mom and making new friends and learning how to roller skate. The only thing that carries her through it all is her letters she writes to her idol, the star jammer for the Rose City Rollers, Rainbow Bite. Minimum age: 10.
1. Maximum Ride by James Patterson (adapted by NaRae Lee)
One of my favorite finds at my middle school book fair, this is the manga adaptation of the James Patterson series. It stars a girl of the same name (Max for short) and her flock of avian mutant friends as they avoid the evil organization that experimented on them in the first place. When the youngest member of the flock, Angel, goes missing suddenly, Max and the others leave their safe haven and go on a search to find her. This sparks a journey across the country that spans several books and is riveting and humorous at every turn. Minimum age: 13.