Thanks to Linda Bartlett and the librarians of YALSA for putting this list together.
These books have less sophisticated plots and situations with no sex, drugs, or alcoholic parents etc.

Whales on Stilts
M.T. Anderson

Racing against the clock, shy middle-school student Lily and her best friends, Katie and Jasper, must foil the plot of her father’s conniving boss to conquer the world using an army of whales.

Perloo the Bold
Avi

Perloo, a peaceful scholar who has been chosen to succeed Jolaine as leader of the furry underground people called the Montmers, finds himself in danger when Jolaine dies and her evil son seizes control of the burrow.

Chasing Vermeer
Blue Balliet

When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.

Anybodies
N.E. Bode

After learning that she is not the biological daughter of boring Mr. and Mrs. Drudger, Fern embarks on magical adventures with her real father and finally finds “a place that feels like home.”

Shakespeare’s secret
Elise Broach

Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, misfit sixth-grader Hero becomes interested in exploring this unusual connection because of a valuable diamond supposedly hidden in her new house, an intriguing neighbor, and the unexpected attention of the most popular boy in school.

Al Capone Does my Shirts
Gennifer Choldenko

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards’ families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.

Artemis Fowl series
Eoin Colfer

When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.

Waiting for Normal
Leslie Connor

Twelve-year-old Addie tries to cope with her mother’s erratic behavior and being separated from her beloved stepfather and half-sisters when she and her mother go to live in a small trailer by the railroad tracks on the outskirts of Schenectady, New York.

Bud Not Buddy
Christopher Paul Curtis

Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father–the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Catherine, Called Birdy (and other works)
Karen Cushman

The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.

Because of Winn Dixie
Kate DiCamillo

Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Florida, and all the good things that happen to her because of her big ugly dog Winn-Dixie.

The birchbark house
Louise Erdrich

Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.

Pure Dead Magic
Debi Gliori

When their father is kidnapped and danger looms, the Strega-Borgia children, their mysterious new nanny, and a giant tarantula use magic and actual trips through the Internet to bring peace to their Scottish castle.

Getting Lincolns Goat
E.M. Goldman

Tenth-grader Elliot wants to be a detective when he grows up, and when he discovers that Lincoln the goat, the school mascot, is missing, he and some of his classmates get a taste of what their chosen careers would really be like.

Switching Well
Peni R. Griffin

Two twelve-year-old girls in San Antonio, Texas, Ada in 1891 and Amber in 1991, switch places through a magic well and try desperately to return to their own times.

Goose Girl
Shannon Hale

On her way to marry a prince she’s never met, Princess Anidori is betrayed by her guards and her lady-in-waiting and must become a goose girl to survive until she can reveal her true identity and reclaim the crown that is rightfully hers.

Princess Academy
Shannon Hale

While attending a strict academy for potential princesses with the other girls from her mountain village, fourteen-year-old Miri discovers unexpected talents and connections to her homeland.

Grow
Juanita Havill

Two misfit children and other members of a Minneapolis, Minnesota, neighborhood are brought together by a woman creating a community garden.

Dither Farm
Sid Hite

A visit by an unusual aunt, a flood, a flying carpet, a kidnapping, and a groundswell of romance are all part of one summer in the lives of the close-knit Dither family in southern Virginia.

Kokopelli’s Flute
Will Hobbs

Thirteen-year-old Tepary discovers an old flute in a cliff dwelling in New Mexico, and through its power he learns about ancient Native American magic.

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
Kimberly Willis Holt

During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, thirteen-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world.

Everything on a Waffle
Polly Horvath

Eleven-year-old Primrose living in a small fishing village in British Columbia recounts her experiences and all that she learns about human nature and the unpredictability of life in the months after her parents are lost at sea.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney

Greg records his sixth grade experiences in a middle school where he and his best friend, Rowley, undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily, hope just to survive, but when Rowley grows more popular, Greg must take drastic measures to save their friendship.

Savvy
Ingrid Law

Recounts the adventures of Mibs Beaumont, whose thirteenth birthday has revealed her “savvy”–a magical power unique to each member of her family–just as her father is injured in a terrible accident.

Ella Enchanted
Gail Carson Levine

In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her.

Heat
Mike Lupica

Pitching prodigy Michael Arroyo is on the run from social services after being banned from playing Little League baseball because rival coaches doubt he is only twelve years old and he has no parents to offer them proof.

Ties that Bind, Ties that Break
Lensey Namioka

Ailin’s life takes a different turn when she defies the traditions of upper class Chinese society by refusing to have her feet bound.

Harris and Me (and other works)
Gary Paulsen

Sent to live with relatives on their farm because of his unhappy home life, an eleven-year-old city boy meets his distant cousin Harris and is given an introduction to a whole new world.

Here Lies the Librarian
Richard Peck

Fourteen-year-old Eleanor “Peewee” McGrath, a tomboy and automobile enthusiast, discovers new possibilities for her future after the 1914 arrival in her small Indiana town of four young librarians.

Among the hidden
Margaret Peterson Haddix

In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family’s farm, until another “third” convinces him that the government is wrong.

Found
Margaret Peterson Haddix

When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time.

Golden Compass (His Dark Materials bk. 1)
Philip Pullman

Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

The lightning thief (1st bk: Percy Jackson & the Olympians)
Rick Riordan

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson learns he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and Poseidon, god of the sea. His mother sends him to a summer camp for demigods where he and his new friends set out on a quest to prevent a war between the gods.

Alcatraz versus the evil Librarians
by Brandon Sanderson

On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand which is immediately stolen by the evil Librarians who are trying to take over the world, and Alcatraz is introduced to his grandfather and his own special talent, and told that he must use it to save civilization.

Surviving the Applewhites
Stephanie Tolan

Jake, a budding juvenile delinquent, is sent for home schooling to the arty and eccentric Applewhite family’s Creative Academy, where he discovers talents and interests he never knew he had.

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Welcome to my tweendom – blog of book reviews by a school librarian