As children transition from their first chapter books into more challenging reading, very exciting things begin to happen. Subject matter gets darker, plots and characters get more complicated, and genre becomes more emphasized. Many of the titles marketed to 10-14 year olds - such as the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series - are among the best-selling children's books in print; but if your burgeoning bookworm is after something more off the beaten path, there are still plenty of excellent choices available. Here are just a few:
Secrets series: After a fire devastates the orphanage they call home, seven young women are provided with a single clue to their origins. Each of the seven books in this Canadian series focuses on the fascinating story of one of the women. Equal parts mystery and history lesson, these books can be read in any order.
Neil Flambe series: These fun, fast-paced stories center around a clever young boy who happens to be a world-renowned chef. With the help of his hyper-sensitive nose, Neil travels through time and space, experiencing all manner of wacky adventures.
School of Good & Evil series: In a fantastical world where select children attend a prestigious school to become heroes or villains, Sophie is convinced she'd make an outstanding heroine, while her best friend Agatha is certain she is destined for villainy. Both are shocked to learn they've been selected for the opposite role!
Spy School series: Middle-schooler Ben Ripley has always wanted to be a secret agent, so he's thrilled when he's chosen for junior C.I.A. camp. He is less thrilled when he learns the camp intends to use him as bait to capture a dangerous enemy. Daring escapes, unexpected plot twists and hilarity ensue.
Ruby Redfort series: These excellent books feature a brilliant young codebreaker solving mysteries and getting into sticky situations. Ruby is the 21st-century embodiement of Nancy Drew-style sleuthing, with a techno-twist.
Danger is Everywhere series: According to Dr. Noel Zone, you can never be too careful, and these books comprise his hilarious journals. Dr. Noel outlines how to avoid or escape a series of highly improbable threats, with healthy doses of irreverence and gross-out humour.