Category Archives: Book Reviews

100 Books Every Boy Should Read


For more than 100 years, Boys’ Life has featured thousands of great books for boys. Here are the 100 titles we think every boy should read.

Keep in mind that we will be constantly updating this list as new titles release. So, you may see some new books from time to time. Also, some books may require parental guidance. As always, before choosing a book to read, check with your parent(s) first. Click here to download the full list.


Here’s the full list:

  • The 39 Clues
  • Across Five Aprils
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Adventure of Tintin
  • Aesop’s Fables
  • Artemis Fowl
  • Babe the Gallant Pig
  • Billy Budd
  • Black Like Me
  • The Book Thief
  • Brian’s Winter
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • Bud, Not Buddy
  • The Butter Battle Book
  • The Call of the Wild
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The Chosen
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series)
  • Crossing the Wire
  • David Copperfield
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series)
  • Defeat of the Ghost Riders
  • Discworld (series)
  • Doctor Dolittle (series)
  • Dune
  • Encyclopedia Brown (series)
  • Everybody’s Revolution
  • Falling Up
  • Far North
  • Football Genius
  • The Friendship
  • The Giving Tree
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Great Expectations
  • The Great Quarterback Switch
  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales
  • The Hardy Boys (series)
  • Harry Potter (series)
  • Hatchet
  • The Hobbit
  • Holes
  • Honus & Me
  • Horton Hears a Who!
  • The Hunger Games
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Joey Pigza (series)
  • Johnny Tremain
  • A Light in the Attic
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Lord of the Rings (series)
  • Magic Treehouse (series)
  • Maniac Magee
  • Maximum Ride (series)
  • The Maze Runner
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM
  • My Father’s Dragon (series)
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Of Mice and Men
  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • Old Yeller
  • On My Honor
  • The Outsiders
  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series)
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • The River
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Sea Wolf
  • A Separate Peace
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (series)
  • The Shadow Children (series)
  • Shane
  • Shiloh
  • Siddhartha
  • Sounder
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairy Stupid Tales
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Stuart Little
  • Sunrise Over Fallujah
  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
  • The Time Machine
  • To Build a Fire
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Travel Team
  • Treasure Island
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • Tuesdays with Morrie
  • The War of the Worlds
  •  Watership Down
  • Wayside School (series)
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • White Fang
  • The Wind in the Willows
  •  A Wrinkle in Time

 Think we missed a book? Let us know in the comments section.


Try These Five Books During ‘Get Caught Reading’ Month


May is Get Caught Reading Month. Here are a few cool books to get you started:


The Book of What If…?

What if humans hibernated? What if broccoli tasted like chocolate? What if there weren’t any trees? The Book of What If…? poses these and nearly 100 other thought-provoking questions that will help you explore the world around you. Divided into sections—history, people, stuff, and nature—along with four introductory text to open up a dialogue about why it’s important to be inquisitive and to always ask questions. Beyond Words, $15 softcover. Ages 8 and up.



Raja has been raised in captivity. Not behind the bars of a zoo, but within the confines of an American home. He was stolen when he was young to be someone’s pet. Now he’s grown up . . . and is about to be sent away again, to a place from which there will be no return. John grew up with Raja. The orangutan was his friend, his brother — never his pet. But when John’s parents split up and he moved across the country, he left Raja behind. Now Raja is suffering. There’s one last chance to save Raja — a chance that will force John to confront his fractured family and the captivity he’s imposed on himself all of these years. Scholastic, $18.99 hardcover. Ages 8 and up.

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Moone Boy: The Fish Detective

Martin Moone is back in the second installment of the Moone Boy series. After failing to find work as a stable boy, cowboy, or homeboy, the Moone boy instead becomes Boyle’s main butcher boy. But Francie Feeley’s Fabulous Fishatorium across the road is luring all their customers away. Convinced something fishy is afoot, Martin and Sean decide to go on an undercover mission to discover the secrets of the mysterious fish factory. But can Agent M double-O N E get to the bottom of Feeley’s slippery schemes without ending up sleeping with the fishes himself? Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 hardcover. Ages 9 and up.


TombQuest: The Final Kingdom

In the epic conclusion to Alex and Ren’s quest, they must face off against the Death Walkers, The Order, and an army raised from the dead. Can Alex put an end to the chaos and send these evil spirits back where they belong — without putting an end to his own life? In the tradition of The 39 Clues and Spirit Animals, the TombQuest adventure continues online, with an epic game! Build an Egyptian tomb of your own, hide treasure and protect it with traps, then challenge your friends to play through! Find out in TombQuest: The Final Kingdom. Scholastic, $12.99 hardcover. Ages 9 and up.



This follow-up to Newberry Medal-winner The Crossover, Booked follows 12-year-old Nick as he deals with bullies, best friends, soccer and even a rapping librarian. Written as a novel-in-verse, Booked is told through vivid poetry, making it as unique as it is entertaining. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 hardcover. Ages 9 and up.

Top 5 Adventure Books for Guys


As long as there have been books to read, there have been epic stories of adventure and the great outdoors. Here are five of our favorites:

The Call of the Wild by Jack London


The Call of the Wild is usually considered to be the best book written by legendary author Jack London. It’s the gripping tale of a heroic dog that is thrust into the brutal life of the Alaska Gold Rush, ultimately facing a choice between living in man’s world and returning to nature.


The Lord of the Flies by William Golding


This compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island is modern classic. At first, all seems normal and fun for the group of guys, but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them — the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories — and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible.


Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

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Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present—and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair—it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


Set in the eighteenth century, Treasure Island spins a heady tale of piracy, a mysterious treasure map, and a host of sinister characters charged with diabolical intentions. Seen through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy of the Hispaniola, the action-packed adventure tells of a perilous sea journey across the Spanish Main, a mutiny  led by the infamous Long John Silver, and a lethal scramble for buried treasure on an exotic isle.


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.


Author Max Brallier Talks New Monster Novel ‘The Last Kids On Earth’

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Bestselling author Max Brallier (Eerie Elementary and Galactic Hot Dogs) is at it again with The Last Kids On Earth, a thrilling post-apocalyptic graphic novel that’s as funny as it is spooky.

Last Kids on Earth jacket art hi-res[1]Told in a mixture of text and black-and-white illustration, this book tells the tale of the monster apocalypse as 13 year old Jack Sullivan does his best to survive in the new world. If you’re a fan of comic books, videogames, monsters and zombies, this book is for you.

The Last Kids On Earth opens with Jack living in his tree house, which he has armed with catapults and a moat, not to mention videogames and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hoards of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg.

So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and his crush, June. With their help, Jack will try to to slay Blarg, and achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success.

I got the chance to chat with author Max Brallier about the new series (yes, there will be more books in this saga) earlier this week. Scroll down to see what he had to say about monsters, videogames and more.


5 Questions With Author Max Brallier

What can you tell us about The Last Kids On Earth?

I sometimes describe it as The Walking Dead with giant monsters and zero adults. It’s about a barely heroic hero, Jack Sullivan, and his band of buddies, who appear to be the only people still alive after the Monster Apocalypse.
So basically, there are zombies and humungo, scary monsters everywhere. Jack has a tree house, which he arms to the teeth with catapults, zip-lines, rocket launchers, and all that good stuff – and an endless supply of snacks and soda scavenged from abandoned stores and houses.

One particularly big and particularly foul monster named Blarg is hunting Jack – so Jack’s trying to say alive while searching for his missing love, June del Toro (who barely even know he exists). Also, there are pet monsters, videogame-style achievements, weapons of power, and all that good stuff.

And it’s told in a really perfect mix of text and illustration. The illustrations and diagrams are done by monster master Doug Holgate, and they’re absolutely killer. It’s funny, scary, adventure-packed and full of over-the-top action. That’s what I can tell you about the Last Kids on Earth.

Most of your writing has that geeky, fantastical vibe to it. Is this book the same?

Definitely! Jack and his best friend Quint are huge movie, TV, superhero geeks – and they can’t stop referencing things that they love. There’s one scene where they’re about to be crushed and devoured by a “zombie ball” – and all they can talk about is how much it’s like Indiana Jones and how cool that is.

Early on, Jack describes his tree fort as “better-defended than Fort Knox, Stark Tower, and the X-Mansion combined.” So yeah, definitely a geeky, fantastical vibe.

What made you want to write about monsters?

I’m trying to think if I’ve written any fiction that wasn’t about monsters – and, man, I think the answer is no. I’ve just always loved monsters – particularly big ones. But I’ve always felt like big, giant monsters are something that work best in film. So that’s part of the reason I wanted this book to have lots of illustrations – I wanted the reader to actually see these big brutes. And when I realized just how well Doug Holgate draws monsters – I just started adding more and more and more beasties.
Also, I’ve written a lot about zombies in the past – so I wanted to do that in a different way, here. In this book, the zombies are more of an annoyance – like dangerous pests. The real threats are the big monsters: Blarg, Winged Wretches, Dozers, and other giant wicked brutes.

Halloween is coming up, what’s the scare level from 1-10?

Oh boy. About an 8, maybe? My top three goals for this book were adventure, fun, and funny – the scares and the horror came fourth. I was really inspired by movie monsters like the Graboids in Tremors and the Rancor in Return of the Jedi. With those monsters, it’s less about “Oh no! So scary! Need to shut my eyes!” and more about “Oh man, that thing is freaky looking! How is our hero going to destroy it?!?”
So that’s really how I approached it: create a world full of deadly, man-eating monsters – and see how our heroes survive.

What’s up next for you?

I’m busy! It’s a rare thing for a writer to be really, really busy – so I’m partly busy just being really thankful for being that busy. The next entry in my Galactic Hot Dogs series comes out Spring, 2016 – and I’m in the process of writing the third book in that series. I’m having a blast putting Cosmoe and his crew in all sorts of horrible situations and watching them trying to get out.
I just finished writing The Last Kids on Earth #2, and Doug Holgate is now diving into the illustrations. I’ve seen a few early sketches and they’re amazing – big monsters doing big monster things.

I write the Eerie Elementary series under the penname Jack Chabert, and I’ve got a bunch more of those coming. The third book in the series comes out in January, 2016. And then I’ve got three more to write! Those are an absolute blast.

Besides that? Playing videogames, riding my bike around the city and trying not to die while doing it, and doing some traveling.


Read Chapter One of The Last Kids On Earth

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The Best Upcoming Children’s Books of the Year


We’re more than halfway through 2015, and it’s already been a great year for books. But, there’s still plenty of other great books on the horizon. These are a few of the very best upcoming reads that we’re excited about.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


Mega-talented author Katherine Applegate, burst onto the scene in 2012 with the awesome The One and Only Ivan. But she’s written plenty of other great stuff, too, including the Roscoe Riley books and even a few Animorphs titles. 

So, when we saw her newest novel, Crenshaw, come through the office, we were very excited. Good news: the book doesn’t disappoint. It’s an incredible story of limitless creativity, overcoming adversity and unexpected friendship. The only bad news: you’ll have to wait until Sept. 22 to read it.

Here’s the official synopsis:
Crenshaw is the unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Read an excerpt here.

How to Tell a Story by Daniel Nayeri

If you’re a fan of telling tall tales, How to Tell a Story is for you. The interactive game book comes with 20 six-sided illustrated story cubes that provide all you need to craft more than a million stories. Roll the story cubes to get the story started, and let your imagination do the rest.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Introducing an incredible storytelling package—a full-color, 144-page book paired with a collection of 20 six-sided, beautifully illustrated storytelling cubes that make it easy for any imaginative child (and that is every child) to start creating wonderful stories. Roll the blocks, and you can make anything happen, to anyone, anyplace in this or any other world.

The book is a guide to the principles of creative storytelling. It covers the essential elements like conflict—that thing that no one likes in real life, but without which no story could ever start—characters, motivation, dialogue, theme, and, of course, the climax. As you turn the pages, you’ll be prompted to roll the story blocks. And that’s when the magic starts to happen.

How to Tell a Story will be in stores starting Oct. 6, but be sure to come back to BookZone in October for a giveaway of the book.

Kid Athletes by David Stabler

In 2014, Quirk Books released the hilarious Kid Presidents, telling true stories of the childhoods of the American Presidents. Now, the same minds behind that book, are back with Kid Athletes. Learn about hilarious childhoods of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Peyton Manning and more of the most legendary sports stars in history. The book includes quirky illustrations and plenty of unusual trivia.

Kid Athletes hits bookstores in November. For now, you can read an excerpt here.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney

With more than 150 million copies in print, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid is one of the most popular series of all-time. The lastest installment is called Old School.

Life was better in the old days. Or was it?

That’s the question Greg Heffley is asking as his town voluntarily unplugs and goes electronics-free. But modern life has its conveniences, and Greg isn’t cut out for an old-fashioned world. With tension building inside and outside the Heffley home, will Greg find a way to survive? Or is going “old school” just too hard for a kid like Greg?

The 10th entry in the series will be published on November 3. Read an excerpt here.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus and Kane Chronicles series were all about Greek and Egyptian mythology. Now, author Rick Riordan is covering Norse legends in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

If you love Riordan’s book, get excited. This one is already in high demand around the BL office. Early reviews? Epic and haw-dropping.

Read an excerpt here.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick


If you’re not already familiar with Brian Selznick, drop everything and go read The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Finished? Good, now that you’re fully aware of the author’s immense talent for world-building and epic storytelling, you can prepare yourself for his latest: The Marvels.

Here’s what you can except from The Marvels when it’s released on Sept. 15:

Two seemingly unrelated stories — one in words, the other in pictures — come together with spellbinding synergy! The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. How the picture and word stories intersect will leave readers marveling over Selznick’s storytelling prowess. Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heartrending beauty, and featuring Selznick’s most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods.

Fuzzy Mud hits bookstores on Aug. 4.

Read the first chapter here.

Winners of the Minecraft: Blockopedia Contest


Are you a Minecraft fanatic? Minecraft: Blockopedia by Alex Wiltshire is the most definitive reference for all things Minecraft, providing detailed entries for blocks, plants, ores and everything else you need to know about the game. 41xxsVo+l3L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

The world of Minecraft is made entirely of blocks. Some help you build, some help you stay alive. Every block you discover opens up new possibilities and exciting adventures. The Minecraft: Blockopedia is fully illustrated and packed with essential information about each block and its uses. From basic plants and ores to enchantment tables and End stone, you’ll find every single block in here. Blockopedia contains everything you need to know to make the most of the blocks that make up your world — it’s a comprehensive reference tool for beginners and more experienced players alike. This hexagonal hardback book is presented in a stylish gift box.

Scholastic, $49.99 hardcover. All ages.

Congratulations to winners Charlie and Henry!


Science, Science Fiction, Fun and Funniness!

Meet Frank Einstein! He’s the star of a new series by Jon Scieszka that mixes science, science fiction, fun and funniness.












Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor is the first book in the series launching this month. Frank’s household inventions come to life after a lightning storm, and the hilarity begins. Find out what happens by getting the book HERE.