October is a magical month — a perfect time to read some high-quality fantasy novels. While browsing the shelves can be pleasant, there’s something to be said for a book that comes stamped with a seal of approval. Before trick-or-treaters dress up as monsters, unicorns, fairies, giants, elves, and other fantastical beings, read about them with the help of this list — every title given thumbs up by someone who knows good fantasy when they see it.
Andre Norton Award
Magic or Madness. 2005. Awarded 2007.
Reason Cansino walks out her grandmother’s back door in Sydney, Australia and finds herself in New York, where she learns not only that magic is real but that it comes at a high price.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. L321ma
Rowling, J. K.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 2007. Awarded 2008.
In the stunning conclusion to the Harry Potter series, Harry and friends search for Voldemort’s remaining horcruxes and come face to face with the strongest evil yet.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. R797hd
The Freedom Maze. 2011. Awarded 2012.
13-year old Sophie is not excited to spend the summer at her grandmother’s. Bored, she explores the grounds and wanders through a maze that transports her back to an 1860 sugar plantation, where Sophie is mistaken for a slave.
SSHEL S Collection S. Sh553f
Wilce, Ysabeau S.
Flora’s Dare. 2008. Awarded 2009.
Tentacles reaching out of the toilet, the transformation of her best friend into an outlaw, and her father’s newfound sobriety are only some of the challenges Flora must face in her daily life on her way to achieving her ultimate goal: becoming a Ranger.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. W642f
Blue Ribbon—Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books
Bunce, Elizabeth C.
A Curse Dark as Gold. 2008. Awarded 2008 (Fiction).
Charlotte Miller has never believed that her family’s wool mill is cursed, but a recent rash of unfortunate events has her second guessing. Now she must decide if she can trust Jack Spinner, a character who claims he can spin gold out of straw…
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. B881c
Artemis Fowl. 2001. Awarded 2001 (Fiction).
A twelve-year old genius tries to restore his family’s fortune by holding a fairy for ransom, but faces trouble — and adventure — when the fairies fight back.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. C68a
Coraline. 2002. Awarded 2002 (Fiction).
Coraline’s life is perfectly ordinary until she goes through the mysterious door in her family’s flat, which opens into a world where everything is magical and wonderful — until it’s not.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.G127c
Odd and the Frost Giants. 2009. Awarded 2010 (Fiction).
Young Odd leads a trio of Norse gods as they battle the Frost Giants, who have taken over Asgard.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. G127o
The Lost Conspiracy. 2009. Awarded 2009 (Fiction).
Oracle Arilou and her nobody sister Hathin are drawn into a mysterious, dangerous conspiracy on their island — and neither sister is exactly who she claims to be.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. H219l2009
Runemarks. 2008. Awarded 2008 (Fiction).
Maddy discovers that the strange mark on her hand is a rune — and that she is destined to play a role in the fate of the Norse gods.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. H2421r
Keturah and Lord Death. 2006. Awarded 2007 (Fiction).
Keturah becomes hopelessly lost when she follows a legendary hare into the woods, but must charm Lord Death with a story when he comes to claim her.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.L489k
September Girls. 2013. Awarded 2013 (Fiction).
Sam is spending his summer in a strange coastal town where bevies of beautiful — albeit strange — blondes are inexplicably attracted to him. When he falls in love with one of them, he knows he must learn their secret.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. M265s
Nation. 2008. Awarded 2008 (Fiction).
When a tsunami destroys their island, survivors Mau and Daphne work with a band of refugees to rebuild their society.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.P8887n
Schmidt, Gary D.
Straw into Gold. 2001. Awarded 2001 (Fiction).
Tousle and Innes must solve a riddle or be killed, by order of the king. In search of the answer, they hear the story of a strange little man who spun straw into gold for a banished queen — in exchange for her firstborn son, who may or may not be Tousle himself.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. Sch53st
The Truth-Teller’s Tale. 2005. Awarded 2005 (Fiction).
Twins Eleda, who can only tell the truth, and Adele, who cannot tell other’s secrets, are challenged by new dancing instructors who are keeping something from them, sparking a plot full of mistaken identity.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. Sh637t
The Arrival. 2007. Awarded 2007 (Fiction).
This wordless graphic novel tells the strange tale of a man who leaves his home country for a new place, where he must build a life for his family.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB Q. S. 741.595 T153a
Breadcrumbs. 2011. Awarded 2011 (Fiction).
In this retelling of “The Snow Queen,” Hazel must rescue her ex-best friend Jack, who no longer speaks to her and who has vanished into the woods with a mysterious, icy woman.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. Ur7b
Peeps. 2005. Awarded 2005 (Fiction).
Cal Thompson has discovered that he’s a carrier of a virus that causes vampirism, and must track down any ex-girlfriends he may have infected.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. W523p
Boston-Horn Globe Book
Poppy. 1995. Awarded 1996 (Fiction).
Poppy the mouse wants to move her family to a field of corn that could feed them indefinitely, but a frightening owl has other plans for them.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. AV51PO
The Folk Keeper. 1999. Awarded 2000 (Fiction).
Corinna poses as a Folk Keeper — one who keeps the Evil Folk away — but soon discovers her identity as a Selkie, or seal-woman.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. 813 B496f
The Dark is Rising. 1973. Awarded 1973 (Fiction).
Will discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones and must seek the signs that will allow his kind to triumph over darkness.
SSHEL S Collection S. C787DA
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. 2006. Awarded 2006 (Fiction).
Edward Tulane, a haughty toy rabbit, is quite selfish until he is separated from his adoring owner and makes a long journey, in which he hears many new stories.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. D547m
Le Guin, Ursula.
A Wizard of Earthsea. 1968. Awarded 1969 (Fiction).
A boy grows up as he attempts to subdue the evil he unleashed on the world.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. L527W
A Monster Calls. 2011. Awarded 2012.
Conor had dreams about a monster when his mother got sick. But the monster outside his window now isn’t the one from his nightmares — it’s older, wilder, and wants him to face a difficult truth.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. N373mo
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. 2001. Awarded 2002.
Set in Discworld, this adaptation of the Pied Piper of Hamlin makes a team out of a clever cat, a strange boy, and a pack of rats who work together to pull the wool over the eyes of various towns.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. P887a
Here Lies Arthur. 2008. Awarded 2008.
Gwynna’s city is pillaged and burned, and while hiding in the woods, she is discovered by the bard Myrddin, who promises to protect her if she will be bound to him. Gwynna agrees and becomes part of the plan to turn the young, rough Arthur into Camelot’s hero of legend.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. R259h
Deedy, Carmen Agra.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. 2011. Awarded 2011.
A bunch of mice and a cheese-loving cat find a strange alliance in an inn that becomes the backdrop for visits from Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. D366c
The False Prince. 2012. Awarded 2012.
Four orphans are forced into a brutal competition, the winner of which must impersonate the king’s son.
SSHEL S Collection S.N5544f
The Screaming Staircase. 2013. Awarded 2013.
Lucy and Anthony, young people with the ability to see — and deal with — the paranormal beings cropping up throughout London — team up to investigate some grisly events.
SSHEL S Collection S. St892s
Silksinger. 2009. Awarded 2009.
Warrior-faerie and last of her kind, Silksinger meets a young mercenary with a deadly weapon and more than a few secrets.
SSHEL S Collection S.T2158s
The Shadows. 2010. Awarded 2010.
Olive’s family moves into a creepy house with creepy paintings that harbor a magical world — Elsewhere.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. W5201s
Golden Kite Award
Sea of the Dead. 2009. Awarded 2010 (Fiction).
Kehl, son of a warrior-prince, has always been told that pirates were responsible for his mother’s death. When he is kidnapped by pirates and forced to map the entire empire, he begins to ask some difficult questions about his past.
SSHEL S Collection S.D93s
McGraw, Eloise Jarvis.
The Moorchild. 1996. Awarded 1996 (Fiction).
Saaski is a changeling — a half-fairy child swapped for a human one after her mixed status made her an outcast with the Moor Folk. As Saaski grows, she realizes that the humans she considers her parents have been horribly wronged and is determined to return their biological child to them.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.M178MO
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature
Summerland. 2002. Awarded 2003.
The weather is always perfect for baseball in Summerland — but the small creatures who keep it that way are in need of a baseball hero.
SSHEL S Collection S.C342s
The Ropemaker. 2001. Awarded 2002.
Tilja, a girl with no extraordinary capabilities, learns that she may be the only thing protecting her peaceful Valley from the dangerous Empire.
SSHEL S Collection S. D56r
The Hollow Kingdom. 2003. Awarded 2004.
When two orphan girls arrive at their ancestral home, Hallow Hall, the Goblin King and wizard decides to take the older for his bride.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. D921ho
Corbenic. 2006. Awarded 2007.
A strange night inside a magical castle and a feast in his honor changes Cal’s life forever — what if he’s going crazy, like his mother?
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. F531c
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. 2009. Awarded 2010.
Minli, a girl from a poor village, joins a magical goldfish and a dragon who cannot fly in a quest to change her family’s fortune.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.L63w
The Bartimeus Trilogy. Awarded 2006.
The first book in this trilogy, The Amulet of Samarkand, follows a young wizard as he summons a powerful — and mischievous — djinni named Bartimaeus…but calling the djinni and controlling him are two different things.
SSHEL S Collection S. St892b
The High King. 1968. Awarded 1969.
In this final installment in The Prydian Chronicles, Taran must face his nemesis Arawan directly and decide whether to become High King.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. AL27H
The Grey King. 1975. Awarded 1976.
Will is reminded that he is an immortal and must prepare for the battle between light and dark by finding a lost harp.
SSHEL S Collection S. C787GR
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread. 2003. Awarded 2004.
A courageous mouse, his beloved princess, a devious rat, and an ambitious servant girl intertwine in fairy tale-esque adventures.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.D547t
The Graveyard Book. 2008. Awarded 2009.
When his family is murdered, a toddler wanders into a cemetery where the ghosts and spirits agree to care for him.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.G127g
A Wrinkle in Time. 1962. Awarded 1963.
In this fantasy classic, Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin embark on a strange journey to rescue their father, who has been mysteriously missing for years.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.L547W
The Hero and the Crown. 1985. Awarded 1985.
Aerin, as the only child of the king, should be the heir to the throne. Because of her mother’s unusual circumstances, her people feel they cannot trust her and Aerin embraces a new destiny.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.M2152H
O’Brien, Robert C.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. 1971. Awarded 1972.
Mrs. Frisby, a mouse with small children, faces a dilemma when one of them falls deathly ill just when they must move homes to survive the winter. She encounters the Rats of NIMH, preternaturally intelligent creatures who may have a solution.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S.Ob61m
When You Reach Me. 2009. Awarded 2010.
Miranda’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of mysterious letters, written by someone who knows more about her than they should — even things that haven’t happened yet.
SSHEL S Collection and CCB S. St311w