You’ll find fast-paced adventure, quirky characters, clever humor and a touch of eeriness in these read-alikes for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
*Items may be found in multiple locations. Check the catalog or ask a librarian for assistance.
Aiken, Joan. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.* [AR BL 6.5, Pts. 7]
Set in the countryside of Victorian England, this novel tells the story of two children, their helpful friend Simon, a tyrannical governess and her strict father.
Anderson, M.T. Whales on Stilts.* [AR BL 4.6, Pts. 3]
A madman has unleashed an army of stilt-walking, laser-beaming, thoroughly angry whales upon the world! Luckily, Jasper Dash and his friends Katie Mulligan and Lily Gefelty are around to save the day.
Angleberger, Tom. Fake Mustache: Or How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind. [AR BL 4.6, Pts. 4]
Lenny Flem Jr. is the only one standing between his evil-genius best friend Casper and world domination as Casper uses a spectacularly convincing fake mustache and the ability to hypnotize to rob banks, amass a vast fortune, and run for president.
Ardagh, Philip. A House Called Awful End. (The Eddie Dickens Trilogy) [AR BL 6.3, Pts. 4]
When eleven-year-old Eddie Dickens’ parents become ill, he is taken in by his great-uncle and great-aunt and embarks on adventures that involve strolling actors, St. Horrid’s Home for Grateful Orphans, and a carnival float shaped like a giant cow.
Avi. The Cross of Lead.* [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 7]
Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.
Basye, Dale. Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go.* [AR BL 6.0, Pts. 8]
When timid Milton and his older sister Marlo die in a marshmallow bear of explosion at Grizzly Mall, they are sent to Limbo, the first of the Nine Circles of Heck, from which they are determined to escape.
Bellairs, John. The House with a Clock in its Walls.* [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 6]
Lewis moves in with his uncle, a white magician, then discovers that the former tenant, a black magician, has devised a plan for the end of the world.
Belloc, Hilaire. Cautionary Tales for Children. J821.912 BEL [not in AR] These short, funny pieces offer moral instruction for all types of mischief makers—from a certain young Jim, “who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion,” to the tale of Matilda, “who told lies and was burned to death”—and add up to a delightful read for any fan of Roald Dahl or Shel Silverstein.
Bloor, Edward. The Memory Prisoner. [AR BL 5.4, Pts. 4]
With her younger brother in danger, fifteen-year-old Maddie runs out of the house she has not left since she was two years old when the evil town librarian threatened to harm her.
Byng, Georgia. Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism. [AR BL 5.5, Pts. 12]
Unlucky and unloved, Molly Moon, living in a dreary orphanage in a small English town, discovers a hidden talent for hypnotism and hypnotizes her way to stardom in New York city.
Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl.* [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 9]
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.
Dahl, Roald. The Witches.*[AR BL 4.7, Pts. 5]
A young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, who is an expert on witches, together foil a witches’ plot to destroy the world’s children by turning them into mice.
Daneshvari, Gitty. School of Fear.* [AR BL 4.8, Pts. 4] Twelve-year-olds Madeline, Theo and Lulu, and thirteen-year-old Garrison, are sent to a remote Massachusetts school to overcome their phobias, but tragedy strikes and the quartet must work together – with no adult assistance – to face their fears.
Del Rio, Tania. Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye. [AR BL 5.2, Pts. 6]
Twelve-year-old orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing-Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it.
Funke, Cornelia Caroline. The Thief Lord.* [AR BL 4.8, Pts. 13]
Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle. The brothers decide to hide out in Venice, where they meet a mysterious thirteen-year-old boy who calls himself the “Thief Lord.”
Gannon, Nicholas. The Doldrums. [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 9]
An eccentric like all Helmsleys, eleven-year-old Archer escapes his overprotective mother and recruits two friends to help him plan a rescue of his long-lost grandparents, world-famous explorers who disappeared atop an iceberg in the Antarctic.
Garfield, Leon. Smith.* [AR BL 6.1, Pts. 8]
Moments after he steals a document from a man’s pocket, an illiterate young pickpocket in eighteenth-century London witnesses the man’s murder by two men who want the document.
Giff, Patricia Reilly.* Pictures of Hollis Woods. [AR BL 4.4, Pts. 5]
A troublesome twelve-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.
Grant, Holly. The League of Beastly Dreadfuls.* [AR BL 5.4, Pts. 8]
After being told that her parents died in a tragic vacuum cleaner accident, Anastasia, nearly eleven, is snatched from her elementary school and sent to live at a former insane asylum with two great aunts she had never met.
Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 13.* [AR BL 5.8, Pts. 7]
Odge Gribble, a young hag, accompanies an old wizard, a gentle fey, and a giant ogre on their mission through a magical tunnel from their island to London to rescue their King and Queen’s son who had been stolen as an infant.
Kurzweil, Allen. Leon and the Spitting Image.* [AR BL 4.9, Pts. 8]
Leon, a fourth grader at The Ethical School, tries to outwit the school bully and learn to sew for fanatical teacher Miss Cronheim, with unexpected help from his final project – a doll with magical powers.
Lowry, Lois. The Willoughbys.* [AR BL 5.2, Pts. 4]
In this tongue-in-cheek take on classic themes in children’s literature, the four Willoughby children set about to become “deserving orphans” after their neglectful parents, leaving them in the care of an odious nanny, embark on a treacherous around-the-world adventure.
Magaziner, Lauren. Pilfer Academy: A School So Bad It’s Criminal.* [AR BL 5.1, Pts. 7] When George is brought to Pilfer Academy, a secret school for training young thieves, he has the time of his life . . . until he realizes he’s much too good-hearted to actually steal anything.
Nimmo, Jenny. Midnight for Charlie Bone: Children of the Red King.*[AR BL 4.8, Pts. 10]
Charlie Bone’s life with his widowed mother and two grandmothers undergoes a dramatic change when he discovers that he can hear people in photographs talking.
Pullman, Philip. I Was a Rat.* [AR BL 5.2, Pts. 4]
A little boy turns life in London upside down when he appears at the house of a lonely old couple and insists he was a rat.
Reeve, Philp. Larklight.* [AR BL 7.0, Pts. 13]
Arthur and his irritating sister, Myrtle, live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight . . . that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor arrives unexpectedly, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long, Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the farthest reaches of space where they will do battle with evil forces.
Sanderson, Brandon. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.*(series) [AR BL 4.9, Pts. 9]
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.
Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. [AR BL 3.8, Pts. 5]
Seventh grader Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building and meets Safer, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: what is a lie, and what is a game? How far is too far to go for your only friend?
Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society.* (series) [AR BL 5.6, Pts. 18]
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are selected for a secret mission to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where their mission is to stop the plan of the evil Ledroptha Curtain.
Turnage, Sheila. Three Times Lucky.* [AR BL 3.9, Pts. 9]
Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town where everyone’s business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago and she’s been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her “upstream mother,” she’s found a home with the Colonel – a café owner with a forgotten past of his own. Mo will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude, so when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.
Wood, Maryrose. The Mysterious Howling. [AR BL 6.8, Pts. 9] Fifteen-year-old Miss Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is hired as governess to three young children who have been raised by wolves. Her assignment is to teach the children to behave in a civilized manner, and she must do it quickly – in preparation for a Christmas ball.