Book recommendations for an 11-year-old girl available on
October 2, 2013 4:04 AM   Subscribe

My niece celebrates her eleventh birthday soon. She loves to read. She lives in Canada; I live in the UK: for convenience’s sake I’d like to buy her books from as a gift. Besides reading, her previous interests have included princesses, ballet and cupcakes—the latter leading me to order to some volumes from The Cupcake Diaries as last year’s gift. What’s new and cool in the world of books if you’re Canadian and eleven?
posted by misteraitch to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
With the caveat that at eleven I distinctly remembering being disappointed that I was still getting children's books as gifts from relatives when I had already moved on to lite adult books like the Mists of Avalon, there are some suggestions on this page that may help.

Still popular with girls around that age are the Wimpy Kid series (new one come in out this month), dork diaries, Canadian Girls series by scholastic, the 39 clues, Eric Walters, and Rick Riordan, those books skew a little young and innocent though. If she is advanced, and watches his amazing Vlog, she may be into John Green - very,very big among tweens and very "hip". Personally, I would go with John Green.

If you were to send her something cool from the UK though, especially an author that is big there but not in Canada, it would be doubly cool.
posted by saucysault at 4:47 AM on October 2, 2013

Emphatically +1ing saucysault's experience with disappointment over kiddie books at 11. I realise gift cards are not very exciting to give, but I think it might be a better thing to get here. That said, sci fi is a nice place to dig for quality 'lite adult.'

(I would also have preferred a UK gift, just about any UK-specific thing, over books I could've found in any Canadian store or library. I [Cdn] have ordered interesting what-not I can't get here off so you can send UK stuff without having to worry about shipping it yourself...)
posted by kmennie at 5:16 AM on October 2, 2013

My daughter's that age, turning eleven in a month, and is currently in love with The Search for Wond-La, which is the first in a series.

Are you able to ask her parents what she's reading now? While I also remember being disappointed by kiddie books around that age, my daughter, who has proven that she's quite capable of reading and understanding adult and young adult fiction, strongly prefers to stick with middle grade stuff, because she finds the themes of some adult fiction ickky (romance) or upsetting (death, illness, major betrayal). I'm sure that she'd gamely start reading a John Green novel, and equally sure that she'd stop quickly because she doesn't have the emotional maturity for that yet. Several other kids I know in this demographic are similar. If you can check, it's really worth doing so.
posted by MeghanC at 6:12 AM on October 2, 2013

This would be a bit of a departure from princesses, but I think every young adult should read Feed by MT Anderson. It's a dystopian wake up call about being overly plugged in to the online world. Eleven is a great age to start getting shaken up by this kind of Big Idea book, and here is one that's exciting and accessible. Maybe you could include it alongside something that matches her current interests?

For a much more popcorn type book that is still super rad and empowering: the Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke. Fun, great art, fast paced adventure.
posted by cubby at 6:14 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Well, if you want Canadian, Erin Bow's second book just came out, and she writes for about your niece's age. (I would have loved that because my mother is not a big book buyer and so I owned many fewer books than I would have, even if they were all books I could get here.)

I also agree that lite-adult is where she might be now -- I liked The Mists of Avalon and Rebecca at around that age, and I felt so mature and special being given adult books. (Also classic mysteries like Christie or adventure like Dumas.)

Although their reviews tend towards the SFF, the Book Smugglers often read middle grade books and don't restrict those to any specifc genre.
posted by jeather at 6:46 AM on October 2, 2013

Best answer: She might enjoy Princess Academy. I listened to the audiobook last year & thought it was well-done. Definitely not as fluffy & meaningless as I'd expected from the title.
posted by belladonna at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2013

Best answer: In my view 11 is too young for Feed (although it's a great book in and of itself). If she has a parent who is at all at odds with swearing or sexuality in a book for a kid that young, it will not fly. (I speak from experience; my stepdaughter's fundie mother took that book away from her when she started to read it at age 13.) Also, the language may be too dense for her and the physical decline of one of the main characters (incontinence and dementia, near the end) may be upsetting. In short, wait a few years.

You might try the Kiki Strike series, which my other (bright) stepdaughter enjoyed at age 12 or so. It's not tremendously well-known, but it's got good heroines who are also around age 12 (usually a good parallel for kids' books).
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers. The suggestions for gift cards and books or other items from the UK are both good ones, and I will likely take those up in future, but for this birthday I still would like to send books (it’s kind of an annual tradition). I asked her mom for suggestions but she didn’t have anything specific in mind, while at the same time expressing a preference for ‘anything pre-teen’ so I’ll respect that, even though my niece might prefer me not to… I’ve marked as best answers those where a recommendation made it into my amazon order.
posted by misteraitch at 1:52 PM on October 4, 2013

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