Books for tweens set in New York City
May 24, 2014 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Some friends are coming to visit NYC and I'd like to get their kids some fiction set in the city.

They are an 8yo boy and 11yo girl; enthusiastic readers, never been to NY. My knowledge of the genre doesn't get much more recent than things like The Cricket in Times Square and The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Nothing wrong with those, of course, but I'd love some recommendations for books or graphic novels that are slightly more recent. Nonfiction is also welcome but the intent is more entertainment than education. Optimally I would just get them books they could both read and enjoy but I'm willing to be a bit more targeted.

I'd like to keep things lighthearted and G rated and avoid adult or frightening themes/key plot elements. I don't know the kids well enough to judge what they're ready for in that way. (A little mild peril in a Hardy Boys kind of way is fine but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn would be a bit much coming from a casual family friend). I'd also like to avoid things that are vehicles for toys like the American Girl books.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Foiled by Jane Yolen!
posted by nicebookrack at 5:46 PM on May 24, 2014

When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy, both by Rebecca Stead. When You Reach Me won the Newbery Award in 2010.
posted by mogget at 5:51 PM on May 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Percy Jackson books are the most obvious choice.
But I'd go with All of a Kind Family -- the first book! Not recent, but vivid as ever.
posted by third rail at 5:51 PM on May 24, 2014

Best answer: Remember me to Harold Square.

Manhattan area scavenger hunt inside.
posted by tilde at 6:01 PM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ellen Raskin has a really old book called The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) which is a sort of junior mystery where a lot of it takes place in NYC. It has a lot of fun word puzzles in it if that's your thing. Not really modern at all however but has a timeless quality and the puzzle aspects are fun. There is definitely mild peril in it but it's not at all scary.
posted by jessamyn at 6:08 PM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Kiki Strike books (especially the first one) are all about exploring the city, especially the hidden parts.
posted by leesh at 6:15 PM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

seconding @leesh-- kiki strike is awesome. heartily recommend.
posted by tamarack at 6:23 PM on May 24, 2014

Seconding tilde... YES to Remember Me to Harold Square. I loved this so much as a preteen that when I visited NYC for the first time (in my thirties), I reread my beloved old copy again on the plane, just to get me in the mood.
posted by hessie at 6:38 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding mogget; Rebecca Stead is great.
Probably out of print but I liked The Taxi Navigator.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:41 PM on May 24, 2014

Thirding Remember Me to Harold Square!
posted by Blitz at 6:43 PM on May 24, 2014

The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is set mostly in the Met. It's great!

The Cricket in Times Square

4thing Remember Me to Harold Square and the sequels
posted by hellomiss at 6:47 PM on May 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Harriet the Spy is THE book about NYC as far as I know, and really one of the best modern novels of any genre I venture. Also Freaky Friday and A Billion for Boris very much feature New York life. All a bit old, I think from the 70s and 80s, but delightful.
posted by latkes at 6:56 PM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot started out as books before they were movies, and are (mostly) set in Manhattan.

Maira Kalman's Next Stop, Grand Central is a great 24-hour look at everything and everyone in the station. It's for younger kids, but since you're including graphic novels in your search, I'd give it a look - it's definitely a favorite among us adults in the house as well.

I'd also make a plug for the not modern, but set sortof in the future (meaning now-ish) The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, and VERY not-modern but adorable All Of A Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (family of girls growing up on the Lower East Side - sort of the Jewish Little House on the Prairie)

The New York Historical Society has a Children's Library that is filled with New York City -related books and publish a Book Club Blog. Might be worth hitting them up for recommendations as well.
posted by Mchelly at 7:36 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thirding Kiki Strike -- my 11-year-old loves the series.
posted by BurntHombre at 7:51 PM on May 24, 2014

The first book of Diane Duane's Young Wizards books, "So You Want To Be A Wizard." Suzy McKee Charnas's "The Bronze King." Ruth Sawyer's "Roller Skates." Sorry about the lack of links, on my phone.
posted by PussKillian at 7:54 PM on May 24, 2014

Concurring with All of a Kind Family (I loved those books as a kid), and I also liked Pushcart War, too. Eloise might be a little young for them, but it's seminal.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:19 PM on May 24, 2014

When I was a kid, The Prince of Central Park was always a favorite.
posted by worldswalker at 8:28 PM on May 24, 2014

Norma Klein's Mom the Wolfman and Me, Confessions of an Only Child and The Cheerleader (about a male one).

Judy Blume's Fudge books.
posted by brujita at 12:35 AM on May 25, 2014

Best answer: Just finished Wonderstruck, which my 8yo and 11.5yo enjoyed quite a bit. Like his other book, The Invention of Hubo Cabret, it can be a pretty quick read, but when we read it together, we made a point to spend more time on each picture, which made it more enjoyable (and last longer).

The book features the American Museum of Natural History and the Queens Museum of Art, which, depending on the kids, would be good choices to go and visit.
posted by gregvr at 4:11 AM on May 25, 2014

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