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 Time Travel, Historical, and Alternative History Fiction Books
for Middle Grade (4th-6th) and Young Adult Readers

Many books listed for 9 and up are also good for young adult readers. These days there is quite a bit of crossover between the two levels of fiction. The Harry Potter books are good example of books enjoyed both by a 10-yr-old and a 15-yr-old.



Adventure books for kids



Ages 9 and up

Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on Titanic Gregory Mole, 240 pages
"A stowaway, a stolen book, a murderous villain: an adventure on the most famous shipwreck in history.
The great ocean liner Titanic is preparing to cross the Atlantic. On board is a sinister thief bent on stealing a rare book that may be the key to unlocking infinite treasure, a wealthy academic traveling home to America with his rare book collection, and Patrick Waters, a twelve-year-old Irish boy who is certain that his job as a steward on the unsinkable ship will be the adventure of a lifetime. In Dangerous Waters, disguises, capers, and danger abound as the ship makes its way toward that fateful iceberg where Patrick will have to summon all his wits in order to survive."
Roaring Brook Press, 2012

Ages 9 and up

A Thunderous Whisper Christina Diaz Gonzalez, 298 pages 
"Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he's been off fighting in Spain's Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he's as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias's father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She's actually making a difference in the world. 

And then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, her mother. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way."


Books for reluctant readers



Adventure books for kids



Ages 9 and up

Kat, Incorrigible Stephanie Burgis, 295 pages
In this prim and proper world, twelve-year-old Katherine Ann Stephenson is at a loss: Her sisters, Elissa and Angeline, have recently entered Society and now gossip incessantly in whispers; her foolish brother, Charles, has gambled the family deep into debt; and Stepmama wants nothing to do with them at all What can Kat do but take matters into her own hands?
 Luckily Kat has inherited her mother’s magical talents and has the courage to use them-if she can only learn how.

But with her sister Elissa’s intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her sister Angeline creating romantic havoc with her own witchcraft, and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat’s reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. Will her powers be enough to win he sisters their true loves?

Jacket cover excerpt, Atheneum, 2011

Ages 9 and up
Ancient Egypt

Lights on the Nile Donna Jo Napoli, 267 pages
"Kepi is a young girl in ancient Egypt, content to stay home with her family, helping her father, who was wounded in the construction of a pyramid for the cruel pharaoh Khufu. But that was before she and her pet baboon, Babu, were kidnapped and held captive on a boat bound for the capital city, Ineb Hedj. And when Kepi and Babu are separated, she knows she ahs only one choice: to make her way to the capital on her own, rescue Babu, and find a way to appeal to the pharaoh. Khufu is rich and powerful, but Kepi has her own powers, deep inside her-ones she herself doesn't even know about yet." Jacket cover excerpt, Harper, HarperCollins, 2011

Ages 12 and up

In the Shadows of the Lamp Susanne Dunlap, 293 pages
“It’s 1854, and Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a post London House. So when she hears of an opportunity to join Florence Nightingale and her nurses in the Crimea, the promise of a new start-and perhaps even adventure-is too tempting to pass up. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions are deplorable, and Miss Nightingale proves to be a demanding leader. But before long, tending to sick and wounded British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy; it becomes a mission of the heart when Molly finds that she’s falling in love with no one, but two young men.

With the battle raging ever nearer, one of the men will fall victim to the great guns. Will it be the dashing young doctor who see Molly as more that just one of Nightingale’s nurses or the foot soldier who has left everything behind and joined the army to be near to her?” Jacket cover excerpt, Bloomsbury, 2011

Ages 9 and up

Chasing the Nightbird Krista Russell, 196 pages
"Fourteen-year-old Lucky Valera is a seasoned sailor on the crew of the whaling ship, Nightbird. When his estranged half brother, Fernando Fortuna, kidnaps him off the docks and forces him into servitude at the nearby mill, his life takes a dramatic turn for the worse.
Determined to escape, Lucky links up with some unlikely allies: Daniel, a runaway slave who works alongside him at the mill, and Emmeline, a Quaker ship captain’s daughter. Emmeline offers Lucky passage out of New Bedford on her uncle’s ship in exchange for his help leading fugitive slaves through the Underground Railroad, but Lucky knows getting away from Fortuna will be difficult… and dangerous."Jacket cover excerpt, Peachtree Publishers, 2011 


Books for reluctant readers



Ages 9 and up

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby, 400 pages

"Giuseppe is and orphaned street musician who sees no way to escape from his ruthless master, until the day he finds and enchanted green violin. Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker with a past he cannot remember, who secretly works to build the most magnificent clockwork man the world has ever seen. Hannah is a maid in a grand hotel, whose life is one of endless drudgery, until she encounters a mystifying new guest and learns of a hidden treasure. As mysterious circumstances bring together, the lives of these tree children soon interlock like the turning gears of a clock, and they realize that each one holds the key to the other's puzzles. The trio's adventures sweep them through the winding alleyways and glittering plazas of their ,city and along the way Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick must learn to trust in one another-and in themselves-for they risk losing the things they hold most dear as the dangers they face quickly become all too real." Jacket cover excerpt, Scholastic, 2010 Alternative/Steampunk

Ages 9 and up

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh, 326 pages
"Sent into the forest to gather firewood for the medieval abbey where he’s an apprentice, Will hears a cry for help, and comes upon a creature no bigger than a cat. Trapped and wounded, it’s a hobgoblin, who confesses a horrible secret: Something is buried deep in the snow, just beyond the graveyard. A mythical being doomed by an ancient curse…  What does this mystery have to do with the cryptic brotherhood of monks Will serves? What does it have to do with the boy himself? When two cloaked figures darken the church’s doorway and start demanding answers, Will is drawn into a dangerous world of Old Magic." Jacket cover excerpt, Chicken House, Scholastic, 2010. Medieval with fantasy elements

Ages 9 and up

Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja (series) by Simon Higgins, 312 pages

"It’s the dawn of an age of peace in medieval Japan, and a power-hungry warlord is plotting to plunge the nation into a deadly civil war. Enter Moonshadow, the newest agent for the Grey Light Order, a secret brotherhood of ninja spy warriors. For his first mission, Moonshadow is sent on a dangerous journey to save his country from violent chaos. Can Moonshadow defeat the evil warload, rogue samurai, professional killers, and another ninja spy? Or will his first mission also be his last?" Jacket cover excerpt, Little, Brown and Company, 2010 Medieval Japan

Ages 9 and up

The Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells, 329 pages"Oscar Ogilvie is living with his dad in a house at the end of Lucifer Street, in Cairo, Illinois, when world events change his life forever. The great stock market crash has rippled across the country, and the band takes over their home-along with all their cherished model trains. Oscar’s dad is forced to head west in search of work, and Oscar must move in with his no-nonsense aunt Carmen. Only a mysterious drifter who stops by each day for food after school helps alleviate Oscar’s loneliness-until Oscar witnesses a crime so stunning that it catapult him into a miraculous, time-hopping train journey." Jacket cover excerpt, Candlewick Press, 2010 Time travel

Ages 12 and up

Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher, 469 pages 

"Henry Grim has never been in trouble for borrowing a sword from the headmaster’s private stores. He has never discovered a forbidden room in a foreign castle, or received a death threat over breakfast.All Henry know is life as an orphaned servant boy at the Midsummer School, bullied by the privileged sons of aristocracy. But all that changes when Henry is the first commoner to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Knightley Academy, where he will be trained as a modern-day knight alongside the cleverest and bravest fourteen-year-olds in the country.


Henry and his roommates, two other students from decidedly un-Knightley backgrounds, are not exactly greeted with open arms by their classmates. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that someone is going to great lengths to sabotage the trio’s chances at becoming knights. But Henry soon learns that there is more at stake than his future at Knightley, and only he can sound the alarm. Is anyone going to believe a former servant on the brink of expulsion?" Jacket cover excerpt, Aladdin, 2010 Alternative



Ages 9 and up

Crows & Cards by Joseph Helgerson, 279 pages
“Three warnings for readers who hate surprises: 1. Beware of slivers, 2. And gamblers, 3. and aces. Zebulon Crabree found all that out the hard way back in 1849 when his mother and father shipped him off to St Louis to apprentice with a tanner. Too bad he had serious allergies to fur and advice from his parents.  

Hearing the beat of a different drummer, Zeb takes up with a riverboat gambler who has some special plans for him, crosses paths with a slave who turns out to be a better friend than cook, and learns that some Indian medicine men can see even though blind. And there’s the Brotherhood-the one that Zeb can’t seem to get out of.” Jacket cover excerpt, Houghton Mifflin, 2009

Ages 12 and up

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield, (series) 448 pages
“It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.   Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in he British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With the Great War brewing, Alek’s and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way..taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.” Jacket cover excerpt, Simon & Schuster, 2009, Alternative WWI history

Ages 9 and up

Newsgirl by Liza Ketchum, 324 pages“Amelia’s family has arrived in Sand Francisco in 1851, hoping for a new life in this gold rush town. But they are nearly penniless. How will they survive? Amelia discovers that newsboys can make a fortune selling East Coast newspapers. So in spite of their warning-‘No girls in our gang!’-she cuts her hair and dresses herself as a boy. At first, Amelia’s disguise gives her an exciting new freedom. She can hawk newspapers, explore the city, even dream of writing her own news stories. Then an unexpected and harrowing balloon flight drops Amelia in the gold fields. Suddenly facing more adventure than she ever imagine, Amelia resolves that if she makes it back to her family, she’ll find a way to make a living as a newsgirl.”Jacket cover excerpt, Viking, 2009

Ages 9 and up
Multiple Time Periods

Nick of Time by Ted Bell, 448 pages

“In the grand tradition of epic novels like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island comes a wondrous tale of the time travel, adventure, and riches, in which twelve-year-old Nick McIver sets out to become the hero of his own life. The setting is England, 1939, on the eve of the war. Nick and his younger sister, Kate, live in a lighthouse on the smallest of the Channel Islands. Nick and Kate come to the aid of their father, who is engaged in a desperate war of espionage with German U-boat wolf packs that are circling the islands. The information they provide to Winston Churchill is vital as he tried to warn England of the imminent Nazi invasion.” Jacket cover excerpt, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008, text copyright 2000


Ages 9 and up
Multiple Time Periods

Starcross by Philip Reeve, 370 pages

“There is an old saying: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take the holiday that Art Mumby, his mostly irritating younger sister, Myrtle, and their mother take to Starcross, a hotel which advertises itself as the finest sea-bathing resort in the entire Asteroid Belt. The fact that there are no seas anywhere in the Asteroid Belt should be the first sign that the place is not what is seems. Sure enough, Art and family quickly find themselves grappling with French spies, Yankee rebels and man-eating starfish, not to mention an awful lot of sinister top hats. With stops to the future and back to prehistoric Mars, it’s all Art can do to keep his head about him. Which is all the more important, considering everyone else is losing theirs.” Jacket cover excerpt, Bloomsbury U.S.A, 2007


Ages 9 and up

Spitfire by Kate Messner, 134 pages
“October, 1776…Twelve-year-old Abigail Smith disguises herself as a boy, steals a leaky rowboat, and sets out to join the American Fleet on Lake Champlain. She’s desperate to find her uncle, her only living relative and her only hope for a real home. Young Pascal De Angelis is on board an American ship awaiting battle with the British when Abigail climbs aboard. When the British ships approach and the first shots are fired, Abigail and Pascal forge a fast friendship, see things no child should see, and grow up more quickly than either of them could have imagined.” Back cover excerpt, North Country Books, 2007 



Ages 9 and up
World War II

A Boy at War, by Harry Mazer, 104 pages

“They rowed hard, away from the battleships and the bombs. Water sprayed over them. The rowboat pitched one way and then the other. Then, before his eyes, the Arizona lifted up out of the water. That enormous battleship bounced up in the air like a rubber ball and split apart. Fire burst out of the ship. A geyser of water shot into the air and came crashing down. Adam was almost thrown out of the rowboat. He clung to the seat as it swung around. He saw blue skies and the glittering city. The boat swung back again, and he saw black clouds, and the Arizona, his father's ship, sinking beneath the water.” Back cover excerpt, Simon & Schuster, 2001 


Ages 9 and up

 SOS Titanic by Eve Bunting, 246 pages

“The deck was tilting. Even the passengers who hadn’t believed the Titanic could sink were frantic. Many of them had refused to climb into the lifeboats. Now the lifeboats were gone. The doomed passengers rushed this way and that, looking for safety where ther was none. Barry pushed through them, looking for Pegenen and her brothers, the Flynn boys. They had threatened to throw him overboard when the trip began, but old hostilities had no meaning now. Pegeen and her brothers came from his village in Ireland, and now they were trapped behind gates with the other steerage passengers. He wouldn’t let them die-not if he could get to them in time.” Jacket cover excerpt, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996


Ages 9 and up
U.S. Civil War

Gabriel’s Horses by Alison Hart (Racing to Freedom Trilogy), 158 pages

“The year is 1864 and young Gabriel hopes to become a famous jockey one day. Although he is the son of a free black father and a slave mother-making him a slave as well-he enjoys helping his father Isaac, one of the best horse trainers in Kentucky, care for Master Giles’s thoroughbred  racehorses. But the violence of war disrupts life at Woodville Farm. Confederate raiders are threatening local residents-destroying property and stealing horses. When Isaac enlists in a colored battalion to help the Union army and to earn enough money to purchase freedom for his wife and son, Gabriel is both proud and worried.  But the absence of his father brings the arrival of Mr. Newcastle, a white horse trainer with harsh cruel methods for handling horses… and people. Now Gabriel must find a way to protect the horses he loves from Mr. New castle and also keep them safely out of the clutches of the Confederate raiders.” Jacket cover excerpt, Peachtree Publishers, 2007



Ages 9 and up
U.S. Civil War

Private Captain by Marty Crisp, 293 pages

“It is the middle of the Civil War, but Ben is determined to venture out on his own to find his soldier brother Reuben. He must bring him back now that Pa is dead and Ma needs him-and before the Big Battle everyone says is coming. Before he knows it, Ben finds himself trekking through Pennsylvania with a big yellow dog, a pesky cousin, and an old Jersey cow named Mavis. Bud dodging Rebel soldiers and fording the Susquehanna River in the middle of the night is dangerous business. Maybe together, the motley crew can make it before the Big Battle breaks out. Just maybe.” Jacket cover excerpt, Philomel Books, 2001


Ages 9 and up
1850s U.S. West

Hard Gold, A Tale of the Old West by Avi, 219 pages
“Early Wittcomb’s family needs a miracle. Their farm has been hit by hard times, and if the Wittcombs don’t pay the mortgage, the local bank will grab the farm. Uncle Jesse has a solution: to head west and scoop up the plentiful gold reportedly discovered in the Pike’s Peak region of the Rocky Mountains. Soon Jesse can’t think of anything but gold, and Early is wild to head west with him. But travel costs money-more than the boys have. Then one night, Jesses disappears. Early knows what he must do. He seizes the opportunity to work a wagon train headed west. The journey is perilous, but Early makes it all the way. It’s a good thing, too-because the hardest part of Early’s journey awaits him deep in the mountains, at a place call Gold Hill.” Jacket cover excerpt, Hyperion, 2008


Ages 9 and up
Feudal Japan

The Boy and The Samurai by Erik Christian Haugaard, 221 pages

“On his own in the teeming city, the boy, Saru, soon learned to make his way.; Sometimes the woman who ran the tavern would give him ricecakes: sometimes he begged, but in these days of war almost everyone else was poor, too…He grew not in wisdom but in cunning, and learned to trust no one but himself….Sometimes he found friends-the young daughter of a cook in Lord Katsuyori’s castle; and-not least-his faithful mascot, the little cat, Neko. But all this changed when Saru met the Samurai and agreed to help in the rescue of his lady wife, held hostage in the castle. How could a street urchin and one warrior prevail against a mighty warlord?” Jacket cover excerpt, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991


Ages 12 and up
13th Century Middle East

Pagan’s Crusade by Catherine Jinks, (The Pagan Chronicles), 246 pages

“When Pagan Kidrouk arrives on the doorstep of the Templar Knights in medieval Jerusalen, he’s looking for a job as a squire and some protection from the street. It’s not too long before he finds himself hard at work for Lord Roland de Bram-a not-so-exciting life of polishing and laundering and training to fight. But as the Infidel Saladin leads his army to Jerusalem, it becomes more and more difficult for Pagan and Lord Roland to discern whom to trust.” Back Cover, Candlewick Press, 2004, text copyright 1992


Ages 9 and up
11th century England

The Striped Ships by Eloise McGraw, 226 pages
“It is the morning of Michaelmas Eve in 1066. Eleven-year-old Juliana, daughter of a Saxon thane, has slipped away from her embroidery frame to run along the beach at Pevensey. Suddenly, of the mist shrouding the English Channel, Juliana sees the striped ships of the Norman invaders approaching by the hundreds. Within hours she has lost her home, all contact with her parents, and every trace of her familiar, well-ordered life… The tale of Juliana’s escape from the Norman castle at Hastings, her journey across war-ravaged southern England with her young brother Wulfric, and her desparate winter and spring in Canterbury vividly recreates eleventh century England…Against this scene moves the story of the famous Bayeux Tapestry and of the way Juliana’s role in its creation leads her to self-reliance.” Jacket cover excerpt, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Macmillan Publishing,  1991


Ages 9 and up
79 C.E. Pompeii

The Secrets of Vesuvius by Caroline Lawrence, Roman Mysteries Series

“It is A.D. 79. The volcano, Vesuvius, is about to erupt. Flavia, Jonathan, Lupus, and Nubia-friends and detectives-sail to the Bay of Naples to spend the summer with Flavia’s uncle, who lives near Pompeii. There they uncover a riddle that may lead them to great treasure. Meanwhile, tremors shake the ground, animals behave strangely, and people dream of impending doom. One of the worst natural disasters of all time is about to happen: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.”  Back cover, Puffin U.S.A., 2004




This site is maintained by author Dee Garretson, who writes her own adventure books. She does not get paid by the authors or the publishers to list these books. They are all her recommendations based on reading many, many books each year.


Teachers, Homeschoolers and Librarians:

Dee does complimentary 20 minute Skype visits with groups interested in talking about adventure books or writing. Contact her at deegarretson at gmail.com


Escape from Camp David:


  When disaster strikes and the security systems at Camp David go into lockdown, Luke Brockett, the President's son, and his friends must escape before it's too late.
Published by Harper, a divison of HarperCollins



  Sometimes filming a movie can go very wrong ... and turn all too real. Stefan Andris never expected his dream adventure to turn into a real-life survival story. Published by Harper, a division of HarperCollins


Art student Clary Ashton thought studying painting in Paris was a dream come true, until a murder and a royal assassination plot throw her between two dangerous men, a vicious revolutionary who will stop at nothing to carry out his plans and the young intrepid British secret agent determined to stop him.

Adventure books for kids




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