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Wilderness-Themed Adventure 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.

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Adventure books for kids

 

 
     

Ages 9 and up

The Emerald Quest by Renee Pawlish, 196 pages
“Thirteen-year-old Noah Winter, the son of sea-exploring treasure hunters, dives the San Isabel shipwreck with his parents in search of a mysterious treasure map lost in the murky depths off the Florida Keys over a century ago. The map reveals the hiding place of the priceless De La Rosa emerald. But before the Winters can find the map, a wealthy treasure-hunting rival kidnaps Noah’s parents. Now Noah must match wits with a dangerous adversary, not only to discover the treasure map first, but to rescue his mom and dad before it’s too late.”
Createspace, 2012

Ages 12 and up

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan, 352 pages
"They came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives. High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness. But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die. Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . . hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home. If they can just survive."
Thomas Nelson, 2012

     
 

Books for reluctant readers

 

 

Adventure books for kids

 

 

Ages 12 and up

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes, 312 pages 
"Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he's dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father. Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she's enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it's going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this heroine to save everything she loves."
Coleman and Stott, 2011

Ages 9 and up

Wolf Storm by Dee Garretson 275 pages

"This is Stefan’s big break. He’s on location in the mountains far from home for his first movie role, filming a blockbuster sci-fi adventure. The prop, the spaceships, and the trained wolves on set should add up to a dream job, but acting turns out to be much tougher than he ever imagine, and the feels like his inner loser is all that’s showing through. From the way his famously stuck-up co-star, Raine, treats him, he’s pretty sure she thinks so too. And worst of all, no one will believe his claim that there are wild wolves haunting the forest around the set."

 Jacket cover excerpt, HarperCollins, 2011

Ages 9 and up

Storm Runner by Roland Smith, 143 pages
“Chase Masters and his father are storm runners racing across the country in pursuit of hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Anywhere bad weather strikes, they are not far behind. Chase is learning more on the road than he ever would just sitting in a classroom. But when the hurricane of the century hits, he will be tested in way he never could have imagined.”
Jacket cover excerpt, Scholastic, 2011

Ages 9 and up

Flutter by Erin E. Moulton, 198 pages

“Big things are about to happen at Maple’s house. Mama’s going to have a baby, which means that Dawn’s going to become a triple big sister. Maple’s going to become a double big sister, and Beetle’s going to become a big sister, too, even though she can barely talk.


But when baby Lily is born too early with a heart that’s not quite working right, Maple knows it’s up to her to find the miracle that will save her sister. So she and Dawn, armed with a map, some leftover dinner and their Thinking Caps, head off down a rive and up a mountain to find the Wise Woman who stands guard over a pool of water with miraculous powers. Now it’s not only Lily[s survival that they have to worry about, but also their own. And the danger that Maple and Dawn encounter on their journey makes them realize a thing or two about miracles-and about each other.”

Jacket cover excerpt Philomel Books, Penguin, 2011

Ages 9 and up

Into the Trap by Craig Moodie, 199 pages
“Eddie Atwell’s family has been trapping lobsters for generations. Eddie knows the waters around the small Massachusetts fishing community where he lives better than the roads of the island. And someday he’ll be a lobsterman just like his father. But lately someone has been stealing their catch, threatening to put the family out of business and force them off the island.

When Eddie comes across the thieves’ trap, he suddenly realized that it’s up to him to bring in the culprits and rescue the lobsters-and his family.His mission lead him to Briggs, a rich kid who has run away from sailing camp and also has reason to bring the thieves to justice. Together this unlikely pair embarks on a high-speed adventure that puts their very lives at risk and takes all their courage not only to save the day but also to survive.”

Jacket cover excerpt, Roaring Brook Press, 2011

Books for reluctant readers

     

Ages 9 and up

Wildfire Run by Dee Garretson, 256 pages

"The President’s retreat, Camp David, is one of the safest places in the United States. So why can’t the President’s son, Luke, and his friends Theo and Callie stay there without Secret Service agents constantly hovering over them, watching their every move? And yet, when an earthquake sets of a raging wildfire, causing a chain reaction that wreaks havoc at Camp David, they are suddenly on their own. Now Luke needs a plan: to override the security systems, to save those who were supposed to save him, to get through an impassable gate, and to escape Camp David."

Jacket cover excerpt, HarperCollins, 2010

Ages 9 and up

Desperate Measures by Laura Summers, 250 pages
“Vicky might not have much in common with her twin sister, Rhianna, and little brother, Jamie, but she knows one thing—they belong together. So after their father disappears and their foster family bails on them, they do what they have to do and run away.

They hope to find shelter in the lakeside cottage of an elderly aunt. But the journey is more than treacherous. Not only do they have to escape authorities and stray dogs and deal with constant hunger, but Vicky has to cope with a sister whose learning disabilities make it hard for her to grasp issues like time passage and death, and a little brother always looking for a fight. It feels like things will either fall apart or explode at any minute.
When they meet a bunch of teens intent on bullying them, the cards truly seem stacked against them. But Rhianna and Jamie are not to be underestimated when the going gets rough, and their daring just might help lead the kids to a future where they can be together.”
Jacket cover excerpt, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, An imprint of Penguin Group, 2010

     

     

Ages 9 and up

Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs, 185 pages

“A meteorite is hurtling toward the Black Hills of South Dakota…Brady Steele watches in awe as a fireball cames crashing through the roof of his house…Fred, as Brady names his space rock, turns out to be one of the rarest meteorites ever found. Professor Rip Ripley from the museum in Hill city wants to study a sliver of it in search of extraterrestrial bacteria. He’s hoping to discover the first proof of life beyond Earth, a momentous breakthrough for the nex science of astrobiology. During a wild week of extreme bicycling, fishing, and caving, Brady and Quinn{his cousin} battle their rivals, the nororious Carver boys, for possession of the meteorite. With each new day, Brady is discovering he’s able to do strange and wonderful feats that shouldn’t be possible. At the same time, he’s developing some frightening symptoms. Could he be infected with long-dormant microbes from space? Is Fred a prize or a menace?” Jacket cover excerpt, Harper Collins, 2008

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Ages 9 and up

Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith, 348 pages
“After their parents are lost in an accident, thirteen-year-old twins Grace and Marty are whisked away to live with their uncle Wolfe-an uncle that they didn’t even know they had. The intimidating Uncle Wolfe is a veterinarian who has dedicated his life to finding cryptids-mysterious creatures whose existence has never been proven. Just as the twins and their uncle are getting to know one another, Wolfe finds out that his nemesis, Dr. Blackwood, is headed to a Congolese jungle to poach a dinosaur and her clutch. Wolfe has to mobilize his team immediately, if he wants to beat Blackwood to the jungle. And his team does not include the twins. But Grace and Marty aren’t easily left behind. With breakneck daring, they literally drop into the Congo…Now the twins must play a high-stakes game, where the prize is a dinosaur egg, and the penalty, death.” Jacket cover excerpt, Hyperion Books for Children, 2005

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Ages 9 and up

Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen, 219 pages
“Daniel and Will have plenty of food and supplies to last them five or six weeks, while Pa returns home to fetch the rest of the family. That is the plan, and Daniel-almost twelve now-is proud that Pa can count on him and his younger brother to look after their small clearing until Pa returns. The year is 1803, and as a family they are leaving their home in the Eat to settle the rich forestland in the brand-new state of Ohio. But for now the brothers are alone, with no neighbors for miles. Pa had to take their only musket, leaving the boys an axe and two knives for chopping wood, and defending themselves if need be…In fact, there’s another worry, so disturbing that Daniel hardly dares think about it… What will he and Will do for food if Pa and the family don’t arrive before the harsh winter sets in?”
Jacket cover excerpt, Penguin Young Readers, 2004

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Ages 9 and up

Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor, 224 pages

"The year is 1868, and fourteen-year-old Alika and his younger brother, Sulu,are hunting for seals on an ice floe attached to their island in the Arctic. Suddenly the ice starts to shake, and they hear a loud crack-the terrible sound of the floe breaking free from land. The boys watch with horror as the dark expanse of water between the ice and the shore rapidly widens, and they start drifting south-away from their home, their family, and everything they’ve every known." Jacket cover excerpt, Harcourt Books, 2005

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Ages 9 and up

Blue Wolf by Catherine Creedon, 182 pages
"Things have been strange for Jamie Park since the death of his mother a few months ago. He doesn’t fit in at school, and it is difficult to talk to his father, a well-know Korean scientist. Now things are getting stranger: His aunt Louise has written him a letter. The trouble is, he never knew he had an aunt, let alone an aunt Louise. But when she shows up at the door and invites him to leave Seattle and spend the summer with her, he impulsively accepts.
 
Her isolated cabin, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, lacks both electricity and running water. But Jamie soon leans to appreciate the near-wild existence he shares with his unusual aunt. He spends his mornings gathering food and chopping wood and his afternoons running. His happy routine is disturbed, however, by the unexpected arrival of two strangers, the shadowy presence of wolves, and the disappearance of Louise. A finely carved bon flute that she has taught him to play seems to be the key to these strange occurrences. Gradually, he realize that there is a purpose to his visit, and as he exposes the truth, Jamie risks his own safety and face a life-transforming decision." Jacket cover excerpt, HarperCollins, 2003

     

Ages 9 and up

The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, 195 pages

“Green trees and blue lakes fill Brian Robeson’s vision as he flies-in a single engine plane-to visit his father for the first time since his parents’ divorce…He knows why his mother left his father, and is obsessed by his knowledge of the The Secret. This knowledge haunts him-even after the plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness and he is left, the lone survivor, on a rugged piece of land that juts out into the water.” Jacket cover excerpt, Simon and Schuster, 1987

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Ages 9 and up

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, 177 pages

“Sam Gribley is tired of living in a crowded New York City apartment, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountain wilderness to forge a life of his own. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, an ax, $40, and some flint and stell, he must rely on his ingenuity and on the resources of the land to survive. And survive he does. This is Sam’s fascinating account of his life in the wild and what he learns about the wilderness-and himself-in the process.” Back cover excerpt, E.P. Dutton, 1988, text copyright 1959

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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

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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

 

Books for reluctant readers