Over to Jenny:
I'm a big fan of U14 fiction so I was excited to hear about Darren's whole month dedicated to it. It's an area of children's fiction that can appeal to kids and adults alike, and a good chunk of it is hilariously funny and as entertaining as any YA or adult book. I've made a list of my top 10 U14 series by both UK and US authors, all of which I've read and can heartily recommend. I hope you find a new series to get addicted to!
In no particular order:
1. The Raven Mysteries by Marcus Sedgwick
There are six books in this darkly comedic series and I love them all. I've never laughed so much while reading any book, and I'm still really sad that the series is over. It's narrated by a raven called Edgar, who looks out for the Otherhand family who live at Castle Otherhand. It's absolutely crazy but hilariously so. Marcus Sedgwick is a bit of a genius, I think!
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Narnia is one of my little obsessions. I collect different editions of the books and the recent trilogy of films is among my all-time favourites. Although this series was written quite a long time ago, in the 50s, it still holds up today and continues to be widely read. I like these stories so much because they're magical, with heroes and heroines and a whole selection of fantasy creatures like fauns and centaurs and talking animals. Every time I re-read one of the books, I feel like Narnia really could exist somewhere, and that maybe my wardrobe is magic after all...
3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I couldn't write this post and not mention Harry now, could I? I won't ramble on too much because I'm sure you're all fans yourself, but I will say that surely this has to be the best children's series ever written? (Even though I've cheated a bit because the later books are darker and more suitable for older teenagers). I think epic is the word. (Book Zone edit: I am so pleaseed to see Harry Potter mentioned here. It annoys me when the series as a whole so often gets labelled as YA when the first four books are definitely aimed at U14s).
4. Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
Dork Diaries is the best U14 series for girls that I've come across so far. It's fast, funny and brilliantly illustrated by the author. Just like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, it's written in diary format by Nikki, who chronicles her life growing up and encountering everything teen girls go through. I can't wait for the next book to be published!
5. Scream Street by Tommy Donbavand
Scream Street is one of those series that I wished would never end. There are thirteen books in total, but even that isn't enough. This series is about werewolf Luke, vampire Resus and mummy Cleo. They're on a mission to retrieve six ancient relics left by the founding fathers of Scream Street, and each book is a fantastic supernatural adventure story.
6. Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce
I'm a huge fan of the Rise of the Guardians film and was very excited to find that there's a series of books connected with it. They do differ from the film, but were written alongside it and tell the early stories of North, Bunnymund, Toothiana and the Sandman. They're action-packed and brilliantly illustrated, perfect for anyone who enjoyed the film and wants to know more about these fascinating characters!
7. The Famous Five by Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton's Famous Five series is another classic that's still in print today. I read these when I was little and basically devoured them faster than my mum and dad could buy them. Julian was my absolute favourite character, though I also had a soft spot for Timmy the dog. I think every child should read these books: they're the best adventure stories out there!
8. Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo
This series is SO funny. I laughed out loud numerous times and was surprised that Jo Nesbo, kind of crime fiction, could be so good at writing for a younger audience. It is the story of an eccentric inventor and a boy with a very small head, Nilly, and their ensuing madcap capers. I'd really recommend this one to readers who like their books to be a bit daft, but beware: you'll be clutching your sides in fits of laughter. (Book Zone edit: I also totally love the Doctor Proctor books - watch this space for my review of the series)
9. The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series I didn't read until a couple of years ago, but is one that I'm glad I tried. It's about faeries of all shapes and sizes, and what happens when the Grace children move into the old Spiderwick Mansion. Along with the faeries, there's also goblins and other such creatures. Brilliant!
10. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine
Goosebumps was my other favourite series when I was younger, along with The Famous Five. I've always been a fan of horrid, creepy stuff (vampires in particular) so this series was perfect. I haven't read any of the newer titles, though I read every single book in the original series published in the 90s. I still have a copy of Vampire Breath, which I may need to read again one day. Goosebumps is undoubtedly, in my opinion, the best horror series for children!
Huge thanks to Jenny for writing this for us. I am ashamed to admit that there are a couple of series on there that I am yet to read, including The Raven Mysteries, which I need to get my hands on immediately.