Thrilled to report I went three-for-three on the kids' Christmas books this year, and I've got the ratings and reviews to prove it. These come straight from the horses' mouths.
As for the eleven-year-old boy, because he devoured John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, I picked out the first book of Flanagan's Brotherband series:
The boy couldn't get into it, however, because he said it was "boring." Lucky for me, his thirteen-year-old sister picked it up and loved it, giving it 4.5 of 5 stars. She found the story thrilling and the plot "clever," with "lots of little interesting stories." She also called the ending "very good," and now her brother is willing to give it another try.
One book the boy instantly loved was one I received as a galley:
He laughed, he cried. No, wait--he just laughed. According to him it's
about a group of nerdy middle-schoolers who take on the school bully.
(Classic!) He liked all the pictures and laughed a lot while reading it
and says he'll probably read it again. Not sure he could give higher
The Odd Squad falls in that Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Dork Diaries genre: text and lots of hand-sketched pictures. 5 of 5 stars!
As for the thirteen-year-old's Christmas present, she got
4 of 5 stars. A "captivating" story, and she liked the "twist ending--really cool." When I asked about the illustrations, she said they were "pretty good, but the book made it better." I guess by thirteen the illustrations are just frosting.
Hope you found this helpful, and if you have a child in the age range who's discovered new favorites, feel free to share in the Comments!