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Action-Packed Sci Fi Book Rec

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My 9 yr old needs to read books from various genres this year. I've got most covered except for science fiction (which I'm not too versed in). We started reading 'A Wrinkle in Time' but she's just not interested, saying it doesn't have much action. She's an actin junkie, LOL. Any other recommendations in this genre that's appropriate for 9 yr olds but is heavy on 'action'? 

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I've highlighted the ones I think are most appropriate for this age range.

Escape From the Pipe Men

Mars Evacuees


Space Case

Astronaut Academy (sorta sci-fi? I guess?)

Last Day on Mars (not sure how action packed it is)


 The Incredible Space Raiders from Space!  (Not the best written book I've ever read, but action packed)

Bounders (still not sure what I think about this, but it gets lots of points for including the word and concept "neurodiversity")

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy

Zita the Spacegirl

Time Travel With a Hamster

Cosmic (weird little book)

The Boxes (maaaaybe, I'd pre-read)

Neptune Project

Space Dumplins

The City of Ember


Aiko on the Planet Smoo

The Roar (pre-read)

The Scavengers

Above World


The Search for WondLa

Lowriders In Space

The Boy at the End of the World

The Last Book in the Universe (definitely, definitely pre-read)

The Other Side of the Island (ditto, and actually probably not that much action)

Edited by Tanaqui
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I would be careful about older sci-fi books. Too often there's a lot of glaring old-fashioned assumptions which can be jarring to a modern reader. Like in Wrinkle in Time, even as a child I could *not* get past the depiction of primitive computers as actually being hugely powerful and mysterious. Or in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, quite aside random author filibusters evident in all of later Heinlein, it's set in Future 1950s. Reading this in any other period than the 1950s, it's fairly obvious and a little strange - we're in the future, and there are sock hops and soda jerks and soap flake contests! (The same thing tends to happen with Asimov, I'm sorry to say - and unlike Heinlein, he was rather open about the fact that he didn't feel there was any place for women in sci-fi.)

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re: Wrinkle in Time
I did Wrinkle in Time last year in my gr. 7-8 homeschool Lit & Writing co-op class, and either the students really liked it or really disliked it. I think it's a book that's better for waiting on until middle school for a lot of students, when you can discuss the ideas in it. And, as you say, it's more of a thought-provoking book, rather than action.

re: the sci-fi genre
Sci-fi encompasses MANY types of topics and sub-genres, so it's hard to come up with one book that will represent ALL of Sci-Fi. Many people include fantasy works or works with fantastical elements in the Sci-Fi genre, as the genre "Fantasy" included both traditional fantasy/fairytale AND early (up through 1930s-1940s) Sci-Fi. However, by the 1950s, Sci-Fi really has been most commonly thought of as a separate genre, with a focus on the future, technology and/or space, while Fantasy is more defined by the medieval and magical.

Here are some of the bigger sub-genres of Sci-Fi:
- space colonization
- "space opera" -- strictly space flight/other planets/aliens and stories that arise from that (think: Star Wars)
- "techno tales" -- strictly futuristic technology/robots and stories that arise from that
- time-travel
- "spy-fi" -- combo of intrigue/secret agent and futuristic sci/fi elements
- modern-day/futuristic tech -- use/abuse of futuristic tech here on present-day earth
- other-worldliness -- more like fantasy on a different world, rather than foreign planet, space port, technology, etc.
- strange/unexplainable events or powers -- borders on the supernatural or horror genres rather than sci-fi
- "think pieces" -- use technology or science as a springboard for wrestling with ethical questions
- apocalyptic / post-apocalyptic -- disaster/germs/war/etc wipe out humans; how the few survivors manage post-disaster
- dystopia -- imperfect world with oppressive or dysfunctional government; nightmarish vision of future
- steam-punk -- 19th century/Victorian setting with futuristic Jules-Verne-like inventions and adventures


Action sci-fi ideas for a 4th grader:

gr. 3-4 reading level
- The Iron Giant (Hughes) -- robot comes to earth

gr. 3-5 reading level
- Zita the Spacegirl (Hatke) -- graphic novel
- The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (Cameron) -- 9yo boys travel in a spaceship they build to a planetoid

- Tom Swift, Young Inventor series (Appleton) -- adventure-based cross between Hardy Boys mysteries and Johnny Quest TV cartoon
Time Warp Trio: 2095 (Scieszka) -- humorous; time travel

gr. 4-6 reading level
- Mars Evacuees; Space Hostages (McDougall) -- action and humor
- Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth (Alexander) -- adventure-based time travel

- My Teacher is an Alien (Coville) -- humorous; earth-based; alien teacher
- Eager (Fox) -- robot action
Akiko on the Planet Smoo (Crilley) -- adventure
- Whales on Stilts (Anderson) -- tall tale/humorous
- Space Case; Spaced Out (Gibbs) -- mystery/suspense//humor/adventure

gr. 5-8 reading level
- The True Meaning of Smekday (Rex) -- humorous; alien invasion of earth
- Space Boy (Card) -- aliens visit earth
- The Search for Wondla (di Terlizzi) -- sci-fi/fantasy adventure
- Below the Root (Snyder) -- fantasy with sci-fi element

The Missing series: Found; Sent; Sabotaged (Haddix) -- suspense; time travel
- A Tale of Time City (Jones) -- time travel/inter-dimensional action
- The Homeward Bounders (Jones) -- deals with different dimensions
- City of Ember, People of Spark, Diamond of Darkhold (duPrau) -- dystopia; more thought-provoking than action-packed
- 21 Balloons (Du Bois) -- light Jules Verne-like adventure tale, set in 19th century with futuristic inventions

gr. 6-9 reading level
- Enchantress from the Stars (Engdahl) -- sci-fi AND fantasy in one

- the Bromeliad trilogy: Truckers, Diggers, Wings (Pratchett) -- sci-fi tinged fantastical with humor
- Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath (Westerfeld) -- rollicking Steam Punk fun in an alternative WWI world
- When the Tripods Came (Christopher) -- what if the HG Wells Martians from War of the Worlds *won*?

Edited by Lori D.
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1 hour ago, Tanaqui said:

I've highlighted the ones I think are most appropriate for this age range.

Last Day on Mars (not sure how action packed it is)


There's a lot of action. But I'd pre-read this one for a 9 year old.

The main plot is fine. But the shadowy "other" plot is -- older, and much scarier. (too much for my 11 year old. But he's sensitive)

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