Summer is the perfect time of year for young readers to get away from the humdrum routine of school by reading books about school.

No? What if the schools in these books are weird and secret and wonderful or maybe just a little awful? The kinds of schools you daydream about during a long, dull study hall?

There seem to be countless make-believe schools to fire up kids’ imaginations. Register now – I mean, grab these books – while you have time to enjoy them.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017

'Nevermoor'

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“Nevermoor” is the first book of “The Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend. It features a girl snatched from her world at what seems to be the moment of her death.

Morrigan always thought it was her destiny to die on her 11th birthday, that she was born under a curse and is to blame for everyone’s bad luck. Then a stranger named Jupiter North whisks her to a magical city called Nevermoor, the hotel Deucalion and the Wunder Society school where – if she passes four grueling trials – she’ll have a chance to learn how to use powers she never knew she had.

Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2013
Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2013

'Spy School'

This book by Stuart Gibbs is set around the CIA’s secret Academy of Espionage.

New recruit Ben Ripley’s file says he’s a genius at secret codes. Actually, he’s a regular kid who’s been brought to spy school as bait to flush out an enemy agent. It obviously works, because on his first night in the dorm, an assassin tries to take him out.

Ben has a lot of catching up to do, starting with a hilarious, pop-quiz ninja attack in survival skills class. Nevertheless, he goes on to thwart an evil plot, despite incompetent adults on one side and a traitor on the other.

It’s a fun spy caper featuring a kid with a smart attitude and more talent than meets the eye.

Aladdin, 2020
Aladdin, 2020

'City Spies'

James Ponti’s book introduces a small group of kids secretly training as MI6 agents at a small, private school in Scotland. Each kid is code-named after the city they came from: Paris, Sydney, Rio, Kat (for Kathmandu) and, last to join, Brooklyn.

Born as Sara Martinez, she’s recruited right out of juvenile court, where she faces charges for hacking a government database to expose her evil foster parents. Instead of being punished, she gets to help a diverse group of kids infiltrate a science contest – not to win it, but to get close enough to stop a terrorist attack.

Brooklyn and her new friends grow a lot as they race to outclimb, outwit and outrun the bad guys. It’s a funny, thrilling, fast-paced mystery whose characters will surely infiltrate your heart.

Aladdin, 2013
Aladdin, 2013

'Keeper of the Lost Cities'

This book by Shannon Messenger explores the question, “What if Harry Potter was a girl?”

Sophie Foster doesn’t know why she’s so different from all the other kids her age. But at age 12, her ability to hear other people’s thoughts pushes her to the brink of disaster.

Luckily, she meets a boy who explains that she’s really an elf. He takes her to a hidden world of magical beings, where she enrolls in Foxfire, a school for elven nobility, and starts trying to fit into a society unlike anything she has known.

But Sophie is also different from other elves, in ways that make her a target for fear, prejudice and worse. She was apparently created for a purpose – whether good or evil, she doesn’t know. Sophie’s search for answers will put her and those she cares about in danger.

Aladdin, 2019
Aladdin, 2019

'The Revenge of Magic'

In this book by James Riley, a kid named Fort Fitzgerald sees his father dragged to his doom when monsters burst from the ground in Washington, D.C.

Later, Fort senses an opportunity for revenge when a secret school invites him to learn magic. The catch: only kids born on an anniversary of the day books of magic were unearthed all around the world 13 years ago, can learn from them. Now their abilities are being weaponized for the war the government expects when those monsters next emerge.

Fort faces an impossible task, but he has help from some quirky friends as he prepares to face horrors from beyond the universe – not to mention dark things inside him like anger and hatred.

This scary, strange, rip-roaring tale pushes the limit of what’s appropriate for middle school-aged kids.

Robin Fish is an avid reader who blogs about books and other topics at afortmadeofbooks.blogspot.com. Contact him with questions or suggestions at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com.