HOOKED ON BOOKS: Travel magic will really transport teens

In these books, magical vehicles take young readers on a journey of imagination.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018

What makes a trip unforgettable? Sometimes it’s the destination. Sometimes it’s the journey itself. And sometimes it’s the mode of transport.

Fiction swarms with good and bad choices of vehicle, from the evil Plymouth Fury in Stephen King’s “Christine” to the friendly jalopy in Ian Fleming’s “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Besides smart cars (ha), here are some forms of travel magic sure to take young readers on an amazing adventure.

‘The Nose from Jupiter’ by Richard Scrimger

Tundra Books, 2018

Seventh-grader Alan isn’t a brilliant student or a great athlete. He isn’t popular or brave or outgoing. He doesn’t even feel particularly loved at home.

Things change when a wisecracking alien named Norbert parks his tiny spaceship up Alan’s nose. Suddenly there’s a little voice Alan can’t control, talking back to bullies, chatting up girls and changing the course of an intramural soccer game.


In only a few life-changing days, Norbert brings Alan’s so-so existence vibrantly, hilariously, dangerously and movingly to life.

‘The Last Musketeer’ by Stuart Gibbs

HarperCollins, 2011

Greg is lucky he learned French, fencing and horseback riding before his family went broke and had to sell their heirlooms to a collector in Paris. Why? Because he gets transported to the year 1615 and has to become a swashbuckling hero to survive.

While mom and dad face death on false charges of treason, Greg meets the real boys who would later inspire Alexandre Dumas’ “Three Musketeers.” Posing as D’Artagnan, he recruits Athos, Aramis and Porthos to stage a prison-break and stop an evil sorcerer from reaching full power, changing history and taking a terrible revenge.

‘The Train to Impossible Places’ by P.G. Bell

Feiwel & Friends, 2018

One night, Suzy catches a magical mail train cruising right through her house, and signs on as a postal carrier to all the Impossible Places of the world.

Her job gets off to a tricky start when a package asks her to steal it. Pursued by an awful witch and a maniacal library curator, Suzy faces soldiers, moving statues, pirate ghosts and a moral quandary where, whatever she does, someone she cares about will get hurt.

It’s a journey into a kooky world ruled by “fuzzics,” challenging readers to open their minds to magical possibilities.

‘The Hotel Between’ by Sean Easley

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018

Cam is walking home from school one day when a door at a strip mall opens, showing him a fantastic hotel spreading into the distance.

Despite all his worries, Cam plunges into a weird world of mystery and danger, with maids wielding dusters as weapons, portals to faraway places, and a sly enemy trying to take it all over.


Packed with a dizzying array of magic, this story somehow finds room for touching emotional truths and a thought-provoking message.

‘Race to the End of the World’ by A.L. Tait

Hachette Australia, 2014

Quinn doesn’t want to leave the family farm, but he is chosen anyway to join an expedition to chart the unknown seas. Actually it’s more of a cutthroat race with three ship captains vying to bring home the most treasure and the best map.

As their journey begins, Quinn and his shipmates meet hostile natives, enemy sailors, a terrifying sea monster, extreme weather, hunger and other obstacles.

Quinn grows as an explorer and shows unexpected resources of head and heart – a transformation that will make readers cheer.

‘The Countdown Conspiracy’ by Katie Slivensky

Harper Collins, 2017

Miranda is 13, and she’s going to Mars. Crazy, right?

I mean, after a decade-long war from which the U.S. comes out smelling bad, who expects an Ohio girl to win a spot on a kids-only Mars mission? Even Miranda isn’t sure she deserves to be there. It makes space camp pretty tough.

Then a launch simulation goes wrong and Miranda’s engineering skills become key to the astro-kids’ survival. Designed to get youngsters excited about the space program, this book explores the feelings of struggling to meet expectations, facing adversity and not giving up.

Robin Fish is an avid reader who blogs about books and other topics at Contact him with questions or suggestions at


Steven Parcell's "Dare to Live" is a treasure trove of information about cardiovascular health, including conventional and natural medicine.

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Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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