Books for tweens: Karen McCombie

The more enlightened among you may believe there’s ‘no difference’ in books for boys and girls. But I’ve got two boys and a girl who would all beg to differ on that point. How many girls do you know who have read Beast Quest? How many boys who have read Jacqueline Wilson?

Over the years, my boys have both read very similar books to each other – Jeremy Strong, Harry Potter, Alex Rider… but my daughter hasn’t been keen to follow in their footsteps.

The only books they would all read happily are Jeremy Strong and Tom Gates books. Sadly, my daughter won’t even consider Harry Potter books (although I’m pleased to say I don’t think she actually sees them as boys’ books).

So we’ve had to find some new books to read…

We’ve discovered Jacqueline Wilson and we both love her. Her tear-jerking, poverty-stricken tween angst fests aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but I think they’re brilliant – well-written and thought-provoking. Then there’s Holly Webb, who has written one good series (Triplets) and an awful lot of dreadful ones!

Our latest discovery is Karen McCombie who is a prolific writer of fiction for tween and early teen girls.

Karen McCombie, Stella etc, Book review

We started on the Stella etc series and have read four of the seven books so far. No doubt Father Christmas will be bringing the others if my daughter doesn’t buy them first.

There’s a cringey quote from Mizz magazine (remember that?!) on the front which totally doesn’t do it justice – ‘Super sweet and cool as an ice cream’. It is that, but it’s more.

Stella is a 13 year old girl forced to leave London with her family to live in a boring seaside town, where she has to make friends and a new life for herself. The stories are written with a big dose of humour. And as well as being entertaining stories, these books are full of great messages about friendship and family, about being strong and doing things for yourself. Just the sort of messages we’d all like our tween daughters to pick up.

My daughter is devouring them right now.

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading McCombie’s Six Words and a Wish for work and I think it’s even better than Stella. The humorous writing is there and main character, Jem, seems to come across a lot like Stella, but there is more emotion in the story.

When a 13 year old girl is dealing with feelings about the disappearance of the big sister she ‘hated’ two years earlier, how does that affect her and those around her? This book really got into my head and I found myself enjoying it a lot more than the grown up book I was reading for myself. It even made me cry!

So if you’re looking for books for tween girls, you could do a lot worse than check out Karen McCombie.

Six Words and a Wish, Karen McCombie, Book review



Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. My daughter has been a fan of Jacqueline Wilson but is currently addicted to David Walliams books. I haven’t heard of this author, so thank you for the heads up!

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    • Well worth checking out! David Walliams is another author my daughter won’t read, sadly, even though she loves him on TV! She just seems to reject anything her brothers have enjoyed.

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  2. These sound really good, I’ll have to remember them in a couple of years when my niece is ready for tween books.!

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    • Definitely worth remembering! Not as much of the tears and angst as Jacqueline Wilson.

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  3. Sounds good and worth noting for when Erin is older.

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    • Definitely worth remembering! My daughter is loving them at the moment.

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  4. Oh there’s definitely a difference in what my two enjoy!

    I’ll look out for these for my daughter x

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    • Thanks, I’m glad you agree there’s a difference! Some books just don’t appeal to boys or girls.

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  5. I never noticed that there’s no differentiation – can you imagine the both genders are the same brigade jumping on that though! I would like books to be categorised more (mainly the age thing) as it would be so much easier. I have to admit I am not familiar with those books (with 4 boys).

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    • It’s not surprising you’re not familiar with these books – you would never need to be! I agree it would be good if books had age ratings on them as it’s hard to tell sometimes. These are actually marked 10+. My daughter is 9 and a half and they’re fine for her.

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  6. I absolutely agree that some books appeal to boys and others to girls (and plenty to both). I think it’s always been that way. I used to love those girls school Enid Blyton’s, but I don’t suppose H would touch them. I did read a lot of ‘boys’ books’ as I was growing up though like Biggles and the Hardy Boys. I was such a bookworm I would devour almost anything.

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  7. These sound like great book for tweens, I wish my daughter would read more but she has no interest at all even though I am forever buying her books. I use to love reading when I was younger xx

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  8. My daughter has just found Jacqueline Wilson and is loving the books she has read so far. She also is showing no interest in Harry Potter either books or films #readwithme

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  9. I’ve not come across this author before, myself and my eldest daughter are huge fans of Jacqueline Wilson too, shall have to check these out. Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

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  10. I think there are some books that do naturally fall to BOTH boys and girls but others will naturally delve into boys issues or girls issues – the ‘tween’ years bring different challenges I guess for the different genders so I think it is natural that books cater to that

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