If you like Lemony Snicket
Aiken, Joan. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. [AR BL 6.5, Pts. 7]
Set in the countryside of Victorian England, this novel tells the story of two children, their helpful friend Simon, a tyrannical governess and her strict father.
Anderson, M.T. Whales on Stilts. [AR BL 4.6, Pts. 3]
Racing against the clock, shy middle-school student Lily and her best friends, Katie and Jasper, must foil the plot of her father's conniving boss to conquer the world using an army of whales.
Ardagh, Philip. A House Called Awful End. (The Eddie Dickens Trilogy) [AR BL 6.3, Pts. 4]
When 11-year-old Eddie Dickens’ parents become ill, he is taken in by his great-uncle and great-aunt and embarks on adventures that involve strolling actors, St. Horrid’s Home for Grateful Orphans, and a carnival float shaped like a giant cow.
Avi. Crispin : The Cross of Lead. [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 7]
Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in 14th century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.
Bellairs, John. The House with a Clock in its Walls. [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 6]
Lewis moves in with his uncle, a white magician, then discovers that the former tenant, a black magician, has devised a plan for the end of the world.
Belloc, Hilaire. (Nonfiction J821.912 BEL) Cautionary Tales for Children. [AR n/a]
These short, funny pieces offer moral instruction for all types of mischief makers—from a certain young Jim, "who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion," to the tale of Matilda, "who told lies and was burned to death”—and add up to a delightful read for any fan of Roald Dahl or Shel Silverstein.
Bosch, Pseudonymous. Bad Magic. (The Bad Books Series #1) [AR BL 5.2 Pts. 9]
13-year-old Clay, a boy who no longer believes in magic, tags graffiti on his classroom wall and, as punishment, is sent to a camp for wayward kids located on a volcanic island, where eccentric campmates abound, a ghost walks among the abandoned ruins of a mansion, and a dangerous force threatens to erupt with bad magic
Bosch, Pseudonymous. The Name of this Book is Secret. (The Secret Series #1) [AR BL 5.6, Pts. 9]
Two 11-year-old misfits try to solve the mystery of a dead magician and stop the evil Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais, who are searching for the secret of immortality.
Byng, Georgia. Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism. [AR BL 5.5, Pts. 12]
Unlucky and unloved, Molly Moon, living in a dreary orphanage in a small English town, discovers a hidden talent for hypnotism and hypnotizes her way to stardom in New York City.
Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl. [AR BL 5.0, Pts. 9]
When a 12-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.
Dahl, Roald. The Witches. [AR BL 4.7, Pts. 5]
A young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, who is an expert on witches, together foil a witches’ plot to destroy the world’s children by turning them into mice.
Daneshvari, Gitty. School of Fear. [AR BL 4.8, Pts. 4]
12-year-olds Madeline, Theo and Lulu, and thirteen-year-old Garrison, are sent to a remote Massachusetts school to overcome their phobias, but tragedy strikes and the quartet must work together – with no adult assistance – to face their fears.
Del Rio, Tania. Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye. (Warren the 13th #1) [AR BL 5.2, Pts. 6]
12-year-old orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing-Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it.
DiTerlizzi, Tony. The Field Guide. (Spiderwick Chronicles #1) [AR BL 4.2, Pts. 1]
When the Grace children go to stay at their Great Aunt Lucinda’s worn Victorian house, they discover a field guide to faeries and other creatures and begin to have some unusual experiences.
Funke, Cornelia Caroline. The Thief Lord. [AR BL 4.8, Pts. 13]
Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle. The brothers decide to hide out in Venice, where they meet a mysterious thirteen-year-old boy who calls himself the “Thief Lord.”
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods. [AR BL 4.4, Pts. 5]
A troublesome 12-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.
Grant, Holly. The League of Beastly Dreadfuls. (The League of Beastly Dreadfuls #1) [AR BL 5.4, Pts. 8]
After being told that her parents died in a tragic vacuum cleaner accident, Anastasia, nearly eleven, is snatched from her elementary school and sent to live at a former insane asylum with two great aunts she had never met.
Kurzweil, Allen. Leon and the Spitting Image. [AR BL 4.9, Pts. 8]
Leon, a fourth grader at The Ethical School, tries to outwit the school bully and learn to sew for fanatical teacher Miss Cronheim, with unexpected help from his final project – a doll with magical powers.
Lloyd, Natalie. The Problim Children. [AR BL 4.4, Pts. 7]
Seven siblings are forced by the destruction of their swamp home to move into their grandpa's mansion, but greedy neighbors plot to steal their secrets and place them in homes far away from each other.
Lowry, Lois. The Willoughbys. [AR BL 5.2, Pts. 4]
In this tongue-in-cheek take on classic themes in children’s literature, the four Willoughby children set about to become “deserving orphans” after their neglectful parents, leaving them in the care of an odious nanny, embark on a treacherous around-the-world adventure.
Magaziner, Lauren. Pilfer Academy: A School So Bad It’s Criminal. [AR BL 5.1, Pts. 7]
When George is brought to Pilfer Academy, a secret school for training young thieves, he has the time of his life . . . until he realizes he’s much too good-hearted to actually steal anything.
Nimmo, Jenny. Midnight for Charlie Bone. (Children of the Red King #1) [AR BL 4.8, Pts. 10]
Charlie Bone’s life with his widowed mother and two grandmothers undergoes a dramatic change when he discovers that he can hear people in photographs talking.
Sanderson, Brandon. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians #1) [AR BL 4.9, Pts. 9]
On his 13th birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand which is immediately stolen by the evil Librarians who are trying to take over the world, and Alcatraz is introduced to his grandfather and his own special talent.
Sands, Kevin. The Blackthorn Key. (A Blackthorn Key Adventure #1) [AR BL 4.6, Pts. 10]
In 1665 London, 14-year-old Christopher Rowe, apprentice to an apothecary, and his best friend, Tom, try to uncover the truth behind a mysterious cult, following a trail of puzzles, codes, pranks, and danger toward an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.
Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. [AR BL 3.8, Pts. 5]
Moving into an apartment when his father loses his job, Georges befriends Safer, a 12-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy, who recruits Georges into the world of espionage so that they can investigate a mysterious neighbor who lives on the top floor.
Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. (The Mysterious Benedict Society #1) [AR BL 5.6, Pts. 18]
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are selected for a secret mission to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where their mission is to stop the plan of the evil Ledroptha Curtain.
Turnage, Sheila. Three Times Lucky. (A Mo and Dale Mystery #1) [AR BL 3.9, Pts. 9]
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.
Wood, Maryrose. The Mysterious Howling. (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1) [AR BL 6.8, Pts. 9]
15-year-old Miss Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is hired as governess to three young children who have been raised by wolves. Her assignment is to teach the children to behave in a civilized manner, and she must do it quickly – in preparation for a Christmas ball.