“You remember the book that did it for you, the book you found on a library field trip that—pow!—suddenly put you right freaking there at that storm-battered base camp or on that threadbare raft as it was pummeled by waves. For me, it was The Sign of the Beaver. I was nine years old and otherwise devoted to my Nintendo. But after a few chapters of Elizabeth George Speare’s young-adult survival saga, I was suddenly spearfishing and fending off rampaging black bears in the woods of 18th-century Maine. I wrote the author my first-ever fan letter and grabbed my Scholastic Book Club catalog, jonesing for another fix.These 15 books elicit that level of enthusiasm. We think they’re the best kids’ adventure stories ever written—and every single one deserves a place on the shelf of adventurers-in-training.
15. Peggony-Po: A Whale of a TaleBy Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian PinkneyGrades K–3The tall tale of Peggony-Po—a fearless boy carved from driftwood who crews aboard an 18th-century whaling ship—draws inevitable comparisons to Pinocchio and Moby-Dick. But Ahab never harnessed his white whale and rode it around the world, like Peggony-Po does with the monster who took his father’s leg. And Geppetto had nothing on Peggony-Po’s dad, Galleon Keene, a tough black whaler from an era when Americans of all races served side by side at sea. Spoiler alert: This one’s not for PETA types, as the leviathan antagonist eventually becomes whale steaks and scrimshaw.”