10 armchair adventures for junior bookworms

We're delighted to welcome Katherine Rundell – author of The Good Thieves, The Explorer and The Wolf Wilder – to Caboodlers' Corner to share her favourite adventure stories.

 Which children's stories bring out your inner explorer? Tell us in the comments below. 

Katherine Rundell

"I have always loved that books can make you feel like the world's most intrepid explorer, even though you're on a bus or a bench or in the bath. I love that there are books that can make your heart race even though outside it's cold and wet. I love that books can crowbar the world open for you."


Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

A wild, fierce and rambunctious story about Max's visit to the land of monsters. It's beautiful and vivid and brilliant and everyone of every age should read it.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

This is, for me, one the very best books for children in the world – the story of Lyra and her daemon, fighting with all their heart against evil, with witches, armoured bears and Gyptians on her side.

Boy in the Tower

Boy in The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

This story  – about a strange and viciously dangerous kind of plant known as The Bluchers, which are taking over the city, and one boy’s quest to find his friend  – is funny and break-neck exciting and, ultimately, immensely moving.

Charmed Life

Charmed Life by Diana Wynn Jones

This is perfect for anyone who loves Harry Potter, but Diana Wynne Jones is sharper, more ironical, and her plots are even more exciting.

Wed Wabbit

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans

The story of a group of children who go hunting through the technicolor world of the Wimbly Woos for a missing brother, but everything is more chaotic and dangerous than it seems.


Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

At the heart of the story is a boy who longs to go into space – but all the characters are hilarious and addictive; it’s full of peril, and beauty, and some really excellent jokes.

The White Darkness

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

A girl goes to Antarctica with her uncle, exploring across the endless ice, but the other adventurers are not what they seem. McCaughrean is, I think, entirely brilliant, and this is my favourite of her books.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The old-fashioned language in this takes perhaps half a chapter to get used to, and then you get the most fantastic, furious, swash-buckling, double-crossing story.

The Murderer's Ape

The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius

A story told from the point of view of a wise and generous ape, Sally Jones – she can't speak but she can understand everything, as her quest to prove her friend innocent of murder takes her across the whole world.

The Storm Keeper's Island

The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

There is magic on the island of Arranmore, and it is a magic that is awakening. Fionn and his sister discover their grandfather has a secret; it is his task to keep the island safe from the rising powers of the dark. The story is beautifully written and bite-your-own-fist exciting.

The Good Thieves

About Katherine Rundell's The Good Thieves
'Vita set her jaw and nodded at New York City in greeting, 
as a boxer greets an opponent before a fight.'

Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her beloved grandfather, Jack, has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections. Seeing Jack’s spirit is broken, Vita is desperate to make him happy again, so she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home. She finds a young pickpocket, working the streets of the city. And, nearby, two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.

Get a £20 National Book Token to go on your own adventure!

Post a comment below telling us about your favourite armchair adventures. We'll pick one winner to receive a £20/€25 National Book Token after Thursday 18th July 2019.

Congratulations to Jean!

National Book Tokens gift cards can be bought and spent in thousands of bookshops across the UK and Ireland, including independents, Waterstones, WHSmith, Easons, and Blackwells, and can also be spent online and on eBooks. Find your nearest bookshop.

Terms and Conditions

1 x winner will receive a £20/€25 National Book Token

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Only one entry per person will be accepted.
  • The prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives. The Promoter reserves the right to amend the specification of the prize or offer an alternative prize.
  • Closing date 11:59pm, Thursday 18th July 2019.
  • The competition is open to UK and Republic of Ireland residents except employees of the Booksellers Association and Book Tokens Ltd., and employees of participating bookshops.
  • Entrants must be aged 18 or over.
  • Entrants agree to Book Tokens Ltd. using their details in post-competition publicity. Your details will not be used for any other purpose, or passed onto any third parties, unless specified. Winners’ details may be shared securely with a third-party in order to fulfil the dispatch of competition prizes.
  • We will contact winners by replying to their original comment below. Winners must contact the email address we provide. In the event of a winner not responding after 14 days, we reserve the right to allocate the prize to another winner.
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  • Promoter: Book Tokens Ltd, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR.

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