The legends of King Arthur’s knights are inseparable from the idea of questing: to slay or capture or rescue. In this week’s Ten, we share some other stories centred on a mission. The quests below vary from the weighty — a quest to save a life, or answer an important question — to the silly, and even the every day. The stories demonstrate that approaching a task as a mission can help to turn fear to determination, tedium to adventure, and entertainment to challenge. May we all do more questing!
Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jessie’s quiet life in a frontier village takes a surreal turn when she is sent out alone to obtain medicine for local children dying of diphtheria, and finds that nearly everything she thought true about her life is an illusion.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle may be so-so on the academic front, but he’s a pro at games. When his town’s library is set to reopen after twelve long years, its designer, Mr Lemoncello, invites a dozen twelve-year-olds to celebrate the event with an overnight preview. The library itself is amazing, but even better is the challenge posed the next morning: whoever can escape the library using only the clues planted in the library will become the new spokeskid of Mr Lemoncello’s game company.
Broxo by Zack Giallongo
Zora’s father, the leader of their lowland tribe, has been working to establish alliances with the surrounding tribes in an effort to end near constant conflict. Zora decides to set out on her own to gain the support of the mysterious tribe living atop a nearby mountain, but when she gets there, she discovers that only two people remain: a woman with strange and dangerous powers, and a wild boy named Broxo who claims to be in charge.
The Red Wagon written and illustrated by Renata Liwska
Lucy’s new wagon is drafted for grocery duty almost as soon as it hits the pavement. Though initially disappointed to be running errands, Lucy discovers that with a few friends and some imagination, a trip to market can turn into an afternoon full of adventure.
Storm Warning by Monica Hughes
Sandra’s family has invested decades into solving a mystery, and now it’s all come down to her. She’s completed the necessary training, done her research, and now she’s ready to play her role as disinterested diving partner to Bryan, the son of the family that holds the answers Sandra’s family needs. Bryan has his own quest planned, but while it might make Sandra’s possible, it won’t make it easy.
The Tale of Despereaux written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Despereaux, a tiny, large-eared mouse with a love for stories, Roscuro, a dungeon rat who longs for light, and Miggery Sow, an ill-used servant girl, find their expectations and deepest desires challenged when their plans come into conflict.
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Julie’s always followed along with her best friend, Ashleigh’s, enthusiasms — from candy making to indie band worship. But when the latest obsession involves not only speaking, dressing, and behaving like the characters in Julie’s beloved Jane Austen novels, but setting out in search of their own Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley, she wonders if it might be time to rethink her approach.
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
Jeremy Fink receives a box for his thirteenth birthday with a note that promises the meaning of life inside. Unfortunately, the key is missing, and the box can’t be opened any other way. Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzie, go in search of the key, but it might be the meaning of life they find instead.
Facing the Mountain by Wendy Orr
When her older sister and stepfather are trapped by a landslide, Raven is the only one able to seek help. A short, but dangerous journey down the mountain side, through the woods, and over a waterfall — all without her glasses — brings Raven within reach of help, but leaves her with some tough questions to answer.
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle (Book 2 in the Time Series)
Meg and Charles Wallace have rescued their father, but life is barely back to normal before Charles Wallace gets seriously, and mysteriously, sick. Meg, Calvin, the dragon/cherubim (singular!), Proginoskes, and the despised principal, Mr Jenkins, enter one of Charles Wallace’s cells to find and solve the problem before it’s too late.