Romance for Pre-Tweens? Help! Anyone?

h1 December 5th, 2006 by eisha

Juliet Dove, Queen of LoveFellow Kid-Lit colleagues, I need a little help.  I am the Childrens/YA Librarian in a smallish public branch library.  I have a 9-year-old female patron who keeps asking me for “romance” books.  But without S-E-X, of course – seriously, she explicitly stated this.  Like I was about to hand over an Elizabeth Lowell novel.  But I digress…


Princess AcademyToday I gave her Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville.  We were also contemplating Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (I haven’t read it, but it’s got the sort of thing she seems to mean when she says romance – princesses and princes), but based on reviews I think it may be a little long, and a little short on the actual princess-getting-together-with-prince.  

The fact is, I’m stronger in YA and picture books than I am at middle grade fiction.  So I thought I’d throw this out to the blogosphere… any ideas?  Fuse #8, Big A little aBrookeshelf… you guys are awesome at middle grade stuff.  Anyone else?  Whoever comes up with the most titles gets… um… a free set of Edward Tulane postcards.  And my undying affection.

Oh, and I should mention… she’s reading at grade level (4th) – maybe slightly above.

23 comments to “Romance for Pre-Tweens? Help! Anyone?”

  1. Uh… I’ll pass on the postcards. Thanks though.

    I had a similar kid in the library not too long ago. She was a voracious reader and devoured the “His Dark Materials books” (romantic at the end) like they were popcorn. I suggested, of all things, “Jane Eyre” to her, and she seemed satisfied with that.

    On the kidlit end of the spectrum, you might suggest Carolyn Meyer’s Young Royals series. Things like “Patience, Princess Catherine” and the link. Of course, most of those books end with the girls dead…

    Oh! I have it! THE THE THE most romantic mysterious book for a girl that age sans sex is “The Hollow Kingdom” by Clare Dunkle. Trust me on this one. She’ll adore it. Ditto “The Changeover” by Margaret Mahy. Some people would probably mention “The Thief” by Megan Whalen Turner too.

    That’s all my brain can come up with at the moment. Anyone else?

  2. This might be a bit of a stretch, but I’m thinking of Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan (National Book Award winner for 2000, too). It’s been a long time since I read it, but when I went here to refresh my memory, I read and recall there is romance involved, though you’ll see that a) your patron will have to be okay with the other-than-America setting (is she up for a book set in India?) and b) those reviewers playing the age range game, which is necessary though I hate it, give varying age ranges from “9 to 12” to “13 to 18” and etc.

    The thirteen-year-old protagonist agrees to an arranged marriage, which goes quickly downhill, but she finds romance later (a “virtuous young man,” as Publishers Weekly’s review put it).

    I did enjoy the read, and it may or may not work for her. Sounds like she’s pretty intellectually precocious and might enjoy it. But I can’t remember if there’s talk of sex??….Sorry to be the geek suggesting a National Book Award winner, but I remember enjoying it and that it was child-friendly/accessible….

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the ideas, guys! I’ll look for all of them.

    Yes, “intellectually precocious” in that if you’re talking to her and couldn’t see her you’d think that she was at least 12, but her reading ability I think is about on target for her grade. And I don’t think she’ll mind a non-US setting. She likes princesses, after all.

  4. Didn’t Granny Torelli Makes Soup by Creech have a light romance? And I’m also thinking that some of the Casson books have romance she may like. At that age I read the Little House Books (Almanzo/Laura) and then there is Anne of Green Gables. Interesting query.

  5. The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt-slight, but deep, with hints of romance. Don’t let her balk at the length, it’s a gem.

  6. Hadn’t thought of Creech… and I’ve never seen Facts and Fictions… Thanks!

  7. What about SHUG by Jenny Han? It’s 7th grade romance, so a little higher-level, but the writing is beautiful and the emotions spot-on.

  8. I have just got to read this Shug – I keep hearing about it. Thanks, Emily!

  9. There are some great suggestions, here. I’d add “Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time,” by Lisa Yee, which has some light romance.

    What a funny kid! What a funny comment!

  10. Oh, thanks! Yes, she is hilarious, and I had to pretty much fake a coughing fit when she told me “no sex.”

  11. Romance for a 9-year-old, eh? How can I resist, especially when I was summoned by name?

    Here we go:
    *The Exiles in Love; Hilary McKay
    *Calliope Day Falls . . . in Love?; Charles Haddad
    *Romeo and Juliet: Together (and Alive!) at Last; Avi
    *Anastasia at This Address; Lois Lowry
    *The Unsigned Valentine: And Other Events in the Life of Emma Meade; Johanna Hurwitz
    *Goose Chase; Patrice Kindl
    *The Frog Princess; E.D. Baker
    *Ella Enchanted; Gail Carson Levine
    *Chasing Redbird; Sharon Creech
    *The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley (Who Planned to Live an Unusual Life); Martine Murray

    Hmm. These books fall all over the Schmaltz Scale; hopefully your budding romance fan will enjoy one of them!

  12. Whoops–

    I meant to add “The Friendship Ring” series by Rachel Vail.

    Now I’m done . . . I think.

  13. Whoa! Way to go, Brooke! I think you just won yourself a set of Edward Tulane postcards, you lucky thing.

    Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. I don’t think schmaltz is a problem.

  14. Single stories:
    Romeo and Juliet–Together (And Alive!) at Last by Avi
    If This is Love, I’ll Take Spaghetti by Ellen Conford
    Shug by Jenny Han
    Lily B. on the Brink of Love by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

    Slightly older:
    Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume

    Non-numbered series:
    She can read the early years of the Alice McKinley books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Later books might have to be put on a shelf for later years.

    Numbered series:
    The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin – Mary Anne and Logan throughout the series; Kristy and Bart, kind of; various crushes of Dawn, Claudia, Stacey, etc. Suggested titles: #8 Boy-Crazy Stacey and #10 Logan Likes Mary Anne!
    Junior High – cute series from the 80s, if you can track it down.

    If you’d like additional suggestions, please feel free to email me!

  15. this. is. fabulous. with all these suggestions, i’ll be able to keep her in books until she’s ready for Elizabeth Lowell. or at least the latter Alice books! thanks, little willow!

  16. Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris. A great bridge between Paper Bag Princess on one hand and Princess Bride on the other.

  17. Thanks, Miranda! I just looked it up – it sounds excellent.

  18. i will, most assuredly, sound like a nauseatingly cheerful facilitator/cheerleader type-person when i say this, but how much do these people rock, eisha, for giving all these suggestions? my god, how fabulous. to sound even more corny, i’d like to add that it’s also pretty cool how you care enough for your patron to even ask for tips from others. might seem like a given, but i’ve seen a handful of uncaring librarians . . . and i can just see and hear you feigning that coughing fit to keep from laughing at the girl’s comment, out of respect….how funny. anyway, this girl is set, huh? she has her own ’07 reading list. woo hoo!

  19. they rock, and rock hard, jules. i love the kidlitosphere – seriously, what did we do before when we had a question like this? i posed the same query to the other child-libs in my library system, and they were helpful too, but i got 4 times as many suggestions from this. and hardly any overlap. interesting, isn’t it?

  20. Is Anne of Green Gables out of that reading range? And how about the Little House on the Prairie stuff (man, it’s been a long time)…. Far cry from princesses, but there’s farm romance!

  21. Always happy to help, ladies! 🙂

    Also consider The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine. Cute, quirky twists on well-known fairy tales.

    Also keep the Simon & Schuster Romantic Comedies in mind for teens. Many of them are G- or PG-rated. I can tell you which titles would be okay for, say, 12 year olds and which titles should be given to 16 year olds instead.

    Miranda: Once Upon a Marigold is a very cute book. I read it years ago and STILL tell kids about the P-mail!

    Joy: Anne Shirley RULES. Enough said. 🙂

  22. Good thoughts, Joy – I’ll give those a whirl too.

    Little Willow – thanks again! And, um, why don’t you tell me about the P-mail? I hope it’s not what it sounds like…

  23. Emmmmm. Here’s a list:
    The Twiligtht Series
    Anna and the French Kiss
    Forbidden by Amy Miles
    Boys are Dogs
    Crush on my Coach (The Gymnasts #2)
    She Wears Toms, He Wears Converse (
    The Popularity Project (
    The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
    Perfect Chemistry

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