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A collaborative blog by Locus editors, contributors, and other invited guests. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine or Locus Online.

(Earlier posts end here in April 2010)




Alvaro Zinos-Amaro


Alan Beatts
Terry Bisson
Marie Brennan
Karen Burnham
Siobhan Carroll
John Clute
F. Brett Cox
Ellen Datlow
Paul Di Filippo
Michael Dirda
Gardner Dozois
Andy Duncan
Stefan Dziemianowicz
Brian Evenson
Jeffrey Ford
Karen Joy Fowler
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Theodora Goss
Elizabeth Hand
Cecelia Holland
Rich Horton
Guy Gavriel Kay
James Patrick Kelly
Mark R. Kelly
Ellen Klages
Russell Letson
Karen Lord
Brit Mandelo
Adrienne Martini
Tim Pratt
Cat Rambo
Paul Graham Raven
Graham Sleight
Maureen Kincaid Speller
Peter Straub
Rachel Swirsky
Paul Witcover
Gary K. Wolfe
E. Lily Yu

Tricia Sullivan–Kid Approved SF

Tricia Sullivan is the author of sf novels such as multiple award nominated Maul and Lightborn. She lives in England with her partner and three children.

Finding SF for younger readers can be challenging. Fantasy dominates the market, but classic SF for children is often out of print, and new science fiction titles are rare. For children under ten the choices are limited.

What there is for ages 0-10 is all about the aliens. Humorous aliens, dangerous aliens, metaphorical aliens… it was tough to find much of anything but aliens. I tried!

These books are currently available and kid-approved. I took recommendations from friends and put my own kids to work. We’ve concentrated on the younger end of the 0-10 remit because, although some will read upward, it’s tough to find SF geared to younger children. Some titles come from the UK.

Picture Books:

  • Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort (Simon & Schuster, 2008). A perennial favorite in our house, it’s ‘pantstastic.’
  • The Dr. Xargle books by Jeanne Willis and Tony Russ (Anderson Press). An instruction manual on Earthling ways, for aliens.
  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel). Warm boy-meets-Martian tale of spaceflight…and crash-landing. And repairs.
  • Commander Toad in Space by Jane Yolen (PaperStar). I love this book with all the love. It has a resourceful female engineer, a scientifically-minded captain, and sly commentary on the nature of courage. Also, Star Wars puns FTW!

Illustrated chapter books:

  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot (series) by Dav Pilkey and Martin Ontiveros (Scholastic UK). Mostly pictures, interactive fun. Will suit those nervous of too much text. And robot fans.
  • Monster Makers: Spacemite by Ali Sparkes (Scholastic UK). The Monster Makers series is excellent fantasy about brothers whose drawings come to life. In Spacemite they accidentally start a UFO craze in their neighbourhood. Naturally by the end there is a real UFO.
  • Whizziwig and Whizziwig Returns (omnibus) by Malorie Blackman (Random House UK). There is an alien in Ben’s room and she can grant wishes. My nine-year-old son normally only reads when pressured, but he could not be prised away from this and is now into more SF by the same author.
  • The Astrosaurs series by Steve Cole (Red Fox). Funny and plotty series about space-faring dinosaurs. Wonderful line drawings.

For stronger readers:

  • Animal Investigators: Red Eye by Susan Gates. British series opener about kids with animal powers, a natural history professor and a malevolent, super-intelligent seagull.
  • Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes (Egmont USA). A WWII bomb shelter, spies, scary experiments and social change.
  • Animorphs: The Invasion by K.A. Applegate (Scholastic). Fast-paced and intense alien-invasion series-opener featuring brain slugs and animal transformations.
  • Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beatty, illustrated by Dan Santat (Amulet Books). Summer camp. Alien invasion. Goofiness all round.

Three irresistible middle-grade books:

  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (Hyperion). Alien invasion and a twelve-year-old girl. Crazy-funny, very smart.
  • The Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhout (Bloomsbury). A post-humanity survival novel for older kids. Proper SF worldbuilding at last!
  • The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor (Hyperion). Plant-based technology! Future Africa! Without compare.


Pingback from SF Signal: SF Tidbits for 9/22/11
Time September 22, 2011 at 7:11 am

[…] event at the University of Edinburgh next Wednesday, 28th September.ArticlesTricia Sullivan on Kid Approved SF. Juliette Wade on Worldbuilding Hangouts to resume. John Scalzi on A World Without "Star Wars": […]

Comment from supergee
Time September 22, 2011 at 11:52 am

“Aliens love underpants” is a kind of Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog of kidlit.

Comment from Cacy
Time September 24, 2011 at 6:27 am

I was all about Animorph when I was a kid, and I still love that series to this day. I’m curious to check of some of the other books on your list.

Pingback from SF Tidbits for 9/22/11 – SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog
Time April 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

[…] Tricia Sullivan on Kid Approved SF. […]

Pingback from SF Tidbits for 9/23/11 – SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog
Time April 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

[…] Locus (Tricia Sullivan) on Kid Approved SF. […]

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