A Tuesday Ten: School Days, School Days

So a new year of schooling is upon all kids and parents, and I thought it’d be an appropriate ten this week to look at school story fiction of the SF and Fantasy variety.  School Stories are a subgenre all their own, but it does cross into the speculative fiction genre quite regularly. Most of you already know about the iconic Harry Potter series, so that will not be on the list. (but I’ve mentioned it here if you didn’t know!)


Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow Books, c1982)

This is book #3 in the author’s loosely connected Chrestomanci series.  In this particular multiverse fantasy someone writes a mysterious note at the boarding school accusing someone of being a witch.  This sets off panic within the students, especially as strange things begin to happen and secrets begin to unravel.  Witch hunts, wild spells and journal entries abound!


The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (Puffin Books, c1974)

The oldest publication date in my list,  this classic series of a school for witches was well before any of the Harry Potter stuff ever was a twinkle in the eyes of J.K. Rowling. Miss Cackle’s Academy For Witches is the place every witch dreams of attending but Mildred Hubble can’t seem to get anything right!  This is book number one in the  seven book series.


Hyperspace High: Crash Landing by Zac Harrison (Stone Arch Books, 2013)

John Riley was supposed to be going to a regular old Earth boarding school, except someone goofed and now he’s stuck at Hyperspace High, the most prestigious school for the intergalactic crowd.  Now he’s got a whole new level of homework, some startling new friends, a bunch of unpleasant enemies and  the need to prove that humans aren’t just some backwater primitives.  First book in the Hyperspace High series.


Astronaut Academy:Zero Gravity by Dave Roman (First Second, 2011)

First of two graphic novels for this list!  Astronaut Academy is a strangely compelling story about a whole host of bizarre creatures and people going to an intergalactic school.  There’s love, there’s hate, there’s homework!  A definitely strong contribution in the science fiction school stories.  The second book, Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry came out this year and continues the adventures and misadventures of Hakata Soy and his friends.


Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown (Scholastic, 2013)

Once upon a time in a middle school far, far away . . .  a young boy named Roan is enrolled in the mysterious Jedi academy and must learn the ropes of his first school year.  A completely charming and original story that sets itself within the Star Wars universe (with occasional cameos by familiar characters). The creator of this book is the bestselling author/illustrator  Jeffrey Brown who is no stranger to Star Wars humor and storytelling: his adorable Darth Vader and Son (Chronicle Books, 2012) and Vader’s Little Princess (Chronicle Books, 2013) cartoons featuring Darth Vader playing dad to a kiddie Leia and Luke.  Despite the fan jokes and references, take the Star Wars out of the book and it’s still a really good school story.


The Magic Mirror and the Mermaid Queen by Delia Sherman (Viking, 2009)

From a galaxy far, far away, we journey to an alternate version of New York City that is a parallel faerie world, exist alongside the mundane humane one.  In this second book about the human changeling, Neef,  Our young  heroine has been enrolled in Miss Van Loon’s School for Mortal Changelings  which is a bizarre place full of rules and odd traditions.  Before long, Neef winds up in trouble–again–and off on another adventure to fix things.  Neef was first introduced in Changeling (Viking, 2006)


Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c1991)

Maybe some boys would be thrilled to be sent to learn magic at Wizard’s Hall.  Not Henry.  He’s no good at any spells and he’s stuck being called Thornmallow (“Prickly on the outside, squishy within).  Yet when push comes to shove it will be up to him to save the school.  Got to admit when Harry Potter first came on the scene, Ms. Yolen’s book was brought immediately to mind.


Sidekicked by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, 2013)

Andrew Bean is part of the secret club of sidekicks that meets at school.  Being a sidekick isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when your super sense of smell makes the cafeteria unbearable.  Navigating school and trying to track down his would-be mentor while villains are loose in his city soon has Drew finding out what it really takes to be a hero.


H.I.V.E. Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden (Simon & Schuster, 2007)

There are whole host of stories out there about schools for villains and general villainy.  This new series by Mark Walden is action packed and brisk in storytelling with larger than life characters.  When kids are kidnapped and brought to the institute they must learn how to survive the place that intends to turn them into the very worst villainy has to offer!  The first book in what so far is an eight book series.


Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Rory Landon has just joined The Ever After School, and she’s going to have to scramble to find out what’s going on and how to keep up with her peers in this strange school where it doesn’t matter who your parents are so much as what Tale you get.  At this school magic and fairy tales are real, and what tale you get will have a lot to do with who you are and what you become.  Adventure awaits!  Look for the second book : Of Witches and Wind (2013) There are quite a few fairy tale school stories being written lately, so you’ll probably see some others out there.

For added school story fun check out Charlotte’s Library: Fantasy and Sci-fi School Stories

So what are your favorite school stories?  Comments welcome!



About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on September 10, 2013, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I was very glad to see Astronaut Academy on your list–I love those books!

    And thanks for the mention of my own list!

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