Books for Everyone, Canadian, Contests, friendship stories, Funny Books, Good Books for Boys, Historical Fiction, middle grade, Poignant Coming-of-Age Story, Realistic contemporary, WWII, YA

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Under-sung Series

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Nothing breaks my heart more than a truly outstanding series that for whatever reason does not achieve the success it deserves. As a busy reader and writer, I rarely get to sequels or subsequent books in a series. When I do, I know the series is a winner. And so I present to you ten series that are worth your consideration!

For the purposes of this post, the term series refers to at least two sequential books, and under-sung means that while most of these series are critically regarded, they exist just below the mainstream. Let’s see if we can change that!

Kiki Strike & The Bank Street Irregulars 

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If you’ve been reading this blog you KNOW I cannot get enough of these five delinquent girl scouts who solve international mysteries while also experiencing life, love and friendship in New York. (Proof here and here). If you have EVER enjoyed a Nancy Drew book, if you like a healthy dose of sass in your reading, or just love NYC, for GOODNESS SAKES pick up this series!

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place


Maryrose Wood lovingly pokes fun and also celebrates the “governess and her cheeky charges” trope in a delightfully old-fashioned yet never dry style. There is something a bit Snicket-ish in her tone, particularly in the way Wood plays with language, puns, and definitions. It doesn’t hurt that the books include spot illustrations by the unstoppable Jon Klassen.

The Montmaray Journals


This sweeping, epic saga is exactly the kind of series I like to sink into on a Saturday afternoon, only to emerge when my tea is cold or gone. Witty teenage royal Sophie observes the odd lives of her family, the royals of Montmaray. Think I Capture the Castle meets Downton Abbey. If you have a female tween, teen, or adult who loves historical YA in your life, be a hero by gifting them this series.

Real Mermaids 


With the exception of Ariel, I’ve never been a big mermaid fan. That being said, Canuck Helene Boudreau‘s series has always been more about relationships, puberty, and identity  (that middle grade trifecta) than mermaids. Her humour is light and the keystones of growing up (first period, first crush, first dance, etc) are spot on.

The Mary Quinn Mysteries

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Another wonderful Canadian author adds some spice to the Victorian era by imagining a secret society of female spies. Mary Quinn’s mixed heritage and mysterious youth adds depth to what would otherwise be a simple mystery series.  Y.S. Lee’s background ensures the historical details are rich and accurate.



Thirteen year old boys can be tough customers when it comes to reading, but I have yet to meet a boy who didn’t howl with laughter over this boarding school series from a young South African author. A great blend of heart, gross-out comedy, and fun.

The Casson Family series


I have a weakness for British middle grade, and no one does it better than Hilary McKay. The off-kilter Casson family get into all sorts of wacky drama. You’ll be so busy laughing you don’t see the emotional moments coming. Saffy’s Angel is widely considered the best of the series, but Permanent Rose is number one in my heart.

The Stanley Family Series


Zilpha Keatley Snyder was one of my favourite childhood authors. What I loved best about these books is that they always had a mysterious or supernatural conflict that ends up having a perfectly rational explanation. They are not quite issue books, although divorce, blended families, and sibling rivalry all play big parts in the plots of this quartet, but Snyder is able to combine said issues with warmth, wit, and the possibility of magic.

The Ingo Chronicles


I don’t read a ton of fantasy but when I do, I like rich writing, plausible worlds, and character development. Enter Helen Dunmore. This series about one family’s connection to the undersea world of Ingo will make you want to pack up your bags and head to Cornwall. Hmm….despite a previously stated indifference to mermaids I appear to have TWO mermaid-esque series on the list…re-evaluating my stance on merfolk now.

The Guests of War Trilogy


This feels a little like cheating. Kit Pearson‘s classic Canadian series featuring Nora and Gavin, who are sent from England to spend the duration of the war in Canada, is multi-award winning, best-selling and beloved: not exactly under-sung. But in my opinion you can not talk about this series enough.  Like the best middle grade, Pearson uses a greater conflict (WWII) to heighten the coming-of-age moments in life. Historical, emotional, evocative and lovely, this is a study in character development at its finest.

Have you read any of these series? What are your favourite under-sung series?

10 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Under-sung Series”

  1. I am a big fan of historical fiction and I adored the Guest of War and the Montmaray Journals. I tried to read Ingo, I do like fantasy, but I couldn’t get into it. I am glad you chose the Casson Family series. I enjoyed all the books a great deal. I like that the parents are unusual and have their own issues. The art theme was wonderful. I would agree that Permanent Rose was a favourite. Loved them! Having the different perspectives from each child is genius.

  2. Glad to see Helene Boudreau’s lovely Real Mermaids series here. It’s great. And I’m a big fan of the Montmaray series — Downton Abbey meets I Capture the Castle is a perfect analogy.

    Just finished the Jessie Mac series by Maureen Ulrich — a really fine trilogy. Excellent exploration of teen issues, a terrific sense of the dynamics of a competitive sports team and a very interesting protagonist. You don’t have to play hockey or live in Saskatchewan to truly enjoy this series, but if you do, you’ll get extra satisfaction.

  3. Love the Guests of War series. My teacher read the first two books to our class in sixth grade and started a love of Kit Pearson for both me and later my sister. My fave book by her though would have to be the standalone, A Handful of Time.

      1. I read The Whole Truth when it came out in 2011, but didn’t realize that there was a second book in the series until I saw it sitting on the new shelf in the library a few months ago. I just picked up Nothing But the Truth last night, so hope to read it soon. 🙂

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