Magic Portals and Talking Animals: Books to Ignite Young Imaginations

A magical portal in a forest opens to reveal a serene lake with majestic mountains in the background, evoking a sense of adventure and discovery

Tweens are fabulous; nothing beats their monstrous imaginations, and it is the perfect time to capture them with stories where the impossible becomes possible—we can’t think of a better place than a magical world complete with fantastic creatures and marvelous adventures.

It is these types of stories that stay with us forever. The idea of talking animals and magical portals brings back memories of our childhood. Some of us are still convinced that our animals can secretly talk and lead exciting lives while we’re sleeping or at work, and if we’re honest, popping through a magical portal is still very appealing!

Books for Tweens

When it comes to tweens, nothing beats books filled with magic portals, talking animals, and thrilling adventures. Here are four brilliant books guaranteed to capture them from the very first chapter!

The cover of "The Shelterlings" by Sarah Beth Durst features an owl soaring through the sky with a squirrel on its back, set against a backdrop of mountains.

The Shelterlings by Sarah Beth Durst

Who doesn’t love magic? The Shelterlings is a delightful blend of magical abilities, heartwarming friendships, and personal growth. The story centers around Holly, a squirrel with a unique power for magically conjuring pastries. Living in a magical animal shelter for misfit creatures, Holly and her fellow shelterlings find themselves grappling with their peculiar powers and self-acceptance.

You can’t help but love this vibrant world where each animal has a distinct personality and magical ability, ranging from a barn owl that can turn into stone and a superfast turtle with super slow reactions, to a prophesizing cow! The Shelterlings is a journey of discovery, friendship, and learning to embrace who you are. It's the perfect book for all tweens, especially those who may feel like they don’t quite fit in.

Through the characters' struggles and triumphs, your tween will gain valuable insights into accepting and embracing differences and celebrating individuality. We think The Shelterlings is the perfect read for tweens on their own journey of self-discovery.

The cover of "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White shows a young girl holding a pig, surrounded by a goose, a sheep, and a spider web in the background.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

There are some books that don’t age, and this childhood classic is definitely one of them. Although it probably needs no introduction, we can’t help but recall the unlikely friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. 

Charlotte's Web is a timeless story of friendship, loyalty, and magic found in unlikely places. The story follows Wilbur, a humble pig who becomes friends with a wise spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur's life is in danger, Charlotte hatches a plan to save him by weaving words into her web that show just how wonderful Wilbur really is. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had a personal cheerleader like Charlotte? 

This enchanting act of friendship captures the hearts of those around them, transforming Wilbur from a potential meal into a much-loved member of the barnyard. It is a story of selfless acts, meaningful connections, and the power of words; Charlotte's Web is a wonderful reminder of the impact we can have on each other.

The cover of "Warriors: Into the Wild" by Erin Hunter depicts a fierce orange cat in a forest, with another cat looking up at it.

Warrior Cats Series by Erin Hunter

We love a great series; there is something quite wonderful about knowing there is more than one book just waiting to be read! The Warrior Cats series is filled with thrilling adventures as it follows the lives and battles of four feline clans living in the wild. 

The series starts with Warriors Into The Wild. In this world, four Clans of wild cats have thrived for generations, governed by the ancient laws of their warrior ancestors. The balance is shifting as ThunderClan faces grave danger and the menacing ShadowClan grows ever stronger. Amidst this turmoil, noble warriors fall, some under mysterious circumstances. 

Enter Rusty, an ordinary house cat with an extraordinary destiny. Your tween will love joining Rusty on his exhilarating journey of self-discovery and courage as he ventures into the wild to find his true calling among the fierce feline clans. Perfect for readers who love adventurous tales of found family and bravery!

The cover of "Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall" by Emily Bearn shows two mice dressed in Victorian clothing, standing in a quaint, old-fashioned room.

Tumtum and Nutmeg Series by Emily Bearn

Tumtum and Nutmeg is another wonderful series for tweens, and we know they will love these lighthearted, charming, and whimsical adventures. The series follows the escapades of Tumtum and Nutmeg, two mice who live in a stately home owned by human siblings Arthur and Lucy. They are kind-hearted, nurturing, and devoted to their human neighbors and often find themselves in daring situations to protect them.

Here you will find an enchanting world where mice live in cozy homes furnished with miniature furniture and have thrilling adventures.

Books always teach us something, often without our realizing it, and the Tumtum and Nutmeg Series will teach your tween all about kindness, friendship, and helping others!


From the magical misfits of The Shelterlings to the wild battles of the Warrior Cats, these wonderful stories will ignite your tween’s imagination, teach timeless lessons, and encourage a love for reading. These books are a reminder that through the pages of a good story, anything is possible!

Why not join your tween and make it a shared reading experience? Nothing quite creates bonds and opportunities to connect than through a shared adventure. Here at Once Upon a Book Club we are passionate about books and are very excited about our Tween Box.

Why you will love our Tween Book Boxes!

Our Tween book subscription boxes for kids are the ideal way to get your middle graders excited about reading. At Once Upon a Book Club, we are all about bringing books to life, and competing with technology is no mean feat–well, until our book boxes arrive.

Every two months, your child will receive an exciting book box containing an exciting novel, our carefully selected gifts, and so much more. Each box is filled with lots of extra information and activities specially designed to enhance your child's reading enjoyment. As the story captures your child's imagination, they won't be able to help but feel the anticipation rise to the surface as, at last, they are prompted to open each gift at certain page numbers.

Lots of Extras!

And if that wasn't enough, make sure to have a look at our custom-made bookmarks with a quote from the book and a unique coloring or activity page. Bringing books to life through various mediums is what we do best!

We like to think of books as a wonderful way for your child to transport themselves into a new world of fun. As you know, every traveler needs a passport which is why we have created a unique Once Upon a Book Club Book Passport so they can track their adventures throughout the year.

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