Middle School to Young Adult Books

Theme: Unusual Travel Adventures

Airman - (ISBN: 978-1423107514)

by Eoin Colfer

Not only does Conor love hot air balloons and fantastical flying machines, he was actually born aloft in a hot air balloon basket! Conor’s travel adventures are disrupted when he finds himself in a dank prison full of ruthless characters after he is falsely accused of killing his tutor. His once pleasant world, living in a kind king’s court, crashes, and he struggles to live through his prison sentence. For old style adventure, look here first!

Around the World in 80 Days - (ISBN: 978-1936594610)

by Jules Verne

Originally published in 1870, this book tells and also shows the tale of a voyage most unusual at the time. There are fascinating maps and other graphics. When this book was written, there were no cars, planes, or other travel methods. Aerial views of other typical means of travel include a variety of ships and trains as the balloon floats overhead. After considering some of the tiny scenes below the airy device, write an accompanying travelogue to detail the excitement.

Gulliver’s Travels - (ISBN: 978-0486292731)

by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver travels by sea, as befits his occupation as a ship’s doctor. What is unusual about his voyage are the creatures he finds in the four different worlds he encounters. In one world, he is the tiniest creature there, crawling along the ugly nose pores of the Brobdingnagians, huge brutish creatures. In another kingdom he encounters the now famous Lilliputians, where he is the giant. Read the entire classic favorite to find out what other shifting perspectives he finds himself among.

Murder on the Iditarod Trail - (ISBN: 978-0380717583)

by Sue Henry

While competing in the Iditarod dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, Henry learns of the deaths of three other sled riders. The challenges of such an unusual method of travel combines with the warmth of a romance and the lingering questions about a possible murderer. Enjoy this excursion into another world with a totally different culture.

The Amber Spyglass - (ISBN: 978-0375846731)

by Philip Pullman

Unusual creatures, the mulefa, travel by using the seedpods attached to their feet. The hero, Will, in his search for a lost friend, has two helpful winged companions who navigate by flying. This book is part of a series. Other problems which came up in other books of the His Dark Materials series get resolved here in this exciting fantasy as Will sets out on his way to Lord Asriel’s mountain.If you are fond of fantasy, read the other books in this series first!

Dogsong - (ISBN: 978-1416939191)

by Gary Paulsen

Helicopter - (ISBN: 978-0957323704)

by R.C. Rouncefield

Thunder over Kandahar - (ISBN: 978-1554512669)

by Sharon McKay

Activities for this Theme

Watch this easy-to-follow video and make your own hot air balloon.


Ask older relatives to share photos of amazing trips they took. Record their voices along with looking at the photos and create a digital record by scanning the photos. Use a tool such as Storybird.


Get a part time job or, if you already have one, save 25% of your earnings to build up funds for your dream trip or an adventure travel opportunity.


Check out your community for unusual festivals. Possibilities include hot air balloon meets, sled dog races, skiing marathons, river rafting meets, sailing competitions, or pig races.


For your next birthday party, make a Hot Air Balloon Cake.


Make hot air balloon decorations.