A few days ago a kid asked me for books "like" the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. I sighed, then set to work coming up with suggestions.
     Basically I tried to find titles that fit a few or all of the following criteria:

aimed at boys
first-person narrator
diary format
school stories

     Here's my list, which I'll be putting on an end-cap display:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Whales On Stilts! by M.T. Anderson

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Science Fair by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

Superfudge by Judy Blume

NERDS by Michael Buckley

Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins & Andrew Pinder

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

The Day My Butt Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths

Just Joking! by Andy Griffiths

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Swindle by Gordon Korman

Leon and the Champion Chip by Allen Kurzweil

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

In the Land of the Lawn Weenies by David Lubar

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie by David Lubar

Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson, Christopher Tebbetts, and Laura Park

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

The Dork Diaries by Rachel Russell

Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar

Guys Read: Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka

Guy Time by Sarah Weeks

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston

Malice by Chris Wooding

Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time by Lisa Yee

Books by Roald Dahl, while not realistic, might be comedic & snarky enough to fit the bill.


          Finally one of our students brought up the "Steampunk" genre in our last library book club meeting. She was way excited about it, eyes wide and mind on fire. I thought, NOW is the time to put together a bibliography on Steampunk books for our students!
          A few years ago at a writer's conference I attended a presentation by David Gale, Editorial Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. He told us that "Steampunk" was going to be the next big thing in children's publishing, and blow up all over the place.

Feel free to reproduce this image if you like, we put it on one side of our bookmark, with the reading list on the reverse.

          Here is the list we came up with, using only books currently in our library collection. Some of these have all the elements of Steampunk, some of them may only have a few. If a particular title seems not Steampunky enough for you, just consider it "recommended if you like..."

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel)
The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby
The Death Collector by Justin Richards
Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Gotham By Gaslight (“Batman” graphic novel)
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
“Hollow Fields” manga series by M. Rosca
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
“The Infernal Devices” series by Cassandra Clare
“Keys To the Kingdom” series by Garth Nix
Larklight by Philip Reeve
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The List of 7 by Mark Frost
“Monster Blood Tattoo” series by D.M. Cornish
Nick of Time by Ted Bell
Pastworld by Ian Beck
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters
Worldshaker by Richard Harland

          If you're not sure what Steampunk is, think Victorian Science Fiction, with fantastical machinery using steam power. Gritty London streets, either in the actual Victorian era, or influenced heavily by it. Top hats, goggles, cogwheels and clockworks... Jules Verne and H. G. Wells are considered the grandfathers of Steampunk. You tend to find mechanically-inclined strong female characters in Steampunk.
          Here are some other core Steampunk titles, which may or may not be appropriate for junior high and/or high school libraries:

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
The Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, Paul Morrissey, & Janet Lee
Steampunk by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul D. Filippo
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

          Incidentally, I remember first hearing about Steampunk way back in about 1993 when I was working at the Santa Ana Public Library in the children's and young adult section. Just sayin'. The genre ain't NEW, but apparently there's a resurgence. Which is cool for those of us who work with teens.