Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a superb book. It is strange and haunting and very, very scary. The dreamlike (or should that be nightmarish) tone of the prose is perfectly complimented by Dave McKean's illustrations. Short, but far from sweet.
And we have to have Roald Dahl, don't we? He is so familiar that it is easy to forget just how good his books are (and how much children love them). They are hugely imaginative, dark and often deeply odd. Dahl's voice is unique.
The Phantom Toll Booth is equally unlike any other book I can think of. It is a strange and lovely thing, fizzing with imagination and a love of language. Make sure you find a copy that has the the orginal Jules Feiffer illustrations.
I loved this book when I first read it. My son recently read Jack London's The Call of the Wild and really enjoyed it. White Fang is sitting on his bedside cupboard waiting to be read. It is a fantastic book. It has strong characters, a great story and a wonderful setting. What more could you want?
Mark Walden's Hive books have proved hugely popular with readers and rightly so. They are fast-paced action adventures where certain 'gifted' children are kidnapped and taken to the Higher Institute for Villainous Education to hone their skills. Great stuff.
Another series I would have enjoyed at that age are Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books. Percy Jackson - half boy, half god - has been a huge hit with children and I'm not surprised. I loved Greek myths when I was young and so too, presumably, did Rick Riordan, who has skillfully borrowed from those myths to create adventures stories that seem to really grab modern readers.
Collaboration between author and illustrator is common in picture books but Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell are possibly unique in collaborating so closely in books for this age group. Roald Dahl obviously had a very successful relationship with Quentin Blake, but Chris and Paul blur the job descriptions much more, with Chris being involved right from the beginning at the ideas stage. Their highly successful Edge Chronicles are drawing to a close, but this is where it all started.
I read this to my son last year or the year before and the whole time I was concerned that he would think the story was just too bizarre. But as we carried on it became clear that he absolutely loved it. I was far more resistant to the strangeness than he was. It is an astonishing book; a book that definitely merits the word magical.
As with the last list of books, by recommending a particular book I am in effect recommending the author, and definitely the series of which the book is a part if that is relevant. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, and if I think of more I will add them. Tomorrow I am going to list some books for older readers.