In my house we share every room with quite a large assortment of 'friends'. However they're not all my very own papery-chums, my wife reads too and tends to process a page of writing about three times as fast as I do and therefore tends to polish off triple the number of books. I always pay attention when she recommends a book because she has a really good idea of what I like. I don't often read children's fiction but will whenever Judith gives a book a big thumbs-up.
This is how I came to discover the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness books by Michelle Paver. They are set right at the end of the Stone Age and follow the courageous efforts of a boy called Torak to bring to an end the powerful hold that a group of evil mages known as the Soul Eaters has over the clans of his ancient forest home. The stories move at quite an incredible pace. By the end of chapter one of the first book Wolf Brother, Torak is all alone in the world. He soon meets the character Wolf as a tiny cub, only survivor of a flood that killed the other wolves in his den. They team up with Renn, a girl from the Raven Clan who can shoot an arrow straighter than just about anyone, and the three of them together take on the might of the Soul Eaters. Paver has studied Stone Age cultures and tribal ritual and has imagined a world for us that is both rich and vivid. She presents us with a picture of a society as it might have been, certainly ought to have been. The people in Paver's world have a deep inner life that revolves around the seasons, customs and superstitions of the world they inhabit, living lives that are just as full and meaningful to them as ours are for us. For modern children she makes it relevant and topical, without ever lapsing into cliche or 'caveman speak', and touches on conservation and ecological issues without ever sounding preachy.
Both times I read this series I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have my favourites of course (the first, third and sixth books I personally liked best) but all are excellent. If these books had been available when I was a child I would have adored them. They are entitled and run in this order: Wolf Brother, Spirit Walker, Soul Eater, Outcast, Oath Breaker and Ghost Hunter.
Give them to a child you know, or, read them yourself!