NIGHTINGALE by Deva Fagan

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There’s a reason Lark is about to break into the Royal Museum. It’s not that she wants to be a thief. But if she doesn’t steal something big–something more than the coin she gets picking pockets–then the governess of the boarding house will force her to work in one of the aether factories. She’ll slowly fade away, becoming as insubstantial as a ghost, just like the other orphans.

Just like her mother.

But Lark’s museum heist is thwarted by the young prince of the realm, who she catches doing some magic with aether and an ancient sword that once belonged to the Nightingale, the mythical superhero who’s been dead for centuries. To the prince’s frustration, the sword chooses Lark as the next incarnation of the Nightingale, and he must include her in his plans to save the kingdom. But saving the kingdom proves more difficult than either Lark or the prince imagined, and Lark will be forced to choose: will she keep trying to scrape by or pick up where her mother left off and fight to change her unjust society?

Lark’s spirited, snarky voice pulls a consistent thread of humor through this layered narrative that tackles social issues like wealth inequality and unionized labor. An almost Victorian historical vibe grounds the secondary world fantasy while a cast of racially diverse characters ensures that kids will see themselves reflected in the story. The blend of fun and probing thematic content make this an ideal pick for middle grade book clubs!

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