Kids Historical Fiction

PREMEDITATED MYRTLE by Elizabeth C. Bunce

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Myrtle Hardcastle is not at all surprised to see the constable at the manor across the road. After all, she was the one who phoned the police after noting that the science-minded spinster next door, Miss Wodehouse, and her cat had not undertaken their usual morning routine (a future detective must be Observant of such things if she hopes to uncover Crimes-in-Progress). Alas, Myrtle was too late to help Miss Wodehouse, who was dead in her bathtub when the police arrived, but she is determined to solve the murder–for it is a murder no matter what the police might say to the contrary. No obstacle will stop the intrepid young detective–not the inexplicable vanishing of Miss Wodehouse’s life’s work, not the weary attempts of her prosecutor father to reign in his unconventional daughter, and certainly not the fact that the only witness to the supposed murder is a runaway cat.

Funny, quirky, and thrilling in exactly the right balance, the Myrtle Hardcastle mysteries will delight middle grade fans of Enola Holmes, Flavia de Luce, and even more modern girl detectives. A deserved Edgar Award-winner, PREMEDITATED MYRTLE is an excellent mystery with an even more excellent protagonist and the promise of thrilling series to come.

THE SECRET STARLING by Judith Eagle

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Clara has lived with her uncle her whole life–well, her uncle and the servants who staff their manor home. Truthfully, she sees far more of the servants than of her uncle, who would prefer to have nothing to do with her. But everything changes when her uncle goes bankrupt, abandoning her in the manor house with a bit of cash and no one to care for her. When Clara meets another orphan named Peter, the two decide to turn the manor into a suitable house for unsupervised children–a place for them to live and for their eccentric friends to come and play. But when they discover a ballet slipper that once belonged to Clara’s mother, Clara realizes she doesn’t want to just create a new routine in the same old house. She wants to uncover the truth of her mother’s past that her uncle never told her–and maybe wind up on an adventure!

This middle grade novel, originally published in England, has an old-fashioned vibe that will appeal to fans of books as varied as THE PENDERWICKS, ESCAPE FROM MR LIMONCELLO’S LIBRARY, FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS BASIL E FRANKWEILER, and THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. It is part mystery, part historical fiction, and part adventure, but mostly the story of a quirky cast of young people making their way in the world.

The Secret Starling: Eagle, Judith, Rioux, Jo: 9781536213652: Amazon.com:  Books

HOLLOW CHEST by Brita Sandstrom

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Charlie can’t wait for his brother Theo to come home from the war. Since losing his father when the German’s bombed London, Charlie has been trying to fill the absence in his family, to help his mother around the house and especially to care for his grandfather who has dementia, but terrible nightmares of falling bombs and wolves clawing at his chest leave him exhausted. Once Theo returns, things will finally feel more normal.

But Theo comes home changed–no longer the supportive big brother, but irritable and closed off. Charlie’s grandfather assures him that Theo just needs time to heal, but Charlie soon discovers the truth: the wolves from his nightmares are real and one of them ate Theo’s heart. Despite the danger that lies ahead, Charlie is determined to find the war wolves and do whatever it takes to get his brother’s heart back.

This historical fantasy novel is really an extended metaphor about the effects of war on mental health and the ways that love can help families heal. Though the premise may sound frightening, this novel is a far cry from horror; the fantasy elements are introduced and resolved gently, the focus always on real-world character relationships. I’d recommend this book to fans of Anne Ursu and similar “metaphorical folklore” middle grade stories.

Hollow Chest: Sandstrom, Brita: 9780062870742: Amazon.com: Books

#12DaysOfKidlit 2021

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Happy November!

I know, I know. It’s basically still Halloween. But with supply chain issues and paper shortages, we’ve got to think about the holidays early if we’re gifting books to the kids in our lives. That’s why I’m celebrating the #12DaysOfKidlit. I’m choosing my 12 favorite titles from 2021–6 YA and 6 Middle Grade to highlight (in no particular order). Think of this as a gift guide for the young reader in your lives. I’ll update daily for the next 12 days, adding a new title each time.

But (tragically) even though I read 160+ books this year (!), that doesn’t even come close to the number of books that came out. And since everyone’s reading interests are different, my favorites might not be right for you or the kids on your list.

So…you should play too!

On Twitter and Instagram, use #12DaysOfKidlit to throw up your favorite kids/teen books of the year and see what books others loved! The celebration runs from November 1-12.

Let’s fill everyone’s holiday lists with the best Kidlit of the year!


Today’s Picks:

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING by Nicola Yoon –and– LIKE A LOVE SONG by Gabriela Martins

I received Advance Reader Copies of these books.

I couldn’t pick just one of these because I can’t get either one of them out of my head–and for different reasons. 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING is a sublime exploration of that eternal human question: is love worth the risk of heartbreak? It’s a romance, so we know the answer has to be yes, but the journey to that answer is raw, complex, and beautiful. 

LIKE A LOVE SONG, on the other hand, is pure fun–a teen pop star and teen actor fake dating RomCom with perfectly executed tropes. The story is grounded by the MC’s struggle with her identity in a racist society–trying to find balance between her place in a community of artists pursuing a dream career and her place in her family and Brazilian community. 

But what these books have in common is that both of the romances were mature and realistic enough that even I–an old(ish) married lady–connected with them in a powerful way, and I think that’s why I loved them both so much. These are romances I will read as a pick me up again and again.


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CANDIDLY CLINE by Kathryn Ormsbee

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

I loved this book because I loved Cline. She is such a believable, lovable 13 year old kid, and as much as she’s been put through some difficult stuff (in the story and before it begins) she bounces back, she keeps going, and she finds supportive friends and adults who help her through. Her voice is so honest and hopeful as she navigates her first crush, coming out to family and friends, and protecting herself when people are hateful to her because of who she loves. And of course the main thrust of her story is how she chases down her dream of becoming a singer, so there’s lots of opportunities to cheer this wonderful heroine on.


SIX CRIMSON CRANES by Elizabeth Lim

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Not only was this novel woven skillfully from many, many folklore threads, but it surprised me again and again. Even thinking back on the story now, I’m smiling remembering some of the twists. Some of the folklore was new to me, which was fun. Some was familiar but subverted, which was also fun. And throughout the whole story shone family devotion and the perseverance of the young heroine–no matter how annoying her brothers got.


THE THING I’M MOST AFRAID OF by Kristin Levine

Reading this book felt like taking a vacation (which in 2021, was much appreciated!). The detail of the Austrian setting–not just the landscape, but the culture and community–immersed me entirely in that world. And on top of that, the character’s experience with her panic disorder as she figured out how to accept help and develop more effective coping strategies rang so true to me. I don’t usually see that experience represented in the books I read–or if it is represented, it’s in books that are overall soul-crushingly intense–so to see a character with severe anxiety in an uplifting book about family and hope was incredible.


EAT YOUR HEART OUT by Kelly deVos

As a fan of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, I was grinning all the way through this satirical sci-fi/horror. It delivered on humor, on social commentary, on scares–and because there were so many first person narrators (something I don’t usually like), I had no idea who would live and who would die. As long as one kid made it, there would be someone to tell the story. The question was: who?…


FAST PITCH by Nic Stone

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

When it comes to flawless middle grade fiction, this book is it. It tackles the huge and important topic of racism in sports (and other areas of life), features a group of girls kicking butt on and off the field, and has a thrilling mystery that is impossible to stop reading. It is a winner on so many levels, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


SAY IT OUT LOUD by Allison Varnes

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

As a musical theater-obsessed former-tween myself, I am always a sucker for stories about kids finding their voices through the arts. But this one had me particularly excited when the tweens take their voices off the stage to fight for something they believe in. Add the fun, heartwarming friendships and representation of a main character who stutters and you have a book that has stuck with me all year.


THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS by June Hur

I read so many YA mystery/thrillers this year, so why has this historical mystery stuck with me? Part of it was the history. Part of it was the feminism. But I think most of it was the atmospheric quality of the novel. There were no cheap scares here, no gimmicks to draw out suspense. The setting of the village, the disappearances, the murky past, and the untrustworthy community members kept my spine tingling the whole way through.  


A KIND OF SPARK by Elle McNicoll

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

It is possible that this one violates the spirit of #12DaysOfKidlit since it wasn’t technically released this year. But I am U.S. based, and it was released here in 2021, and I loved it too much to leave it off my list. The authenticity of the autistic representation was probably the reason I connected with this book so deeply, although the novel has so many strengths. I love middle grade books where children are the moral compass and agents of change in their communities, and the way this particular child forces her community to process the uncomfortable immorality of their pasts and present to move toward a better future…*chef’s kiss* 


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ME (MOTH) by Amber McBride

I think the reason this poetic literary novel is still haunting me is the rich soil of history, culture, and spirituality that supports the characters. The emotions are deep and intense, but they are so rooted in the exquisite world-building that the narrative never feels heavy, even when the subject matter is. The characters are always growing up and out from their experience of loss, both in their recent pasts and in their ancestral histories, always climbing toward hope. I am not at all surprised this book is on the National Book Award’s Finalists list.


SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA by Cynthia Leitich Smith

PETER PAN is one of those books I haven’t read my kids because as much as I loved it as a child, every time I pick it up as an adult I’m horrified–partly by the racism on the page but perhaps more by the fact that I had no idea it was there when I was a kid. Those were just things I internalized that contributed to my unconscious prejudices. And maybe that’s why Cynthia Leitich Smith’s SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA blew me away. Because it isn’t a scathing dismantling of Barrie’s classic. It’s a reimagining of the enchanting world that both holds Peter Pan accountable for the racism and other problematic aspects of the original story and somehow recaptures and preserves the spirit, tone, and even narrative style of the original. This is the novel I want to read my children.


THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US by Eliot Schrefer

I haven’t been shy about my deep and abiding love of Eliot Schrefer’s sci-fi romance. I think one of the reasons it’s stuck with me so many months after I first read it is the way he perfectly captures the spirit of both genres. I would read this if I were in the mood for sci-fi, and I would read it if I were in the mood for romance. It has all of those little melty moments and relationship tensions I want in a love story plus the edge-of-your-seat, cannot-stop-turning-pages, omg-are-they-about-to-die?! moments I love in YA sci-fi. I can’t get this book out of my head, and I couldn’t think of a better title to start off the 12 Days of Kidlit.

VOYAGE OF THE SPARROWHAWK by Natasha Farrant

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

Lotti has no intention of leaving her beautiful home for another terrible boarding school. After all, it is her home. Her parents left it to her when they died. Her aunt and uncle are only living in it to help take care of her, and because no one has heard from her French grandmother since before the Great War. But when her uncle resolves to send her back to boarding school–and worse, to have her dog put down!–Lotti knows she has to run away. And she knows just the person to help her.

Ben lost his adoptive father during the war. His brother is lost, too, presumed dead, although Ben is certain he’ll come home someday. Unfortunately, someday won’t be soon enough now that the local constable is investigating him. He absolutely refuses to go back to the orphanage. For one thing, they’d take away his dog. For another, he loves living on the houseboat, The Sparrowhawk. His father would be rolling in his grave if he knew how close they were to losing it. So when Lotti shows up insisting that they travel to France, how can Ben say no? After all, maybe he’ll find his brother there. With the constable and an irate uncle chasing in their wake, Lotti and Ben embark on The Sparrowhawk‘s first major voyage, hoping that the friendly accomplices they meet along the way will be able to help reunite them with the family they’ve lost.

This novel about courage and found-families follows in the grand tradition of middle grade stories about plucky young orphans embarking on zany adventures. The quirkiness of the narrative voice, along with the historical setting, lend the book a classic feel while the cast of compassionate characters keep the tone hopeful through even its suspenseful moments. A fun choice for upper-elementary readers!

FRANKIE AND BUG by Gayle Forman

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

Bug’s older brother is growing up and he’s leaving her behind. For years, they’ve spent the summers together on Venice Beach while their mom works her busy job as the mayor’s press secretary. But this summer, Danny needs “space.” He doesn’t even want to be called Danny anymore. Daniel is too busy hanging out with his skateboarding, weight lifting, soon-to-be high schooler friends to hang out with a fourth-grade baby. And now Bug is stuck with her neighbor’s weird nephew, Frankie.

But it turns out that Frankie is more interesting than Bug first thought. For one thing, he’s determined to track down LA’s most notorious serial killer and he’s willing to let Bug help him. As their friendship deepens, Frankie shares his transgender identity with Bug, and Bug shares her fears about the skinheads that target her family–especially her brother who is just as Salvadoran as she is, but has darker skin. When their investigations into the murders get overshadowed by a hate crime much closer to home, Frankie and Bug abandon their search for the serial killer and try instead to bring a little bit of justice to the lives of those closest to them.

Set in the 1980s against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic (and related spike in homophobia) and a serial killer reminiscent of LA’s Night Stalker murders, this middle grade novel had the potential to be heavy and disturbing. But it is the innocent voices of Bug and Frankie and the hopeful worldview of Bug’s mom that keep the story buoyant enough for a middle grade audience. Through their encounters with diverse people over the course of the summer, both Bug and Frankie learn things about themselves and about tolerance and compassion for others. I’d recommend this one to upper elementary readers who enjoy contemporary and historical fiction.

THE THING I’M MOST AFRAID OF by Kristin Levine

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It’s not that Becca doesn’t want to visit her father in his new home in Austria. It’s just that she’s terrified. Of flying. Of metal detectors. Of soft-boiled eggs. Really, anything that normal people consider safe is fair game for Becca’s Doomsday Journal: a list of her fears and the worst case scenarios that could result from them.

Still, somehow Becca makes it all the way to Austria, and when faced with the au pair she doesn’t want and a new “friend” she doesn’t need, she’s determined to survive the eight weeks until she can go back to her mom’s house in Virginia. But when Becca starts learning about her au pair’s experiences as a Bosnian refugee, still separated from her mother and brother, Becca’s fears start to feel small by comparison. Although she knows she can’t just make her anxiety goes away, she decides to start using her Journal as her therapist intended: as a way to work through some of her fears on paper so that she can do more things without panic attacks. And once she starts working out her own fears, Becca starts to wonder if she might be able to help the refugees somehow, too.

I loved this middle grade historical fiction novel. Becca is a funny but authentic narrator and the setting in Austria is so real that I felt like I was on vacation (a rare treat in a pandemic…). Yet the Bosnian War in the background brought more serious thematic threads that added both suspense and layers of nuance. I highly recommend this novel to fans of middle grade historical fiction, fans of middle grade contemporary novels set in escapist locales (like ALL YOU KNEAD IS LOVE, for example), and book clubs for 4-7th graders.

The Thing I'm Most Afraid Of: Levine, Kristin: 9780525518648: Amazon.com:  Books

Featured Booklist: Book Club Titles for Kids and Teens

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The school year is underway, and whether you’re a teacher or librarian running a book club or a parent stockpiling good reading material for those inevitable Covid-exposure quarantines, I have a book list for you!

This list includes titles for upper elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. All of the books were released within the last year, and they have a blend of unputdownable storytelling and though-provoking thematic content. As always, you will need to evaluate the individual titles to be sure they fit within the specific parameters and needs of your students/children, but think of this list as your launchpad.

I will continue to curate this list throughout the year, but titles include:

FAST PITCH by Nic Stone, a middle grade sports story about a girl combatting racial injustice while vying for a softball championship.

NIGHTINGALE by Deva Fagan, a middle-grade fantasy about an orphan thief, a reluctant prince, a magic sword, and worker’s rights in a racially diverse, Victorian-London-esque fantasy world.

GENERATION MISFITS by Akemi Dawn Bowman, a middle grade contemporary novel about four social outcasts and one popular girl who find friendship and the courage to express themselves through their mutual love of J-Pop.

ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE by Sabina Khan, a YA contemporary novel about a Pakistani Muslim immigrant wrestling questions of home, identity, and belonging after a bigot targets her family with hateful vandalism.

VIOLET GHOSTS by Leah Thomas, a YA historical fantasy about a transgender boy in the ’90s coming to terms with his identity as he helps restless ghosts find justice and a safe haven in the afterlife.

THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US by Eliot Schrefer, a YA sci-fi about two young men from rival countries on a mission to rescue a fellow spacefarer aboard a ship that may or may not be trying to kill them.

Check out the full list on Bookshop.org. (Don’t worry if you’re not looking to buy; just see what titles look good to you, then find them at your local or school library!)

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott and LITTLE WOMEN (2019)

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In 1860s Massachusetts, four sisters and the boy next door grow up from a childhood of wild imagination and adventure to an adulthood of loss, love, and hope.

So I may be the only American white girl who was not a fan of LITTLE WOMEN as a kid. I mean, I liked most of the first half (the original Book One) but I never, never, never forgave Amy for burning Jo’s book. And I got very bored by Book Two, and also annoyed that Laurie married Amy (because again, SHE BURNED JO’S BOOK) and also super-super-annoyed that Jo married some random middle-aged German guy she just met because just because she was kind of lonely….

But I think that Greta Gerwig either read my childhood mind, or was also me as a child, because her adaptation was everything I wanted it to be. Florence Pugh made me like Amy. Genuinely understand and like her. The chaos of every scene must have been a nightmare to film, but it created such a joyful sense of community and family and connection between the four girls. I was mad at Amy for burning Jo’s book, but I was also mad at Jo for not noticing how much Amy looked up to her and wanted to spend time with her. And I loved the two-pronged solution to the “random German guy” problem: first, introducing him at the beginning of the film so he doesn’t come out of nowhere, and second, crafting an ending where Jo morphs with real-life Alcott, who didn’t believe women (including her character Jo) should have to get married (as she didn’t) but was forced to marry Jo off in the end to make it palatable to contemporary readers. In the film, you can take some delight in the unbelievable, silly, head-over-heels, love-at-first-sight ending because the director has hinted that it’s a fantasy and that the real Jo that you’ve known and loved is actually off somewhere, self-confident and content, living her dreams, publishing her books, and creating this fairytale ending for us to enjoy and for her to roll her eyes at.

P.S. I should note that I actually enjoy much more of Book Two as an adult. Especially now that I have kids. Especially that scene where Meg and John are trying to get their son to go to sleep and John ends up passed out in bed with his kid and Alcott remarks that trying to get a two year old to go to sleep is more exhausting than an entire day of work. Yeah. That. I read that part out loud to my husband. It’s somehow both comforting and discouraging to know that in 200 years of parenthood, nothing has changed….

Coming Soon: Middle Grade Fiction in 2019

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Lots of new books are set to be released this year!  Here’s a peak at some of the new books announced by publishers for kids ages 8-14.  Summaries and release dates are based on the information publishers have made available thus far and may or may not be completely accurate.  But it looks like some great new books are coming this way!

 

Continuing Series

FLIGHT OF THE BLUEBIRD by Kara LaReau and Jen Hill (1/8)
The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, Book 3

PRANK WARS by Matt Stanton (1/8)
Funny Kid, Book 3

TBH, TOO MUCH DRAMA by Lisa Greenwald (1/8)
TBH, Book 3

HOW TO PROPERLY DISPOSE OF PLANET EARTH by Paul Noth (1/15)
Sequel to HOW TO SELL YOUR FAMILY TO THE ALIENS

A PREDATOR’S RIGHTS by Anna Starobinets, Marie Murovski, and Jane Bugaeva (1/16)
Beastly Crimes, Book 2

A CIRCLE OF ELEPHANTS: A COMPANION NOVEL by Eric Dinerstein (1/22)
Sequel to WHAT ELEPHANTS KNOW

ESCAPE FROM THE PALACE by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore (1/22)
The Royal Rabbits of London, Book 4

MIXED EMOTIONS by Heather Nuhfer (1/22)
My So-Called Superpowers, Book 2

SPIRITS, SPELLS, AND SNARK by Kelly McCullough (1/22)
Sequel to MAGIC, MADNESS, AND MISCHIEF

THE UNSPEAKABLE UNKNOWN by Eliot Sappingfield (1/22)
Sequel to A PROBLEMATIC PARADOX

THE END OF THE WORLD AND BEYOND by Avi (1/29)
Sequel to THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS

THE PHANTOM HOUR by Kat Shepherd (1/29)
A Babysitting Nightmares book

THE LAST LIFE OF PRINCE ALASTOR by Alexandra Bracken (2/5)
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, Book 2

A SPRINKLE OF SPIRITS by Anna Meriano (2/5)
Love Sugar Magic, Book 2

PRESIDENT OF POPLAR LANE by Margaret Mincks (2/12)
Poplar Kids, Book 2

MIDDLE SCHOOL: BORN TO ROCK by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (2/18)
Middle School, Book 11

THE LOST HEIR by Tui T. Sutherland (2/26)
Wings of Fire Graphic Novels, Book 2

THE HUNT FOR MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER by Diane Magras (3/5)
Sequel to THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER

ARU SHAH AND THE SONG OF DEATH by Roshani Chokshi (4/30)
Pandava, Book 2

BIGGER, BADDER, NERDIER by Obert Skye (4/30)
Geeked Out, Book 2

FREEDOM FIRE by Daniel Jose Older (5/14)
Dactyl Hill Squad, Book 2

SERAFINA AND THE SEVEN STARS by Robert Beatty (7/9)
Serafina, Book 4

QUEST FOR THE GRAIL by Audrey Mackaman (8/20)
Cavall in Camelot, Book 2

THE BATTLE by Karuna Riazi (8/27)
Sequel to THE GAUNTLET

 

Fantasy & Science Fiction

MAX AND THE MIDKNIGHTS by Lincoln Peirce (1/8)
A young aspiring knight embarks on a quest to rescue his uncle from an evil king.

DRAGON PEARL by Yoon Ha Lee (1/15)
A girl descended from fox spirits must embrace her powers and embark on a quest to find her older brother, who has disappeared.

ULTRABALL: LUNAR BLITZ by Jeff Chen (1/15)
A group of kids engaged in a competitive sport in their Moon Colony home find themselves involved in Lunar politics when an outsider joins their team.

THE WHISPERS by Greg Howard (1/15)
After his mother disappears, a boy travels into the forest in search of wish-granting fairies.

A TEAR IN THE OCEAN by H.M. Bouwman (1/22)
When their sea suddenly begins to become salty, two kids must figure out why before an ancient magical infection destroys their world.

FREYA AND ZOOSE by Emily Butler (1/29)
A penguin and a stowaway mouse undertake a harrowing journey to the North Pole.

THE LOST GIRL by Anne Ursu (2/12)
When things begin mysteriously disappearing around her town, a girl worries that her twin sister might be next.

THE BEAST PLAYER by Nahoko Uehashi (2/21)
After her mother is executed for a crime she didn’t commit, a girl discovers that she can communicate with the sea serpents in the king’s army and gets swept up into a political plot that she wants no part of.

I AM HERMES by Mordecai Gerstein (2/26)
A graphic novel detailing the antics of the young Greek god Hermes.

OUTWALKERS by Fiona Shaw (2/26)
After escaping a prison-like orphanage, a boy and his comrades must hide off the grid as they struggle to escape the oppressive Coalition that has taken over the government.

THE POTTER’S BOY by Tony Mitton (2/26)
After a wandering warrior saves his village, a boy from humble origins embarks on a quest to find the hermit who can train him in martial arts.

THE MISSING PIECE OF CHARLIE O’REILLY by Rebecca K.S. Ansari (3/5)
When a boy’s brother disappears, everyone else instantly forgets that he existed, leading the boy to embark on a quest to discover what really happened to him.

THE REVENGE OF MAGIC by James Riley (3/5)
After his father is lost in a monster-attack, a boy is invited to attend a government school to learn how to harness the power of magical books discovered near the bones of dragons.

SAL AND GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE by Carlos Hernandez (3/5)
Two unlikely young allies discover that together they can manipulate space-time, with potentially disastrous consequences.

SEVENTH GRADE VS THE GALAXY by Joshua S. Levy (3/5)
When his spaceship-school comes under attack, a boy accidentally launches it across the galaxy and must find a way to navigate home.

WE’RE NOT FROM HERE by Geoff Rodkey (3/5)
As the new immigrants on Planet Choom, Earthlings struggle to fit in.

WINGS OF OLYMPUS by Kallie George (3/5)
An orphan girl is chosen by the gods to ride a winged horse in a dangerous, high stakes race through the mortal world.

OVER THE MOON by Natalie Lloyd (3/26)
A girl gets a chance to escape servitude when she enters a competition to train magical flying horses.

THE TRAGICAL TALE OF BIRDIE BLOOM by Temre Beltz (3/26)
A tragic orphan and a wicked witch form an unlikely friendship.

KATT VS. DOGG by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (4/1)
When a katt and dogg are lost in the woods together, can they overcome their innate sense of rivalry to make it home together?

YE by Guilherme Petreca (4/2)
A mute boy embarks on a quest to defeat the Colorless King and restore hope to the world.

JACLYN HYDE by Annabeth Bonder-Stone and Connor White (5/7)
A middle-schooler invents a potion that is supposed to help her achieve perfection, but instead transforms her into a ruthless, moral-free monster.

LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA by Erin Entrada Kelly (5/7)
When a Filipino girl makes a foolish wish that endangers her island, she must undertake a dangerous voyage across the ocean.

ORDER OF THE MAJESTIC by Matt Myklusch (5/7)
In an attempt to save the last bit of magic left in the world, a boy gets caught in a war between two groups of rival magicians.

SPARK by Sarah Beth Durst (5/14)
After bonding with a dragon-like lightning beast, a girl must study to become an effective guardian, but instead learns disturbing secrets about her homeland.

BAD ORDER by B.B. Ullman (6/4)
A girl and her telepathic brother are called upon to heal a tear in the universe that threatens to overrun the world with bad thoughts.

THIS WAS OUR PACT by Ryan Andrews (6/11)
When two boys chase paper lanterns on their bicycles they wind up going further than anyone has ever gone into a magical world.

THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND by Catherine Doyle (7/12)
A boy finds himself at the center of an ancient war when a magical island needs a new storm keeper.

CHANGELING by William Ritter (7/16)
Two boys raised as twins discover that one of them is a goblin changeling and embark on a journey to discover their true identities.

CAPE by Kate Hannigan (8/6)
With her father off fighting Nazis, a girl dreams of doing more to save the world and finds herself transformed into a real superhero.

A SWIRL OF OCEAN by Melissa Sarno (8/6)
After swallowing a gulp of sea water, a girl begins having visions of a girl from the past who is eerily familiar.

 

Historical Fiction

THE UNSUNG HERO OF BIRDSONG, USA by Brenda Woods (1/8)
A Black WWII veteran saves a young boy’s life in the Jim Crow South and an unlikely friendship begins.

EMMI IN THE CITY: A GREAT CHICAGO FIRE SURVIVAL STORY by Salima Alikhan (2/1)
A German immigrant and the kids who bully her are caught together in the Great Chicago Fire.

SPY RUNNER by Eugene Yelchin (2/12)
When his family takes in a Russian lodger, a boy gets caught up in the Red Scare and wonders if he has stumbled upon a Russian spy.

GOODBYE, MR. SPAULDING by Jennifer Robin Barr (3/26)
Two kids in the Great Depression scheme to stop their town from building a wall that would prevent them from watching the Philadelphia Athletics baseball games.

THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS by Gail Shepherd (3/26)
Although her grandmother is obsessed with “keeping up appearances,” a girl just wants to get her Vietnam Veteran father the help he needs—even if it means reaching out for help outside of the family.

VOICES: THE FINAL HOURS OF JOAN OF ARC by David Elliott (3/26)
Through medieval poetry, people, animals, and objects close to Joan of Arc reflect on her life and legacy.

LAST OF THE NAME by Roseanne Perry (4/2)
When an Irish boy immigrates to America, his mother convinces him to pretend to be a girl in order to avoid being drafted as a drummer boy in the Civil War.

SINCERELY, HARRIET by Sarah Winifred Searle (5/7)
A chronically ill girl with a penchant for telling lies begins expressing herself through writing.

A PLACE TO BELONG by Cynthia Kadohata (5/14)
After being freed from an internment camp, a Japanese-American family returns to Hiroshima hoping to start a new life with their relatives, only to discover the carnage that took place there.

IT RAINED WARM BREAD by Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and Hope Anita Smith (8/13)
A boy survives the holocaust with the hope that came from an act of kindness.

 

Mystery/Thriller

THE MYSTERY OF BLACK HOLLOW LANE by Julia Nobel (3/5)
Three students at a boarding school uncover a secret society that may hold the answers to find one student’s missing father.

THE NORTH STAR by Kat Shepherd (3/5)
Three young detectives follow the clues to find a stolen diamond necklace.

THE STRANGERS by Margaret Peterson Haddix (4/2)
After reading a story about a very similar family that vanished, three siblings begin an investigation.

THE BOOK CASE by Dave Shelton (4/5)
A boarding school student and the Librarian’s Assistant work together to solve crimes.

SCOUTS by Shannon Greenland (7/23)
A group of scouts searching for a meteor in the woods wind up being chased by a violent group of Masons.

DOC AND THE DETECTIVE IN: THE GRAVEYARD TREASURE by Tim Tingle (10/15)
A boy and an elderly doctor team up to solve mysteries in their small town, despite the doc’s struggle with dementia.

 

Realistic Fiction

CLICK by Kayla Miller (1/8)
A girl questions the strength of her friendships when she can’t find a friend to perform with in the talent show.

THE FRIENDSHIP WAR by Andrew Clements (1/8)
An unexpected button fad has damaging results on the friendship of two sixth grade girls.

LIZZY LEGEND by Matthew Ross Smith (1/8)
After being allowed to join the boys’ basketball team at school, a girl makes a wish on a magical phone line that she will never miss another shot and finds herself skyrocketing toward the NBA.

THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE by Dan Gemeinhart (1/8)
After five years of living on the road following the death of her mother and sisters, a girl and her father finally head back home.

THE UNTEACHABLES by Gordon Korman (1/8)
Chaos ensues when the worst students in school are gathered into one classroom and assigned the worst teacher in school.

GENESIS BEGINS AGAIN by Alicia D. Williams (1/15)
A girl with low self-esteem and a verbally abusive family that criticizes the darkness of her skin finds new hope when she starts at a new school with a supportive teacher.

ONE THIRD NERD by Gennifer Choldenko (1/29)
A boy and his siblings must raise money to get their dog to the vet before the landlord finds out she’s been peeing on the carpet of their apartment.

PINK HAIR AND OTHER TERRIBLE IDEAS by Andrea Pyros (2/1)
In the wake of her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, a girl struggles with her priorities and relationships with her twin brother and friends at school.

EVENTOWN by Corey Ann Haydu (2/12)
After moving to a seemingly perfect town, a girl discovers that perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

TO NIGHT OWL FROM DOGFISH by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer (2/12)
Two daughters of single gay dads find friendship when their dads start dating and hatch a plan to keep them together.

A DROP OF HOPE by Keith Calabrese (2/26)
Three sixth graders begin secretly making the wishes that townspeople make in the wishing well come true.

THE MOON WITHIN by Aida Salazar (2/26)
A girl struggles to find her true identity, while her mother insists on a traditional Mexican ceremony when she gets her first period.

STAND ON THE SKY by Erin Bow (3/5)
When her parents must take her brother to a hospital, a nomadic girl befriends an eagle and defies traditional gender roles to train it.

A STORM OF STRAWBERRIES by Jo Cotterill (3/5)
A girl with Down syndrome tries to help her family prepare for a big storm and to help calm family tensions, but it seems no one will pay attention to her.

A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE by Lisa Moore Ramee (3/12)
A rule-following girl decides to take a risk and show her support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

MOSTLY THE HONEST TRUTH by Jody J. Little (3/12)
With her dad in rehab, a girl tries to toe the line in her new foster home so she can be reunited with her real dad as soon as possible.

THE SPACE BETWEEN BEFORE AND AFTER by Sue Stauffacher (3/19)
When his mother disappears, a boy copes with his grief by imagining her as the hero of a fantasy story.

SWEEPING UP THE HEART by Kevin Henkes (3/19)
Stuck at home with a babysitter over Spring Break, a girl makes an unusual new friend who revives the memory of her late mother.

THE SIZE OF THE TRUTH by Andrew Smith (3/26)
A boy tries to overcome PTSD from a childhood trauma in order to regain some control over his own life and pursue his dream of becoming a chef.

THE BECKET LIST: A BLACKBERRY FARM STORY (4/2)
Everything changes for a city girl moving to her grandmother’s farm in the country.

CATERPILLAR SUMMER by Gillian McDunn (4/2)
On an unexpected summer trip to her grandmother’s house, a girl has a chance to take a break from her role holding her family together and spend some time being a kid.

OPERATIC by Kyo Maclear (4/2)
A quiet girl tries to let the lessons she learns in her opera class impact other areas of her middle school life.

BIRDIE by Eileen Spinelli (4/9)
Still grieving the death of her father, a girl’s struggles deepen when both her older sister and her mother find boyfriends.

THE LINE TENDER by Kate Allen (4/16)
After her mother’s sudden death, a girl tries to find a way to finish her mother’s research on sharks.

THE NEXT GREAT PAULIE FINK by Ali Benjamin (4/16)
Although she is the new kid in school, a girl becomes enthralled with her new classmate’s stories about the class clown who moved away over the summer and their attempts to find someone to fill his role.

EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (4/30)
A girl who believes she is destined to someday transform into a bird finds new hope in a new foster home with a taxidermist who works at a wildlife rescue.

THE LOST BOY’S GIFT by Kimberly Willis Holt (4/30)
After his parents divorce, a boy has to move across the country and struggles to find his place in his new neighborhood.

MYA’S STRATEGY TO SAVE THE WORLD by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (4/30)
When her parents refuse to let her get a phone, a socially conscious middle-schooler tries to prove to them how responsible she is.

FINDING ORION by John David Anderson (5/7)
An unusual family’s unusual grandfather’s funeral turns out to be the start of an unusual adventure.

HURRICANE SEASON by Nicole Melleby (5/7)
A girl struggles with her father’s mental illness and her first crush on another girl.

NIXIE NESS: COOKING STAR by Claudia Mills (6/4)
When her mother gets a new job, a girl is sent to the afterschool program where she starts a cooking club.

FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME by Mariama J. Lockington (7/30)
An adopted Black girl growing up in a white family struggles to find her identity and her place in her school community.

HOAX FOR HIRE by Laura Martin (8/27)
Despite his disdain for monsters a boy gets roped into the family business: spreading the myth of the Loch Ness Monster.

STARGAZING by Jen Wang (9/10)
When an unusual girl moves in next door, a Chinese-American girl finds an unlikely best friend.

THE BIG ONE by J.C. Geiger (10/1)
A boy whose older brother was lost to the ocean becomes obsessed with a prophesied tsunami and discovers a secret music festival.

DEAR SWEET PEA by Julie Murphy (10/1)
Overwhelmed by her parents’ divorce, a girl accidentally ends up writing an advice column in her town paper.