With his novel—You Only Live Once, David Bravo—Mark Oshiro writes a time-bending adventure story for middle grade readers. The two protagonists, David Bravo and Antoine Harris have been friends forever, but now that they are entering Mira Monte Middle School in California, their lives are about to change drastically. When his teacher Mr. Bradshaw invites the class to give a short, introduce-yourself presentation about their cultures and backgrounds, David is faced with indecision. What does he include or leave out? Adopted as an infant, David’s knowledge of his origin story is limited. As he overthinks the task, David faces an identity crisis: Who is he?Read More →

Readers of M.T. Anderson (Feed) and Cory Doctorow (Little Brother) will likely enjoy The Last Beekeeper by Pablo Cartaya. In fact, Cartaya’s book is a blend of dystopian fiction and environmental awareness literature targeted towards middle grade readers. For twelve-year-old Yolanda (Yoly) Cicerón, life is all tech and upgrades. Strong, intelligent, and stubborn, Yoly aspires to become a certified neurolink surgeon someday so that she can make some “real money” and live on Remembrance Road where all the designers, programmers, and scientists live. With such a position, she and her sister Cami can escape the poverty of farming the strawberry fields. In her early twenties,Read More →

Eleven-year-old Jarell feels awkward and out of place except when he’s drawing. Although his brother Lucas got all the athletic talent, drawing helps Jarell feel in control. Deriving from somewhere deep in his subconscious, he always draws the same futuristic world of towering buildings, powerful warriors, evil sorcerers, and glowing metal gloves with battle tech. To showcase Jarell’s talent, Remi Blackwood’s novel for middle grade readers, Future Hero: Race to Fire Mountain features colors like lava-flow red and obsidian. The first in a series, the book is also peppered with illustrations. The only place Jarell has ever felt truly at ease is the local barbershopRead More →

In his novel Drifters, Kevin Emerson explores what it feels like to be adrift, to not fit in or to feel empty and alone.  Where Micah Rogers blooms in a group of people, Jovie Williams withers. Now, Micah has disappeared, and Jovie feels untethered. Her missing friend leaves a hole in the world and a hollow feeling inside Jovie. Although other people are able to “move on” with their lives, Jovie is obsessed with finding her friend. When she discovers evidence that suggests Micah may have found a way to cross into an alternate universe, she is determined to bring her back. Jovie secures theRead More →

Growing up, Rochelle Hassan read about dragons, quests, and unlikely heroes. Now, she writes about them in her first novel, The Prince to Nowhere. Hassan’s novel is set in the Aerlands, an imaginary world prowled by multiple monsters. To defend human settlements from these terrors, a mist hovers. This protective enchantment was placed there by the legendary mage Aurelion Kader.  In a community called Brume, twelve-year-old Roda lives with her mother and her aunt Dora. Kind, compassionate, and possessing a desire to help, Roda has always looked up to her brave aunt. When Roda begins receiving cryptic letters from Anonymous, she grows curious. The lettersRead More →

Twelve-year-old Logan Foster is good at research, deductive reasoning, and logical problem-solving. However, he is not so adept at emotional responses, human interaction, and reading social cues. This unique protagonist evolves into the hero of Shawn Peters’ novel The Unforgettable Logan Foster.  Set in Santa Monica, California, Peters’ novel retells the story of an orphan who loves comics. Logan considers comics relatable because most superheroes are orphans. They also work to undermine villains and thwart bullies. When Gil Grant and Margie Morrow visit the El Segundo Transitional Orphanage (ESTO) as promising prospective foster parents, Logan experiences the feeling of being wanted and decides it feelsRead More →

With themes and a style similar to the stories penned by Lemony Snicket, Rex Ogle writes a mystery featuring the unfortunate events of Will Hunter in The Supernatural Society. In what hints at a series, this installment is narrated by a monster. When Will Hunter’s dad abandons his family, mother and son are forced to move from Brooklyn, New York, to East Emerson, Massachusetts, where Will’s mother secures a job as a nurse. Sixth grader Will hates that he has no choice in this “fresh start” his mother describes. His only solace is in his Saint Bernard, Fitz, a Christmas gift from his father yearsRead More →

Much like orphan, clock keeper, and thief Hugo Cabret, Ellie Lancaster lives in a world where her survival depends on secrets and anonymity. Although Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray doesn’t have the Caldecott winning pictures of Brian Selznick’s book, it has a similar protagonist in twelve-year-old Ellie and much of the mystery, charm, and adventure. Ellie is an inventor, mechanic, and engineer who is trying to keep alive the memories of her lost mother and brother. With Anna Stonewall as her best friend, Ellie must save Seth, a boy “born” from a whale whose emotions are connected to the sea. Alone and surroundedRead More →

Reckless, easily distracted, and afraid of heights, Abel loves comics, games, books, and dragons. As a collector of DrakoTek cards, he and his best friend Roa enact dragon battles using the cards. The two seventh graders live in Drakopolis, a world where dragons serve as pets, vehicles, and in gang battles. Lessons in school include dragon biology, dragon lore, and exercises with Educational Resource Dragons that provide problem-solving practice using the acronym OODA: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. Even though Abel failed his Dragon Rider Academy Entrance Exam, he still dreams of being a dragon rider like his brother Silas—a cadet at the Academy andRead More →