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 →

Inspired by Louis L’Amour and targeting fans of the western genre, Paul K. Brown writes The Llano Kid series in which he traces the journey of his title character. In the third book of the series: Cactus Valley Lawman, readers learn the origin of the protagonist’s name, as well as additional pieces to the story of this young man who was orphaned as a boy. Now, Llano has taken on a job as security and scout for a wagon train heading west to California. When the wagon train is ambushed, Billy Nevil’s Ma is killed, leaving her son Billy an orphan at age twelve. Seeing himself inRead More →

Set in the fictional country of Mariposa, The Samosa Rebellion by Shanthi Sekaran tells the story of several twelve-year-old middle schoolers who attend Marble Hill Preparatory (MHP) Academy.  When Muki Krishnan spots Dragonflies—a type of spy drone—monitoring the neighborhood of Oceanview and suddenly hears people talking about moths versus butterflies, he knows strange things are afoot, so he is glad to have his best friend Fabi Calderón by his side. Fabi is smart, funny, genuine, great at soccer, and immune to what the world thinks. Unlike Tinley Schaedler and others whose families have ancestors from Mariposa, the two friends are on scholarship to attend MHP,Read 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 →

Told in three parts, The Leopard Behind the Moon is written like an oral legend. Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev sets her tale in Sesa—a faraway place amid the marula trees where a group of people live in a village with strict laws about not going out at night or opening the magical door that protects them all. However, on the three-year anniversary of his father’s death, ten-year-old Ezomo sees the leopard that killed his father and feels compelled to follow it. His foolhardiness involves two of his friends: Muja and Chimama, and the three have quite an adventure.  Ezomo discovers that although the night is dark andRead More →

Melody Bird’s favorite place is the graveyard.  It’s full of history and beauty, not sadness, and it’s always peaceful and absent of shouting. After her parents split up because of Dad’s deceit, team MC—Melody and her mom Claudia—support one another. One day while walking in the graveyard with her dachshund Frankie, Melody discovers a house overgrown by weeds and vines. After some research, she learns that this is a plague house, a quarantine facility that is hundreds of years old. Melody can’t wait to share her find with her best friend, Matthew Corbin. Matthew has a fear of germs and a tendency towards obsessive compulsiveRead More →