The protagonists in Stewart Foster’s recent release, All the Things That Could Go Wrong are enemies.  Alex Jones is a germophobe with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  His specialty subject is worrying.  His classmate in Year 7, Dan Curtis is a curious young man with an active imagination who asks questions that sometimes irritate his teachers.  He’s also angry and releases his anger by bullying people like Alex who don’t seem quite normal. Alex’s days are spent wondering how much longer Dan, Sophie, and the two Georges will go on bullying him and how much longer he will have to look for places to hide.  Dan, Sophie,Read More →

Set in New York in 1863 at the time of the Civil War, Daniel José Older’s series novel Dactyl Hill Squad is a blend of history and fantasy with an abundance of action and adventure. Although Older adds dinosaur riders to his story—giving twelve-year-old Magdalys Roca the special ability to hear the dinos’ thoughts and control them with her mind—he tells the truth about orphan life and explores some other very real social issues.  For example, he mocks segregation habits like designating riding privileges along racial lines or colonization attempts like renaming. When the Kidnapping Club, led by the devious Magistrate Rich Riker, burns downRead More →

Told with a combination of texting and prose and in an African-American Vernacular English, So Done by Paula Chase is a novel about friendship and growing up in the ‘tween years. Having been a squad since fifth grade, Mo, Sheeda, Tai, and Mila are thirteen and kicking back during the summer before they enter eighth grade at Woodbury Middle School in Del Rio Bay.  Their neighborhood is called Pirates Cove, one of four low-income projects and “home to more than seven hundred people, some Latino but most Black, all of them poor by Del Rio Bay standards” (29). In the Cove, it was boss orRead More →

In Mac B. Kid Spy: Mac Undercover, a humorous children’s book illustrated by Mike Lowery, Mac Barnett tells the story of Mac Barnett who is a kid one minute and the next, a secret agent for the Queen of England. Once he arrives in London, the Queen equips Mac with a secret identity kit and an alias so that he can go undercover to recover the queen’s spoon.  As Hugh Anthony Cregg III, a piano tuner from Kalmazooo, Michigan, Mac travels from London to France and then to Russia on the trail of a thief. In France, he meets the President, who also plays SpyRead More →

Ellen Goodlett’s debut novel Rule is a fantasy-adventure story that recounts the tale of three sisters, each hiding a dangerous and treasonous secret.  When King Andros of Kolonya announces that these girls from vastly different backgrounds are his daughters, each struggles to adapt to new circumstances and expectations but eventually all three come to see being a bastard daughter of King Andros as an opportunity to make a difference and to change conditions for their people. Zofi, a Traveler from the North with a battle-ready stance, is built for a life on the move, not for one cooped up with haughty nobles. She has masteredRead More →