Readers of M.T. Anderson and Ben Oliver will likely appreciate Sacha Wunsch’s recent release, Lies My Memory Told Me. This dystopian thriller follows the story of quiet, sixteen-year-old Nova Reynolds and her friends Andi and Kade as they work to solve the mystery of what Experion Enterprises is attempting with their new technology called Enhanced Memories. Enhanced Memories (EM) are originally created to be “nothing but good,” a magical solution to safely giving people access to experiences to enhance their quality of life: travel without the expense, a lived experience that delivers empathy and nuances of living another life, and ultrarealistic entrainment without the riskRead More →

Living Ghosts and Mischievous Monsters is a collection of 32 chilling American Indian stories assembled into five chapters: Ghosts, Spirits, Witches, Monsters, and The Supernatural. Written and selected by Dan Sasuweh Jones from the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma, the book is artfully illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre from the Tongva tribe of Southern California. From these stories, readers will learn that the spirit world, according to Indian culture, communicates with us by signs. Reading these signs may encourage us to carefully consider our future actions. Readers will also come to understand that languages, ceremonies, and governments can differ greatly from tribe to tribe and region toRead More →

Keeping It Real by Paula Chase follows the story of a group of black teenagers who are accepted to a program for disadvantaged youth called Style High. Sponsored by Flexx Unlimited, a hip-hop media company owned and operated by Marshall and Manita Johnson, Style High gives budding fashion designers some real experience working up concepts for approval, using their inspiration, and being ready for anything the fashion world might throw at them. So when fourteen-year-old Marigold Johnson’s best friend Justice Freeman gets accepted, Marigold decides she wants to work at Flexx for the summer.  After all, her parents own the company. Although her parents areRead More →

Readers of Kim Johnson and Angie Thomas will likely enjoy Kneel by Candace Buford. Set in Monroe, Louisiana, Kneel follows the story of the Jackson Jaguars high school football team and their two star players: Marion LaSalle and Russell Boudreaux. Football is the two athletes’ ticket out of Monroe and out of poverty. Marion is possibly the best quarterback in Louisiana, and Russell is a regionally ranked tight end. For both, their bodies are their greatest assets. Although Russell is no slouch in the classroom, the field is the only place where Marion is on top. However, that is taken from him when he isRead More →

Newbery Honor-winning author Kathryn Lasky has written her fourth book about World War II: Faceless. In this historical fiction account set in 1944, thirteen-year-old Alice Winfield is a member of the most-skilled intelligence service on earth. Working for MI6, Alice and her family belong to a small clan of spies called the Tabula Rasa.  Because they can pass unseen through enemy lines and “become” other people without being recognized, they are, essentially, faceless. Alice’s older sister Louise has determined that blending in and being anonymous is not for her, so she decides to have plastic surgery so that her face is memorable. Her choice toRead More →

Collige virgo rosas is Latin for “gather, girl, the roses”—a favorite line of the dramatic and vivacious Cassandra Queen in Kyrie McCauley’s book We Can Be Heroes. But Cassie, who was a poet, a writer of music, and a budding actress, is now incorporeal—having been shot to death by her possessive and entitled boyfriend, Nico Bell. Seeking closure, Ghost Cassie returns to the town of Bell to take care of some unfinished business. Rather than accept a world where “it’s normal to lose someone you love to a bullet at school” (316), she wants the world to “read stories where girls are the heroes andRead 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 →

Just in time for Halloween 2021, Lucy Strange’s new middle grade novel, The Ghost of Midnight Lake, tells the story of twelve-year-old Agatha Rose Walters who thought she was an Asquith. The mystery of Agatha’s parentage, the presence of a Ghost Girl, and the lost Queen’s Stone—a legendary white opal—add intrigue to Strange’s story. Set in England’s Lake District in 1899, Lady Agatha loses her father. With his death, everything changes at once. Her cousin Clarence, the new Earl of Gosswater evicts her from the only home she has ever known and tells her that she is a nobody since her father is really ThomasRead More →

With the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 having recently been commemorated, we all might wonder whether we have progressed as a nation in the last two decades. We might ask ourselves if we treat others better today than we did in the days and months after the attacks. Because today’s school age youth were not yet alive in 2001, they may wonder why September 11 carries the motto, Never Forget. They may wonder why history is so important.  Saadia Faruqi’s novel Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero will guide middle grade readers to understand these complicated questions with their layered answers. Readers will learn that historyRead More →