Set in London in 1963, Wildoak by C.C. Harrington features eleven-year-old Margaret Stephens. Maggie stutters, but not whenever she speaks to her pet mouse Wellington or to the injured dove Flute whose wing she has wrapped for healing or to the two snails, Spitfire and Hurricaine, whom she has rescued from the garden. Still, it’s not her gifts that she sees. Maggie sees herself as broken, a child that doesn’t work properly. Some of these fears derive from people’s reactions to her blocking and her inability to get the words out. Her father even threatens to send her to Granville, a special school where rumorRead More →

Newbery Honor Winner, Rodman Philbrick introduces adolescent readers to an account of historical fiction in his new release, We Own the Sky. Both adventure and history, the novel features eighteen-year-old Josephine Michaud and her twelve-year-old brother, Davy. Orphaned in 1924 after both of their parents have perished in separate mill accidents, the two adolescents become the wards of Ruthie Reynard and enter a strange new world of flying machines and daredevils. Their mother’s famous cousin, Ruthie is not only a record-setting aviatrix but the star of her very own flying circus and the first pilot of any gender to fly nonstop between Chicago and NewRead More →

In her new book for middle-grade readers, The Secret Battle of Evan Pao, Wendy Wan-Long Shang not only explores how young people often deal with conflict but also wonders about their capacity for reconciliation. Through her main character, sixth grader Evan Pao, Shang shares what it means to be “Mr. Sensitive” in a world that often shows no mercy. A human lie-detector with bright and curious eyes, Evan has a sense for when people are not telling the truth. However, his ability fails him when it comes to his father’s swindling ways, which ultimately force the family to flee their home in California. Their moveRead More →

Although Mason Deaver’s novel The Feeling of Falling in Love is indeed a love story, as the title implies, it is also about self-esteem, social class differences, and the exploration of sexual and gender identity. Neil Kearney, a transgender teen, has a “friends with benefits” relationship with his friend Josh. Both use the relationship for stress relief and mutual pleasure. However, when Josh decides he loves Neil, Neil panics and invokes the Pull-Out Clause. Now, he has a week to prove to Josh that he has moved on with his roommate, Wyatt Fowler.  What could possibly go wrong, especially since Wyatt claims to be aRead More →

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 →

The history of the Jewish Empire of Khazaria would die out completely if not for stories like Black Bird, Blue Road. In this historical fiction account, Sofiya Pasternack shares the story of Ziva and Pesha, twelve year old twins. Stubborn, persistent, passionate, and observant, Ziva aspires to be a judge. Her brother, Pesha may not have the same fire, but he is brilliant in his own way. Ziva is convinced that with his inventive mind, Pesha will find a cure not only for the leprosy that afflicts him but for other diseases, as well. Selfless and kind, Pesha also has a gift for learning languages.Read More →

The first installment in a duology, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber is a fantasy, adventure, and romance story all rolled into one. It features Wren Greenrock and her twin sister, Rose Valhart. The two girls were separated at birth and raised in diverse locales with different values and perspectives. Rose has lived the life of a pampered princess at Anadawn Palace while Wren grew up near the Whisperwind Cliffs beside the ocean in a commune of witches. Now that Rose is about to be crowned queen, her grandmother has determined that a witch would better serve the kingdom of Eana. So, sheRead 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 →

At age ten, Zhang Ai Shi becomes an object sorting machine. Favoring the practical and the essential, her dolls and dress-up clothes go in the give-away pile as the family packs for Duarte, California, from Taipei, Taiwan. Because the Chinese name for America is “the beautiful country,” Ai Shi anticipates the trip with excitement. However, what Ai Shi discovers “in the land of more” is that her world is rather small. As her parents endure vandalism and work relentlessly to make ends meet, Ai Shi must help out in “the store” while learning the paradox of being simultaneously grateful and sad. At school, she isRead More →