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 →

Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi is a book about dogs and humans. Eleven-year-old Quinn has lost his dad to a heart attack and his dog Murph to a vehicle accident, and now he’s losing his brother Jessie to a pack of bullies. Craving love and attention, Quinn accepts a job with Miss Lottie, who has created a family of dogs she is giving another chance. Quinn develops into a good belly rubber and an excellent chin scratcher, beloved by the pack of rescue dogs. When the story opens, four dogs comprise the pack. With his strength and courage, Tank is loyal and trusty—a true bulldogRead More →

With her middle grade novel I Am Defiance, Jenni L. Walsh joins the group of authors who have written about the chilling period in human history that reminds us of the power of hate and the danger of silence: World War II-era Germany and Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror. However, Walsh takes her readers of historical fiction beyond that era to remind us all of the power of action, resistance, words, and asking questions rather than blindly accepting what we are told. This book comes out in time to mark Hitler’s April 20th birthday so that readers might examine the truth through the curious eyesRead More →

Kim Johnson’s debut young adult novel is a stunning work of realistic fiction. It joins the ranks of stories written by Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, and Jesmyn Ward.  With This Is My America, Johnson uses art as a tool to inspire social action. Drawing on the idealism, perseverance, and passion of her protagonist Tracy Beaumont, Johnson encourages us to use our voices to demand justice and to become advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rooted in United States history, where we have inherited a legacy of racial segregation and hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, this narrative reminds us that the past is alwaysRead More →

With Heartstopper, Alice Oseman has created a heart-warming story of friendship that grows beyond those simple bounds, and the pictures in this graphic novel are as telling as its words. A drummer and mathematics wizard who is better at virtual sports than real ones, Charlie Spring is a sophomore at Truham School for Boys in England.  With the start of the new school year, he is seated next to a young man who is a year older and a star of the rugby team: Nicolas Nelson. When Nick sees the speed at which Charlie can run, he invites him to join the rugby team.  However,Read More →

Dressed in a disguise, the Queen of Mynaria plays the cello with passion and life as her ten-year-old daughter Princess Amaranthine sings in the ale houses.  But mothers die, and Mare becomes a different person after donning a surly personality, wearing it like a suit of armor.  Bold and brazen, she is vakos, a girl without magic and one with an affinity for trouble and without a knack for social pleasantries.  More comfortable in communities where horsemanship is a measure of rank, Mare falls in love with Dennaleia, Princess of Havemont who was betrothed to Mare’s brother, Thandi, and groomed to be a queen.  ButRead More →

Jessica Khoury’s science fiction novel Last of Her Name features sixteen-year-old Stacia Androva and Clio Markova, two girls who are like sisters.  Possessing an instinctual urge to keep Clio safe, Stacia trusts Clio even when she can’t trust herself.  Their existence is mostly idyllic until the threat of rebellion comes knocking. A vintner’s daughter on the planet Amethyne, Stacia lives in Afka, a valley town huddled between the hills.  Stacia is a tenacious young woman with a muscular build and mechanics certification.  Appollo Androthenes, aka Pol, is Afkan’s wrestling champion and Stacia’s protector.  The three friends share multiple memories, a trio against the universe.  ButRead More →

Fluent in the language of vectors and the laws of physics, Rukhsana Ali dreams of one day working at NASA and plans to attend Caltech when she graduates from high school.  She also can’t wait to escape her home in Seattle where her Muslim parents believe that daughters and sons are not the same. In her mother’s mind, Rukshana’s worth in the marriage market is directly proportionate to her culinary prowess.  Therefore, she has to know how to prepare chai, goat vindaloo, and roti  in order to impress a potential mother-in-law.  But Rukshana isn’t a traditional Muslim, and she’s more interested in Ariana’s sweet-nothings whisperedRead More →

Set in Kyrria, where fairies, elves, ogres, unicorns, and giants live among nobles and commoners, Newbery honor author Gail Carson Levine’s newest book, Ogre Enchanted, tells the story of fifteen-year-old Evie.  Gifted in the arts of healing, Evie is the kind of healer that “knows when to just mention a remedy and when to pry open a jaw” (3).  She has also been accused by her best friend, Warwick—aka Wormy—as seeing people as patients and nothing more. When the sensitive, sweet, and trustworthy Wormy proposes marriage to Evie and the lively, intelligent, single-minded healer with a sense of humor declines, the fairy Lucinda promptly turnsRead More →