Here are ten to put on your radar. (There are some others coming that are going to get solo posts, but I wanted to give these their due too.)
- Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. I adore this one and wrote at goodreads, “This is MY kind of whimsy. That is, this is a story pushing back on traditional whimsy in a witty and wry way that is still ultimately a journey story for a couple of kids.” Currently having so much fun reading it aloud.
- You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly. This is a gentle and moving middle grade novel featuring two outlier kids from different parts of the country who connect over online Scrabble — by…. this year’s NEWBERY WINNER! (As regular readers of this blog will know — and those who follow Heavy Medal — I adore, adore, adore Hello, Universe and was so happy it got the gold!)
- The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton is an entertaining puzzle mystery along the lines of The Book Scavenger and Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Three distinctive and bright kids make their way around Chicago to find answers to clues and, hopefully, win a scholarship. There is a brisk, lively style to the book that makes it go down easily — might even do as a read-aloud.
- Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the first in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint and does not disappoint. I mean you’ve got the Mahabharata, three brave and awesome kids, fighting, weapons, bravery, humor, and a fast paced adventure. What’s not to like?
- A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappingfield. The publishers had me at “Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and I am happy to say I was not disappointed. This is a quirky debut featuring the brilliant outsider Nikoka, aliens, and a unique school for geniuses. There are quite a few books featuring the latter, some better than others. This is definitely in the better camp.
- The Serpent’s Secret by Syantani DasGupta. The first in a series, this is a lively fantasy featuring Indian mythology, a strong and snarky-voiced girl protagonist, and a plot that goes down fast and furious — definitely one that kids will eat up.
- The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I had thought this was the sort of YA fantasy that would not be for me (the …er …overly…swoony sort:), but I was wrong. Clayton’s world building is excellent and highly inventive — a place where those who have the magical power to alter people’s looks are celebrities, but also used in a very original way. I was swept into the book immediately and look forward to the next in the series.
- The Last Gargoyle by Paul Durham. Another series beginning, solidly middle grade this time, Durham (who did another series, The Luck Uglies, that I liked very much) has crafted a moving story about, indeed, a lonely gargoyle (though he dislikes that word) who has been stoically doing his job (protecting) in Boston when the other remaining two of his kind are finished off, a mysterious girl name Viola shows up, and stuff happens. Gothic and dark (though still solidly middle grade), this made me eager for the next.
- Blue Window by Adina Gerwitz. A group of siblings fall, more or less, through a window into another world a la Narnia, but with a more sci-fi vibe. Kids who enjoy portal fantasies that are long and somewhat melancholy will most likely take to this one. Curious if it is a stand-alone or part of a series.
- The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettleson by Jaclyn Moriarty. This isn’t out till the fall, but when I saw the egalley on edelweiss I snapped it up being a huge fan of this Australian writer. She is sorely not sufficiently appreciated here in the States, but should be. This is, I believe, her first middle grade work, and it is a complete delight.