Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Amari and the Night Brothers

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1) (Balzer & Bray, 2021) by B. B. Alston is like a cross between Men in Black and Harry Potter at summer camp.

13-year-old Amari Peters struggles with anger against those who think she doesn’t fit in since she’s a scholarship student and black. It’s worse since her older brother Quinton has been missing. Many believe he is dead, but Amari knows he’s alive. A chance to tryout for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs this summer may help her find out where Quinton is. But again in a world of magic, there are those who don’t think she belongs. Amari must stand up for herself and learn all she can about this new world to have any chance of finding her brother.

This was B.B.’s debut novel. The books have been published in over 30 countries and a movie is in the works! Wow! Here’s the Spanish version, Amari y Los Hermanos de la Noche. The third book in this trilogy is expected out this summer.

Awards:

  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books, 1995-2024. Commended, 2022. (Association of Library Services for Children)
  • Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Award, 1997-2023. Selection, 2022. (Children’s Literary Assembly)
  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1997-2024. Commended, 2022. (YALSA)
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011-2024. Selection, 2022. (YALSA)
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year, 2010 – 2023. Selection, 2021. (School Library Journal)

Read about this NY Times bestselling author here.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

I Can Make this Promise

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

To start out the year I have the wonderful I Can Make this Promise (Heartdrum, 2019) by Christine Day. I was hooked right from the beginning. Plus I learned some horrible practices that happened in the past.

12-year-old Edie always gets questions such as “What are you? Where are you from?” She has no good answer. She knows her mother is Native American but due to an adoption by a white family doesn’t know from where or what tribe. And her father’s white American. One day Edie and her friends find a box hidden in the attic that has an old photo of a woman who looks just like Edie. There are letters too. Why have her parents been keeping her ancestry a secret?

This book is an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book and has been chosen for a number of lists. It was also the author’s debut novel.

Read about Christine here and check out her other books here.

Posted in Award Winners, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Where the World Ends

Where the World Ends (Flatiron Books, 2019) by Geraldine McCaughrean is an amazing historical novel of survival. It’s a 2020 Michael L Printz Honor book, a winner of the 2018 Carnegie Medal (published in the UK by Usborne in 2017) and is on many other lists.

Every summer, men and boys are put ashore on a remote sea stack to harvest birds, eggs, feathers, and oil. But this year, for Quill and his friends, no boat comes to get them. What does it mean that no one came? Is it the end of the world? And how can they survive the winter?

Right from the first line, “His mother gave him a new pair of socks, a puffin to eat on the voyage and a kiss on the cheek.,” we know we are in a different setting. You’ll meet John who has been hiding a secret and learn about all kinds of birds as Quill endures abandonment and struggles to survive.

Geraldine writes for children and adults–she’s one prolific author! Read about her here and check out all her books here.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Red Pencil

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Red Pencil (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015) by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Shane W. Evans is a book I missed reading, but am glad to have caught up with. Told in verse and with line drawings, it’s heartbreaking, yet hopeful.

In Darfur, Sudan, twelve-year-old Amira, wants the impossible–to go to school and learn to read and write. But her mother says her life will be farming and marriage so there is no need. After the Janjaweed attack her village, the family makes their way to a refugee camp. There a gift of a red pencil gives Amira hope.

Check out the awards and more info on the book here.

Read about Andrea and her other books here and Shane and his books here.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Coyote Queen

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Coyote Queen (Greenwillow Books, 2023) by Jessica Vitalis is a fascinating story of one girl’s experience with poverty, domestic violence, and magic.

Twelve-year-old Fud, Felicity Ulyssa Dahlers, and her mom have always been on their own. Until Larry. Who makes the rules. And has an uneven temper and is super easy to anger. When the new neighbor girl tells her about a beauty pageant where the prize money is enough to get them away from Larry, Fud knows she has to apply and win.

Read the compelling first line: “Before the coyote stuff happened, I would have told you that magic didn’t exist.”

The story is set in Wyoming where Fud sees, and experiences, coyotes in a very unique way. The book just came out, but already it is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Inspired by some experiences when Jessica was a child, this is her third book. Read about her other books here. And check out her fun facts on Jessica’s about page here.