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.

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

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe (‎Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018) by Jo Watson Hackl is very compelling. I missed this book when it first came out but am so glad to have read it now. Such voice! So fun to follow the clues along with the character. And who doesn’t love a secret room!

Her mama has run off and Cricket thinks finding the secret room that an artist painted will help bring Mama back. But Cricket too has to run away to search…to a ghost town. This girl’s only companion in the wilds is a live cricket. And Cricket has a deadline to solve the mystery that everyone else says isn’t real.

The book has won the following awards: 2020 Mississippi Library Association Children’s Author Award, 2019 Southern Book Award Winner–Children’s Category, and was a 2020-2021 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee.

Read about Jo here. And if you like, check out the book trailer here.

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

Learning not to drown.

Learning not to drown. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014) by Anna Shinoda is such a spooky good read. Gripping. Puzzling. Moving. Hard to put down.

You know right away that something bad has happened, but not what. The book is divided into THEN chapters and NOW chapters.

Seventeen-year-old Clare has let her memories of THEN cloud over and NOW she’s working on focusing on the good memories. But there’s a thing about skeletons in the closet–they won’t stay there.

I don’t want to say too much about this story of a great girl in a dysfunctional family, but her mother made me so angry.

The book was translated into German and received a German Academy of Literature for Children and Young Readers) Book of the Month Award in 2015. Anna doesn’t seem to be active on her website, but you can check it out here. (That may be because she’s married to musician/singer Mike Shinoda.)

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

We Dream of Space

The 2021 Newbery honor, We Dream of Space (Greenwillow Books, 2020) by Erin Entrada Kelly is such a sad and hopeful book.

Set during the excitement and disaster of the Challenger in 1986, we’re involved with the Thomas family kids. There’s Cash who is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time and can’t play basketball due to a broken wrist. The twelve-year-old twins, Fitch and Bird. He’s only into video games and is struggling with anger. She wants to be NASA’s first female shuttle commander and feels invisible.

The journeys these three take are fascinating. I love how they figure things out. You won’t regret reading this book or her others.

Read about the award winning author here and check out all her books here.

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

out of my heart

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

out of my heart by Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021) is an amazing book that I wish EVERYONE would read! Such a satisfying story about persistence and friendship. Can you tell I loved it?

Twelve-year-old Melody can’t walk, talk, or feed herself, but she’s smart and she wants to go to camp. She researches and finds a camp for kids with special needs and convinces her parents to let her go. It’s scary–she’s not been away from her parents for so long–and they are going to have her swim and go horseback riding. Can she do all that?!

It’s a sequel to out of my mind, but it’s been so long since I read that book, I didn’t remember much, so this book definitely stands alone. Readers kept asking to know what else happened to Melody in the first book, that Sharon wrote a sequel. Both book promote so much understanding about those who are differently abled. out of my heart was a CCBC Choice (Cooperative Children’s Book Council).

Sharon is an award winning author and teacher. Read about her here. Check out her books here.