Posted in Graphic Novels, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Continental Drifter

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Continental Drifter (First Second, 2024) by Kathy MacLeod is a graphic novel that pulls on the heartstrings. It’s a very good read.

Eleven-year-old Kathy is torn between two worlds–Bangkok, Thailand where she and her family live, and Maine where the family is going for the summer. (Kathy’s been there three times.) In Thailand, she’s luk khrueng–half child, because her father is American and her mother is Thai. In rural Maine, no one looks like Kathy. She likes American pizza and southeast Asian rambutans, a spiky sweet fruit. Why is her family so different from others. Why is life so confusing? How can she fit in anywhere?

This is Kathy’s first graphic novel. You can read about her here. Make sure you read the Afterward in the book.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Coyote Lost and Found

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Coyote Lost and Found (Henry Holt and Company, 2024) by Dan Gemeinhart is the sequel to The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. It was so lovely to be with many of the characters from the first book, and fun meeting new ones. My only disappointment was we didn’t see Coyote’s grandmother again.

Coyote and her father, Rodeo, are actually living in a house, but Coyote still hangs out in the bus. And life changes yet again when she finds a hidden box…that contains her mother’s ashes. When she confronts Rodeo, the two decide to spread the ashes. There’s one problem. The location to spread them is written down in a book. And Coyote is pretty sure she got rid of the book last year. She can’t tell Rodeo that, so Coyote devises a journey to rediscover the poetry book. Of course, complications ensue.

The book came out in March.

Dan’s newest book is coming out this month. Aimed at readers ages 3-6, his first picture book is called Once Upon a Friend. Read about it on Dan’s book page.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The First State of Being

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The First State of Being (Greenwillow Books, 2024) by Erin Entrada Kelly is a fun mix of historical fiction—Y2K—and time travel.

It’s 1999 and 11-year-old Michael is hoarding food that he’s stolen for when the world shuts down on January 1, 2000. (He has to help his single Mom who is struggling making ends meet. And she loves peaches, right?) And then he and the apartment maintenance man meet a weird teenager, who appears to be half Filipino like Michael. Ridge doesn’t even know what year it is and is dressed oddly. Something’s off about that kid. Despite all of Michael’s worries, he decides to help Ridge obtain his desire of going to a mall.

This is a story of hope and has great reminders of deciding how we want to be. The book came out in March.

Erin is a Newbery medalist and a NY Times bestselling author. Read about her here and check out all her books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Beneath the Swirling Sky

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Beneath the Swirling Sky, The Restorationists 1 (Waterbrook, 2023) by Carolyn Leiloglou and illustrated by Vivienne To was a fun and nail-biting fantasy adventure. And bonus, I learned more about art and the art world.

12-year-old Vincent and his 6-year-old sister Lili are going to Great Uncle Leo’s for a week while their parents go on a cruise. Mom is upset that their young cousin Georgia is staying there and despite whispers between the adults about traveling and getting involved, she and Dad do leave. Vincent is afraid Uncle Leo, who is an art restorer, is going to make him work on art, but Leo only warns him, “Keep your paws off the art.” After what must surely have been a dream of going into Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Vincent knows it must have been true when Lili goes missing. He and Georgia team up to save her.

This is the first book in a trilogy. The sequels are expected summer 2024 and spring 2025. I’m really looking forward to them.

Read about the author here and check out her other publications here. Carolyn also is a book reviewer on this site.

See many of the illustrator’s beautiful art here and read about Vivienne here where you’ll see she’s also a visual development artist creating concept art for some animated movies. Here you can check out her picture books.

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.