Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Star That Always Stays

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Star That Always Stays (Holiday House, 2022) by Anna Rose Johnson is a fascinating historical novel set after the turn of the twentieth century. It’s based on the author’s ancestors and the book includes their photographs at the end.

Norvia Nelson had to leave her home on Beaver Island and move to the city. And now with her mother remarrying she must not tell anyone she’s part Indian. Her dream is to go to high school. Will she fit in? Especially when people discover her parents are divorced? But more importantly, will she ever be happy?

What an interesting look at the culture of the times. I love the stories Grand-père and the two Marys tell of Norvia’s Obijwe heritage, and how the Ward family encourages Norvia in her Christian faith. There are great themes in this story–adapting to a blending family, prejudice, friendship, love. The novel has chapters set in previous times in Norvia’s life to show what has happened in the past.

This is the author’s first book–Wow! Anna Rose Johnson is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Learn more about her here and check out the awards, lists, etc. for Anna’s debut book here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Clackity

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Clackity (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2022) by Lora Senf is an eerily spooky book.

Twelve-year-old Evie Von Rathe is used to ghosts and strange things. After all, she lives with Aunt Desdemona, the paranormal expert in Blight Harbor, the seventh most haunted town in America. But when her aunt goes missing in the abandoned slaughterhouse, it’s up to Evie to save her. The strange creature The Clackity gives her a set of rules–she must go through seven houses in order and bring him/it the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope a serial killer. Will she be brave enough to get through all the houses without being caught by Pope or tricked by The Clackity and save Aunt Desdemona?

This is a compelling read–I just don’t want to see a movie if it’s made as it would be too scary for me.

Lora Senf says, “I write for kids who like their books a little dark and a little scary – and for the adults they grew up to be. But dark and scary is no fun without some light and hope as well, so you’ll find them both in my stories.” This book is the first in a planned series set in Blight Harbor. Read more about the author here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Pay Attention, Carter Jones

I loved Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Clarion Books, 2019) by Gary D. Schmidt so much.

The book lives up to the opening line: “If it hadn’t been the first day of school, and if my mother hadn’t been crying her eyes out the night before, and if the fuel pump on the Jeep had been doing what a fuel pump on a Jeep is supposed to be doing, and if it hadn’t been raining like an Australian tropical thunderstorm – and I’ve been in one, so I know what it’s like – and if the very last quart of one percent milk hadn’t gone sour and clumped up, then probably my mother would never have let the Butler into our house.”

How could anyone not read on? Told from the viewpoint of 6th-grader Carter, the story is full of humor and grief. Read to find out why Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick–a British gentleman’s gentleman–has come. And what the real family problems are. Plus you’ll get to learn about cricket.

This is definitely a read-again-book. Don’t miss it!

Here’s an interview with Gary about the book–how it came to be and more. If you’ve never read anything by him before, you’ve missed out. Read his bio and check out this award winning author’s books.

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

The Last Cuentista

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Last Cuentista (Levine Querido, 2021) by Donna Barba Higuera is a scary and compelling story of survival in the future and the power of storytelling.

Twelve-year-old Petra Peña and her family are leaving earth before it is destroyed. But first she has to say good-bye to her abuelita (grandmother), who tells her cuentos (tall tales), and isn’t going on the trip to a new planet. Petra expects to sleep in a stasis pod for 380 years, but something has gone wrong. She’s not sleeping. And then when Petra does awake, it’s to a nightmare of changed people, The Collective, who have renamed her Zeta-1 and expect that she’ll serve them, or be purged.

This book won the 2022 Newbery award and the 2022 Pura Belpré Medal. I think it’s great that this sci-fi story has so much recognition.

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

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Nerviest Girl in the World

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

If you like historical fiction and humor, you’ll love The Nerviest Girl in the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020) by Melissa Wiley.

When Pearl’s three big brothers get hired to be “real cowboys” in Mr. Corrigan’s moving picture reels, she is fascinated. After hanging on to a runaway horse herself, Pearl is hired, too. But if her mother finds out, her dangerous career as a stunt girl will be over.

I love Pearl’s conversations with the ostriches–yes, they raise those too on their cattle and sheep ranch. I love Pearl’s conflicts with her nemesis. And I love her bravery. It’s great getting a look at what people thought about this new form of entertainment, too.

This book is a Junior Library Guild selection and Brave Writer Arrow book.

Melissa Wiley is also the author of a number of easy readers and the Martha and Charlotte books about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother and grandmother. Read about Melissa here and see her books here.