Wish (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016) by Barbara O’Connor pulls on the heart strings!
Charlie Reese has been sent away from her home in Raleigh to live with an aunt and uncle she doesn’t know in a “sorry excuse for a town” called Colby. And as her best friend, Alvina, told her, she’s going to school with hillbilly kids. Charlie doesn’t want to be here, doesn’t want to stay here, and definitely isn’t going to like it here. She wishes on everything. But an unexpected friend, a stray dog, and love make her change her wish.
This book was a New York Times Bestseller, Junior Library Guild Selection, American Booksellers Association Best Books of the Year, 2016 Parents Choice Gold Award, Nerdy Book Club Award 2016, and SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2017 winner.
Read about this award-winning author here and check out her current books here. I recommended her How to Steal a Dog book here.
A Whale of the Wild (Greenwillow Books, 2020) by Rosanne Parry and illustrated by Lindsay Moore was such a moving story. And is a New York Times bestseller!
Told from alternating viewpoints of Vega and her little brother Deneb, it feels like we are right there in the ocean with these two young orca whales, experiencing the Pull and Push of the tide, the dark below water, the glow of the sunshine, and the hunger. Someday Vega will be a Wayfinder, who finds the salmon for the family. But not yet. Then an earth shake separates the two from the rest of the pod and Vega has to figure out how not only to find their way back to the pod, but feed her little brother, too.
The spot illustrations enhance the story. There’s also a bonus section in the back about orcas and other sea creatures.
Rosanne is the New York Times bestselling author of A Wolf Called Wander among other middle grade/young adult novels that you can read about here. Her next book is a picture book which you can check out here.
Lindsay is an author/illustrator. Check out some of her beautiful illustrations here and read about her here.
I, Cosmo (Nosy Crow, 2019) by Carlie Sorosiak is such a sweet story! And funny, too.
Cosmo is getting older, but he needs to help his boy, so the thirteen-year-old dog is willing to train to be in a dance contest with his master. Max is worried his parents will separate and he and Cosmo might be separated. He thinks a canine dance contest will remind his family of the good memories and they’ll stay together. But Charlie’s arthritis is getting worse. Will they succeed?
Told from the dog’s viewpoint, there are many things that confuse Cosmo, but he is strong in his love for Max. This story could be very helpful for middle grade readers experiencing the breakup of their own families. But any animal lover will enjoy the book.
Read about all of the animal-loving author’s other books here–she writes for children and young adults. Meet Carlie here.
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.
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.