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.
Eyes of the Forest (Henry Holt and Company, 2021) by April Henry is a bit different than the author’s usual YA mystery or thriller. This one has humor and purple prose (you’ll have to read it to find out) as well as danger.
The problem: Bob is missing. Only Brigid can help.
Bob aka R. M. Haldon is a fantasy writer of an epic series who has writer’s block and is not writing the book, Eyes of the Forest. Seventeen-year-old Brigid is his biggest fan and has maintained R. M. Haldon’s fantasy world database since she was twelve. Her classmate Derrick loves LARPing (live action role play) but is not sticking to only pretend events. Ajay is involved because he invited a girl to lunch.
It really is a fun read. The book was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and was on the Tome Society “It List.”
Etiquette & Espionage (Little, Brown and Company, 2013) by Gail Carriger is the first of four books in the Finishing School series. I missed it when it came out but am glad I found it now–and I have three more books just waiting for me to read! If you like humor, steampunk, adventures, and an intrepid character, you won’t want to miss this book.
It’s 1851 and Sophronia is 14 and not all that interested in learning how to curtsy properly or in being reformed to be more ladylike. However, Mumsy has arranged for her to go to Finishing School. It’s only on probational terms, since Sophronia is such a mess. But once Sophronia enters the carriage and meets another student, she discovers the school might not be what her mother imagined. For one thing it’s not in a particularly fixed location. And that’s not to mention the werewolves, vampires, and flywaymen.
Gail Carriger is a New York Times bestselling author who has written numerous book series. Read about her here and check out her books 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.