The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (Dutton Children’s Books, 2016) by Adam Gidwitz and illuminated* by Hatem Aly is a differently told medieval tale that was very fun.
“The king is ready for war.” Against three children and their dog. The setting is a French Inn where travelers gather to discuss the strange events. Each person knows a part of the tale. Along the way, we meet the peasant girl named Jeanne, the young monk named William, and the Jewish boy named Jacob. Each has a special gift: visions of the future, supernatural strength, and healing. And, of course, there’s Gwenforte the dog, who has come back to life.
*this term is explained in the book.
This book is a Newbery Honor Book and Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.
Adam has also written the Grimm series (Tall Dark and Grimm is on Netflix), the Unicorn Rescue Series, and some Star Wars books. Check them out here. Read about Adam here.
Read about the fabulous illustrator Hatem here. See all the books he’s illustrated here and I enjoyed looking at his sketchbooks.
As a kid I was horrified to learn about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. How could people think like that?! My naive self thought antisemitism would disappear. And, of course, so would Nazis. Unfortunately not. Here are two books to help middle grade and young adult readers with these topics. Both are told in multiple points of view.
Linked (Scholastic Press, 2021) by Gordon Korman deals with what happens when a student paints a swastika on the school walls. Meet Michael, Lincoln, and Dana all struggling with the aftermath in their quiet town. Who did it and why? (mg novel)
The Assignment (Ember, 2020) by Liza Wiemer starts out with the good intentions of a teacher wanting his students to understand how horrific the genocide of the Jews was, but his approach is wrong and two students–best friends Logan and Cade–take on the battle to get the assignment canceled. (YA novel)
Both stories have surprising twists and are thought provoking.
Gordon Korman is a many-times-published author. On his website this time, I learned his first book was published when he was fourteen!
The Assignment is Liza Wiermer’s second novel and has won numerous honors. Check it out here. Read about Lisa 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.
Wow! Outrun the Moon (G.P Putnam’s Sons, 2016) by Stacey Lee is an outstanding read. Set in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake, it’s hard to put down. (And such a gorgeous cover.)
Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to go to high school at St. Clare’s School for Girls, but who would ever let a Chinese girl in? The Chinese have their own school–never mind that it ends at 8th grade. Her ingenuity and resourcefulness gets Mercy in, but she’s not accepted by her classmates and even many of the staff. Then the whole community is stricken by the earthquake. Mercy, not only survives, but with the help of some classmates makes a difference to many involved in the disaster.
Stacey Lee is a founding member of the We Need Diverse Books movement. Here’s her website. Check out all her books here.