Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Finally Seen

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Finally Seen (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023) by Kelly Yang is so so goood!! It’s hard to tell you how much I like it. 😉

Ten-year-old Lina Gao has been living in China with her grandmother, Lao Lao, and finally gets to go live in America with her parents and younger sister who left five years ago. But all is not well in Los Angeles. Things are definitely not what she expected. Like her English being good enough. And her sister in all the family pictures, but none of her. Have her parents even missed her? Plus, Lina feels guilty about leaving Lao Lao behind.

This character and her situation felt so real. I loved seeing how Lina grew and changed and how she changed things around her.

Kelly Yang is an award winning and bestselling author. On her Finally Seen page, she asks kids what books make them feel seen. Check out her books here and scroll to the bottom to read the FAQs.

(Previously I recommended her book Front Desk here.)

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

A Good Kind of Trouble

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

When I started reading A Good Kind of Trouble (Balzer + Bray, 2019) by Lisa Moore Ramée, I thought, here we go again with another friends-changing-when-they-enter-Junior-High story. But it’s so much more than that. It’s about your own identity and how you don’t have to fit in a box. It’s about getting rid of assumptions. And standing up for what you believe in. And, yes, changing friendships.

Twelve-year-old Shayla wants to avoid trouble, but she discovers that sometimes you have to be trouble. Whether it’s in a relationship with friends or standing up to others, Shayla learns how to do the right thing.

I love the first line: “I’m allergic to trouble.” There’s strong seventh grade voice and humor in this story. This book is a Walter Dean Meyers Honor book, and can also help explain why Black Lives Matter.

Lisa is also the author of Something to Say (2020) and has a middle grade fantasy called Mapmaker coming in 2022. Read more about her here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Mañanaland

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Mañanaland (Scholastic Press, 2020) by award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan is a wonderful tale of growing up and discovery.

Eleven-year-old Max likes to make up stories and wonder about big things, like what lay beyond the horizon, why his mother left, and if he’d ever meet her. But Papá does not like questions. He does give Max a compass that belonged to Renata. Max hopes he can find his mother and give the compass back to her. When Papá is out of town and someone comes looking for a guardian to help a traveler along the way, Max decides to be the escort to the next guardian who might have traveled with his mother. Maybe he’ll make it all the way to Mañanaland.

Here’s an interview with the author about what inspired the story. Read about the author here. Go here to check out her many many books.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I don’t even know how to tell you how much I loved The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl (Random House Children’s Books, 2018) by Stacy McAnulty. It was soooo good. I’m not surprised it has been put on some best book lists.

Four years ago, 12-year-old Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. It turned her into a math savant and gave her some OCD characteristics. She’s been home-schooled ever since, but now Nana is making her to go to middle school. Lucy doesn’t think she can learn anything in seventh grade. But Nana makes her promise to “Give it 1 year…Make 1 friend.” Plus do 1 activity and read 1 nonmath book.

Day 1 doesn’t start out well when Lucy does her compulsive sit, stand, sit, stand, sit on the bus. And it doesn’t get better from there. Although she does like her math teacher.

Will Lucy be able to make good on her promise?

This is author Stacy McAnulty’s debut novel. However she’s written dozens of picture books and chapter books. Since then she’s had two more novels published (one is coming in September). I’m hoping my library has them.

One amazing fact about Stacy is she’s a 2 finger typer! Read more here.