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

Amari and the Night Brothers

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1) (Balzer & Bray, 2021) by B. B. Alston is like a cross between Men in Black and Harry Potter at summer camp.

13-year-old Amari Peters struggles with anger against those who think she doesn’t fit in since she’s a scholarship student and black. It’s worse since her older brother Quinton has been missing. Many believe he is dead, but Amari knows he’s alive. A chance to tryout for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs this summer may help her find out where Quinton is. But again in a world of magic, there are those who don’t think she belongs. Amari must stand up for herself and learn all she can about this new world to have any chance of finding her brother.

This was B.B.’s debut novel. The books have been published in over 30 countries and a movie is in the works! Wow! Here’s the Spanish version, Amari y Los Hermanos de la Noche. The third book in this trilogy is expected out this summer.

Awards:

  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books, 1995-2024. Commended, 2022. (Association of Library Services for Children)
  • Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Award, 1997-2023. Selection, 2022. (Children’s Literary Assembly)
  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1997-2024. Commended, 2022. (YALSA)
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011-2024. Selection, 2022. (YALSA)
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year, 2010 – 2023. Selection, 2021. (School Library Journal)

Read about this NY Times bestselling author here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, Writing Life

The Beatryce Prophecy

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Beatryce Prophecy (Candlewick Press, 2021) by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Sophie Blackall is an unusual but appealing story.

It starts with a prophecy about a girl who will “unseat a king.” Next we meet Answelica, the goat, whom the monks fear. One day Brother Edik finds a child in the pen with the demon goat. Beatryce doesn’t remember anything but her name. And king’s soldiers are searching for her.

Kate is a two-time Newbery medalist and Sophie is a two-time Caldecott medalist.

Read about Kate’s many novels here, her picture books here, and her early chapter books here.

Check out all of Sophie’s children’s books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Moongarden

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I enjoyed Plotting the Stars 1: Moongarden (Pixel+Ink, 2022) by Michelle A. Barry very much. A girl who doesn’t fit in, a hidden room, unexpected friends including an old robot, shortsighted adults, and magic. All on the moon. (And isn’t the cover gorgeous?)

Myra Hodger is attending The Scientific Lunar Academy of Magic, but is not the Number Whisperer her parents expect. The tattoos aren’t developing, so she hides her forearms with long sleeves. Then she stumbles across a hidden lab with a secret garden. As she learns about the plants, Myra wonders if her newfound magical gift could help solve the food shortage problem the government is trying to hide. But will anyone let her?

Just out this month is the sequel, Seagarden. I’m looking forward to it, too.

This book was the author’s debut and has been called an update to the book The Secret Garden. Read about Michelle here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

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.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Girl Who Could Not Dream

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Girl Who Could Not Dream (Clarion Books, 2015) by Sarah Beth Durst was very enjoyable. It has such a fun concept: dreams can be bought and sold. I love the opening line, “Sophie had only ever stolen one dream.”

Sophie’s best friend is a sweet monster, with iridescent fur, tentacles, sharp teeth, who talks. She brought him out of a dream when she was six. Now Monster and her new friend Ethan help Sophie when her parents go missing and their shop’s dreams are all stolen.

You’ll meet funny and scary characters in this adventure, plus be introduced to interesting machinery that processes dreams. Get a sneak preview here.

Sarah Beth Durst writes for kids, teens, and adults. She’s one prolific author! On her website you can choose a category of her books to see what they are. Read about Sarah here.

Previously I recommended a later book of Sarah’s, Spark. It was good, but I like this one even better.