Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Journey Beyond the Burrow

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Journey Beyond the Burrow (Harper, 2021) by Rina Heisel is a fun adventure story and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Tobin (a mouse) knows the rules by heart, but he must break rule #8 “Never purse a predator. Never.” when his baby brother is stolen by a huge arachnid. Tobin, his sister Talia, and best friend Wiley meet all kinds of creatures on their journey, plus Tobin ends up breaking other rules so that everyone survives.

I love the weather scout procedures, the sensory details from the mouse viewpoint, and the Official Rules of Rodentia. #13: “Heed the whispered warnings of weather; ignoring it’s clues will spell your doom.”

Learn about the author here and more about her debut novel here.

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

A Wish in the Dark

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

A Wish in the Dark (Candlewick Press, 2020) by Christina Soontornvat is my favorite read so far this year!

Pong was born in Nomwan Prison. He and his best friend and Somkit stare at the lights of Chattana–the city that one man, the Governor, brought light to after the great fire. If only they could escape there.

Nok is the daughter of the prison warder. She and her family are at Nomwan because the Governor is coming to visit. To her shock the young Pong approaches the Governor.

Pong thinks that such a good man as the Governor will see how unfair it is for children born to prisoners to be imprisoned. But when the Governor doesn’t agree, all that’s left to Pong is to escape, which he does.

Nok’s father is blamed for Pong’s escape and she wants to capture him to restore her family’s name. But secrets she discovers in her quest make her question everything she’s ever known.

Who will win in this unfair world?

The story has many surprising twists and turns. This Thai-inspired fantasy is a 2021 Newbery Honor book–I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. Plus, it has won other awards and been put on many lists. See those here.

Christina has written a number of award winning books in a variety of categories–read more about her here and see all her books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Clackity

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

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.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Accidental Apprentice

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Author Amanda Foody has successfully ventured from the YA books to middle grade fantasy with The Accidental Apprentice (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021). I’m excited to see there’s already a sequel planned in the Wilderlore series for next year.

Orphan Barclay Thorne is happy to be an apprentice to the village mushroom farmer. But when he is scared off the path into the Woods he meets a Lore Keeper looking for the same mushroom he needs. The girl is trying to bond with a Beast but it goes horribly wrong and Barclay is bonded with a Lufthund. Driven away from home, Barclay’s goal is to break the bond so he can return home. To do so he must journey to the city of the Lore Keepers who think these monsters are their friends and pets. But does he really fit with his rule-laden village?

Read about Amanda and her other books here. Enjoy several interviews with her about this book here and here.

The cover illustration is by Petur Antonsson–see more of his art here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Story Magic

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I love how Story Magic (Jolly Fish Press, 2020) by Laurel Gale dives right into a magical world where stories are magic.

Kaya A’Dor isn’t supposed to know anything about the listeners and the magic they will do if you tell them a good enough story. But she’s learned enough from her older brother Hob to attempt a story herself despite it being forbidden to girls and women. When Hob is taken prisoner, Kaya’s sure it is her fault and she has to save him. Will she survive the dangers of her journey? Especially since it will require more story magic?

This story is a page turner. And isn’t that a lovely cover?

Read about Laurel here where you can also see pictures of animals she’s taken.

I recommended Laurel’s other books too: Dead Boy and Monster, Human, Other.