If you like historical fiction and humor, you’ll love The Nerviest Girl in the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020) by Melissa Wiley.
When Pearl’s three big brothers get hired to be “real cowboys” in Mr. Corrigan’s moving picture reels, she is fascinated. After hanging on to a runaway horse herself, Pearl is hired, too. But if her mother finds out, her dangerous career as a stunt girl will be over.
I love Pearl’s conversations with the ostriches–yes, they raise those too on their cattle and sheep ranch. I love Pearl’s conflicts with her nemesis. And I love her bravery. It’s great getting a look at what people thought about this new form of entertainment, too.
This book is a Junior Library Guild selection and Brave Writer Arrow book.
Melissa Wiley is also the author of a number of easy readers and the Martha and Charlotte books about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother and grandmother. Read about Melissa here and see her books here.
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.
Dog Driven (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2019) by Terry Lynn Johnson is quite the scary adventure.
It’s risky enough for any teen to participate in the Canadian Great Superior Mail Run dog race, but for fourteen-year-old McKenna, who has hidden her deteriorating sight from her family, it could mean death for her and her dogs. But she is determined to win this race to encourage her younger sister Emma in her battle with Stargardt, an eye disease. Afterwards, she’ll tell her parents about her vision problems. And maybe she can help eight-year-old Emma gain some independence, too.
The author puts you right on the trail with McKenna and her dogs so you hear and feel what’s going on. As I said above, it’s scary to see what McKenna risks, but her determination is believable. Plus there are letters from the late 1800s about this mail run that increase the tension of the story.
Space Case (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014) by Stuart Gibbs is literally out-of-this-world, like on the moon. This scifi adventure/mystery is chock full of humor despite the seriousness of the situation.
Main character, twelve-year-old Dash, is stuck on Moon Base Alpha, which doesn’t match up to the promotional brochures; in fact, it’s so boring, he looks forward to school. That all changes when scientist Dr. Holtz “walks” out an airlock in the middle of the night. Since Dash overheard Dr. Holtz talking excitedly the night before, he knows the scientist has to have been murdered. But no one on base will believe him. And he’s not allowed to share the news with anyone on earth. In fact, he’s not supposed to talk about it at all. But if Dash is right, there’s a killer loose on base.
It’s a fun read. And, I just love the cover, Art Directed by Lucy Cummins.
If you want to learn about author Stuart Gibbs or want to check out his other books, go to his website here and/or read an interview of him here.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Rooftoppers (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013) by Katherine Rundell is a very fun read, although twelve-year-old Sophie has a very big problem. The National Childcare Agency says Charles, the bachelor who rescued her from the sea when she was one and floating in a cello case, can’t be allowed to keep raising her. What will Sophie do without her beloved Charles? The two escape to Paris to search for her Sophie’s long lost mother. On this adventure, when Sophie goes on the roof of her hotel, she makes some unusual friends.
A mix of historical and fantasy, the book is winning awards. Rooftoppers is the winner of the 2014 Blue Peter Book Award and the 2014 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal.
You can read about the author here or follow her on twitter here. She has another book out, Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, that I need to check out.