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, YA Novels

Sierra Blue

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Although Sierra Blue by Suzanne Morgan Williams (2023) is aimed at early young adults, it’s definitely appropriate for upper middle grade readers. It has fun and interesting magical realism. And a cool cover.

Magic’s best friend reveals her secret–she can see the auras of animals. To get away from the teasing she is sent to her aunt’s ranch the summer between 8th grade and 9th. There, because of her psychic ability, she pleads for the life of a race horse that would be put down. Magic and Sierra Blue bond, but of course, the horse isn’t hers.

Suzanne writes fiction and nonfiction. Read about her here and read about her other books here. And here’s an interview!

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Night Raven

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Night Raven – Moonwind Mysteries #1 (Amazon Crossing Kids, 2023) by Johan Rundberg and translated by A.A. Prime was an interesting historical, especially if you are a fan of Victorian mystery writer Anne Perry, which I am. It has a similar feel except directed at young readers. The story is set in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1880.

Twelve-year-old Mika knows this harsh winter means death for many. One night she takes in a newborn to the orphanage where she lives and hears a reference to the “Dark Angel.” When the police come to her for questioning, this could be her chance to matter.

Here‘s some great backstory on this novel and information on the author. The book was originally published in Sweden, but thanks to A.A. Prime we can read it too. I’m looking forward to more of these books. You can see all of Johan’s books here but this is the only one in English.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

When Sea Becomes Sky

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

When Sea Becomes Sky (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2023) by Gillian McDunn is super good. I don’t think I’ve fallen in love with a middle grade book so much as this one. And been so surprised.

It’s summer and siblings Bex and Davey are spending time in the salt marsh and discover an underwater hand. It’s part of a statue, but development may destroy not only their favorite place, but this amazing piece of artwork, so the two have to do something.

The book is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, a Kids Indie Next List Pick (March/April 2023), an Amazon Best Books March 2023 and Editors’ Pick, plus a Southern Book Prize Finalist.

Learn about Gillian here and check out her five other books here.