As promised the last time I participated in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I have an amazing lineup of debut middle grade books to shout about today! All of these books are coming within the next few weeks, and I was privileged to read Advance Reading Copies as they’re all part of #the21ders debut group. You definitely want to get your hands on these books!
As I was reading my advanced copy of of SEA OF KINGS by Melissa Hope back in January, my 10-year-old daughter asked me what I was reading. I told her it was a story about a young prince from an island kingdom who has never left his home. But when a king from another island kingdom brings a pirate along and they take over the kingdom, he and his brother must venture out to sea following a magical map, discovering magical creatures they didn’t know existed. Her whole face lit up, and this is exactly what makes this book such a delight. It includes all the features that are perfect for middle grade readers, boys and girls alike.
There’s adventure, magic, danger and secrets. There’s also an important focus on family, both between the brothers with their deep bond peppered with rivalry and the main character, Noa, who experiences an ongoing journey to understand his father. There’s even a sweet middle grade crush.
It’s a delightful read that will grab kids with the premise and hold their attention with the consistently rising stakes. A super fun story! SEA OF KINGS releases tomorrow, April 27!
I’m such a sucker for perfect titles, and GLITTER GETS EVERYWHERE by Yvette Clark definitely fits that description. Kitty is 10 when the book opens and has just lost her mother. Her grandmother compares grief to glitter, explaining that you will keep finding it everywhere no matter how you try to clean it up. What an appropriate–and sad–description.
Soon after Kitty turns 11, her dad accepts a temporary position in New York City, and it leads to a mixed bag of emotions. She’s not reminded of her mum everywhere, but she also leaves behind her best friend, grandmother, godmother, and next door neighbor (who is like a member of the family).
There’s so much to love about this story. Kitty is working through her grief, which is obviously not something that has a definite conclusion. She has a unique obsession with colors and paint, which was fascinating. Her relationship with her older sister is complicated but also very relatable to anyone with siblings. All of the secondary characters are fantastic, including Kitty’s new friend Henry, pictured on the book cover. She’s very clear to tell everyone he’s not her boyfriend. Hmm…
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the characters, and the excellent, detailed descriptions. The book comes out May 4!
Also coming out May 4 is THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR by Sam Subity. This fast-paced adventure follows 12-year-old Abby Beckett, who comes from a long line of Viking warriors called the Aesir. She’s been training her entire life to hunt the Aesir’s enemy–the Grendel–just like her mom, who passed away.
An attack sends Abby and her father to the Viking Council headquarters (and her new school), where they inform her they’re going to disband the Aesir, on account of no one having seen a Grendel in centuries. Except Abby is positive she has. He put her dad in a coma, and now she’s on a mission to prove the Grendel exists and save her father from his mysterious illness before she loses both parents.
I loved the non-stop adventure in this book, as well as the new friends Abby makes at Vale Hall and the unique twist on Norse mythology. Abby is a determined and relatable character, and the story had a great mix of humor and serious stakes. I was rooting for Abby the whole time, and the ending left me wanting more adventures for Abby and her friends!
My family was all about road trips when I was a kid, so I was immediately intrigued by AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY by Cliff Burke, but this was unlike any trip we ever took!
It’s about 13-year-old Theo Ripley, whose dad decides to take Theo and his older sister, Laura, camping in Big Bend National Park in Texas. It will be their first vacation since his mom passed away.
It’s bittersweet, and there are a lot of emotions for the family to work through—including the fact that Dad springs a new girlfriend on them in the middle of the trip—but this book also had me laughing aloud. You never know what you will encounter in the wild. A social media-obsessed teenager? Check. A bear? Check. A nude French couple? My personal favorites!
I read this book in a single day. It was heartwarming and funny and just a wonderful story of family, with all of its bumps along the way. I also really loved Theo himself, who draws comics and uses those to express what he’s going through.
AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY releases May 18!
Be sure to add these books to your lists, and in a couple of weeks I’ll have some more young adult reads to share!