Book Recommendations

Book Recommendation: Too Bright to See

I’ve always loved monster stories where the “monster” isn’t evil and, while creepy and maybe a bit scary, is there to do good. Most ghost stories don’t do this. In middle grade fiction in particular, ghosts are common devices of spooky evil. And so the fact that the protagonist of Kyle Lukoff’s Too Bright to… Read more »

Book Recommendation: Cuba in My Pocket

Like two of my characters in Secret of the Shadow Beasts, I love history and  historical fiction. Because I’ve read a lot of this genre (and written it!), I have very high standards. For me, the research needs to be spot-on, making the world feel real and full of life, and wholly individual. So many historical stories… Read more »

Book Recommendation: The Shape of Thunder

I’ll share this right away: The Shape of Thunder is a book about a very tough topic: the aftermath of a school shooting and how those closest to it deal with it. Jasmine Warga makes this topic bearable for a young audience through several brilliant technique, and here’s the first: She sets the story a little… Read more »

Favorite Reads of 2020—Part 2

Yesterday I posted my favorite middle grade books from the first part of 2020. Here’s the rest from the second half of that year! Class Act by Jerry Craft Jerry Craft’s New Kid, the first book in this graphic novel series, dealt with casual racism and micro-aggressions head-on (in a compelling and sometimes funny story… Read more »

Favorite Reads of 2020—Part 1

I read many incredible middle grade books in 2020. Here’s my list of my very favorites from the first half of of last year. While I liked nearly everything I read, these rose to the top as stories I enjoyed tremendously, thought about long after, and could see many young readers picking up and having… Read more »

Black Voices in Middle Grade Historical Fiction

It’s crucial to have Black voices in the middle grade curriculum in classrooms. Too often, historical stories that have meaning because of the Black experience are told from the white perspective. We need to bring these stories back to authentic voices. Here’s are four of my favorite historical fiction books for elementary and middle grades… Read more »

Book Review: TIN by Pádraig Kenny

It’s not much, really, but the orphan Christopher is pleased to be the only “real” boy among his companions in Mr Absolam’s scrapyard, a place where mechanicals—boys with some human parts but mostly metal ones, parts joined by magic—train to be as real as possible for the human families that will, they hope, one day… Read more »

Gender Empowerment and Risks: A Conversation Between Diane Magras and Laura Shovan

The ranks of strong girls in middle grade fiction is growing. (Thank goodness for that!) These girls come in all forms: tough, spunky, wild—and occasionally soft and gentle but with a core of steel. They’re fantastic models for girls (and boys) to see diversity in how girls are represented. And often, these days, they have… Read more »

Book Review: THE PROPHET CALLS

Dystopian books explore what might happen to our world when something fundamental is different from what we know. Often, it’s society-based, though sometimes technology is part of it. These are books that start with a “What if” world tangled into our own. We see aspects of life we recognize, but something feels off or wrong… Read more »