Debut novelist Kevin Sands is off to a roaring good start with The Blackthorn Key, which unfolds during six consecutive springtime days in 1665 London. Historical settings can be a bit off-putting to a young reader—they’re generally convinced that it’s going to be too “historical,” and without technology, how exciting can it be? But Sands imbues the story with all the realities of 17th-century England and still keeps the pace tripping along.
Holly Goldberg Sloan knows how to write a story for young people, with a style that’s easily accessible and entertaining for new readers. Her latest book, Appleblossom the Possum, is no exception.
Graphic novels are all the rage with young readers these days, but this fact can be frustrating for adults who are trying to encourage kids to read more complex material. Thank goodness veteran comic-book creators Robert Venditti and Dusty Higgins have created a hybrid sure to satisfy both camps in Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape: Attack of the Alien Horde. Sixty-five of the 304 pages are comic panels drawn by Higgins, while the rest is prose written by Venditti.
Lisa Graff’s latest novel is a feast for all kinds of readers. She writes convincingly in the voice of a middle school student, and young readers will relate easily to the main character, Trent. Graff’s stories always foster a better understanding of young people in parents and teachers, but never more so than in Lost in the Sun.
Sometimes being the smartest kid in your class doesn’t make you any friends. Sometimes the way you see the world is so different from “normal” that you’re not sure anyone can understand you. So it is for Nicholas Funes, the 11-year-old hero of If You Find This.
Miles Murphy is not happy about starting at a new school in the snoringly boring town of Yawnee Valley. The only thing that might make this OK is becoming the greatest prankster the school has ever seen. Miles was proud of his reputation as “King Prankster” at his old school, even if it meant that some of his friends didn’t like hanging out with him anymore.
Everyone has thought about what three wishes they would make if they ever found a genie in a bottle. But what if you couldn’t think of three? Or, worse, what if the genie had lost his powers and couldn’t grant them anyway? This is what happens to young Emma in Cornelia Funke’s new book for young people, Emma and the Blue Genie.
Most children’s stories that feature animals as main characters tend to be highly anthropomorphic. From “The Three Little Pigs” to The Incredible Journey, animals stand in for humans, right down to living in houses and sitting in chairs. Not so in Nuts to You, the latest from Newbery-winning author Lynne Rae Perkins. The squirrels in this story behave as squirrels, and their story is very interesting.
Kimberley Griffiths Little’s new book brings all the eeriness of the Louisiana bayou into an engaging story about a girl, her family and the secrets of the past.
Lisa Graff has written several books for middle grade readers, including the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots. Graff has an uncanny ability to give a simple story an intensity that makes you want to keep turning the pages. In her latest offering, Absolutely Almost, 11-year-old Albie is struggling with the idea that he should be “better” than he is: better at math, better at spelling, better at being cool. We asked Graff a few questions about Albie, about writing, and about fitting in.