Middle grade readers who like their fantasy a little bit scary will love the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. In this third installment, the ghosts that haunt London are getting out of hand and none of the big agencies can find the source. Enter the intrepid band of ghost hunters from Lockwood & Co. There is plenty of action, witty banter, and general shenanigans as London is freed from yet another supernatural infestation. At least until next time! Those who are new to the series will want to start with Book One: The Screaming Staircase.
In this bittersweet graphic memoir, fifteen-year-old Maggie experiences first love while at summer camp when she develops feelings for an older, female counselor. Maggie struggles with her own feelings and concerns about what others will think. She also moves through phases of having a crush to realizing her feelings might be reciprocated. As her friends become aware of the situation their treatment of her changes (though most are supportive).
The team that brought us Babymouse and Squish has created a lovely coming of age graphic novel. Sunny is staying with her grandfather in Florida for the summer. She slowly figures out how to enjoy herself in a retirement living environment, but this clearly isn’t her first choice for summer fun. Through flashbacks we learn what happened to land Sunny in Florida and why she thinks it’s all her fault. A great read for fans of Telgemeir’s graphic novels.
Fans of atmospheric horror and the roaring twenties will be swept away by this sequel to Bray’s The Diviners. In this episode, the diverse cast of supernaturally gifted characters band together to cure a mysterious sleeping sickness that seems to be emanating from China Town. Politics of the time, especially the Chinese Exclusion Act, are key parts of the story. Problems of discrimination (both race and sexual orientation) are explored. But mostly this is an excellent romantic fantasy/horror with fast paced dialog and engaging characters.
Amanda Palmer has built a career around asking, from her time spent as a street performer to successfully funding an album on Kickstarter. In this book, she shares what she’s learned along the way. She also happens to be married to Neil Gaiman, and there are lots of great stories about their relationship included. This one is EXCELLENT on audio. Amanda Palmer reads her own work, and she has a very soothing voice. She has also included some of her music in breaks between the chapters! The sort of book you will want to tell others to read so that you can chat about it.
When twelve-year-old Astrid attends her very first roller derby, she falls in love with the sport. She decides to sign up for a summer program, even though she has never really skated before. This new graphic novel is full of girl power. Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile and Sisters will definitely want to check this title out!
For lovers of princesses who are tired of pink-clad damsels in distress, meet Princess Magnolia. When danger strikes, Magnolia trades in her princess regalia for a black mask and cape to become the monster-fighting Princess in Black! Light and silly, of a quality and difficulty level similar to that of Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books, here is a first chapter book for the ninja princess in your life!
A famous actor dies of a massive heart attack during the mad scene of King Lear. That same day, a superflu begins its inexorable path of destruction, wiping out 99.99% of the world’s population. Twenty years later The Traveling Symphony wends its way through the Great Lakes region, performing classical music and Shakespeare plays for the survivors in a world that is slowly rebuilding itself. Don’t worry, the interwoven storylines all come together in a very satisfying way. This one is perfect for fans of literary post-apocalyptic fiction, like Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
An African American teen leaves a convenience store at a run and is subsequently confronted, shot, and killed. From this seemingly straightforward event, Kekla Magoon spins a story that makes clear the disconnect between perception and reality. An all-too-real rendering that will help readers identify their own biases. This book begs to be read and discussed.
Set in Mississippi during the summer of 1964, this unique mashup of a novel interspersed with first person accounts, song lyrics, and photographs tells the parallel stories of Sunny, a white 12 year old, and Raymond, a black boy of similar age. During the Freedom Summer, college students and activists come to their small Mississippi town to register the African American residents to vote. While Raymond and his friends throw themselves in to challenging the status quo, Sunny must wrestle with the concept of change in many facets of her life.