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SUMMER READING 2018: PICKS FOR MIDDLE-GRADE KIDS

by Emily Lloyd on 2018-06-24T18:51:00-05:00 in Books and Reading, Kids | Comments

Recommending books I've enjoyed to kids who might like them, too is one of my favorite parts of my job. Here are a few published in 2018 that I'm excited to share with middlegrade readers:

Cover Art Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien
Publisher's Weekly called Peasprout Chen "massively entertaining," and it absolutely is. Others have described it as Harry Potter meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and that's apt, too. Peasprout is a master at wu liu, a sport that combines martial arts and figure skating (and is every bit as exciting to "watch" in your mind's eye as Quidditch). She's just arrived in Pearl, a city built of a magical substance called "pearl" that renders the entire city skateable, to face cut-throat competition for a spot at Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword. Cinematic action, political intrigue, edge-of-your-seat sportswriting, mysterious sabotage, and clever worldbuilding make this a great pick for kids who love smartly-written adventures --including Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fans. 
 
Cover Art Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate
I think of Katherine Applegate as the Margaret Atwood of children's literature: she can write in ANY genre and it's brilliant. Here, the author of The One and Only Ivan creates a brand-new fantasy world inhabited by, among others, dairnes, wobbyks, and humans. The story centers around Byx, a young dairne---creatures who look similar to dogs but walk on two legs, can converse with humans, can always tell when someone is lying, and are hunted by humans for their incredibly soft fur. They're also rumored to be extinct, and Byx's pack is beginning a journey north to see if any others still exist. Then humans find and slaughter her pack, leaving Byx--who had been a ways off from the group--a possible "endling": the last of her species, anywhere. ​Now Byx's quest begins. 
 
Cover Art The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
There are several new graphic novels out that will appeal to Raina Telgemeier's legions of fans. Vera Brosgol's Be Prepared and Hope Larson's All Summer Long are the most similar to Telgemeier's in that their stories center around single female protagonists coming of age. The Cardboard Kingdom instead touches on the home lives of a wide range of kids living in the same neighborhood, and the fantasy characters they become when they design cardboard costumes for themselves and create a shared world in their neighborhood. A moving, spirited testament to imaginative play and its ability to lift us above our everyday, sometimes not-so-great, lives. 
 
 

Cover Art Sparks! by Ian Boothby; Nina Matsumoto (Illustrator)

Sparks!, also a graphic novel, is hilarious fun. August, an indoor cat, is a brilliant inventor. Charlie, an indoor-outdoor cat, isn't afraid of anything. Resigned to the fact that humankind finds dogs more heroic than cats, they team up to become Sparks, a canine superhero (who is really two cats in a mechanical dog suit). Their work is cut out for them when an evil alien disguised as an adorable baby comes to town with the goal of conquering the planet. While the premise may sound lowbrow, sophisticated and wickedly observed details and dialogue run throughout the book. 


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