#MG #YA

Adiba Jaigirdar’s The Henna Wars (2020)

Adiba Jaigirdar’s The Henna Wars may be my favorite young adult love story of all time. Jaigirdar has created a smart, awkward, completely believable tale of two teen girls falling in love. Her protagonist, Nashat, is a Bangladeshi Irish teenager with a crush on Flávia, a Brazilian Irish teen new […]

Shaunta Grimes’ Center of Gravity (2020)

Shaunta Grimes’ Center of Gravity (2020) is steeped with references to 1980s culture and aesthetics. Tessa, the novels twelve-year-old protagonist, is losing everything: her mother, her best friend, even her home in Colorado. She’s also gaining things she doesn’t want: a twenty-three-year-old stepmom who is pregnant and a beach house […]

Cynthia L. Copeland’s Cub (2019)

Cynthia L. Copeland’s new middle-grade graphic memoir, Cub, is an intimate and atmospheric coming-of-age story that follows 12-year-old Cindy as she navigators the hormonal halls of middle-school and an informal internship at a local paper. This snapshot of author Cynthia L. Copeland’s middle-school years takes place during 1972 and 1973 […]

Cybils Awards 2019

I served as a Cybils Awards round one judge for the second time this year! In 2018 I served on the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book committee and this year I served on the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction committee. It turns out middle grade novels are WAY LONGER than easy readers! […]

Greg van Eekhout’s Cog (2019)

Greg van Eekhout’s Cog (2019) is a surprisingly philosophical middle-grade novel featuring emotionally proficient robots, maniacal scientists, and hotdog eating challenges. The title character, Cog, was created to help scientists research cognitive development. On the outside Cog looks like a brown-skinned twelve-year-old boy, but he’s all metal and wire on […]

Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl (2019)

Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl (2019) is a haunting middle-grade novel that dabbles in the fantastic, but it is real-world drama that drives the story-line. The novel is about two twin sisters, Iris and Lark, who mirror each other physically while having distinct personalities. The twins live with their mother […]

Pat Cummings’ Trace (2019)

A series of interrelated events assemble to create a haunting tale of intergenerational salvation in Pat Cummings’ debut middle-grade novel Trace. The title character loses his loving parents in a car crash that he miraculously survives and mistakenly blames himself for causing. Trace moves to Brooklyn to live with his […]

Aida Salazar’s The Moon Within (2019)

Aida Salazar’s The Moon Within features a beautifully dimensional cast of Latinx characters who are evocatively brought to life through her poetic vignettes. However, at its core the book is a coming-of-age story about 11-year-old Celi Rivera, a shy and sensitive black Puerto Rican Mexican American girl. Celi desires privacy […]