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! Of course, I knew that going in! It was a pleasure to work with amazing bloggers putting together a list of books we all loved! Check it out:
Natalie Lloyd’s Over the Moon (2019) will have readers immediately rooting for Mallie, the middle-grade fantasy novel’s twelve-year-old protagonist. Mallie lives with her parents and younger brother in Coal Top, a bleak town where joy is scarce. Coal Top’s inhabitants have no hope for a better future. Serving inhabitants of the wealthy valley below is the only option for girls and boys must work in coal mines where they eventually lose their sight, like Mallie’s father. Mallie has already begun serving a family in the valley but she is fiercely protective of her young brother and will do whatever she can so he can avoid toiling in the coal mines. Continue reading →
Sarah Jean Horwitz’s The Dark Lord Clementine (2019) follows twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous on a journey of self-discovery that weaves magic and melancholy into an epic tale sure to delight readers. Most of the action takes place in and around the family’s desolate castle. Clementine knows nothing about her absent mother and her father, Lord Elithor, is a cold and angry figure whose evanescent presence haunts the text. Without any siblings or friends, the young protagonist is clearly lonely and yearns for connection. Continue reading →
Every once in awhile I invite guest contributors to review for Raise Them Righteous. This review of Laurel Wanrow’s Guardian of the Pines is by Sean Farrell, a lecturer of English at the University of Texas at Arlington. I hope this won’t be his last contribution!
YA fantasy can sometimes feel a bit same-y: a chosen one goes on a quest and defeats a great evil, perhaps finding love along the way. Laurel Wanrow, in Guardian of the Pines, inverts or flat-out ignores many of these familiar tropes, leading to a unique fantasy adventure that feels like a breath of fresh air. Continue reading →