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
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 and father, but (as is requisite for middle-grade fiction) the father is absent. He is in London on a six-month long business trip and is only introduced in the text through Skype. The story is really about the girls’ relationship with each other and their discovery of their uniqueness through a forced separation at school. The two had always been in the same class but start the new school year with separate teachers. This does allow them to experience individual challenges while learning that they can have separate experiences and still share a deep bond. Continue reading
The Dragon Thief is Zetta Elliott’s follow-up to her middle-grade urban fantasy novel Dragons in a Bag. Elliott’s second installment picks up where the first book in the series left off, taking readers on a fantastical journey through the culturally diverse streets of New York City as children and elders work together to bring balance to material and magical realms by returning a not-so-little dragon to its home and family.
Dragons in a Bag is told from the point-of-view of Jaxon, a clever and kind boy who discovers magic for the first time and learns to be courageous in the face of otherworldly adversity. Jaxon remains an important character in The Dragon Thief, but he is joined by Kavita, his best friend Vik’s little sister. In Dragons in a Bag, Kavita stole one of the three baby dragons Jaxon was supposed to transport to the magical realm, so he can only transport two dragons. Because of this, his mission is incomplete. In The Dragon Thief Jaxon struggles to find the third dragon so he can keep it safe and reunite it with its family. Continue reading
If you or someone you know is over eight-years-old, you need a copy of Zetta Elliott’s urban fantasy Dragons in a Bag!
Dragons in a Bag introduces readers to Jaxon, a sweet and smart young boy with brown skin and unruly eyebrows. Jaxon’s father passed away and he lives alone with his mother who is estranged from her family. At the start of the book, the mother-son duo struggle to make ends meet and their landlord is trying to evict them. When Jaxon’s mother goes to court to fight the eviction, she drops her son off at the home of a woman she calls Ma. Jaxon reasonably assumes the surly woman is his grandmother, but family isn’t that straight forward in Dragons in a Bag – neither is anything else! Continue reading