Must Read Monday (84): Children’s Fiction from Nikki Grimes, Charis Cotter, Torrey Maldonado & more!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction.

Slightly late posting this edition, but too many great children’s fiction/middle grade titles to pass up! I adored Dusti Bowling‘s Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and am so looking forward to the already much-buzzed-about 24 Hours in Nowhere; Garvey’s Choice by award-winning poet and author Nikki Grimes sounds like a beautiful and moving novel-in-verse; the multiple-award-winning One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia was excellent and I have the second novel in the award-winning Gaither Sisters series, P.S. Be Eleven waiting for me; Lisa Jenn Bigelow‘s contemporary, music-focused Drum Roll, Please sounds absolutely fantastic, and another debut I’ve read wonderful praise for; Tight by Torrey Maldonado is another contemporary middle grade read I’m reading great early praise for, with a terrific-sounding premise; award-winning Canadian author Charis Cotter returns with what is sure to be the beautifully atmospheric and spooky The Ghost Road; and last but not least, Cindy Baldwin‘s Where the Watermelons Grow, a highly praised middle grade contemporary debut that centers around some weighty subject matter.

P.S. Be Eleven (Gaither Sisters #2) by Rita Williams-Garcia
Publication: May 21, 2013 by Amistad
Book Description:

In this exquisite sequel to the New York Times bestseller One Crazy Summer, the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn and find that changes large and small have come to their home.

After spending the summer in Oakland with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence, and the sisters aren’t the only ones who have changed. Now Pa has a girlfriend. Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a different man. But Big Ma still expects Delphine to keep her sisters in line. That’s much harder now that Vonetta and Fern refuse to be bossed around. Besides her sisters, Delphine’s got plenty of other things to worry about-like starting sixth grade, being the tallest girl in her class, and dreading the upcoming school dance (her first). The one person she confides in is her mother, Cecile. Through letters, Delphine pours her heart out and receives some constant advice: to be eleven while she can.

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
Publication: October 4, 2016 by WordSong
Book Description:

Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports.

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Publication: June 26, 2018 by HarperCollins
Book Description:

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin
Publication: July 3, 2018 by HarperCollins
Book Description:

Twelve-year-old Della Kelly has lived her whole life in Maryville, North Carolina. She knows how to pick the softest butter beans and sweetest watermelons on her daddy’s farm. She knows ways to keep her spitfire baby sister out of trouble (most of the time). She knows everyone in Maryville, from her best friend Arden to kind newcomer Miss Lorena to the mysterious Bee Lady.

And Della knows what to do when the sickness that landed her mama in the hospital four years ago spirals out of control again, and Mama starts hearing people who aren’t there, scrubbing the kitchen floor until her hands are raw, and waking up at night to cut the black seeds from all the watermelons in the house. With Daddy struggling to save the farm from a record-breaking drought, Della decides it’s up to her to heal Mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville for generations.

She doesn’t want to hear the Bee Lady’s truth: that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain than with healing Della’s own heart. But as the sweltering summer stretches on, Della must learn—with the help of her family and friends, plus a fingerful of watermelon honey—that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling
Expected publication: September 4, 2018 by Sterling Children’s Books
Book Description:

Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least livable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest, baddest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott, one of the best racers in Nowhere, comes to his rescue—but in return she has to give Bo her prized dirt bike. Determined to buy it back, Gus agrees to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine, joined by an old friend, one of Bo’s cronies, and Rossi herself. As they race to find the treasure before the most important biking competition Nowhere has ever had, they bond over shared stories of how hard life in Nowhere is—and they realize this adventure just may be their way out. Author Dusti Bowling (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus) returns to the desert to create a gripping story about friendship, hope, and finding the power we all have within ourselves.

The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
Expected publication: September 4, 2018 by Tundra Books
Book Description:

For the first time, Ruth is heading to Newfoundland to stay with family she’s never met instead of spending the summer traveling with her dad. When she arrives, she finds Newfoundland is very different from her life in Toronto–people there are much more friendly, but also superstitious, believing in ghosts and The Sight and family curses. Ruth’s cousin Ruby is also staying for the summer, and the two discover they have a lot in common: they both lost their moms when they were two years old, they’re the same age and they even like the same food. But while Ruby believes in spirits and fairies, Ruth believes in science and cold, hard facts.

When they find ominous information on some tombstones in the local cemetery, Ruth and Ruby start investigating their family’s past and discover that twin girls are born in every generation, and every set of twins dies young, leaving their children without mothers. What’s more, one of the twins always has The Sight and can see the Ghost Road that leads to the mysterious lost settlement of Slippers Cove. What happened there? What does it have to do with their family? And who is the ghostly presence that keeps visiting Ruth late at night?

The answers lie somewhere along the Ghost Road . . . if they can only find it.

Tight by Torrey Maldonado
Expected publication: September 4th 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Book Description:

Tight: Lately, Bryan’s been feeling it in all kinds of ways . . .

Bryan knows what’s tight for him–reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he’s from, and that gets him tight, wound up.

And now Bryan’s friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never really feels right acting so wrong, and drama really isn’t him. So which way will he go, especially when his dad tells him it’s better to be hard and feared than liked?

But if there’s one thing Bryan’s gotten from his comic heroes, it’s that he has power–to stand up for what he feels . . .

Torrey Maldonado delivers a fast-paced, insightful, dynamic story capturing urban community life. Readers will connect with Bryan’s journey as he navigates a tough world with a heartfelt desire for a different life.

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