Must Read Monday (85): Children’s Fiction from Tracey Baptiste, Varian Johnson, Karina Yan Glaser & 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.
This week is another focus on children’s fiction/middle grade literature- one of my favourite genres! On the roster for this Must Read edition: Rise of the Jumbies, the sequel to the mesmerizing and eerie The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste which I read earlier this year; Varian Johnson’s mystery The Parker Inheritance, which I have read just the most terrific reviews about from journals as well as bookish friends; the contemporary and unique-sounding The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty, about a young girl who survives a lightning strike and has to take on her biggest challenge yet: middle school; Laura Shovan’s terrifically described contemporary middle grade Takedown, a title which I believe I came across after finishing K.A. Holt’s excellent and wrestling-centered Knockout; acclaimed novelist Paul Mosier’s Echo’s Sister which sounds as intensely beautiful as it will likely be heartbreaking; Jacqueline’s Woodson’s latest, the already much-praised and highly recommended Harbor Me; book three in Canadian author Casey Lyall’s supremely awesome Howard Wallace, P.I. mystery series, called Sabotage Stage Left; and last but not least, The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden, Karina Yan Glaser’s the follow-up the wonderful and much-acclaimed The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.
Rise of the Jumbies (The Jumbies #2) by Tracey Baptiste
Publication: September 19, 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers
Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.
To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.
With its action-packed storytelling, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbies will appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, Breadcrumbs, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Publication: March 27, 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books
The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It’s waiting for Candice Miller.
When Candice finds the letter, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance.
So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the summer ends?
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
Publication: May 1, 2018 by Random House
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test — middle school!
Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?
Takedown by Laura Shovan
Publication: June 19 2018 by Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children’s Books
“You’re only as good as your partner.”
Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a house full of brothers who are die-hard mat heads, it’s in your DNA. She even has a wrestling name: Mickey. Some people don’t want a girl on the team. But that won’t stop her. She’s determined to work hard, and win.
Lev is determined too–he’s going to make it to the state championship. He’s used to training with his two buddies as the Fearsome Threesome. But at the beginning of sixth grade, he’s paired with a new partner—a girl. This better not get in the way of his goal. Mickey and Lev work hard together, and find a way to become friends. But at States, there can only be one winner.
Echo’s Sister by Paul Mosier
Publication: August 7, 2018 by HarperCollins
From critically acclaimed author Paul Mosier, a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, comes a stunning story about the beauty of family, the power of community, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit.
Twelve-year-old El has planned on making her first week at a new school fantastic. She won’t go by her given name, Laughter. She’ll sit in the back of the classroom where she can make new friends. She won’t even have time to think about all the fun her old friends are having without her. Everything will be great.
But when her dad picks her up after school and tells her that her younger sister, Echo, has a life-threatening illness, her world is suddenly turned upside down. And with her parents now pressed for time and money, El feels lost and powerless.
Then she befriends Octavius, the only other kid in school who gets what she’s going through. As El begins to adjust to her new life, she soon finds that maybe a little hope and a lot of love can overcome any obstacle.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Publication: August 28, 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
Sabotage Stage Left (Howard Wallace, P.I. #3) by Casey Lyall
Publication: September 4, 2018 by Sterling Children’s Books
“I wasn’t taking the fall for this. You couldn’t force a guy into a job and then blame him when it all went sideways.”
Spring (musical) fever has hit the Grantleyville Middle School Drama Club! Since Ivy Mason is busy with the production, she decides to take a break from sleuthing, while Howard Wallace keeps things running smoothly with their detective agency. Then, just a few weeks before showtime, suspicious things start happening backstage: missing costumes, damaged props, and too many other mishaps to be coincidental. Ivy calls in Howard and their crew to take on the case. Howard tries to lay low and quietly sniff out the perp, but he’s soon brought into the spotlight when he’s framed as the saboteur! Can the team of intrepid P.I.s clear Howard’s name and catch the culprit before the curtain falls on the big show?
The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (The Vanderbeekers #2) by Karina Yan Glaser
Expected publication: September 25, 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Return to Harlem’s “wildly entertaining” family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem—in spite of a locked fence, thistles and trash, and the conflicting plans of a wealthy real estate developer.
While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.
In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time.