It took me a while, but I finally figured it out: Why I haven’t blogged my reading in so long. Last year, from about May through October, I was a panelist for the Kirkus Prize. 350+ books inside six months, picture books, middle-grade, and YA. WAY too many to blog about.
After that I couldn’t pick up a book for young readers for MONTHS. Never thought it would be possible to burn out on reading kids’ books, but it happened. I read nothing but adult mystery series and adult nonfiction for weeks and weeks.
But in the last month or two, some amazing and wonderful books have come my way…and I’m BA-A-A-A-CK.
THE LEVELLER, by Julia Durango. YA fiction. Set in the (very near) future of virtual-reality games. A terrific read for lovers of action/adventure stories, gamers, and fans of good writing–OF ANY GENDER. Skillful inclusion of some Cuban history as well as a little romance. *I read it in one gulp.*
THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Middle-grade memoir, adaptation of a best-selling book for adults. If you liked getting to know Salva Dut in A LONG WALK TO WATER, you’ll find Kamkwamba’s story amazing and inspiring too. A young teen in Mali builds a windmill out of scrap to bring electricity, and hence water, to his family’s drought-stricken farm.
THE YEAR WE SAILED THE SUN, by Theresa Nelson. Middle-grade historical fiction. One of my all-time favorite writers! A gritty story set in 1912 St. Louis, with a setting so real you can feel it, and a character to cheer your heart out for. Can eleven-year-old Julia Delaney find a home and a family when her own falls apart? Don’t let the lyrical cover and title fool you; IMHO they belie the humor, action, and gutsiness of Julia and her story.
KISSING IN AMERICA, by Margo Rabb. YA contemporary. Road trip time! Two teen girls, one on her way to see the love of her life, the other to appear on a TV game show. Friendship, first love, and deep grief, laugh-out-loud humor and gorgeous writing. Plus a great cover!
BONE GAP, by Laura Ruby. YA fantasy. Teenage Finn tries to solve the mystery of a kidnapping, and falls in love along the way. Ambitious structure, with the story told (mostly) from three third person viewpoints. Wonderful setting, with surprising but well-earned plot and character twists (which carried me past the minor annoyance of the intrusion of two chapters from other POVs). Daring. Intriguing. Unusual. Read it.
ECHO, by Pam Munoz Ryan. Middle-grade historical fiction/fairy tale. Three stories–no, four. Wait, maybe it’s five?–that follow a harmonica that might or might not be magical–on its journey through several decades and lives. A remarkable mashup!
THE SECOND GUARD, by J.D. Vaughn. Middle-grade fantasy. HURRAH for a fantasy that 1) uses Latin-American tropes instead of the weary European ones and 2) has a great kick-ass girl protagonist! Talimendra must train to become part of the Queen’s guard and help save the realm of Tequende. Can’t wait for the next installment.
THE KIDNEY HYPOTHETICAL, by Lisa Yee. YA contemporary. The last seven days of Higgs Boson Biggs’ high-school career, during which everything he’s worked hard for starts to fall apart. FUNNY and moving by turns–or at the same time, and I still can’t think of the title premise without cracking up.
ARCADY’S GOAL, by Eugene Yelchin. Middle-grade historical fiction. What was it like to be a child in Stalinist Russia–a child whose parents have been ‘disappeared’? Arcady’s story might have been unrelentingly grim, but it’s leavened by moments of tenderness and his passion for soccer. The spare writing suits the subject matter perfectly, with the bonus of lovely and haunting illustrations by the author.
I’m so lucky, to live in a world and a time with such books in it!