Happy Friday, Bookworms!
What books have you recently added to your bookshelf or tbrs?
I haven’t done this meme in a while but I really wanted to share all the new bookish discoveries I made this week. Nearly all of these are middle grade titles whose premise has a lot of heartfelt depth to them and strong voices you’ll want to hear. They give off huge guaranteed-good-read vibes.
If middle grade is your jam, then the titles below may be your next great read.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM by Holly Goldberg Sloan
It’s been almost a year since Sila’s mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States.
The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places.
EVEN AND ODD by Sarah Beth Durst
A half-magic girl learns about heroism and taking action when she and her sister confront a wizard who endangers others for her own gain.
Even and Odd are sisters who share magic. Lately, though, it seems like that’s the only thing they have in common. Odd doesn’t like magic, and Even practices it every chance she gets, dreaming of the day she’ll be ready to be a hero.
When the hidden border between the mundane world the sisters live in and the magical land they were born in shuts abruptly, the girls are trapped, unable to return home. With the help of a unicorn named Jeremy, they discover a wizard is diverting magic from the border to bolster her own power. Families are cut off from each other on both sides of the border, and an ecological disaster is brewing. But the wizard cares nothing for the calamitous effects her appropriation of magic is having. Someone has to do something to stop her, and Even realizes she can no longer wait until she’s ready: she needs to be a hero now.
FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN by Ann Braden
Libby comes from a long line of bullies. She wants to be different, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. Now she’s suspended again.
On the opposite side of the country lives Vincent, a kid who loves the mathematician Katherine Johnson and being a non-conformist, who’s trying hard not to get stuffed into lockers at his new school. But that’s not working out too well either.
Nearby is T, who couldn’t take living at home anymore and is determined to survive on a rainy sidewalk.
And then there’s Jack, a big-hearted kid so engaged in the fight to keep his small rural school open that he’s lost focus on the ones who need him most.
Four kids. Four different lives. And then… one card with a message of hope takes flight and starts a chain reaction, helping each kid summon the thing they need, whether it’s bravery, empathy, or understanding. But best of all, it makes each one realize they matter — and that they’re not flying solo anymore.
LETTERS FROM CUBA by Ruth Behr
The story of a young Jewish girl who escapes Poland to make a new life in Cuba, while she works to rescue the rest of her family
The situation is getting dire for Jews in Poland on the eve of World War II. Esther’s father has fled to Cuba, and she is the first one to join him. It’s heartbreaking to be separated from her beloved sister, so Esther promises to write down everything that happens until they’re reunited. And she does, recording both the good–the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery of a valuable hidden talent–and the bad: the fact that Nazism has found a foothold even in Cuba.
Based on Ruth Behar’s family history.
MY LIFE IN THE FISH TANK by Barbara Dee
When twelve-year-old Zinnia Manning’s older brother Gabriel is diagnosed with a mental illness, the family’s world is turned upside down. Mom and Dad want Zinny, her sixteen-year-old sister, Scarlett, and her eight-year-old brother, Aiden, to keep Gabriel’s condition “private”—and to Zinny that sounds the same as “secret.” Which means she can’t talk about it to her two best friends, who don’t understand why Zinny keeps pushing them away, turning everything into a joke.
It also means she can’t talk about it during Lunch Club, a group run by the school guidance counselor. How did Zinny get stuck in this weird club, anyway? She certainly doesn’t have anything in common with these kids—and even if she did, she’d never betray her family’s secret.
The only good thing about school is science class, where cool teacher Ms. Molina has them doing experiments on crayfish. And when Zinny has the chance to attend a dream marine biology camp for the summer, she doesn’t know what to do. How can Zinny move forward when Gabriel—and, really, her whole family—still needs her help?
PIZAZZ by Sophy Henn
Most people think superhero work is awesome and fulfilling. Pizazz knows better. Whenever she’s in the middle of a movie or having fun with her friends, she has to dash off the save the world. And she’s always in the same outfit, including an embarrassing glittery cape, and the wedgies are unreal. Plus, being the good guy all the time is so not easy. Superheroes have bad days like everybody else, but Pizazz always has to be cheerful and noble and brave. More than anything, she just wants to be normal.Most people think superhero work is awesome and fulfilling. Pizazz knows better. Whenever she’s in the middle of a movie or having fun with her friends, she has to dash off the save the world. And she’s always in the same outfit, including an embarrassing glittery cape, and the wedgies are unreal. Plus, being the good guy all the time is so not easy. Superheroes have bad days like everybody else, but Pizazz always has to be cheerful and noble and brave. More than anything, she just wants to be normal.
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM DARED: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress by Alicia D. Williams, Illustrated by April Harrison
Meet Shirley, a little girl who asks way too many questions! After spending her early years on her grandparents’ farm in Barbados, she returns home to Brooklyn and immediately makes herself known. Shirley kicks butt in school; she breaks her mother’s curfew; she plays jazz piano instead of classical. And as a young adult, she fights against the injustice she sees around her, against women and black people. Soon she is running for state assembly…and winning in a landslide. Three years later, she is on the campaign trail again, as the first black woman to run for Congress. Her slogan? Fighting Shirley Chisholm–Unbought and Unbossed! Does she win? You bet she does.
A SOFT PLACE TO LAND by Janae Marks
Joy Taylor has always believed home is the house she lived in her entire life. But then her dad lost his job, and suddenly, home becomes a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and a place for tense arguments between Mom and Dad. Hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough funds, her dreams of becoming a great pianist—and one day, a film score composer—have been put on hold.
A friendly new neighbor her age lets Joy in on the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. And it’s in this little hideaway that Joy starts exchanging secret messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. What if they’re in trouble?
Joy is determined to find out who this mystery writer is, fast, but between trying to raise funds for her music lessons, keeping on a brave face for her little sister, and worrying about her parents’ marriage, Joy isn’t sure how to keep her own head above water.