Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell
Indian No More is an emotional, important story about when the U.S. government arbitrarily made certain Native American tribes no longer tribes without reservations or legal rights. It also shows the historical landscape of prejudice and stereotypes towards people of color. But it also shows, and I love, a close-knit, loving family based on the author’s own life, a family who values each other and their survival. This book is a must-read and must-own for all schools and libraries and would make an excellent book club selection.
Also on: OwnVoices Historical Fiction Chapter Books
Realistic / Growing Up
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (ages 9 – 12)
On her 12th birthday, Zoe, a girl who loves to bake, discovers a letter to her from her incarcerated biological father, Marcus. She decides to write him back, even daring to ask him about the murder he’s in jail for — did he really do it? Marcus writes to Zoe that he’s innocent and he can prove it which sets Zoe on a quest to find out the truth for herself, even if her mom and dad forbid it. She enlists the help of her Grandma and her best friend, Trevor. You won’t be able to put down this winsome story with a heroine you can’t help but adore; a story that illuminates social justice with themes of family, friendship, and love.
Birdie and Me! by J.M.M. Nuanez (ages 9 – 12)
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone (ages 9 – 12)
Sometimes growing up means seeing the difficult truth about someone you love…Scoob takes a spontaneous road trip with his beloved G’ma in her new camper, escaping his dad’s spring break punishment. As they visit places from his G’ma’s past, their trip turns out differently than he expects. What begins as only a fun adventure turns into a revelation of current and historical racial prejudices (Scoob is black and his grandmother is white). What’s more, things become strange and confusing as Scoob notices more weird behaviors from G’ma. Was she trying to steal jewelry in the store? And why are there stacks of cash hidden in the camper? Perfect pacing, an intriguing plot, and memorable characters make this a top pick for 2020 middle grade and #ownvoices.
Chirp by Kate Messner (ages 9 – 12)
REALISTIC / MYSTERY
As usual, Messner writes layer upon layer of complexity and themes in a cohesive, interesting novel. On the surface, this story is about Mia helping to save her grandmother’s cricket farm that is losing money and being sabotaged. But it’s about more than that, it’s about finding out who she is if she’s not able to be a gymnast, facing her fears, and standing up for herself after a coach’s sexual harassment. Readers will be exposed to some important topics like how to define yourself when what you’ve loved is gone and what to do if you feel uncomfortable with a coach’s behavior. Plus, they might not have heard of cricket flour — or cricket snacks — which perhaps will inspire a new food adventure!
Fantasy & Science Fiction
Jinxed by Amy McCulloch (ages 9 – 12)
What an amazing premise — you are going to love this on so many levels. It’s “a fairy tale, but not of princes and frogs, ball gowns and pumpkins, but of makers and metal, of wire and ingenuity and inspiration and creativity and invention.” In this evolved society, the tech company MONCHA makes computerized pets caled bakus that act like smartphones and computers. Lacey finds an unusual, half-destroyed cat baku and rebuilds it using a 3D printer and found parts. When her baku Jinx starts to work, he’s noticeably different than the other bakus– he can speak into her mind and think for himself! So when she starts competing with other kids at her prestigious school in the battle of the bakus, Jinx doesn’t follow the rules which lead to his capture and the discovery of a sinister truth about MONCHA. Fantastic, fast-paced, and thought-provoking. Because…what if?
The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin (ages 9 – 12)
A fascinating, action-paced sci-fi book perfect for readers who love adventure, mystery, and kids doing surviving despite the odds. After their mother dies of cancer, Aster and her younger sister, Poppy, travel to New Zeland to live with their cancer researcher aunt. Poppy sneaks a phone into their aunt’s eco-village and that’s how she sends their new friend from the plane, Sam, a message about where they are. But when Sam bikes to visit them, all he finds of the village are ashes. That’s because Aster’s aunt has moved everyone and burned the village. What happens next is hard to believe…Aster’s aunt gasses everyone on the boat, from which Aster wakes up –in the ocean and alone — no sister or people in sight. She will eventually find an island and two other teenagers from the village but strangest of all is she meets a boy with gills who breathes water instead of air. When danger arrives with Sam’s help, it’s a fight for survival and answers.
Gloom Town by Ronald Smith (ages 9 – 12)
Hollow Dolls by MarcyKate Connolly (ages 9 – 12)
Mysterious and suspenseful! Mind-reader Simone is a former captive of the evil witch Lady Aisling. But she’s the only captive who has yet to be reunited with family. She and her friends travel to the Parillan library to search for answers, thwarted along the way by a bodywalker who takes over Sebastian’s sister’s body. Even at the library, they can tell things are amiss. There, Simone will uncover a new evil plot and the horrifying truth about her biological family.