Tag Archives: MG

Fave Five: MG with Ace-Spec MCs

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Rick by Alex Gino

The One Who Loves You Most by medina

A-Okay by Jarad Greene

The Trouble with Robots by Michelle Mohrweis

Bonus: Coming in 2023, Reel Love by Nilah Magruder and Just Lizzie by Karen Wilfrid

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Nameless Witch by Natalie C. Parker

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome the one and only Natalie C. Parker, w ho’s revealing the cover of The Nameless Witch, “the wickedly exciting and queer sequel” to last year’s Middle Grade fantasy adventure The Devouring WolfThe Nameless Witch is coming from Razorbill/Penguin on August 8, 2023, and here’s the story:

For fans of Soman Chainani, Anne Ursu, and stories with lots of magic, action and a big heart.

If you give your witch your name…
               …she’ll steal your magic and grind your bones…

After defeating the Devouring Wolf, Riley and her friends hoped they could leave scary legends behind and focus on being the best werewolves they can be. Nicknamed the Winter Pack because of when they turned, they’ve got a unique bond thanks to how different they are as a prime, and some of the other pups think they get special treatment. It’s all Riley and her friends can do to practice their magic skills, get all their homework done, and not let the other young wolves pick fights.

Suddenly their bond leads them to a new threat—a young witch on the run. She isn’t just any runaway, though. She’s the next in line to become the magic-hungry Nameless Witch and even being in her presence is dangerous for werewolves. They say the Nameless Witch can take anything she wants from you if she knows your name.

But this runaway doesn’t want to be Nameless, she wants to choose for herself. The Winter Pack understands better than other wolves what that feels like, and they pledge to help her. Too bad the terrible power of the Nameless Witch has already marked the runaway, and Riley and her pack have no time before their new friend will turn, steal their magic and bones, and possibly even destroy all of Clawroot…

And here’s the magical cover, illustrated by Tyler Champion and designed by Jessica Jenkins!

Alt text: Five 13-year-olds stand in the middle of a magical orb surrounded by an ominous green mist. Outside of the orb a hooded figure is just visible in the darkness, their hands hover to either side of the orb as though they are spying on the children. A candle burns on one side and a mortar and pestle sit on the other. The title at the top of the page reads The Nameless Witch.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Natalie C. Parker is an author, editor, and community organizer. She has written several award winning books for teens and young readers and has edited multiple anthologies including the Indie Bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old. Her work has been included on the NPR Best Books list, the Indie Next List, and the TAYSHAS Reading List, and in Junior Library Guild selections. In addition to writing, Natalie also runs Madcap Retreats, which has partnered with We Need Diverse Books and Reese’s Book Club to host the writers workshops for their new internship Lit Up. She grew up in a navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan and currently lives with her wife on the Kansas prairie.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Song of Us by Kate Fussner

Today on the site, we’re revealing the cover for debut queer middle grade novel-in-verse The Song of Us by Kate Fussner, releasing May 30, 2023 from Katharine Tegen Books! Here’s the story: 

This stunning debut and wholly original queer middle grade novel-in-verse retelling of “Orpheus and Eurydice” adds a new chorus to the songs of great love, perfect for fans of Other Words for Home and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World.

Love at first sight isn’t a myth. For seventh graders Olivia and Eden, it’s fate. Olivia is a capital-P Poet, and Eden thinks she wants to be a musician one day, but for now she’s just the new girl. And then Eden shows up to Poetry Club and everything changes.

Eden isn’t out, and she has rules for dating Olivia: don’t call. Don’t tell her friends. And don’t let anyone know they’re together.

But when jealousy creeps in, it’s Olivia’s words that push Eden away. While Eden sets out to find herself, Olivia begins a journey to bring Eden back—using poetry. Both Olivia and Eden will learn just how powerful their words can be to bring them together . . . or tear them apart forever.

And here’s the lovely cover, designed by Kathy Lam (@xkafelatte) and illustrated by Aiyana de Vera!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Kate Fussner (she/her) is a novelist, teacher, and accidental poet living in Massachusetts with her wife and dramatic dog. When not reading or writing, Kate can be found spending time with her family, baking, or singing her favorite musicals. Kate believes in the power of a good laugh and a good cry, and hopes her stories will provide readers with both.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Skating on Mars by Caroline Huntoon

Always a delight to get to reveal a great queer Middle Grade cover, and today’s is none other than Skating on Mars by Caroline Huntoon, a nonbinary contemporary MG releasing from Feiwel & Friends on May 30, 2023! Here’s the story:

Life isn’t easy on twelve-year-old Mars. As if seventh grade isn’t hard enough, Mars is also grappling with the recent death of their father and a realization they never got to share with him: they’re nonbinary. But with their skates laced up and the ice under their feet, all of those struggles melt away. When Mars’ triple toe loop draws the attention of a high school hot shot, he dares them to skate as a boy so the two can compete head-to-head. Unable to back down from a challenge, Mars accepts. But as the competition draws near, the struggles of life off the rink start to complicate their performance in the rink, and Mars begins to second guess if there’s a place for them on the ice at all.

And here’s the icetastic cover, illustrated by Violet Tobacco and designed by L. Whitt!

Alt text: The title “Skating on Mars” fills the top half of the image; a young figure skater with short hair, black clothing, and white skates poses with a lightning bolt across their chest; in the ice below the skater’s feet there is a rainbow and the reflection of the skates is black; at the bottom, there is the name “Caroline Huntoon”

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | Booksweet (signed copies!)

Caroline Huntoon is an author and educator. They write middle grade fiction across genres. Caroline lives with their feisty child, Winifred, in Ypsilanti, MI. Skating on Mars is their debut novel and will be published on May 30, 2023 by Feiwel and Friends. Find out more about Caroline and their work at CarolineHuntoon.com.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Trouble with Robots by Michelle Mohrweis

I’m so excited to have Michelle Mohrweis on the site today to reveal the cover of her upcoming bi and aro/ace MG debut, The Trouble with Robots, which releases from Peachtree on September 6th! Here’s the story:

Evelyn strives for excellence. Allie couldn’t care less. Together,
these polar opposites must work together if they have any hope
of saving their school’s robotics program.

Eighth-graders Evelyn and Allie are in trouble. Evelyn’s constant
need for perfection has blown some fuses among her robotics
teammates, and she’s worried nobody’s taking the upcoming
competition seriously. Allie is new to school, and she’s had a history
of short-circuiting on teachers and other kids.

So when Allie is assigned to the robotics team as a last resort, all
Evelyn can see is just another wrench in the works! But as Allie
confronts a past stricken with grief and learns to open up, the gears
click into place as she discovers that Evelyn’s teammates have a lot
to offer—if only Evelyn allowed them to participate in a role that plays to their strengths.

Can Evelyn learn to let go and listen to what Allie has to say? Or will
their spot in the competition go up in smoke along with their school’s robotics program and Allie’s only chance at redemption?

An excellent pick for STEAM enthusiasts, this earnestly told narrative features a dual point of view and casually explores Autistic and LGBTQ+ identities.

And here’s the ridiculously cute cover, with art by Kris Mukai, design by Maria Fazio, and art direction by Adela Pons!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

And here’s a word from the author herself!

If you asked me three years ago what I wanted to write, I never imagined I’d say middle grade contemporary. I loved reading it, but my writing heart was locked in fantasy. Then COVID hit. I found myself stuck inside my house and missing my students so badly. I was aimless and lost, so I started writing. The Trouble With Robots poured out of me, this story full of queer robotics kids and silly pranks and everything I missed about my own robotics classes.

The Trouble With Robots is a book about friendship, about learning how to make things work and giving others a chance. It’s about the chaotic fun of robotics tournaments and the little moments with your friends that make each day a delight. It’s a book about grief and how those viewed as “trouble” kids often have so much more going on than anyone realizes. It’s also a very personal book to me. Evelyn is autistic like myself, and it’s a story where queer autistic girls can see themselves having their adventures and leading a team.

***

Michelle Mohrweis is a middle school robotics and engineering teacher and a moderator at the Tucson Festival of Books. When not writing, she can be found launching paper rockets down the middle of her street. She lives with her husband and two dogs in Arizona. The Trouble with Robots is Michelle’s debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @Mohrweis_Writes and visit her on the web at http://www.michellemohrweis.com.

 

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Hazel Hill is Gonna Win this One by Maggie Horne

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome Maggie Horne to reveal the cover of her Middle Grade debut, Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One, which releases from Clarion Books on October 18, 2022! Here’s the story:

In this funny, feminist, and queer middle grade debut, seventh-grader Hazel Hill is too busy for friends. No, really. She needs to focus on winning the school-wide speech competition over her nemesis, the popular and smart Ella Quinn, after last year’s embarrassing Hyperbole/Hyperbowl mishap that cost her first place. But when Hazel discovers Ella is being harassed by golden boy Tyler Harris, she has to choose between winning and doing the right thing. No one would believe that a nice boy like Tyler would harass and intimidate a nice girl like Ella, but Hazel knows the truth—and she’s determined to prove it.

And here’s the absolutely adorable cover, illustrated by Luna Valentine and designed by Marcie Lawrence and Samira Iravani!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Maggie Horne is a writer and editor who grew up near Toronto, Canada. She studied at Oxford Brookes University, where she obtained both a BA in Publishing Media and a wife, which was a pretty good deal. She now lives outside of Ottawa with her family. Her writing has been featured in Catapult and on Medium’s Mental Health and LGBTQ pages. Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One is her first novel. Website: maggiehorne.com Twitter: @MaggieHasHornes

Fave Five: Spooky MG/YA Graphic Novels

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

DeadEndia: The Watcher’s List by Hamish Steele

Bonus: Coming in 2022, Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham 

Fave Five: Books with Young Teen Protagonists

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (13)

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution and Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (13)

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (14)

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (14)

Boy Meets Hamster by Birdie Milano (14)

Bonus: Coming in 2022, Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass (13) and In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington (13)

Fave Five: MG/YA Starring Trans Athletes

Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar (MG, swimming)

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (YA, soccer)

May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor (YA, cheerleading)

Blood Sport by Tash McAdam (YA, boxing)

Cheer Up! by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar O. Jupiter (YA, cheerleading)

Bonus: These books all have binary trans main characters, but for a nonbinary athlete, check out Ana on the Edge by AJ Sass (MG, ice skating)

Most Anticipated LGBTQA Middle Grade: July-December 2021

Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar (September 7th)

Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.

As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water—to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Touch of Ruckus by Ash Van Otterloo (September 7th)

Tennessee Lancaster has a hidden gift.

She can pry into folks’ memories with just a touch of their belongings. It’s something she’s always kept hidden — especially from her big, chaotic family. Their lives are already chock-full of worries about Daddy’s job and Mama’s blues without Tennie rocking the boat.

But when the Lancasters move to the mountains for a fresh start, Tennie’s gift does something new. Instead of just memories, her touch releases a ghost with a terrifying message: Trouble is coming. Tennie wants to ignore it. Except her new friend Fox — scratch that, her only friend, Fox — is desperate to go ghost hunting deep in the forest. And when Tennie frees even more of the spirits, trouble is exactly what she gets… and it hits close to home. The ghosts will be heard, and now Tennie must choose between keeping secrets or naming an ugly truth that could tear her family apart.

Magic and mayhem abound in this spooky story about family legacies, first friendships, and how facing the ghosts inside can sometimes mean stirring up a little bit of ruckus.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Other Boys by Damian Alexander (September 7th)

In Other Boys, debut author Damian Alexander delivers a moving middle grade graphic memoir about his struggles with bullying, the death of his mother, and coming out.

Damian is the new kid at school, and he has a foolproof plan to avoid the bullying that’s plagued him his whole childhood: he’s going to stop talking. Starting on the first day seventh grade, he won’t utter a word. If he keeps his mouth shut, the bullies will have nothing to tease him about―right?

But Damian’s vow of silence doesn’t work―his classmates can tell there’s something different about him. His family doesn’t look like the kind on TV: his mother is dead, his father is gone, and he’s being raised by his grandparents in a low-income household. And Damian does things that boys aren’t supposed do, like play with Barbies instead of GI Joe. Kids have teased him about this his whole life, especially other boys. But if boys can be so cruel, why does Damian have a crush on one?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (September 21st)

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

City of Thieves by Alex London (September 21st)

54671391. sy475 In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.

Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.

Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he’s destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret…and a stolen dragon.

Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement…

To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.

When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what’s worth fighting for?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

This is Our Rainbow ed. by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby (October 19th)

The first LGBTQ+ anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the acronym, including realistic, fantasy, and sci-fi stories by authors like Justina Ireland, Marieke Nijkamp, Alex Gino, and more!

A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true–but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQIA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aida Salazar, and AJ Sass.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Golden Hour by Niki Smith (October 26th)

The Golden HourStruggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep him grounded. His days are a lonely, latchkey monotony until he’s teamed with his classmates, Sebastian and Caysha, for a group project.

Sebastian lives on a grass-fed cattle farm outside of town, and Manuel finds solace in the open fields and in the antics of the newborn calf Sebastian is hand-raising. As Manuel aides his new friends in their preparations for the local county fair, he learns to open up, confronts his deepest fears, and even finds first love.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A-Okay by Jarad Greene (November 2nd)

When Jay starts eighth grade with a few pimples he doesn’t think much of it at first…except to wonder if the embarrassing acne will disappear as quickly as it arrived. But when his acne goes from bad to worse, Jay’s prescribed a powerful medication that comes with some serious side effects. Regardless, he’s convinced it’ll all be worth it if clear skin is on the horizon!

Meanwhile, school isn’t going exactly as planned. All of Jay’s friends are in different classes; he has no one to sit with at lunch; his best friend, Brace, is avoiding him; and–to top it off–Jay doesn’t understand why he doesn’t share the same feelings two of his fellow classmates, a boy named Mark and a girl named Amy, have for him.

Eighth grade can be tough, but Jay has to believe everything’s going to be a-okay…right?

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Candidly Cline by Kathryn Ormsbee (November 9th)

Born in Paris, Kentucky, and raised on her gram’s favorite country music, Cline Alden is a girl with big dreams and a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians’ workshop a few towns over, Cline sweet-talks, saves, and maybe fibs her way into her first step toward musical stardom.

But her big dreams never prepared her for the butterflies she feels surrounded by so many other talented kids—especially Sylvie, who gives Cline the type of butterflies she’s only ever heard about in love songs.

As she learns to make music of her own, Cline begins to realize how much of herself she’s been holding back. But now, there’s a new song taking shape in her heart—if only she can find her voice and sing it.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound