Hello, jFIC fans,
Happy New Year! Looking forward to a year full of awesome reads!
My favorite dozen from 2020:
Eva Evergreen (Semi Magical Witch Book 1) by Julie Abe (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7)
Eva Evergreen’s quest is to earn the rank of Novice Witch before her thirteenth birthday, for if she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic powers forever. The problem is that Eva only has “a pinch of magic” – or so she believes. This delightful fantasy novel reads like an anime movie. I look forward to the sequels!
The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman (Ages 9-12; Grades 4-7)
After a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explodes, two rival fifth-grade girls from completely different backgrounds end up on a train on their way to stay with one of the girls’ estranged grandmother. A poignant multigenerational historical novel about the power of friendship.
Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 1) by Elizabeth C Bunce (Ages 10-18; Grades 5-12) (some diversity)
Myrtle Hardcastle is a brilliant twelve-year-old girl obsessed with forensic science and detective work who persists in her investigations in spite of the social expectations of her time. The series has similarities to the award-winning Flavia de Luce Mystery Series by Alan Bradley, but it’s written for kids! Engaging and delightful!
The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins (Ages 10-14; Grades 5-9)
A beautifully-written surreal fantasy about an enchanted house, menacing plants, bonds between sisters, and reality-bending revelations. I loved the little black dogs that squeeze inside their owners’ brains to help them sleep. Spooky and original!
Leaving Lymon (Finding Langston Trilogy Book 2) by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7) (BIPOC author)
The second installment of the Finding Langston Trilogy follows the story of the bully Lymon, and includes the reasons for his anger, his love of music, and his finding hope for a better future. A moving and inspiring historical fiction story told by an outstanding writer.
One Time by Sharon Creech (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7) (some diversity)
With the help of a brilliant teacher and a boy with a generous smile, 11-year-old Gina Filomena and her classmates discover that their future is full of wonderful possibilities. An uplifting coming-of-age story that’s perfect for classroom reading groups.
The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher (Ages 9-12; Grades 4-7)
Thirteen-year-old Seren Rhys is an orphan hoping for a better life in her Godfather’s country mansion. But nothing turns out as she expects, and she ends up going on a fantastic journey to rescue the family’s young son who has been stolen by fairies. A mysterious and fast-paced fantasy with themes of resilience, courage, and belonging.
A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7)
The Widdershins sisters discover that they’re under a generations-long curse that keeps them from leaving their island, so they set out to break the curse and save their lives with the help of three magical objects and a mysterious prisoner. An exciting fantasy adventure with excellent world-building and characterization.
The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7) (bi-racial blended family)
A gorgeously-written, enchanting family story that follows the daily lives of 11-year-old Abi, her two stepbrothers, and her father and stepmother, as they adjust to a new family and a new home: a mysterious and possibly magical ivy-covered house. A suspenseful and heartwarming novel from a brilliant author. My favorite juvenile novel of the year!
Of Salt and Shore by Annet Schaap (Ages 10-12; Grades 5+)
Lampie, the lighthouse keeper’s 11-year-old daughter, makes a terrible mistake that results in punishments both for her and her alcoholic father. Hers is to be sent to live and work at the Admiral’s house, where a monster is said to live. A fantasy adventure with extraordinary characters and themes of courage, friendship, belonging, and self-worth.
The Monster Who Wasn’t (Monster Who Wasn’t Trilogy Book 1) by T. C. Shelley (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-6)
Imp hatched in a monsters’ lair, but looks just like a human boy and is possibly something between fairy and monster. The gargoyles and their angel take him under their wings, but the king of ogres has sinister plans for him. A fantasy story of family, good vs evil, and seeking one’s place in the world. Exciting and heart-warming!
Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (Ages 8-12; Grades 5+)
The Great Depression forces 12-year-old Ellie’s family to leave their home in town and move to the untamed forests of Echo Mountain. There Ellie discovers a love of nature and is enjoying her new life until her father has an accident that leaves him in a coma. Ellie then decides to go to the reclusive “hag” of the mountain for help. A story about having the courage and persistence to become your own true self.
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
“Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.
~ from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll