Spring for book lovers is all about reading outside and digging into a fresh crop of great new reads. This season’s offering of middle grade books is particularly strong. Here are just a few highlights:
It is not only Nisha's heart that is breaking, but her entire country is being torn apart. The year is 1947 and Nisha is celebrating her twelfth birthday. She receives a diary in which she records her everyday life in India, her worries about her twin brother who is struggling in school, and confides her hopes and dreams to her mother, who passed away the same day she was born. All of these worries seem small when a random stroke of the pen by a British official divides her country in two: a Muslim side and a Hindu side. But Nisha's mother was Muslim and her father is Hindu. Where does she belong? What follows is a breathtaking debut that brings the Partition of India to life in heartbreaking detail. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani is a must read for historical fiction fans.
Aru Shah has a loose relationship with the truth. Why tell her classmates that she is going to spend her vacation waiting for her mom at the boring old Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture when she could spin them a tale of zipping around Paris is a chauffeured limo (because she is a member of royalty after all)? But her lies catch up to her and she is forced to prove one of her more outlandish stories by lighting the cursed Lamp of Bharata in her mother's museum. But what harm could come from lighting a lamp? Turns out, a lot. This time, Aru's exaggeration was not nearly outlandish enough because she has unleashed the Sleeper, a malevolent demon bent on awakening the God of Destruction who will cause the end of the world. Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the End of Time is perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson series.
Vera Brosgol has done it again. From her spooky graphic novel Anya's Ghost to the clutch-your-sides-with-laughter picturebook Leave Me Alone, Brosgol can spin any story into gold. Be Prepared is an autobiographical graphic novel about young Vera who desperately wants to fit in, but her Russian immigrant parents do not make it easy. Tired of having the wrong clothes, the wrong accent, and the wrong food, Vera is determined that she, a bonafide city girl, will attend a summer camp just like the other girls in her school. After some consideration, her mother agrees and sends her to the only camp their family can afford: a Russian camp.
Whenever there is a new Kwame Alexander book being released, you can bet that there are happy dances being done in the library. Newbery Medal winner Alexander returns to the family from The Crossover and turns back the clock. This prequel focuses on the boys’ father, Charlie, and the special summer that changed his life. After the unexpected death of his father, Charlie only cares about three things: comics, arcades, and jazz. His mother is worried that school and his future don’t feature and ships him off to Washington, DC to live with his grandparents in the hopes that this will sort him out. Rebound is a mixture of Alexander's signature poetry and comics that will entrance reluctant reader and bookworm alike.
Find these and other great middle grades books at your local library.
by Corene Maret Brown, Programs and Youth Services Coordinator, Port Moody Public Library