Here’s the roundup of some of the many diverse MG books on sale in April. As always if I’ve missed an April title please drop a mention in the comments on this page.
The Not-so-uniform Life of Holly Mei is the debut MG novel of Christina Matula. It’s refreshing to see a character whose biracial identity (Taiwanese-Canadian) is not the focus of conflict in the novel. Another nice twist is the immigration story is not to North America but from there to Hong Kong. Kids will find plenty to root for as Holly Mei finds her way in a new city and school. This is the first of a planned three book series.
In Shabbat Sabotage by Emma Carlson Berne, Maya’s first time at sleep-away camp is enlivened by the mystery of who stole the kiddush cup and candlesticks they need to celebrate Shabbat.
Horse Country: Can’t be Tamed by Yamile Saied Méndez is a new series centered around a western horse ranch and the power of second chances. Great to see a horse series that does not feature wealthy East coast mean girls, but rather centers on the Hispanic contributions to the American west and the healing power of horses.
Karthic Delivers by Sheela Chari has elements to delight a wide range of readers. Karthic trys to help his parents hold things together financially by delivering Indian groceries around his Boston neighborhood on his bike. He loves theater, admires fellow immigrant Leonard Bernstein, and is navigating a first crush with the aid of his earnest, even aspirational, to-do lists.
My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel is a YA rom-com that should have plenty of appeal for older MG readers. What I liked the most about this story of finding love amid the busy events of a traditional Indian wedding was the many cousins who are on Zurika’s side every step of the way.
In the full color graphic novel Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo, Sue/ Suyapa was hoping for a summer with her American friends at an art camp but her mother brings her to Honduras instead to be with family and have her Quinceñero ceremony. Sue is mortified but comes to appreciate them in the end. I appreciated the way the story embraced the spiritual elements of a the ceremony, rather than focusing entirely on the more glamorous party afterward. There is back matter with more information on the meaning of the Quinceñero traditions.
Messy Roots: a graphic memoir of a Wuhanese-American by Laura Gao is a YA graphic novel that may appeal to the older end of the MG spectrum. It’s a memoir about growing up as an immigrant queer Chinese-American in Texas. It’s rare to find a book that illuminates the experience of being both an immigrant and an LGBT community member. I’m hoping it will do well enough to usher in more intersectional stories.
Fantasy & SciFi & Historical
The Last Mapmaker by master storyteller Christina Soontornvat is going to appeal to fans of popular dragon series like Wings of Fire but also to kids who like maritime adventure stories in the mold of the Horatio Hornblower books.
Memorably set on a family estate in the Himalayas, Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan is a tale of culture shock overcome and family secrets unraveled.
Young chapter books
Wednesday & Woof: Catastrophe by Sherri Winston is a new chapter book series featuring a spunky black main character with juvenile arthritis and her service dog Woof. Together they solve the mystery of a neighbor’s missing cat. Short chapters, large type and plenty of color illustrations make this an inviting first series for a new reader.
Rosanne Parry is the author of 7 MG novels including best sellers A Wolf Called Wander, and A Whale of the Wild. Her first picture book Big Truck Day will go on sale in September of 2022. She sells books at Annie Blooms Bookstore in Multnomah Village and writes books in her treehouse in Portland, Oregon.
From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.
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