This month brings a mix of fiction and nonfiction for MG readers. I’m looking forward to putting these books in the hands of patrons at Annie Blooms Books where I’m a part time bookseller.
But I’m also a full time writer and I have a big deadline in November so I’m going to skip the November reviews and write a short report on changes in how Barnes and Noble acquires MG fiction and a detailed analysis of the breakdown of titles on the shelf in my local Barnes & Noble store. I know it’s been on people’s minds and I always find gathering data a help in deciding where to expend my energies in promoting diverse literature for kids.
Here are the October new releases.
Freestyle by Gale Galligan is a sweet and funny look at the ups and downs of middle school. I appreciated the depictions of a hip hop dance crew. In addition to racial, ethnic and gender diversity its nice to see dance other than ballet presented in a graphic novel. (Scholastic)
There are several good books about Japanese internment for MG readers. What intrigues me about My Nest of Silence by Matt Faulkner is the mix of prose and graphic novel elements. I’ll be very curious to see how it does in the bookshop. It does create a conundrum about whether to shelve it in fiction or in the graphic novel section. Librarians, I’d love to hear in the comments how you are handling it. (Atheneum)
I love it when an author, who has already made a name for themselves writing about their own diverse experience, then chooses a story that transcends the subjects of race and ethnicity. A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga is an absolute charmer narrated by a fictional mars rover named Resilliance. It follows the machine’s POV as it reflects not just on its mission on Mars, but the meaning of friendship. A sweet story even non-space geeks will love. (Balzer & Bray)
The Lords of Night by JC Cervantes is a companion title to his popular Storm Runner series, set in the wolf of Aztec mythology. (Disney Hyperion)
Shad Hadid & the Alchemists of Alexandria by George Jreije is a spin on the boy goes to wizard school story, this time it’s an Arabic protagonist and the magic is alchemy. (Harper)
The legacy of an integrated military is the result of the courage and excellence of many black servicemen and women. Dr. James B. Williams is one of the greats, his lifelong leadership in medicine and civil rights is an inspiration. Unlawful Orders: a portrait of Dr. James B Williams ,Tuskegee Airman, Surgeon & Activist by Barbara Binns is liberally photo illustrated and contains a detailed bibliography. (Scholastic Focus)
Toxic masculinity is a problem that transcends race and ethnicity and yet it is most harmful to marginalized children. Boys will be Human: A gut-check guide to becoming th strongest, kindest, bravest person you can be, by Justin Baldoni is a thorogh look at what it means to be male and how to navigate the world in a way that is life affirming for boys. I recommend it for boys older than 10. It’s a great family resource for starting important conversations.(Harper)
Better Than We Found It: conversations to help Save the World by FrederickJoseph and Porsche Joseph is daunting in its wide-ranging content. But taken a section at a time, it’s a great introduction to issues for young activists. It covers topics from disinformation and climate change to indigenous land theft and the prison-industrial complex; 16 topics in all. Another great conversations starter for kids from about 10 well through their teens. (Candlewick)
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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