In the last several months I’ve seen a crop of solid Sci Fi and Fantasy titles with diverse girl characters. Ever since I stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia with Lucy Pevencie, I have loved girl-centric fantasy and sci fi. Especially when it featured a familiar mythology or sacred story. So I’m so pleased to see fantastical stories based in a much broader group of tales. None of these books are a definitive or scholarly reproduction of their originating myths. Please look to non-fiction sources for instruction about originating myths. Enjoy these books for the gems they are, hewn from the stone of a rich mythological tradition.
When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, she believes Mama D’Leau, the powerful jumbie who rules the ocean, has caused the hurricane. But Corinne discovers the storms were caused by the angry god Huracan. Corinne races against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever. The Jumbie God’s Revenge blends Caribbean and West African tales to present powerful themes of community and heroism and adventure.
Lintang and the Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss
When a deadly mythie attacks Lintang’s village the same day the infamous Captain Shafira visits her island, Lintang gets her chance. She defends her village with bravery and earns her a place on the pirate queen’s ship. When Lintang discovers her best friend has stowed away she must choose. Telling Captain Shafira betrays her friend, but keeping the secret risks everything.
Leo Logroño of Rose Hill, Texas, wants to become a full-fledged bruja like the rest of her family. But she hasn’t discovered the true nature of her magical abilities. That isn’t the only bit of trouble in her life: Her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across town, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.
Spirit Hunters: The Island of Monsters, by Ellen Oh
For fans of scary stories, Spirit Hunters is a high-stakes middle grade mystery series. It features Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother.
When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, surrounded by evil-looking bees, 12-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been four months since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a reality show is taking over, and her friends are in danger.
Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee
Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min is counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her. When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters.
These are just some of the terrific new and diverse titles out there. Please mention any I’ve missed in the comments. -Rosanne Parry