Posts Tagged middle grade books

June New Releases

It’s June. Time for long sunny days, lots of ice-cream, and a pile of books to get you started on your summer reading lists.
The June New Releases have a lot to offer this year:  Friends, road tips, fires, and new places. Take a look for yourself.

 

 

Asking for a Friend by Ronnie Riley

Eden Jones has exactly three friends. And they’re all fake.

From a web of lies and social anxiety to true friendship and queer joy; this is the wonderful second book from the author of the Indies Introduce and Indie Next List pick, Jude Saves the World.

Why go through the stress of making friends when you can just pretend? It works for Eden and their social anxiety . . . until their mom announces she’s throwing them a birthday party and all their friends are invited.

Eden’s “friends,” Duke, Ramona, and Tabitha, are all real kids from school . . . but Eden’s never actually spoken to them before. Now Eden will do whatever it takes to convince them to be their friends — at least until the party is over.

When things start to go better than Eden expects, and the group starts to bond, Eden finds themselves trapped in a lie that gets worse the longer they keep it up. What happens if their now sort-of-real friends discover that Eden hasn’t been honest with them from the very beginning?

 

 

 

Camp Prodigy by Caroline Palmer

Perfect for fans of Victoria Jamieson and Raina Telgemeier, this heartwarming middle grade graphic novel follows two nonbinary kids who navigate anxiety and identity while having fun and forming friendships at their summer orchestra camp.

After attending an incredible concert, Tate Seong is inspired to become a professional violist. There’s just one problem: they’re the worst musician at their school.

Tate doesn’t even have enough confidence to assert themself with their friends or come out as nonbinary to their family, let alone attempt a solo anytime soon. Things start to look up when Tate attends a summer orchestra camp–Camp Prodigy–and runs into Eli, the remarkable violist who inspired Tate to play in the first place.

But Eli has been hiding their skills ever since their time in the spotlight gave them a nervous breakdown. Together, can they figure out how to turn Tate into a star and have Eli overcome their performance anxieties? Or will the pressure take them both down?

 

 

 

Dinner at the Brake Fast by Renee Beauregard Lute

Dinner at the Brake Fast is a hilarious and heartfelt story about road-trip mishaps, a murderous rooster, facing down anxieties, and unexpected friendship that is a must-pick for readers who loved The Science of Unbreakable Things and The First Rule of Punk.

Tacoma Jones loves working at her family’s roadside diner, the Brake Fast, pouring coffee and serving eggs and muffins to truckers all day long. But tonight, she is finally going to break out her collection of cookbooks and prepare the best dinner the state of Washington has ever seen.

But her excitement is dampened when she learns that today is one of Dad’s bad days, when his depression makes it hard for him to get out of bed.

Tacoma knows she can’t fix her dad’s depression. But what she can do is steal back his prized photograph of his second-best day from her nemesis, the nasty Crocodile Kyle–while also planning a dinner that is sure to brighten up his bad day.

She just might need an accomplice or two to pull off the heist. . . .

 

 

 

 

Fire Escape: How Animals and Plants Survive Wildfires by Jessica Stremer (Author) and Michael Garland (Illustrator)

A timely middle grade nonfiction overview of the incredible ways animals detect, respond, and adapt to wildfires, as well as how climate change is affecting the frequency and severity of these devastating events in nature.

Goats and beavers. Drones and parachutes. Pinecones and beetles. What do they have in common? Believe it or not, they are all crucial tools in fighting, preventing, and adapting to wildfires!

These vicious fires are spreading faster and burning hotter than at any other time in history. Ongoing droughts, warming weather, and a history of poor forest management have extended the traditional wildfire season beyond the summer months. It is a matter of life and death for wildlife worldwide.

This breathtaking nonfiction book focuses on unique angles to a hot topic, including injury rehabilitation efforts, species that use wildfires to their advantage, how to help area repopulation, and the animals that help to prevent/fight wildfires. A riveting, kid friendly text is accompanied by stunning woodcut illustrations and full-color photographs, as well as extensive back matter with glossary, sources, and index.

 

 

 

Lei and the Invisible Island by Malia Maunakea

An exciting follow-up to Lei and the Fire Goddess features a mysterious, invisible island, dangerous spirits, and a newcomer who does not need Lei’s
help . . . or does she?

After saving her best friend and ancestral guardian, Kaipo, from Pele the Fire Goddess’s traps, and successfully preventing lava from destroying her Tūtū’s house, all Lei wants to do is take a nap. The only problem? Kaipo’s ʻaumakua pendant is missing, and without it, he will soon disintegrate . . . emotionally and physically.

So Lei, Kaipo, her favorite talking bat, Ilikea, and newcomer Kaukahi–a fiercely independent fashionista–set off on a journey to an invisible island where they hope to find Kaipo’s pendant. To get there, they’ll have to contend with sharks, jump over a rainbow, and literally float on clouds. And when they arrive? The crew realizes that the missing pendant is the least of their problems. For there are evil spirits on this island, and they’re out for blood.

In this exciting follow-up to LEI AND THE FIRE GODDESS, Malia Maunakea crafts a tale about friendship, family, culture, and what it means to forgive each other, and yourself.

 

 

 

 

Sink or Swim: (A Graphic Novel) by Veronica Agarwal and Lee Durfey-Lavoie 

Summer is here! School’s out, the pool is open, and new adventures with friends await! But what happens when twelve year old Ty’s anxiety has other plans? From the world of Just Roll With It comes a boy-centric graphic novel about accepting yourself even when it’s a little scary.

Bouncing back from a broken arm should be no big deal–but when Ty spends a month off the swim team the thought of getting back in the water is suddenly not as fun as it used to be.

After weeks of ignoring his friends, Ty isn’t sure how to connect with them again in summer camp. They used to have swim team together but after so long without swimming he’s out of shape and afraid of failing in front of them. With his friendships fracturing, will Ty be able to gain confidence in himself and fix everything before it’s too late?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skylight by Patchree Jones

For fans of Hayao Miyazaki, this middle-grade novel welcomes you to an immersive Thai fantasy where twelve-year-old best friends Sofia and Cara explore the boundaries of family, friendship, and learning to forge your own path.

Sofia Luana longs to fit into her Colorado hometown. Constantly bullied by her classmates, who see her as an outsider, Sofia only has her best friend, Cara Felicity, for support. When Sofia’s parents suddenly decide to move to California, her only hope is Cara, who says her family’s moving there, too.

On their plane ride halfway across the country, Sofia and Cara see a magical door in the clouds. The girls soon find themselves in a new land filled with a shapeshifting octopus, winged warriors, and the exiled sorceress Muet starting a war to take the throne.

With her best friend, Sofia must learn to embrace her royal Mehk lineage, figure out who can be trusted, and find the courage to make her own decisions to end the war–or else Muet and her Night Army will extinguish Sofia’s skylight forever.

 

 

 

 

The Cookie Crumbles by Tracy Badua and Alechia Dow 

The Great British Bake Off meets Knives Out in this fun and propulsive middle grade novel following two best friends who must solve the mystery behind a baking competition gone awry.

Laila gave Lucy a cupcake on the second day of kindergarten, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. But the summer before eighth grade, they find out that since they live on opposite sides of town, they’ll go to different high schools. Yuck!

Then Laila’s invited to compete at the Golden Cookie competition, which awards its winner admission and a full ride to the prestigious Sunderland boarding school, and it’s the perfect opportunity. Sunderland doesn’t just have an elite culinary program; it’s also home to an elite journalism track, if only newscaster-hopeful Lucy could build up a strong enough portfolio to impress the scholarship committee.

But when one of the celebrity judges collapses after sampling Laila’s showpiece, rumors of foul play swirl, with Laila rising to the top of the suspect list. Even worse, a major storm has effectively cut off all access to the outside world.

Can the girls find the real culprit and clear Laila’s name before it’s too late?

 

 

 

 

The New Girl: A Graphic Novel (the New Girl #1) by Cassandra Calin

Instagram sensation and Tapas webcomic superstar Cassandra Calin makes her long-form debut with this funny, feel-good middle-grade graphic novel about change.

Goodbye, old life…

Lia and her family are waiting to board a flight across the Atlantic, leaving behind family, friends, and Romania — the only home Lia has ever known. But Lia’s heartache is overshadowed by the discomfort of her first period. As if things weren’t difficult enough! Now Lia is thrust into a world where everything is different: her home, her language, and even her body. With so many changes happening at once, Lia struggles with schoolwork, has trouble communicating with classmates, and has no idea how to manage her unpleasant periods. Will she ever feel like herself again?

Inspired by the author’s own immigration experience, The New Girl is a comically charming story about change and acceptance.

 

 

 

 

See a book  you’d like to put on the top of your summer reading list? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

In Honor of Memorial Day

Memorial Day roots were grown in the aftermath of the Civil War, in the late 1860’s. As the war claimed more lives than any other conflict in American history, it was necessary to establish national cemeteries. Many communities began honoring our fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers on May 30. Decoration Day grew into Memorial Day, celebrated on the fourth Monday of May.

In recognition of this history, I thought it appropriate to share a handful of titles about the Civil War for middle-grade readers.

Bull Run written by Paul Fleischman

Winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction * ALA Best Book for Young Adults * ALA Notable Children’s Book

In this brilliant fictional tour de force, which the New York Times called “a deft, poignant novel,” Newbery Medal-winning author Paul Fleischman re-creates the first great battle of the Civil War from the points of view of sixteen participants.

Northern and Southern, male and female, white and black.

Here are voices that tell of the dreams of glory, the grim reality, the hopes, horror, and folly of a nation discovering the true nature of war.

A Soldier’s Heart written by Gary Paulsen

 

In June 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers. He was 15. He didn’t know what a “shooting war” meant or what he was fighting for. But he didn’t want to miss out on a great adventure.

The “shooting war” turned out to be the horror of combat and the wild luck of survival; how it feels to cross a field toward the enemy, waiting for fire. When he entered the service he was a boy. When he came back he was different; he was only 19, but he was a man with “soldier’s heart,” later known as “battle fatigue.”

 

Shades of Gray written by Carolyn Reeder

In the aftermath of the Civil War, recently orphaned Will must start a new life and overcome his prejudices.

Courage wears many faces…

The Civil War may be over, but for twelve-year-old Will Page, the pain and bitterness haven’t ended. How could they have, when the Yankees were responsible for the deaths of everyone in his entire immediate family?

And now Will has to leave his comfortable home in the Shenandoah Valley and live with relatives he has never met, people struggling to eke out a living on their farm in the war-torn Virginia Piedmont. But the worst of it is that Will’s uncle Jed had refused to fight for the Confederacy.

At first, Will regards his uncle as a traitor–or at least a coward.

But as they work side by side, Will begins to respect the man.

And when he sees his uncle stand up for what he believes in, Will realizes that he must rethink his definition of honor and courage.

Last in a Long Line of Rebels written by Lisa Lewis Tyre

Sheila Turnage meets Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie in this debut about a small town and a young girl who discovers some old family secrets.

Lou might be only twelve, but she’s never been one to take things sitting down. So when her Civil War-era house is about to be condemned, she’s determined to save it—either by getting it deemed a historic landmark or by finding the stash of gold rumored to be hidden nearby during the war. As Lou digs into the past, her eyes are opened when she finds that her ancestors ran the gamut of slave owners, renegades, thieves and abolitionists. Meanwhile, some incidents in her town show her that many Civil War era prejudices still survive and that the past can keep repeating itself if we let it. Digging into her past shows Lou that it’s never too late to fight injustice, and she starts to see the real value of understanding and exploring her roots.

 

The Girls of Gettysburg written by Bobbi Miller

A gripping historical novel in which the fates of three young girls collide amidst the chaos of the American Civil War.

Disguised as a boy, thirteen-year-old Annie Gordon becomes a soldier and joins the Portsmouth Rifles of the 9th Virginia Infantry as they march north to Gettysburg.Tillie Pierce, the frivolous fourteen-year-old daughter of a wealthy merchant finds herself surrounded by a vicious battle, destroying her romanticized notion of war.Defiantly, Grace Bryan and her father refuse to flee with the other free black citizens of Gettysburg, who fear the rebels will arrest them as fugitive slaves, determined to help othersEverything comes to a head on the final day of the battle with Pickett’s Charge, the suicidal Confederate assault on Gettysburg, when the lives of the three girls–a Yankee, a rebel and a freed slave–are linked and forever changed.Bobbi Miller’s well-researched novel draws on actual accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg, weaving an unforgettable tale of the tragedies and triumphs, the humanity, heartache, and heroism of this Civil War battle. Told in fast-paced chapters with alternating points of view, The Girls of Gettysburg is a fascinating glimpse at the different worlds that existed, side by side, in this tumultuous moment. Perfect for introducing young readers to the complexities of the Civil War, and the ways in which our experiences shape our lives.

WNDMG Wednesday: A Celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month

In commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month–and recognizing the importance of diversity in middle-grade literature–please enjoy this carefully curated collection of 26 middle-grade books that feature Jewish themes and characters, including contemporary and historical fiction, fantasy and magic realism, graphic novels, and anthologies.

Plus…

A GIVEAWAY!

Don’t miss a chance to win not one but TWO books on this oh-so fabulous list: Coming of Age: 13 B’nai Mitzvah Stories, edited by Henry Herz and Jonathan Rosen, and Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske. Scroll down for details!

MG BOOKS WITH JEWISH THEMES & CHARACTERS

Contemporary Fiction

Not So Shy

Noa Nimrodi

Shai, 12, hates everything about moving to America from Israel. Determined to get back home, she starts weighing her options, including living with her grandparents or winning a drawing competition that offers a plane ticket to anywhere in the world as the grand prize. Meanwhile, Shai is forced to navigate seventh grade in an unfamiliar language. She also faces antisemitism but gains support from unexpected sources.

The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman

Mari Lowe

Twelve-year-old Shaindy, an Orthodox Jewish girl who struggles academically and has few friends at school, is jealous of Gayil, a popular classmate who lives next door. Shaindy and Gayil have little to do with each other, until one evening when Shaindy looks out her window and sees Gayil holding up a sign that reads: “Want to know a secret?” It turns out that Gayil has a key fob that allows after-hours access to their school. Before long, the girls are scheming harmless pranks. But under Gayil’s leadership, the mischief turns malicious, with the pranks targeted at specific girls. Shaindy is desperate to stop Gayil from terrorizing their classmates, but if she does, could she be the next target?

Honey and Me

Meira Drazin

Honey and Milla, who live in close-knit Jewish community, have been best friends for as long as Milla can remember. The girls do everything together, including delivering meals to their elderly neighbor, shopping at a local thrift store, celebrating the holidays, and going to their first Bat Mitzvahs while studying for their own. But when Honey enrolls in Milla’s school for sixth grade, it’s not as great as Milla expected. Not only does Milla feel overshadowed by her charismatic friend, she’s also worried that their friendship won’t be able to survive the ups and downs the year has in store for them. Will Milla find the courage to step out of Honey’s shadow and into her own spotlight—or will jealousy and fear get the better of her?

Repairing the World

Linda Epstein

Twelve-year-old Daisy’s life is shattered when her best friend, Ruby, is killed in a tragic accident. Now Daisy finds herself having to face the major challenges in her life, like starting middle school and becoming a big sister, without Ruby by her side. Despite her sadness—and thanks to new friends, new insights, and supportive family members—Daisy is able to see what life after Ruby can look like, and that friendship is eternal.

Ellen Outside the Lines

A.J. Sass

Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz is neurodivergent and feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out. She attends temple with her parents every Friday and Saturday, and relies on her best friend, Laurel, to help her navigate social situations at school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic, and liking girls, is no big deal, but lately Laurel has started making new friends and cancelling weekend plans with Ellen. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect opportunity for Ellen to reconnect with Laurel, but it doesn’t—especially when a nonbinary classmate makes Ellen question her own, very binary way of seeing the world.

The Magical Imperfect

Chris Baron

Etan stopped speaking when his mother went away, and his father and grandfather don’t know how to help him. Neither do his friends, who have given up on him. And then Etan meets Malia Agbayani, known as “The Creature,” due to her acute eczema. Malia stopped going to school when the bullying became too much. As the pair become friends, Etan believes he might have a cure for Malia’s condition—if only he can convince his family, and hers, to believe it, too.

Sorry for Your Loss

Joanne Levy

Twelve-year-old Evie Walman’s family runs a Jewish funeral home, and she knows she’ll be a funeral director when she grows up. She loves dusting caskets, polishing pews, and offering her condolences to mourners. Evie doesn’t deal with the grieving families directly, until one day when her parents ask her to help with Oren, a boy who was in a car accident that killed both his parents. Although Oren refuses to speak and Evie, who is dealing her own private grief, Evie is determined to find a way to help her new friend deal with his loss.

Going Rogue (at Hebrew School)

Casey Breton

Ten-year-old Avery Green loves science, football, and Star Wars, which he’s seen 400 times. What he’s not so crazy about? Hebrew school. He’s asked his parents a million times why he has to go, but they haven’t managed to convince him. (“It’s tradition” just doesn’t cut it.) And then one day, Rabbi Bob shows up. Piecing together some unusual clues, Avery begins to suspect that this new rabbi might be a Jedi master.

Kat Greene Comes Clean

Melissa Roske

Eleven-year-old Kat Greene attends fifth grade at the Village Humanity school, a hippie-dippy progressive school in New York’s Greenwich Village. At the moment, Kat has three major problems: dealing with her boy-crazy best friend, Halle; partnering with the overzealous Sam in the class production of Harriet the Spy; and coping with her mother’s preoccupation with cleanliness, a symptom of her worsening OCD. With nowhere to turn–and hesitant to tell her dad, who’s busy with his new family uptown–Kat reaches out to Olympia Rabinowitz, the free-spirited psychologist at her school. Later, after many  soul-searching sessions with Olympia, Kat realizes that asking for help is the best way to clean up life’s messes.

Fantasy and Magic Realsm

Finn and Ezra’s Bar Mitzvah Time Loop

Joshua S. Levy

Finn and Ezra are trapped in a bar mitzvah time loop, reliving their celebrations in the same New Jersey hotel, over and over (and over) again. Ezra comes from a big family, with four siblings who seem to get all the attention, and Finn is an only child who’s tired of his parents’ constant focus, particularly on his bar mitzvah weekend. Teaming up, the boys try to break the loop, but nothing works. As their frustrations mount, real-life problems start to seep through the cracks. With all the time in the world, can Finn and Ezra figure out how to finally move forward?

The Color of Sound

Emily Barth Isler

Rosie Solomon, 12, is a musical prodigy whose synesthesia allows her to see music in colors. Her mom has always pushed her to become a concert violinist, but this summer Rosie wants a “normal” life and is sent to stay with her grandparents. While there, Rosie meets another girl her age–a girl who seems awfully familiar. Rosie quickly pieces it together and realizes that somehow, this girl is her mother, when she was twelve. Thanks to this glitch in time–plus her grandparents’ love, an improv group, and a new instrument–Rosie comes to understand her mother, herself, and her love of music.

Rebecca Reznik Reboots The Universe

Samara Shanker

Rebecca Reznik, 13, is knee deep in family drama. Her dad lost his job, her parents are fighting all the time, and her annoying brother, Jake, is acting out more than usual. Then, when a goblin turns her bedroom upside down—literally—Becca realizes that the bad juju in her house is more sinister, and more complicated, than she had first imagined. With her best friends, Naomi and Eitan, by her side—and armed with the lessons she learned from her last tussle with mythological creatures from Jewish lore in the 2022 sequel, Naomi Teitelbaum Ends the World—Becca will do whatever it takes to defend her family and save the Hanukkah.

Shira and Esther’s Double Dream Debut

Anna E. Jordan

Shira and Esther are shocked when they first meet: It’s like looking in a mirror! Despite the girls’ identical appearance, they couldn’t be more different. Shira dreams of singing and dancing onstage, but her father, a stern and pious rabbi, wants Shira to focus on her religious studies. Esther, on the other hand, dreams of studying Torah, but her glamorous, stage-performer mom, frowns on Esther’s studious ways. Then, thanks to Benny, a 14-year-old bellhop at Scheinfeld’s Resort and Cottages, the girls plan a Parent Trap-style switcheroo, to help the Shira and Esther make their dreams come true. Or sort of true…

Don’t Want to Be Your Monster

Deke Moulton

Adam and Victor are your average tweens… who happen to be vampires. Although Adam, 10, knows he has a higher purpose in life than drinking blood, his 14-year-old brother, Victor, enthusiastically accepts his vampirism. This is all well and good until bodies start appearing all over town, and the brothers realize that a vampire hunter may be on the lookout for their family. Can Adam and Victor work together to stop the killer before it’s too late—or will their differences get in the way?

The Witch of Woodland

Laurel Snyder

Life used to be simple for Zipporah “Zippy” Chava McConnell, a 13-year-old witch—that is, before her best friend, Bea, started acting funny and everyone at school thought she was weird. And to make matters worse, Zippy’s mom is making her prepare for a bat mitzvah, even though Zippy’s family barely goes to synagogue. But then one day Zippy finds a strange red book at the library and conjures a girl—a beautiful girl named Miriam, with no memory, and wings like an angel. Now it’s up to Zippy to help Miriam figure out what she is, and where she came from. And if can do that, maybe everything else in her life will make sense, too.

Black Bird, Blue Road

Sofiya Pasternack

Pesah has lived with leprosy for years, and he and his twin sister, Ziva, have spent most of that time working on a cure. Then Pesah has a vision: The Angel of Death will come for him on Rosh Hashanah, just one month away. So Ziva takes her brother and runs away to find doctors who can cure him. But when the twins meet and accidentally free a half-demon boy, he suggests paying his debt by leading them to the fabled city of Luz, where no one ever dies. It’s the one place Pesah will be safe. But can the twins run faster than The Angel of Death can fly?

The Button Box

Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams; Harshad Marathe (illustrator)

In the aftermath of a bullying incident at school, where Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her cousin Nadeem, are called hateful names, the cousins’ Granny Buena shares with them a glittering crystal button box, packed with buttons that generations of Ava’s Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny’s mysterious cat, Sheba, the cousins discover that a button from the button box will take them back in time. Suddenly, they are in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem’s ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can the cousins help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny, creating a Golden Age for Muslims, Jews and Christians?

Historical Fiction

Code Name Kingfisher

Liz Kessler

When Liv finds a box hidden in her grandmother’s attic, saved from her childhood in Nazi-occupied Holland, circa 1943, she unearths a trove of family secrets—including the extraordinary story of her great-aunt Hannie, a Jewish undercover agent in the Dutch resistance. It’s a tale of bravery, betrayal, and daring defiance, and Liv wants to know more—starting with why her grandmother has kept Hannie a secret for so many years. (For more on Code Name KingFisher, check out Melissa Roske’s interview with Liz Kessler here.)

A Sky Full of Song

Susan Lynn Meyer

Eleven-year-old Shoshana and her family, Jewish immigrants who have fled persecution in the Russian Empire, start a new life on the North Dakota prairie. Shoshana is thrilled to forge a new American identity and hides her Jewish identity in the face of prejudice—unlike her older sister, Libke, who misses their Ukrainian village and insists they preserve their heritage. For the first time, Shoshana is at odds with her sister. But by listening to the music that lives in her heart, she finds new meaning in the Jewish expression, All beginnings are difficult.

The Summer We Found the Baby 

Amy Hest

In Belle Beach, Long Island, during World War Two, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. Meanwhile, Julie’s friend Bruno Ben-Eli, 12, is heading to the train station to catch a train to New York City, to carry out an important errand for his brother who is a soldier stationed overseas. When Bruno spies Julie leaving the library with a baby in her arms, he assumes she’s a kidnapper. But the truth is more complicated than what Bruno, Julie, or Martha know.

Anthologies

On All Other Nights: A Passover Celebration in 14 Stories

Edited by Chris Baron, Joshua S. Levy, and Naomi Milliner, with stories by Chris Baron, Ruth Behar, Adam Gidwitz, Veera Hiranandani, Amy Ignatow, Sarah Kapit, Joshua S. Levy, Mari Lowe, Naomi Milliner, Soifya Pasternack, R. M. Romero, A. J. Sass Laura Shovan, and Laurel Snyder

Passover, a Jewish holiday that has been celebrated for thousands of years, features the seder; a meal filled with rituals, special foods, and songs, where celebrants gather together to retell the story of the Exodus, when the Jewish people achieved freedom from Egypt. Yet the seder is about more than the ancient past. Its themes of freedom, joy, and tradition are timeless and universal. In this collection of short stories, 14 award-winning authors each reimagine a different step of the seder through historical and contemporary fiction, verse and prose, fiction and nonfiction.

Coming of Age: 13 B’Nai Mitzvah Stories

Edited by Jonathan Rosen & Henry Herz, with stories by Sarah Aronsohn, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Barbara Bottner, Stacia Deutsch, Debbie Reed Fischer, Debra Green, Henry Herz, Alan Katz, Nancy Krulik, Stacie Ramey, Jonathan Rosen, Melissa Roske, Laura Shovan, and a poem by Jane Yolen

Join thirteen diverse characters as they experience anxiety, doubt, and self-discovery while preparing for their B’nai Mitzvah, the ceremony in which they become adults in their faith. whether celebrating with a lavish party or in a rabbi’s study, the Jewish rite of passage remains the same. Filled with humor, hope, and history, there’s something in this anthology for every reader.

Graphic Novels and Adaptations

Two Tribes

Emily Bowen Cohen

Mia is still adjusting to life with her mom and stepfather, whose Jewish identity plays a strong role in their home. She’s also struggling to adjust at her Jewish day school, where she feels like she doesn’t fit in. Meanwhile, Mia yearns for a deeper connection with her Muscogee father, who lives with his new family in Oklahoma. Her mom doesn’t want to talk about him, but Mia can’t help but feel like she’s missing a part of herself without him. Because of this, Mia uses her Bat Mitzvah money to take a bus to Oklahoma—without telling her mom—to visit her dad and find the connection to her Muscogee side, which she knows is just as important as her Jewish side.

The Unfinished Corner

Dani Colman (author); Whitney Cogar (colorist); Rachel Tuna Petrovicz (illustrator); Jim Campbell (letterer)

In Jewish mythology, God created the universe and left one corner unfinished. It’s unclear why, but the Unfinished Corner is dangerous, and filled with monsters. Twelve-year-old Miriam doesn’t know about the Unfinished Corner—she’s too busy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah and wrestling with whether she even wants to be Jewish–until an angel appears, whisking Miriam, her two best friends, and her worst frenemy off to this monstrous land, with one mission: finish the Unfinished Corner.

Lauren Tarshis; Alvaro Sarraseca (illustrator)

When the Nazis invaded Max Rosen’s home country of Poland, all the Jewish people–including Max, his sister, Zena, and their papa–were forced to live in a ghetto. But two months ago, the Nazis took Pap away and now Max and Zena are on their own, with barely enough food to survive. Out of desperation, the siblings escape from Nazi soldiers into the nearby forest, where they are taken to a safe camp by Jewish resistance fighters. Soon, grenades are falling all around them. Can Max and Zena survive the fallout of the Nazi invasion?

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

Anne Frank; adapted by Ari Folman; illustrated by David Polonsky

Authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Anne Frank’s Diary captures the remarkable spirit of Anne Frank, who for a time survived the worst horror the modern world has seen yet remained heartbreakingly human, and remarkably optimistic, throughout her ordeal. Includes extensive quotations directly from the definitive edition.

GIVEAWAY!

 

For a chance to win Coming of Age: 13 B’Nai Mitzvah Stories, edited by Jonathan Rosen & Henry Herz, PLUS a copy of Melissa Roske’s Kat Greene Comes Clean, comment on the blog–and, if you’re on X, on the Mixed-Up Files X account for an extra chance to win! (Giveaway ends May 28, 2024, at midnight. U.S. only, please.)

Melissa Roske is a writer of middle-grade fiction. Before spending her days with imaginary people, she interviewed real ones as a journalist in Europe. In London she landed a job as an advice columnist for Just Seventeen magazine. Upon returning to her native New York, Melissa contributed to several books and magazines, selected jokes for Reader’s Digest (just the funny ones), and received certification as a life coach. In addition to her debut novel Kat Greene Comes Clean (Charlesbridge), Melissa’s short story “Grandma Merle’s Last Wish” appears in the Jewish middle-grade anthology, Coming of Age: 13 B’Nai Mitzvah Stories (Albert Whitman). Learn more about Melissa on her Website and follow her on  TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.