The ARC I’m reading now — THE ADVENTURERS GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL ESCAPES by Wade Albert White — couldn’t be more different from PAPER WISHES. It’s a funny, rollicking, fast-paced fantasy with fearless girls, dragons, quests, and a formidable antagonist in the form of the Matron of Saint Lupin's Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children (how can you not love that name?) where Wade’s heroine Anne has spent the first 13 years of her life. Interspersed among the chapters are hilarious little anecdotes that defy description but will have you laughing out loud. This is a must-read for any middle schooler who likes fantasy or humor or both, except that you’ll have to wait until September when the book is released.
THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ by Robin Yardi has humor too — in the form of bike-stealing talking skunks. Robin’s story explores important topics such as sibling relationships, what it means to be a Mexican/American kid who can’t speak Spanish, what to do when your best friend joins the bullies and how to get that stolen bike back. It was published by an imprint of Lerner, (a local publishing house that publishes great books) and this one does not disappoint.
THE RAT PRINCE by Bridget Hodder has talking animals too — rats this time! In this re-imagining of the Cinderella story, Char is the rat prince of the title and Rose is the Cinderella figure. The story is told from the points of view of Char and Rose, which gives us the delightful opportunity to see Cinderella’s world from a rat’s-eye view. Bridget’s story is fresh and funny and a must for middle-graders who like fairy tales and rats.
THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY by Janet Sumner Johnson deftly explores the theme of childhood friendships. Best friends Annie and Jason complement each other like peanut butter and jelly, but when Jason’s family have to move house because his Dad has lost his job, Annie is determined to find a way for them to stay. Annie makes lists and thinks up increasingly wild schemes to stop the bank from foreclosing on Jason’s house. Janet’s description of Annie and Jason’s friendship is beautifully crafted with funny and sad moments and I love that she doesn’t give us a “happily ever after” ending.
The next book I’ll be reading from my Sweet Sixteens list is COUNTING THYME by Melanie Conklin. This book’s been out for a while now and I can’t wait to read it.
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