Award-winning Santat’s stunning graphic memoir perfectly encapsulates all the middle school feels, brimming with embarrassment, bullies, and awkward first crushes. This ‘80s flashback to his own school trip to Europe will have grown-ups reminiscing and will inspire middle schoolers to step outside of their comfort zones to discover themselves and the world. So funny and gut-punchingly REAL; this is a special one you’ll definitely want on your bookshelf.
What would you do if your parents took you on an international vacation to a country far away...and left you there? This has been the reality for thousands of ‘parachute kids’ over the years (including the author of this book!), whose parents sought better lives for their children abroad while they stayed in their home country to earn support money. Set in 1981, Parachute Kids follows three Taiwanese children left alone in the US, who must learn to navigate language, social cues, cooking—all while not getting caught.
The Moth Keeper is a gorgeous, introspective graphic novel about responsibility and resilience, community, co-existence with nature, and the struggle to find your place in the world. Anya’s story is told equally through words and breathtaking art. When she struggles with the burden of the responsibility placed on her shoulders, Anya and her community will discover the necessity of sharing not only joys and successes, but hardships and loss, too, and that burdens are easily carried when many hands help lift.
Ha-ha-hooooo! Johannes is a dog who is fast as light and has the most important job- to observe all that happens within the park where he lives and report everything to the ancient bison. But when strange changes begin occurring and Johannes’ home becomes less familiar, he must reevaluate how he sees the world, and himself. With illustrations you’ll want to live inside, this book of identity, friendship and liberation is a new favorite of mine.
At first glance, one might say ‘WOW this book is HUGE and will probably take me a year to read!’ and keep walking. But don’t be deceived! You are going to be so glad you picked it up. Brian Selznick is at it again, writing both a beautiful story in words, but also telling it through his signature black and white illustrations, hence the size of this book. I could not put it down and ended up reading it in one sitting (while also tearing up at the end.) Big Tree follows two little seed siblings in the prehistoric world, and how against many odds they work to find a place to grow, all while describing the world in as best of terms as their little seed selves can come up with. A gorgeous and impactful read.
Stuck indoors? Not sure what to do? Well, the perfect activity just might be reading this book. Join Clay and his special elf hound as they explore the many different worlds hidden inside the woods. Paths that only his elf hound can find. Along the way, we meet owl head beings, giants, and other magical creatures, both good and bad. This book was a page turner for sure!
I was hooked from the very first paragraph of this historical novel set on the Silk Road about a boy sold into servitude to a grifter who is trying to buy his freedom by saving his master from being killed by the people he’s swindled. It’s not a fantasy story, but it’s full of storytelling magic, giving it the feel of a classic Scheherazad folktale, with great comedic timing. I wanted to read the whole book out loud.
It’s no secret that Rumpians adore Christina Soontornvat, but this new series makes us love her even more. Geared toward readers not quite ready for the more difficult themes or long page counts that can be found in some middle grade books, Legends of Lotus Island has the rich world-building of Le Guin’s Earthsea books, and the charm, comedy, and action of Avatar, The Last Airbender. Book two will be out soon, too, and book three next spring!
When Louis, Noah’s best friend and only other trans boy at school dies, Noah is left feeling alone in many ways. Louis was an avid Mothman believer and now with him gone, Noah feels he is responsible to convince his peers about Mothman’s existence. This book is written in a series of heart-wrenching poems and letters to Mothman himself exploring the feelings of grief, identity, and friendship. This one is for the monster inside all of us.