I’m probably the last person to post these, but in case you missed them, here’s the fabulous list of Middle-Grade finalists in the Fantasy & Science Fiction category:
Amanda’s 11th birthday is the worst ever, and when she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that she and her ex-friend Leo are doomed to repeat the same day over and over–and over! Amanda and Leo’s attempts to live the day the “right” way to break the spell are funny, entertaining, and absolutely believable, whether they are ditching school or auditioning for a rock band. This is a deliciously fresh look at how making small changes in your life–or even in one day–can have big consequences, both ordinary and magical.
The Dreamdark series, by National Book Award nominee Laini Taylor, opens a window on a world of fierce winged faeries determined to restore their race to its former glory. In Silksinger, Maggie Windwitch, Whisper Silksinger and their motley allies are driven to reach beyond their abilities to guard the sleeping Djinn Azazel from a host of conniving characters and gruesome devils. On panoramic display in Silksinger are Taylor’s gifts for rich language and imagery, suspenseful plotting, and intricate world-building. Even as readers thrill with vertigo while flying alongside Maggie and her crow brothers, they will feel secure in this master storyteller’s hands.
Ariel finds a telling dart, an artifact that hasn’t been in use for hundreds of years and carries a message that only a specific recipient can read. That sends her on an adventure to see who could have sent such a message and why this messaging system has started back up. Farwalker’s Quest takes readers on a journey that is filled with many thoroughly developed characters. Joni Sensel weaves an enchanting story that is easily remembered by readers long after the story is done.
In a village in ancient Norway, winter isn’t ending, and when Odd–a fatherless boy with an injured leg and an infuriating smile–encounters a fox, a bear, and an eagle in the forest, he finds out why. The animals are gods exiled from the city of Asgard by a Frost Giant, and Odd takes on the task of defeating him. How he does so is surprising and satisfying, one of many lasting pleasures in this short novel by Neil Gaiman. We loved the inventive use of Norse mythology, the humorous bickering of the gods trapped in their animal forms, and, of course, cheerful and clever Odd himself. It’s a story beautifully told (and illustrated, by Brett Helquist), perfect for reading alone or reading aloud: quite simply, it shines.
When 12-year-old Oscar Egg discovers his dad’s secret life as a half-human, half-fairy living a magical existence under Fenway Park, he decides it’s his duty to break the spell that has cursed the baseball stadium. He gets a little help from Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, among others. The secret and seedy underbelly of Fenway Park, with all its magical creatures wearing Red Sox caps, has a compelling atmosphere that pulls readers right into the story and has them rooting for Oscar and the Red Sox. Not just for baseball fans, this fantasy combines Pookas, hot dogs, Banshees, and home-runs into an exciting and unusual adventure for all readers.
Serial Garden, The: The Complete Armitage Family Stories (Junior Library Guild Selection)
by Joan Aiken
Big Mouth House
Nominated by: Charlotte
The Serial Garden is a collection of twenty-four stories about the magical adventures of two very likable English children, Mark and Harriet Armitage. The stories are a brilliant mix of the ordinary and the fantastical–in the world of the Armitage family, the mundane concerns of English village life are mixed seamlessly with witches, druids, unicorns, enchanted gardens, and much, much more. At times hilariously funny, at times surprisingly poignant, this book is perfect for any child or grown-up looking for delightfully extraordinary fantasy. Aiken was a tremendously creative writer, and these stories are some of her most imaginative and skillful writing.
Prompted by her father’s fantastical stories and by an encounter with a talking goldfish, Minli sets off on a quixotic search for the Never Ending Mountain where she will ask the Old Man on the Moon to change her parents’ dreary lives. Woven into Minli’s journey are evocative folktales, each which could stand perfectly well on its own, but which beautifully resonate when brought together within Minli’s quest. Simply told, yet intricately developed, Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is finally a story about believing in stories and how that belief can alter ones fate.
Congratulations to the authors, illustrators, and publishers of the finalists, and a huge thank you to the dedicated panelists, who worked so hard reading & discussing the nominated books, and making the difficult choices to select this group of finalists: