Escape From The Overworld by Danica Davidson -
Basically it's Minecraft fanfiction for 10 year olds. I don’t play Minecraft, but I enjoyed it anyway. A Minecraft character comes through the portal of a young girl’s computer screen and zombies follow him through and they have to fight them and close the portal. It’s fun and The Nephew loved it and has the whole series now. Def if you play Minecraft or have a kid who does, check it out.
Mark Of The Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen -
I liked this one a lot. It’s about a young slave boy who finds a magic heirloom and tries to bring down the corrupt politics of ancient Rome with it. Though he doesn’t actually care about the corrupt politics, he just wants to get his sister back. The main character didn’t speak to me that much, but there is an orphan girl with a secret past and she is totally my favorite. She takes no shit from anyone! Also he has a griffin and I spent a lot of time being like, “Yes, evil politician, okay. But where is your griffin?!” Warning: The Colosseum is full of caged animals forced to fight each other and even though the main character is outraged and tries to help the animals when he can, it still upset me quite a bit.
The Runaway’s Gold by Emilie C. Burack -
This one was my favorite of the year! It’s about an extremely poor boy from the Shetland Islands in 1842, who is a good, decent boy, but gets framed for some bullshit that he didn’t do and has to go on this adventure to clear his name. The historical aspect of it is cool - it starts in New York after he’s immigrated and there is a lot about the poor conditions that led immigrants to NY and then the conditions they have to live in once they get there - and also just, I like reading about the Shetland Islands. They jump around the timeline a little, which can throw you off. And they use accents, which is what threw off The Nephew from reading it. But I really, really loved this one. Highly rec!
Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson -
I am sure you have all mostly read this one by now - or seen the movie - but basically it’s about a boy who feels suffocated by his life and befriends a girl who teaches him how to use his imagination to expand his boundaries. I read it as a kid, but hadn’t since then. Sis was loaning her copy to The Nephew, so I snagged it. I had forgotten most of it, so even though I knew how it ended, I got reattached to the characters all over again. I really like the writing style of this book and I remember as a kid trying to copy it with my own writing. I really love this idea of learning to open your imagination and passing that down to others, teaching them that there is a world just beyond our sight and if we open ourselves to it, it can be glorious.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire -
This was so good, but so hard to read. Not writing style wise, though that did take a bit to get used too, since it was written in her voice. But it was also hard to read because the subject matter was so harsh and so much truth to it. Basically it’s written from the POV of a teenage, overweight, black girl who has been raped by her father for several years, abused by her mother, has a learning disability, gets pregnant at 12 and then again at 16, when the story starts. She finally gets sent to an alternative school where a teacher actually tries to help her. There she meets other pregnant moms, ex drug addicts, a girl with HIV, a homeless lesbian. It’s not a happy story, but there’s hope in it, and she has this desire for education, to learn to read and just…yeah, a hard read, but worth it.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson -
I try to read this every year at Christmas time. I have an old hardcover copy my mom bought me years ago. This one is told from the POV of your typical middle-class girl who is in the Christmas Pageant every year. But then the worst, most horrible kids in town show up to audition and everything is ruined. Except, of course, it’s not. The kids aren’t terrible, they just don’t know any better. It teaches kids the true meaning of Christmas and that not everyone is coming from the same place as them, tolerance, acceptance, understanding. Plus, it’s hysterical! The tone of it is something like a Christmas Story. And the youngest of the ‘horrible children’ - oh man, I wanted to be her as a kid. When she starts yelling about Shazam - I reenacted that bit so much as a kid, my mom was a little afraid to have me in the Christmas pageant that year.
This year I hope to double it and hit 12 books!