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YA novels make me happy

November 12th, 2023
Winter 2021-2022

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Rawley; do not reprint without permission, thank you)

Good afternoon, my lovely readers. That photo is from a couple of years ago. Am I looking forward to the snow? Only if I get to stay home, ha. I’ve been reading grown-up books lately, what a treat! And I have some cool young adult books to delve into next. All would make great holiday gifts, I’m just saying.

On the nightstand this week:

“Walkin’ the Dog,” skedded for release March 12, 2024 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ages 8 and up, $17.99). This new novel from Chris Lynch, an author who lives in Boston and Scotland, is pretty fun and insightful, too. Louis has been homeschooled, and is not sure about what public high school will be like. He accidentally starts a dog-walking business, landing new canine and human friends along the way.

“Your Pal Fred: Low Power,” the sequel to “Your Pal Fred,” is another cool graphic novel from writer/illustrator Michael Rex (Viking, 2023, ages 7 and up, $22.99). Rex, a New Jersey guy, has written and/or illustrated more than 40 (forty!) children’s books, including the Fangbone series.

“Beneath the Swirling Sky,” presented by the Restorationists Series, is a cool read from Carolyn Leiloglou (Waterbrook & Multnomah, 2023, ages 8 and older). Vincent wants to be done with art, then he and his little sis, Lili, get stuck spending spring break with their uncle, who is an art conservator… of sorts… and his second-cousin. Lili disappears — into one of the paintings! — and things get crazy.

The Lia Park series continues with “Lia Park and the Heavenly Heirlooms,” by Jenna Yoon (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2023, ages 8 and up).┬áLia is now 12, and she and her best friend, Joon, are full-time students at International Magic Academy. Fans of the Harry Potter and Aru Shah series will love this one, and will have fun learning about Korean and Korean mythology. (I reviewed this earlier this year, too. Highly recommend.)

I geek out on authors — I think you already know this — especially when retired or former librarians and teachers take a dive into writing books for kids. Yeah, it makes me do the happy dance. Author Jessica Kim’s (“Stand up, Yumi Chung!”) bio says that before she became an author, she studied education at UC Berkeley. She taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in public schools. A woman after my own heart; those have always been my favorite grades to teach, too. “Make a Move, Sunny Park!” is her new novel and it’s a lot of fun.

Sunny, a 7th grader at Ranchito Mesa Middle School, loves K-pop, her granny, shrimp chips, and her BFF, Bailey. Sometimes things change. Thoughtful story about friendship and middle school life.

“The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria,” by Adi Alsaid, takes on loneliness, life and friendship (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2023, ages 8 and up). The cover art is beautiful, and the story sounds funny and intriguing. Alsaid’s other YA books include “North of Happy” and “Come on In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home.”

“Looking Up,” by Stephen Pastis (the creator of one of my favorite comic strips, “Pearls Before Swine”) introduces us to Saint, a girl growing up on the poor side of town, who takes on gentrification when the neighborhood toy store is threatened. (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2023, all ages, $13.99.)

Bon appetit!


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