The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Middle Grade

Another Kind by Trevor Bream

Trevor Bream and Cait May deliver an absolutely delightful story with Another Kind. This novel follows the adventures of six cryptid kids who are trying to find their way to a place they can be their selves and call home. I fell in love with these kids and I was rooting for them every step of the way! The art is beautiful and I cannot wait to order this for the story with its wide release. Not only do we have a beautifully diverse cast, we also have some nonbinary representation with one of the kids realizing that is what they are. Handled delicately and honestly without it taking away from the focus of the story, there’s plenty of moments like this that will charm any reader.

Another Kind by Trevor Bream, (List Price: 22.99, HarperAlley, 9780063043541, October 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs

I read this Fourth of July weekend which was the perfect book to give me a different perspective on what America means to a family fleeing a war-torn country in search of a better life. Dobbs’ great-grandmother inspired this heart-wrenching, incredible story of 12 yo Petra Luna’s “barefoot dreams” of learning to read and write and protecting her family. I loved the earnest determination and bravery of Petra, her closeness with her 2 younger siblings, and how her abuelita taught her to listen to the natural world to survive the harsh desert conditions to make their way to the U.S. border. It was such a beautiful mix of mythology and holding tight to dreams. The war brutality was presented realistically–the danger wasn’t glossed over, but instead presented in a child-thoughtful way. I learned so much about a time in history that I didn’t know much about. My 10-year-old daughter and I highly recommend!

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, (List Price: 17.99, Sourcebooks Young Readers, 9781728234656, September 2021)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment

Iris and Sam are best friends, but where Sam is content to remain in their small town of Bugden, Iris dreams of traveling for far-flung adventure. But one day the lake runs dry and they discover an abandoned town that had been hidden there. There they find themselves on an adventure they never expected and learn the importance of home. This is a delightful story for any kid who has dreamed of traveling to dig for treasure or setting sail for adventure, and a reminder that some of the best adventures can happen right in your backyard.

Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment, (List Price: 12.99, HarperAlley, 9780063065178, September 2021)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna

This is it! My favorite middle-grade book of 2021. Full of adventure, humor, and friendship, Kiki’s story had me hooked from start to finish. I laughed, cried, and audibly gasped as the story unfolded through the lens of her vivid imagination. I particularly liked the handling and validation of Kiki’s struggles with anxiety. Great for fans of Aru Shah, Inkheart, or anything by Rick Riordan- Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom is not to be missed!

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna, (List Price: 17.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593206973, July 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner

What an awesome sequel! So much of the first was about Moth learning her history, but this new installment is more about learning herself, which I adore. Her mom’s romantic subplot is also a great addition, and the added strength of the three Hush women is a sight to behold.

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner (List Price: $12.99, Aladdin, 9781534431485, 7/6/2021)

Reviewed by Amber Brown, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, Ann Xu (Illus.)

My daughter and I loved this graphic novel about a girl who moves to Seattle from Taiwan. Like many immigrant stories, this one had multiple examples of the prejudices immigrant children can experience. Cici made friends, but there were times they thought they needed to speak slowly to her (they didn’t), that her lunch was gross (because it wasn’t “American”), and there were multiple times when people referred to her as Chinese and didn’t bother to remember her correction to “Taiwanese.” Cici’s struggles to both fit in as well as maintain her delight in her culture came through in the pages. My daughter, six, loved the cooking aspects and the story segued into a good discussion about culture and identity.

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, Ann Xu (Illus.) (List Price: $12.99, HarperAlley, 9780062973863, 10/27/2020)

Reviewed by Jenny Luper, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

The Last Rabbit by Shelley Moore Thomas

The Last Rabbit has the heart of The Velveteen Rabbit with the mischief of Peter Rabbit. It is sure to be a new classic for children of all ages! This is the beautifully told story about a little rabbit, the last of four sisters, trying to find her path in life while realizing family is all around.

The Last Rabbit by Shelley Moore Thomas (List Price: $16.99, Wendy Lamb Books, 9780593173534, 2/9/2021)

Reviewed by Olivia Schaffer, The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

A vividly poignant story sure to leave an impact. The harrowing journeys of Leo, Elsa, and Max left me near tears and ripping through every page. Beautifully, beautifully written.

When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler (List Price: $18.99, Aladdin, 9781534499652, 5/18/2021)

Reviewed by Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

I love a good novel-in-verse! This book is perfect for any young reader who has arrived at a new school and does not fit in with their new classmates. Nurah’s family has moved from Pakistan to Peachtree City, Georgia, so we get to see her tackle her culture shock and overcome her shyness in order to stand up not only for herself but for others in need.

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi (List Price: $16.99, HarperCollins, 9780063044708, 5/11/2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Alan Gratz, historical fiction go-to for middle school, has moved from WWII to more contemporary times with his newest novel Ground Zero. Told from the viewpoint of two teens on opposite sides of the globe, Gratz reframes the 9/11 story for the eyes and ears of young readers. This one is sure to be an instant bestseller.

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz (List Price: $17.99, Scholastic Press, 9781338245752, 2/2/2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, Avery Fischer Udagawa (Trans.), Miho Satake (Illus.)

It’s summer break! There’s time for fun and friends, but Kazu has decided to investigate a paranormal occurrence tied to the history of his street, Temple Alley. As Kazu and his friends discover new clues about the past by talking to family members, nagging neighbors, and even reading ancient magazines, they realize that they might have to rely on their peculiar neighbor, Ms. Minakami, to solve the mystery. Complete with a story within a story, this summertime sleuth is mischievous and magical.

Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, Avery Fischer Udagawa (Trans.), Miho Satake (Illus.) (List Price: $18, Restless Books, 9781632063038, 7/6/2021)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler

Georgia’s dad was an artist before he died. Now Georgia struggles with his legacy, with people thinking they know him because of his art. Her best friend Theo is the only one who might understand, except he’s also focused on art, especially his own. And while Georgia’s own art has always been important to her, it’s taken a backseat to figuring out the mystery of what her dad’s last unfinished painting was supposed to be. A heartfelt story about art and grief and friendship for anyone trying to determine where they fit in their own life when everything has changed.

Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler (List Price: $16.99, Greenwillow Books, 9780063027008, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter by Beth McMullen

My ten-year-old son and I read this book together and we loved it! As soon as we finished it, and with the foreshadowing to the next book, he exclaimed, “I want the next book NOW!”

Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter by Beth McMullen (List Price: $17.99, Aladdin, 9781534456693, 8/25/2020)

Reviewed by Marcia Albert, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

A deep and delightful story of what it means to be part of a family. William, Edmund, and Anna discover enemies, friends, compassion, and the power of books are all part of their search for a forever home. Like cocoa on a winter day, this book will leave you cozy and smiling.

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (List Price: $17.99, Margaret Ferguson Books, 9780823447053, 2/2/2021)

Reviewed by Susan Williams, M Judson, Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina

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