A quarter of the way through the year, and we’re back with the round up! This month we had 23 reviews for books aimed at children and younger readers, and 9 for young adult readers. Each category had quite a variety that it was hard to choose which ones to highlight. Trends are still for more children’s and middle grade books, but this time only one or two books in each had two entries. This month, a wide array of genres and stories were covered, giving us a diverse and interesting look into the world of books for children and young adult readers.
With 23 books for younger readers, up to middle grade, I was spoiled for choice when it came to choosing which books to feature this month. One book that received two reviews was Cuckoo’s Flight by Wendy Orr, reviewed by me and Dark Matter Zine. We both appreciated the disability representation, and the chance to escape from the horror of the last year with this adventure set in Minoan times, which were heavily influenced by a matriarchal society, based on the archaeological evidence. There is a connection to another of Wendy’s Bronze Age books in this one – a connection we both made and that makes this book and the others meaningful and gives a timeline of where we are in Minoan society – roughly. It touches on friendship, grief and inclusivity, important factors for both of us, and we both agree that it is a book for all readers aged nine and over.
There was a lot of historical fiction this month, with a couple I read also involving time slip. These were The Golden Tower by Belinda Murrell and Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl: Superstar by Jane Smith. The Golden Tower takes place in England, but transports Sophie to Tuscia, a fantasy land that resembles Renaissance Italy, where she has to save the daughters of a nobleman from a stepmother who wants to rid herself of them. Carly Mills is an adventure series, where Carly and her friends are transported back in time when they wear magical shawls. This time they meet Dame Nellie Melba! These two novels explore themes of female empowerment and friendship, and tested loyalties. They are wonderful books, and I adored reading them!
The final book I’d like to highlight is Heroes of the Secret Underground by Susanne Gervay, reviewed by Denise Newton Writes. Lots of historical fiction lately has focused on World War Two and the Holocaust lately, and we’re getting a nice insight into the Holocaust its implementation in several countries across Europe. In Susanne’s story, inspired by her family, we’re seeing the Hungarian experience. Denise notes that this is a book that could cross the middle grade/young adult divide, and she’s right. Because one of the challenges in writing for a younger audience about something like war is knowing how much top tell them and what to leave out. She notes that it can be hard to find the aforementioned balance, something I agree with, but that Gervay has done this exceptionally well, and told a story that is evocative, filled with truth and secrets, and one that delivers the history in an easy to access way for younger readers.
Now, onto young adult! With only nine entries, it was a little easier to choose what to include this month.
Nadia L King reviewed The Edge of Thirteen by Nova Weetman, one that I would like to read as well after reading this review. She says it was an easy and gentle read with relatable characters, and that’s something I feel like we all need right now, though maybe this is another book that crosses over from upper middle grade to lower young adult, based on themes and the age of the characters. I’ll be looking to pick this one up when I can find it in my local bookstore!
I read and reviewed House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, a creepy urban fantasy, with mythic and horror themes that take a deep look at child abduction and changeling children, a theme common in oral folk tales throughout the world. This novel touches on death and dark themes and might not be suitable for sensitive readers. March seemed to be a month for speculative fiction for young adult readers, and this is one of the creepier ones I have read and was one that I found easier to read in the day – it felt a little off-putting to read it at night, but that was me, and other readers might approach this differently. The haunting essence that seeps through every page has the tone set from page one.
March definitely saw an uptick in the number and diversity of reviews submitted and as usual, I wish I could have included everything! I hope to see more coming in the next few months, and wonder how winter and uncertainty around opening up more will affect entries.