Need a good middle grade book to crack open? This month we’re expanding our collection to include three more books, full of exciting characters and their adventures. They’re definitely worth a read!
First up we have Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien, a book that combines the expression and acrobatics of ice skating with the difficulties of growing up…and maybe saving the world. But you don’t have to take our word for it. From the author himself on what “these Peasprout Chen books” are all about:
“They’re a middle grade fantasy/adventure series about a girl determined to take top ranking at Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword where she studies Wu Liu, a form that blends figure skating with martial arts. Everyone says the books are like “Harry Potter Meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . . . On Ice!” That’s pretty spot-on but they’re also about immigration, girl power, sibling relationships, leadership, teamwork, and the importance of friendship. My publisher Holt/Macmillan says they’re for ages 10-14, but they won’t be checking i.d.s.”
Next, we dip into the world of the Sidekick Squad from author C.B. Lee, first with book one, Not Your Sidekick. This book brings superheroes to a middle grade audience, balancing action with personal drama and featuring plenty of queer content. Or, as the author puts it:
“Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess Tran is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.”
And continuing right along with the second book in the series, Not Your Villain, which features Bells Broussard, a trans boy and shapeshifter who, along with his friends from the first book, is on a big time mission to clear his name after being branded public enemy number one. As the author describes it:
“Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain. After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.”