New books!

The Monster in the Mudball by S. P. GatesJust in case you haven’t been paying attention in every other social media stream, Tu’s fall 2013 books are OUT in the WILD, just in time for Halloween!

For anyone with a young reader in your life, be sure to check out The Monster in the Mudball by S.P. Gatesthe perfect read for your third and fourth graders, and any reader looking for his or her first real middle grade book now that they’ve mastered chapter books. It’s a Junior Library Guild selection, as well—funny with a lot of heart, about a boy who teams up with an artifact inspector to save his baby brother from the monster Zilombo. It’s kind of like Warehouse 13 for the very young middle grade set.

For older readers, check out Joseph Bruchac’s postapocalyptic Apache steampunk Killer of Enemies—it’s been getting a lot of great buzz, and you need to pick it up.

The books are orderable on the Lee & Low website right now, and should be available for order from Amazon and and other online vendors within a few days to a week (it takes some time for the books to get from our warehouse to theirs and to be processed, so just keep pre-ordering until it’s available via your preferred vendor).

Killer of Enemies by Joseph BruchacE-books will be available in another couple of weeks. We always try to time version releases to be close to each other, but it’s not always perfectly aligned. Keep an eye on your favorite e-book vendor, and I’ll post here with links when they’re up.

If you love Tu Books and want us to publish even more awesome diverse science fiction and fantasy, one of the best ways you can support us (or any small press you favor) is to be sure to walk into your local indie bookshop and ask for the book by name. If they don’t have a copy, ask them to order it. Indies are very happy to be sure their customers have the books they’re looking for, and the more demand they see for a particular book, the more they’ll pay attention to ordering stock to keep in the store. And at the same time, you’ll be supporting a local business that works to serve your community.

Ursula K. Le Guin: “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?”

I’ve been reading Ursula Le Guin’s collection of essays, The Language of the Night, and found her 1974 essay “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” just as relevant today as it ever was back then. In our post-Harry Potter world, perhaps we’re a little less afraid of fantasy as a culture, but her point remains cogent, given the backlash against Harry Potter and his ilk, too. Here’s an excerpt:

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom.

This freedom she speaks of is that of the imagination, the ability to believe in things you know not to be real:

So I believe that we should trust our children. Normal children do not confuse reality and fantasy—they confuse them much less often than we adults do (as a certain great fantasist pointed out in a story called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”). Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that’s more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults have denied half their knowledge, and are left with the sad, sterile little fact: “Unicorns aren’t real.” And that fact is one that never got anybody anywhere (except in the story “The Unicorn in the Garden,” by another great fantasist, in which it is shown that a devotion to the unreality of unicorns may get you straight into the loony bin). It is by such statements as, “Once upon a time there was a dragon,” or “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”—it is by such beautiful non-facts that we fantastic human beings may arrive, in our peculiar fashion, at the truth.

Unfortunately, the essay isn’t online to link to the rest of it, but do look up The Language of the Night at your local library (it doesn’t appear to still be in print, but used copies are going for anywhere from 75 cents on to $151 on Amazon). I’m still working my way through—each essay is fascinating. Working my way up to “American SF and the Other,” which is the reason I checked the book out from the library.

ETA: A blogger whose post on this essay is one of the top Google results posted the results of a Q & A with Le Guin last year that addresses her thoughts on where we are today.

“Clean” reads for multicultural YA girls

ETA 11/6/12: As with all my book lists, I’m putting this on Pinterest so I can more easily keep this list up-to-date. For a more recent version—including the books mentioned below and books published since 2010—see my Clean Reads for Teens board.



I have a friend who is the leader of a church group for girls 12-18, and she asks:

I want to set up a little library for our YW. [Young Women] These are multi-cultural girls, low income, some from illegal families. I would love to get your suggestions as to good books to put in the library. Since the library will be at the church, they do need to be on the “clean” side, but the girls range from age 13-17 and I think can handle some more complicated themes.

I have a start of a list here, but would love your additions to the list. “Clean” should include nothing stronger than “darn” or the occasional “crap” or “hell,” and on-screen violence should be kept to a minimum; no sex/sexual conduct beyond kissing/holding hands (at least, not in-scene), though romance is great. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t handle tough subjects, though. The Maze Runner, for example, is dystopian, but still a clean read overall. Even a book that tackled rape and its aftermath, or something similarly violent, could be appropriate for a list like this depending on how it’s written.

In general, I’m an advocate for good literature over judging a book by what isn’t in it, and my friend is that kind of reader, too. But given that this is a church-associated library, the suggestions do need to be “appropriate,” if you know what I mean. Feel free to suggest titles that might not be shelved in a church library ONLY if they’re borderline (i.e., something my friend my suggest the girls look up on an individual basis if she feels they’re ready for them).

For example, The Hunger Games may not be for everyone. I love it, and would hand it to any teen I knew who didn’t have a problem with a little violence. But some teens are more sensitive than others, so it might be important in a church context to gauge just how well the reader might welcome the visuals they’d get from that book, especially when it might as easily be picked up by a 12-year-old as a 15-year-old. (Then again, given that we live in a dystopia and modern teens know it, perhaps they’d be just fine with it.) Public library, no problem. But it’s the kind of thing that a conservative church library might not be the best place for.

This is NOT a fantasy-only list. Feel free to add YA-appropriate “clean reads,” particularly but not limited to multicultural books, from any genre. I’m just biased for SFF, that’s all. 🙂 It is a tough list to assemble, though, because I hate to recommend something as “clean” when I haven’t had a chance to read it myself.

  • The Maze Runner, James Dashner
  • The Sisters Grimm series, Michael Buckley *
  • Conrad’s Fate, Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Dalemark Quintet, Diana Wynne Jones
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle and its sequels
  • Matched, Ally Condie (to be published in Nov. 2010)
  • The Princess and the Hound, Mette Ivie Harrison, and its sequels
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball, Jessica Day George, and its sequel Princess of Glass
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, 2008, Nahoko Uehashi, and its sequel, Moribito II (this is technically a middle grade book, but the cool thing about it is that it can be appreciated by all ages–the main character is a 29-year-old woman who protects a young king)
  • Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier
  • Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
  • Flora Segunda, Isabeau S. Wilce, and its sequel Flora’s Dare
  • Little Sister, Kara Dalkey, and a sequel
  • The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
  • The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
  • Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo #1), D.M. Cornish, and its sequel, Lamplighter **
  • Uglies, Scott Westerfeld, and its sequels ***
  • Midnighters series, Scott Westerfeld ***
  • When My Name Was Keoko, Linda Sue Park
  • A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park
  • The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
  • Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
  • Enna Burning, Shannon Hale
  • Impossible, Nancy Werlin *** (this one has some really tough themes—rape, single teen motherhood, manipulation and control—but for a mature teen reader, it’s a must-read)
  • Sabriel, Garth Nix, and its sequels Lirael and Abhorsen
  • Tantalize, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and its sequels *** (possibly too much sensuality, according to the author, and a possible replacement would be her Rain Is Not My Indian Name)
  • Sucks to Be Me, Kimberly Pauley
  • Silver Phoenix, Cindy Pon
  • Devil’s Kiss, Sarwat Chadda *** (strong themes of sacrifice and redemption)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones, and its sequels
  • The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, Nancy Farmer
  • The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer ***
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  • Blue Willow, Doris Gates
  • Beauty, Robin McKinley (and she rewrote this same tale later as a more complicated book, Rose Daughter)
  • The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Pope
  • The Agency: A Spy in the House, Y.S. Lee
  • The Agency: The Body at the Tower, Y.S. Lee
  • The Hallowmere series, Tiffany Trent and coauthors (be forewarned, though, that it’s out of print and only 6 of 10 books were published, so the end is on hold indefinitely)

There are so many books I want to recommend but can’t, because in this case a book with even the occasional s-word wouldn’t be something we’d want to put in a booklist handed out at church or in a church library. That leaves out excellent titles such as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, but hopefully the girl who is the right reader for that book will find it anyway.

So, that gives us a starting point. What other books might be suggested for this list? I’m low on historical fiction, contemporary realism, and non-fiction, mostly because I’ve just listed a few good books off my own shelves and pulled a few titles from the multicultural SFF post. There are SO many titles about civil rights and slavery—feel free to suggest some, as I only have one on this list—but there are so many other time periods and issues that books tackle, too. So, light and heavy, as long as its clean. Go!

* Technically, this is a middle grade series, but the books are loved by older girls too and I think would be a fun recommendation for girls who like fairy tales.

** Starred titles may have a little bit more violence than you might want in the library; you might want to read it first to be sure.

*** Can someone remind me, as it’s been a while, whether the language in these books goes beyond made-up cursing and slang? Or if, in the case of Impossible, the rape scene is too graphic for a conservative audience?

The Chosen One

I got this ARC a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been holding onto it because I knew from going to Carol’s reading that it would make me bawl. I had to be ready for that, and busy as I’ve been, I haven’t been ready for it.

Once again tonight, as many nights, I couldn’t sleep. So I took the book to bed with me about midnight, and here it is 4 in the morning and I’ve read the whole thing, and bawled the whole way through. In a good way! It’s a powerful book. But be warned–Kleenex should be handy when navigating this book.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me ‘splain: Carol Lynch Williams’s new book, The Chosen One, is about a 13-year-old girl, Kyra, who lives in a polygamous compound much like any of the ones you’d see driving through southern Utah. The FLDS aren’t the only sect, though they are the most notorious. Living in Utah, you often see reports on the news about women who have escaped these situations, or about the Lost Boys, the boys who are sent out to die in the desert because the girls are for the older men. When Kyra is told that the prophet of their sect has had a revelation that she is to marry (remember, she’s 13!), and marry her own uncle, no less–not is he her father’s brother, but he’s also 50 years older than she is–she has a crisis of faith that leads her to question what she’s been taught all her life about the blind obedience to the prophet’s commands.

I love that Carol made this completely unrelated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–of which you’ll probably remember that I’m a member. People, often people who don’t know a real Mormon, often get the real Mormon church and the wacked-out splinter polygamous groups confused and conflate them. There’s a huge difference (I’ll not get into them, because that’s not what this is about–let’s not go there–I’m just saying that I appreciate, finally, seeing something that addresses the subject that doesn’t conflate the two). I don’t know what it’s like to live in these compounds, so I won’t say it’s “so realistic” or anything as if that means anything–but it rings true to the reports I’ve seen and the books I’ve read.

Most importantly, it rings true to Kira as a character. She’s strong, capable, and learning to become independent. I really rooted for her to win, and felt just as torn as she did about what “winning” would mean–would it mean having to leave her family behind, the only world she’s ever known, loving people who are just trying their best to be good? What is freedom without family beside you? It’s a book that doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff, and it’s oh so good.

Just remember the tissues when you read it.

…And let’s see if I can sleep NOW!

Laurie Halse Anderson at the King’s English, Mar. 26

I’m getting ready to head out the door to the Provo Library for the seminar I’m teaching on writing science fiction and fantasy for children and young adults, but wanted to post this first: One of my favorite writers, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at the last couple of Kindling Words retreats, will be in Salt Lake City next Thursday as part of her Wintergirls tour. That’s right, Laurie Halse Anderson, also known on LJ as [ljuser]halseanderson[/ljuser].

She’ll be at one of our excellent local independents, The King’s English. If you loved Speak or Fever 1793 or Chains or any of her other excellent books, make sure to check out Wintergirls. And if you head to The King’s English to get it signed, maybe I’ll see you there:

Thursday, March 26, 7 p.m.
King’s English Bookstore
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105

More recommended books and movies/shows

I keep meaning to review a few things I’ve been watching/reading lately. I have actually been allowing myself to reread a few favorites, which I haven’t in the past few years because I want to spend that time reading new stuff (and not-so-new) in my towering TBR pile. But this month I made an exception and reread Garth Nix‘s Sabriel, one of the classic 90s high fantasies that redefined what writing “high fantasy” should mean. It went beyond elves and dwarves to create a new world of necromancers, royalty, seers, the undead, and a little cat named Mogget. Okay, not this Mogget, but now you know (if you didn’t before) where I got the name.

I’m glad I took the time to go back to it, because I haven’t read it for a good eight years or so. I read it for the first time in college, when HarperCollins sent Lirael (the second book in the trilogy) to us to review at Leading Edge, the science fiction and fantasy publication I worked on at BYU (it’s an all-student-run semi-professional publication. The authors they publish are usually NOT students, but rather up-and-coming authors. If you’re looking for good short science fiction and fantasy to read, check out subscribing–it’s a pretty good deal). I didn’t feel I could review Lirael without first reading Sabriel, and I don’t think I even ended up reviewing Lirael in the end, but the series turned out to be one of my all-time favorites.

Looking at Sabriel as an editor, it’s a great example of the kind of approach to high fantasy that I’d like to see. Instead of taking Tolkien’s world and changing a few things (which can be fun, but it’s been done before), Nix created an original world in the spirit of what Tolkien did, and gave his characters compelling quests that came directly from motivations that the reader can sympathize with. The thing about high fantasy is not so much that it involves a world that includes elves, dwarves, and gnomes or whatever; it’s that it’s a fascinating world with an epic story. In Sabriel, not only was the fate of the country at stake–having grown up in Ancelstierre, Sabriel felt little connection to the Old Kingdom–her greater motivation was that her father’s life was in danger. Add in a cool magic system that pits the Dead against the living, and the Charter that controls Free Magic, and all these factors combine to a rich world with interesting characters for whom the reader roots. It’s a complex story within an interesting world, but the world is secondary to the characters and their personal stories.

Another story to look up, either in movie or book form: The Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono. I just finished watching the anime of it from the early 90s on DVD with a friend, and it’s another rich, complicated world with several interwoven stories. The main character (at least for most of the anime), Youko, is a high school student who is suddenly spirited away to another world by Keiki, the kirin of Kei, one of twelve kingdoms. It turns out that Youko is actually from the other world, not Japan, and that when she was a baby she was caught up in a storm and deposited in her mother’s womb in Japan (this is something that occasionally happens–people are born from trees in the Twelve Kingdoms). So she never really belonged anywhere in Japan, but never really knew the reason until she came to the Twelve Kingdoms.

Spirited away with her are two of her friends from high school, Asano and Yuka. They draw the attention of the king of Kou, who doesn’t want Youko to ascend to her throne because kings and queens who come from Japan (called Kaikyaku, which I believe means something like “outsider”) tend to have kingdoms that thrive and he doesn’t want Kou to be shown up by another Kaikyaku ruler. The first arc of the anime–which I understand is also the arc of the first book–is how Youko comes to accept her role as queen, even though she never wanted to become one.

The second book and the second arc of the anime delves deeper into what a kirin’s role is–the kirin is a holy creature who has a human form and a beast form, and they choose the ruler by the mandate of the heavens. It’s really a fascinating system, mixing Buddist and other belief systems in a fantasy world. This is the kind of non-Western fantasy I’d like to see more of.

It’s too bad the TV series seems to have ended leaving us hanging on one story arc, and I know that only two of the books (originally published in Japan) have been published here in the U.S. so far by Tokyopop. So there are arcs for which I MUST know what happened still! Hopefully the books will do well here in the U.S. and we’ll get the books farther in the series that find out what happened to Taiki and the King of Tai, who seem to be mysteriously missing. But even with that thread hanging, the TV show is well worth looking up (Netflix has it, and I believe they even have it on their instant watching list, though I could be remembering wrong). I haven’t read any of the books yet myself, but several other people I know recommend them–so they’re on the list of books I want to read. But I can with authority definitely recommend the anime, with a caveat that it is from the 80s or 90s and the animation might feel dated to anyone who’s familiar with how anime has grown in the last 10 years. You’ll still love it, though.

Now, for historical fiction and nonfiction

I’m not done with the science fiction list yet–I’m afraid I’ve been sidetracked by actual work, which is a good thing!–but Quimby over at Feminist Mormon Housewives has a particular question which I thought we could help out with. She asks:

I have this kind of wonky idea that I’d like to introduce my children to some of the more difficult historical themes (racism, slavery, indigenous issues) through good children’s literature. But since I don’t really know what constitutes good children’s literature (my children are, after all, still in the board book stage) I thought I’d ask you for some suggestions.

In addition to books with historical themes, I’m also interested in books with themes that address indigenous religions or mythology. (Hey, all you Aussie lurkers, this is for you: Do any of you know a good children’s book about Dreamtime?%

Note that Quimby is an American (USian) living in Australia, so books about pretty much all over the world work for her, but I imagine books involving Australian history and American history would be of most pertinence.

My list is completely incomplete, but I love historical fiction and there’s a lot of great historical nonfiction out there for kids and young adults, too. Let’s break up the list, so as not to completely overwhelm, but feel free to mention any books of a proven quality that fit her need.

Here’s my own very partial list. I’ll have to add to it later when I have time to sit down and look at the excellent nonfiction sitting on my shelf. I wish I had the time to do an annotated bibliography, but for that, you’ll have to look to your local librarian, the many great children’s book lists out there, and others.

Here’s the list I started over there:

One book that I love is by Jacqueline Woodson, a picture book call The Other Side. It’s about a girl who sees another girl on the other side of the fence who is of a different race, and it’s a very quiet picture book about how these two girls become friends. She’s got a lot of really great books, illustrated by award-winning illustrators like Jon J. Muth (who illustrated several GREAT picture books like Zen Shorts and Stone Soup and Come on Rain!).

Then there’s Remember by Toni Morrison, which has some GREAT historical pictures about school segregation and the process of desegregation

Allen Say, Grandfather’s Journey–Japanese man immigrates to the U.S.

Walter Dean Myers, Blues Journey–Caldecott Honor about the history of the blues. Amazing illustrations

In fact there are a lot of great picture books out there on race, but you have to be choosy. There are some really bad picture books out there on Rosa Parks, for example, that perpetuate the myth that she was tired instead of actively working as a part of the bus strikes, etc.

Oh, and there’s Remembering Manzanar, which might be a little controversial because it’s a memoir.

Then there are books for much older readers which Quimby should read just because they’re really good books, and will still be classics when her kids are old enough to read them:

When My Name Was Keoko, Linda Sue Park—a Korean sister and brother are forced to change their names, when the Japanese forced the country to give up their Korean identities (WWII)

A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park—Newbery Medal—Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters’ village

Blue Willow, Doris Gates. An itinerant farm worker family struggle to adapt to the Great Depression.

A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck—Newbery Honor—a brother and sister travel from their home in Chicago to stay with their eccentric grandmother for a Depression summer. And just dang funny.
A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck—Newbery Medal—sequel to A Long Way from Chicago

My Brother Sam Is Dead, James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier—Newbery Honor.
Revolutionary War about a young boy whose family gets involved in the war.

The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen. Part time travel, part historical fiction–modern girl gets sucked back into the Holocaust. Mature subject, obviously, but handled in a way that is sensitive to a middle-grade reader.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare. Witchcraft in pilgrim-era Massachusetts. Don’t think it’s actually Salem, but it’s been a few years.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor. In Depression-era Mississippi, Cassie and her family struggle as a land-holding black family.

Those books above are ones I regularly recommend, so it was nice to have them explained already in a handout I already had put together!

Some authors to look for–pretty much anything by them will be good. Most are nonfiction for children and young adults:

  • Susan Campbell Bartoletti (books include Black Potatoes–great book on the Irish potato famine that sticks with me today; Kids on Strike! about child workers; Growing Up in Coal Country)
  • Jim Murphy (An American Plague, Across America on an Emigrant Train, A Young Patriot (Rev. War), Pick and Shovel Poet, The Boys’ War (Civil War))
  • Russell Freedman (great books include Newbery Award-winning Lincoln: A Photobiography)
  • Elizabeth Partridge (wonderful biography of Woody Guthrie called This Land Is Your Land: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie)
  • James Cross Giblin (Sibert award-winning Life and Death of Adolf Hitler)
  • Candace Fleming (Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life)
  • Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan (Freedom Roads: Searching for the Underground Railroad)

Well, that’s all I got for tonight. Good night! Feel free to add to this haphazard list.

More on the SF list

In answer to my question regarding middle grade science fiction on the Child_Lit listserv, Farah Mendlesohn replied with the address of her blog and her book list, dedicated to mostly children’s science fiction. Hooray! This will be a great resource, as will the book she wrote, which is coming out sometime this year.

Now, the book list says "YA SF," but I’m seeing everything from Captain Underpants (how could I forget him?) to Scott Westerfeld, so it encompasses more than just YA. I’ll skim and see what I can glean for the particular list we’re making here, and if you all happen to see any on there that would count as middle grade, let me know.

On to science fiction!

Okay, now that we’ve got the middle grade fantasy list, what about science fiction specifically for middle graders? I’m going to be really lenient in our definitions of science fiction, so we can include dystopian books for kids like City of Ember which are more based on science, but in which the science is kind of iffy. That takes second seat to how much fun the book is for the reader.

Remember, we’re talking specifically about books published for middle grade readers, kids age 8-12. The lines can be blurry, but I want to keep books published for young adults and adults off the list even if kids those age are reading them, simply for clarity’s sake.

Also, let’s leave off anything published prior to . . . oh, let’s give it a wide swath but say 1990. Science fiction published before those years was definitely science fiction, and there are kids who still find that interesting, but like I’ve said before, it’s a forward-looking genre, and really, books published before the kids were born will probably not be regarded as forward anything. But I gave i
t a little bigger swath than what should be probably 1997-2001, because there are a lot of good books like The Giver which are still popular in schools and aren’t set at any time that the reader couldn’t imagine to be their future.

Let’s also do a subgenre breakdown in the list, so we know why we’re calling it science fiction rather than fantasy (especially time travel novels: for the sake of clarity, few of the time travel novels have plausible science in them. I mean, do *you* know anyone who has traveled in time? but for ease of listing, I’m just plunking it in science fiction). If you have a subgenre classification I haven’t used here that applies to your book, let me know.


* City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau
* The Giver, Lois Lowry
* Among the Hidden, Margaret Peterson Haddix
Running Out of Time, Margaret Peterson Haddix


Are there any cyberpunk books for middle graders? Would we even WANT there to be any? (Most of the cyberpunk I’ve read is pretty mature.)


Steampunk is one of those genres that crosses the line between SF and fantasy, too. The one that stands out most is Larklight by Philip Reeve. Others?

Space/spaceships/space travel

* A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (this makes *both* fantasy and science fiction lists because it has elements of both. Please be careful when suggesting books like this, but if it it fits, it goes on the list)

Time travel

* Many Waters, Madeleine L’Engle (also a double, fuzzy, slippage kind of book)

Other planets

* Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey (this goes on this list as much as or more than it does on fantasy, given that the dragons are actually just native to the new planet) new info says this book is definitely YA–sex in later books in the series
* Dragon and Thief (Dragonback), Timothy Zahn 

So far the length of this list sucks. I *know* there are more books out there, but my fantasy collection here at home is far more vast than my science fiction collection. Every SF book I think of tends to be more YA than MG.  I know that Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson have spoken out about how little SF there is for kids, but I don’t know that I’d classify Crystal Doors as more SF than fantasy, and most places I’ve seen it sold in the YA section anyway.

So, what’s out there, people?

The final middle grade fantasy list

ETA 7/24/13: I’ve added a few titles to the list below (and deleted a few that I realized were more YA than MG), but if you want a really up-to-date version, follow me on Pinterest, where I keep a number of book lists, including this one, up to date as new titles become available.


Next week I’ll move on to science fiction, which, if we don’t count stuff published in the 1950s and 60s (I love Bova and Heinlein, but SF is by its very nature forward-looking, not back, and the kids of today need SF that takes them even farther than the SF world they’re already living in), will feel like a very short list. But hey, look at this huge list we just created! Maybe it won’t be so short after all.
So, behind the cut you’ll find the list you all helped me make. It may not contain every suggestion because sometimes I just didn’t know the books well enough to judge whether they would be right for the list, and sometimes I felt like they didn’t fit either “middle grade” or “fantasy” enough for my personal whims. And it’s exactly that, my own whims.

Feel free to copy for your own use and amend as necessary–this isn’t a comprehensive list (though it feels darn close), but hopefully it’s a great resource for any of us wanting to expand our reading. I know it will be for me!

Thanks for all your help!

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, Brandon Sanderson
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
Babe: The Gallant Pig, Dick King-Smith
Beauty, Robin McKinley
Bedknob and Broomstick, Mary Norton
Billy Bones, Christopher Lincoln
Boggart, Susan Cooper
The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, Lloyd Alexander
The Borrowers, Mary Norton
The Chaos King, Laura Ruby
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Roald Dahl
Charlie Bone, Jenny Nimmo
Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
Children of Green Knowe, L.M. Boston
Children of the Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure, P.B. Kerr
The Chrestomanci Chronicles, Diana Wynne Jones
Coraline, Neil Gaiman
Darkside, Tom Becker
The Deep Freeze of Bartholomew Tullock, Alex Williams
Dragon Castle, Joseph Bruchac
Dragon Keeper, Carole Wilkinson
Dragonlance: The New Adventures, various authors, including Tim Waggoner, Ree Soesbee, Dan Willis, Jeff Sampson, Christina Woods, Stephen D. Sullivan, and Stan Brown
Dragon’s Milk, Susan Fletcher
Dreamhunter/Dreamquake, Elizabeth Knox
Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine
Eva Ibbotson’s books (I’ve meant to read her stuff for years but haven’t ever gotten around to it)
Fablehaven, Brandon Mull
The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielsen
Five Children and It, E. Nesbit (and pretty much anything by E. Nesbit)
The Folk Keeper, Franny Billingsley
The Gammage Cup, Carol Kendall
A Gift of Magic, Lois Duncan
Half Magic, Edward Eager
Hall Family Chronicles, Jane Langton
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Daniel Pinkwater
Hugo Pepper, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddel
Inkheart, Cornelia Funke
Into the Wild, Sarah Beth Durst
James & the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl (man, I loved this one in about 3rd or 4th grade)
The Key to Rondo, Emily Rodda
The Last Dragon, Silvana de Mari
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
The Light Princess, George MacDonald
The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Narnia), C.S. Lewis
Little Sister, Kara Dalkey
The Mad Scientists’ Club, Bertrand R. Brinley
The Magic Thief, Sarah Prineas
Many Waters, Madeleine L’Engle (part of the Wrinkle in Time series, technically, but far enough forward that I kind of count it separately)
Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers
Matilda, Roald Dahl
May Bird and the Ever After, Jodi Lynn Anderson
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O’Brien
Mister Monday (Keys to the Kingdom), Garth Nix
The Monster in the Mudball, S.P. Gates
The Mouse and His Child, Russell Hoban
My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, David Lubar (ARC, to be published this August)
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
The Name of This Book Is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch
The Neverending Story, Michael Ende
Nightmare Academy, Dean Lorey
Of Mice and Magic, David Farland
Over Sea, Under Stone, Susan Cooper
Pendragon, D.J. MacHale
Peter Pan & Wendy, J.M. Barrie
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
The Power of Three, Diana Wynne Jones
Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
The Princess and the Goblin/The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald
The Princess Tales (Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, etc.), Gail Carson Levine
First Test, Page, Squire, and Lady Knight, Tamora Pierce
Ranger’s Apprentice
Red Dragon Codex, R.D. Henham
Redwall, Brian Jacques
Savvy, Ingrid Law
Sea of Trolls, Nancy Farmer
The Seeing Stone, Kevin Crossley-Holland
The Shadow Thieves, Anne Ursu
Skulduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy
Snow Spider (Magician trilogy)
Standard Hero Behavior, John David Anderson
The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm), Michael Buckley (I LOVE this series)
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Stink Files, Holm & Hamel
Stoneflight, Georgess McHargue
The Story of the Treasure Seekers, E. Nesbit
Stuart Little, E.B. White
Swan Sister, Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
The 13th Reality, James Dashner
39 Clues, Rick Riordan et al.
Tom’s Midnight Garden, Phillippa Pearce
The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
Un Lun Dun, China Mieville
Vampirates, Justin Somper
The Wall and the Wing, Laura Ruby
Warriors, Erin Hunter
Watership Down, Richard Adams
Well Wished, Franny Billingsley
What the Witch Left, The Wednesday Witch, The Secret Tree House, Ruth Chew
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
The Witches, Roald Dahl
Whales on Stilts, M.T. Anderson
A Wolf at the Door, Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow (also in The Dark of the Woods)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum