This week’s Top 5 is children’s books. I debated about whether or not to do my favorite books from my childhood or more recent ones. I was a voracious reader as a kid (no big surprise), but I finally decided that the books I would list would likely be books everyone has already read. I read all the usual books, plus a few I remember that were unusual. Except for those books that are now considered classics, most are probably out of print. With that in mind I decided that I would do a list of Middle-grade books that have been published recently, and then I decided that I would only do series. I have linked my full reviews to the titles.
Here are my Top 5 middle grade series that have recently been published and that I think children will enjoy reading.
Magisterium series by Cassandra Claire and Holly Black
These books have received a little bad press saying that they are copying the Harry Potter books. I agree that there are some similarities, but the magical world they have created here is quite different. It is based on the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and chaos. They have also created creatures that are unique to this world The school that the kids go to is also vastly different then Hogwarts. The characters are also interesting and their adventures keep you reading into the night. I usually recommend these to a kid when they ask for something like Harry, and usually they report back that they really liked it. There are currently 3 books in the series with the fourth coming out in the fall. There will be 5 books in the series.
The Blackthorn Key series by Kevin Sands
I’m not sure if there will be more than three books in this series. The third one comes out in the fall as well. This is one of my favorite historical adventure/fantasy books so far this year. It is set in the middle ages and it is mostly historical adventure, but there is a taste of the magical in it, so I hesitate to give it the historical genre only. It is a very fast paced series with lots of mystery and adventure. It is sort of a Da Vinci code for middle graders. I love the characters, the setting and the plot.
The Shadow Magic series by Joshua Kahn
I love this series and so far every kid I’ve recommended it to has loved it as well. There are currently 2 books with 1 more planned. I hope there are a lot more than that though. The world the author has created here is pretty unique. It is a magical world but it has a decided creep factor to it as well. The spiders in the second book really creeped me out. I also really like the two main characters as well as many of the supporting cast. The adventures are fast paced and decidedly not boring. I initially picked it up on Netgalley, because I thought that was a dragon on the cover, nope it is a giant bat! That will probably clue you into the creep factor.
Chronicle of the Dark Star series by Kevin Emerson
This is a straight up science fiction series that is quite the page turner. Goodreads is only showing that there are two books in the series but I think Kevin told me there are three planned. I loved everything about this book, and it is pretty obvious that the author did a lot of research to support the story. The population of Earth has moved to Mars because the sun is going supernova. Everyone is ready to go except for the two main characters who are waiting for their scientist parents to finish some experiments. Everything that could go wrong does, and our heroes barely escape. The next book will be out early next year. Don’t you just love the cover?
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Yes this will be a series or at least two books, the second one is set to come out in the fall. I guess I didn’t write a review for this one but I’m still going to recommend it. I linked the title to Goodreads instead. The book is fantastic! It is about a robot that is stranded on an island and learns to communicate with the animals there. The animals are understandably wary of Roz at first, but eventually come to accept her. There are many adventures with Roz and the animals, but the really important thing about this book is that Roz has more humanity than most humans. She is a wonderful character and I am looking forward to the next book. Peter Brown is more know for his awesome picture books, but this is a great story filled with his usual tender humor and wonderful pictures.
That is my top five for this week. I hope that you have found something new to read either for yourself or a young reader that you know.