A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011)

monsterA moving and heartbreakingly honest modern fairy tale.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up; maybe older for sensitive readers

Pages: 216 (for ISBN 9781406311525)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, (light) horror, drama, British import, Europe (England), Kylie’s Favorites

Tone/Style: mysterious, sad

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: monsters, fables, ill parents

Themes: being honest with oneself, death, acceptance, grief and loss, denial, change, moving on, family

Summary:  The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (2016)

girlLiterary fantasy and winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal.

Recommended grade level: 5 and up

Pages:  388 (for ISBN 9781616205676)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, fairy tale, award winner

Tone/Style: lyrical, mysterious, melancholy

Pace: leisurely

Topics: witches, magic, lost family, amnesia, hidden potential

Themes: family, sacrifice, sorrow, loyalty, loss

Summary: An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. Continue reading

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans (2011)

prisoner

This sci-fi/action story is one of the most popular books among middle schoolers at my library.

Recommended grade level: 6-10

Pages: 326 (for ISBN 9781451656503)

Genre(s) and keywords: action, science fiction

Tone/Style: mysterious, exciting

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: powers (supernatural), fitting in, rescue, escape

Themes: parent/child relationships, friendship, being different, young people being used by adults

Summary: To everyone at Meridian High School, fourteen-year-old Michael Vey is nothing special, just the kid who has Tourette’s syndrome. But in truth, Michael is extremely special—he has electric powers. Continue reading

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell (2014)

sleeperThis creepy, atmospheric fairy tale with an intriguing heroine is an original story that draws on the dark roots of fairy tales.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages: 69 (for ISBN 9781408859643)

Genre(s) and keywords: fairy tale, fantasy, novella, illustrated

Tone/Style: magical, melancholy, mysterious

Pace: moderate

Topics: quests, curses, sleep

Themes: choices, the passage of time

Summary: A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish. Continue reading

The Island of Beyond by Elizabeth Atkinson (2016)

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A thoughtful middle grade book about finding friends and pushing one’s boundaries on a summer trip to a rural Maine island.

Recommended grade level: 4-6

Pages: 288 (for ISBN 9781467781169)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

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The Finisher by David Baldacci (2014)

THE-FINISHER-cover-277x415Fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian elements combine in this thick, tantalizing adventure with a kick-butt heroine.

Recommended grade level: 6-10

Pages: 497 (for ISBN 9780545652209)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, dystopian, mystery

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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A spooky, thoughtful, and atmospheric Newbery Medal winner.

Recommended grade level: 4 and up

Pages: 312 (for ISBN 9780060530921)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, (light) horror, award winner, Kylie’s favorites

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