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Spring Sneak Peeks Part 2: Middle Grade & YA

December 19, 2012

We’re back with part two of our Spring Sneak Peeks. Today we are sharing some of our favorite new books for Middle Grade and YA readers that will be available in your favorite bookstore or library starting in January.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating Early

Clare Vanderpool follows up her Newbery Award-Winning Moon Over Manifest with a wonderful stand alone book about two boys on an epic quest on the Appalachian Trail to find a bear, the number pi and maybe even find themselves. –Dandy

The Terrible Thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

Terrible Thing Barnaby

John Boyne is a versatile author of children’s and adult novels, best known for the international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. His most recent novels for young readers are modern parables about identity and fitting in a complicated world. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brockett is a worthy successor to his other works suitable for middle grade readers. Barnaby, our story’s hero, was plagued at birth by being born into a completely “normal” family in every way. Barnaby is normal according to the standards of society except he “floats” (gravity having little or no effect on him). His parents, Alistair and Eleanor, cannot accept this embarrassing fact about their son and do everything they can to change him or else. A stint at the Graveling Academy of Unwanted Children doesn’t do the trick so Barnaby is banished and forced to reconcile being different in a conformist world.

Barnaby is a prolific reader and identifies appropriately with the fictional heroes of Dickens, Dumas and Jules Verne, among others, all of them too in search of finding out who they are and their place in the world. Barnaby embarks on a quest journey taking him via hot air balloon and other means from his home in Sydney Australia to Brazil, Canada, Ireland and other outposts far from home. He meets up with all sorts of diverse characters, many of them worse off, and realizes being different is the real “normal”.

This story works on so many levels and, despite the grim circumstances of Barnaby’s life, is often very funny and touching. Kids will appreciate the adventure story itself, but I also think teachers can pull out valuable content pertaining to many of the contemporary social issues reeling communities today.

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

One Came Home

When news of her sister’s death reaches Georgie, she refuses to accept it. When no one believes that the body brought home could not be her sister, she sets out on her own to prove it. Filled with fascinating facts about passenger pigeons and the real dangers of the road, this engaging historical fiction is an exciting read and great classroom tie-in. –Deanna

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff


12 year old Rump lives in a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, and his is the butt of everyone’s joke. Follow Rump on his quest to discover his true name in this fantastical and funny retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Chock full of interesting characters and tons of adventure, this middle grade novel will appeal to fans of classic fairytales and all of the re-imagined ones that are so popular right now! –Sarah N.

Young Adult

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold This exciting debut from young adult author Jane Nickerson is full of romance, mystery, and danger. A re-telling of the Bluebeard fairy tale, set in the pre-Civil War south on a lush plantation, it’s a quick, juicy novel I couldn’t put down. Sophia is a red-headed beauty, and an orphan taken in by her mysterious godfather Monsieur Bernard de Cressac. She is soon seduced by her new life of luxury, full of gorgeous clothes, rich food and staff to wait on her hand and foot. But her benefactor’s dark moods scare her, and the plantation feels full of history and ghosts. As she gets to know Cressac better, she starts to uncover the truth about his wives, all missing or dead, all crimson-haired like herself. This will appeal to older teens and to adults who enjoy well-written, Gothic romance. –Erin

Dualed by Elsie Chapman


In this gritty dystopia, every person born in the city of Kersh has a genetically engineered identical twin. When you come of age, you must kill your twin or be killed, creating a society of fighters. Every child is schooled in the art of warfare to give them a fighting chance. When West Grayer turns 15, it’s her turn to hunt. But what does it take to kill the person who just as easily could have been you? –Deanna

Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Coloumbis

Not Exactly a Love Story

Maybe it’s because I wish I was a child of the 70s. Or because I can’t resist a story in the vein of “You’ve Got Mail”—two strangers falling in love, blindly, brought together by something as enigmatic as a series of phone calls. Or maybe it’s because I just can’t get enough of her spot-on, clever, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, always poignant writing. But I love, love, love, the new Young Adult novel by Audrey Coloumbis: Not Exactly a Love Story. Set to the disco-beat of the 1970s suburbs, Coloumbis introduces us to Vinnie, a high school kid dealing with some pretty incredible self-esteem issues, as well as his parent’s divorce, and a move from Queens to Long Island (where his mom has just bought a house with her new husband—his gym coach!). When he falls for the girl next door and attempts to introduce himself by telephone, Vinnie accidently takes on the alter-ego of Vincenzo in order to make it through the conversation. Eventually, a neighborly acquaintance forms by day while their phone calls continue by night– Vinnie’s true identity remaining a mystery during the latter. What ensues is a warm-hearted and thrilling novel about a young love in its early development and what can happen when you allow yourself to see what others see in you. I just adored this book and I guarantee all ages and all walks will love it as well. –Bobbie

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Tragedy Paper

This novel quickly became a favorite of many of us. A contemporary story set at a private school, romance (and un-, or partially-requited love), intrigue, a mean-spirited teacher who assigns a challenging senior paper, and secrets, so many secrets! Think Thirteen Reasons Why meets Looking for Alaska, with a nod to the classic Ethan Fromm. Whether you’re 14 or 40 you’ll find this one hard to resist. –Kate

Thanks for joining us today at RAoReading, we hope your list of books to buy or borrow from the library in 2013 has some of our favorites on it.

Join us on Friday for a special guest post: A Conversation with Mrs. Bunny.

Please share your thoughts in our comments section.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2012 9:18 am

    So many exciting books to look forward to! One more reason to love RHCB.

  2. December 19, 2012 11:57 am

    There’s so many books to add to my reading list!

  3. Patty permalink
    December 19, 2012 9:29 pm

    I need to read both of these!

  4. December 20, 2012 8:50 am

    It’s going to be a good year to be a reader!

  5. December 22, 2012 9:54 am

    So happy to see Chicago authors on your list! Go Amy and Liesl! But all of these sound terrific. My reading list just got longer — thanks for a fun post.

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