“If you want to be a writer, you must two two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot.” -Stephen King
The year is more than halfway over and I am nearing my goal of finishing at least 50 fiction books. When choosing books I make sure to include many books in the genre that I write in, middle grade fiction, to keep up with what my audience enjoys.
I’ve noticed that there’s been a theme to what I’ve been checking out lately, GIRL POWER! Maybe it’s because Sophie Washington, the main character of my books, is a girl. I think I’ll add in more books with boy protagonists for the second half of the year to mix things up.
Here are some girl-focused books that caught my attention:
The Friendship Code (Girls Who Code) by Stacia Deutsch – I enjoy figuring out how computers and software work as much as a cat likes taking a bath, so it’s strange that I’ve been absolutely in love with coding lately. Could be because my niece told me a friend of hers made almost $50,000 on a coding summer internship, and I’m trying to turn my boys’ obsession with Fortnite into something constructive. This was a fun book about a multicultural group of girls excited about learning to code and uncovering a mystery. It should appeal to middle grade girls and spark their interest in the computer coding field.
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine – What happens when a black girl passes for white in racist, integration-embroiled, 1960s Little Rock, AR and makes a white best friend? This historical fiction piece is enthralling and shows two young girls growing up, making a difference in their world, and expanding the minds of the adults around them.
Sugar Plum Ballerinas (Plum Fantastic) by Whoopi Goldberg – I’m glad I sneaked this oldie but goodie out of my daughter’s storage box to read. Main character Alexandrea is forced to leave her small town home behind to move to Harlem, NY, and she’s not a happy camper. Her costume designer mom signs her up for ballet classes, dressing her in an over-the-top tutu, and the fun begins. This cute book is laugh out loud funny at times, as expected since the author is a famous comedian, and includes a diverse group of friends that young readers will want to follow along throughout the series.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes -With vivid descriptions of the sights, smells and sounds of New Orleans, sprinkled with elements of the supernatural, author Jewell Parker Rhodes sweeps readers up in the eye of the storm along with main character Lanesha, her caregiver Mama Ya-Ya and newfound friend LaShon. Reading this book, I heard second line music playing, felt heavy, humid air on my skin, smelled the stench of the French Quarter and tasted the sugary sweetness of a piping hot beignet. I experienced the terror of the young main character as the storm hit her home and the waters rose, and the triumph when she was finally safe. This beautifully written book will remain with readers long after the last page is turned.
Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrows – A few reviews of Ivy & Bean I’ve read slammed it for the main character’s bratty behavior, but I enjoyed it. Bean reminded me of a modern day Ramona Quimby, and her mischievous pranks will keep the pages turning with new and reluctant readers as they devour this cute series.
Tonya Duncan Ellis is author of the Readers’ Favorite “Five Star” rated Sophie Washington children’s book series, geared toward readers ages 8-12 and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
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