Gretchen's Middle Reader & Young Adult Picks

The Insiders By Mark Oshiro Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780063008106
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: HarperCollins - September 21st, 2021

Big-hearted, queer, and basically everything you've wanted out of a middle grade book about a diverse group of kids finding the magic to help them find space to be--and become--themselves despite social pressures to fit themselves into a white heteronormative school.


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Pet By Akwaeke Emezi Cover Image
$10.99
This item is out of stock with our warehouse. Some recently published books may be in stock @ Room. Email to check.
ISBN: 9780593175446
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - January 19th, 2021

Possibly my favorite book of 2019, this is a clear-eyed, unsentimental, justice-oriented book about a girl who must make choices about uncovering the darkness underpinning the seemingly enlightened and perfect community. Jam is a relatable, thoughtful, passionate young woman of privilege whose orderly world is turned upside-down when an avenging creature of art and gold and static and horror emerges from her mother's painting. The creature, called Pet, is bent on hunting a monster--one which it claims is in the house of Jam's best friend, Redemption. As Jam investigates, she frequently makes mistakes and struggles with balancing the single-minded justice of Pet with her own fear of tearing apart the community of people she loves and grew up with. Emezi seamlessly integrates diverse perspectives--Jam is a trans girl, and her reluctance to speak aloud has led herr family and many community members to adapt to using sign language a great deal of the time. These facts are present in the story but don't feel like diversity for the sake of diversity. This story of the growth and vigilance and protective compassion Jam must learn will resonate for anyone who can recognize that a just society must never sit back and forget. I loved this powerful little book.


The Wild Robot By Peter Brown Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780316382007
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 7th, 2020

A Whale of the Wild By Rosanne Parry, Lindsay Moore (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Rosanne Parry, Lindsay Moore (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062995933
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Greenwillow Books - August 31st, 2021

Hilda: The Wilderness Stories: Hilda and the Troll /Hilda and the Midnight Giant (Hildafolk) By Luke Pearson Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781838740719
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Flying Eye Books - November 2nd, 2021

White Smoke By Tiffany D. Jackson Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063029095
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 14th, 2021

A smart savvy take on drugs, gentrification, second chances and blended families, this reads as a spooky teen Get Out.


A Lesson in Vengeance By Victoria Lee Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780593305829
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Delacorte Press - August 3rd, 2021

A perfect Fall read! A mysterious, witchy boarding school... a young woman grieving the girlfriend who died under suspicious and traumatic circumstances... fall sweaters and dark mysteries abound.


Iron Widow By Xiran Jay Zhao Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735269934
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Penguin Teen Canada - September 21st, 2021

Do you crave a book full of feminist rage and ambition and mecha fights? Think Pacific Rim meets Fury Road with an all-Asian cast and an unconventional love triangle.


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Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle) By Tracy Deonn Cover Image
$19.99
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ISBN: 9781534441606
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - September 15th, 2020

A much-needed update of Arthurian legend, this book tackles so much (especially racism, classism, the generational legacies of slavery, and carrying personal grief) with such a winning main character.


Hilo Book 7: Gina---The Girl Who Broke the World By Judd Winick Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780525644095
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Random House Graphic - February 2nd, 2021

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Rick Riordan Presents Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (A Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 1) By Carlos Hernandez Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781368023627
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Rick Riordan Presents - May 5th, 2020

I listened to the incomparable audiobook of this delightful novel via libro.fm, and can't recommend it enough, especially for families who like to enjoy listening to books with their kids! This middle grade novel is funny, sharp, and wise, with incidental diversity of so many kinds without feeling like you're checking diversity points off a list. Anthony Rey Perez's recording is A perfect, his snarky inflection, effortless voicing of a variety of characters, and ability to slide easily between English and Spanish with native ease make him a perfect choice for this heavily Latinx and Cubano book. Sweet and funny interactions between middle schoolers whose intelligence more often than not gets them into more trouble than it's worth, a hefty dose of magic, and a very heart-wrenching grapple with grief and loss, both potential and real, make this a truly special book.


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Darius the Great Is Not Okay By Adib Khorram Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780525552970
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Penguin Books - August 20th, 2019

I read this book in one night and I loved it so so much. Darius is one of the most well-drawn, real teens I can remember seeing in contemporary YA. The way this book approaches mental health is especially important for young adult audiences, particularly because it acknowledges how difficult it can be but ultimately possible to manage clinical depression and have it be openly discussed and cared for in a family setting. Darius's not-ready-to-talk-about-it gay feelings are similarly well-handled. The warmth of Darius's family, the difficult concerns of globally disparate family and cultures meeting, in Darius's case for the first time, is treated with such remarkable humor and sensitivity. His relationship with the neighbor boy, his difficult yet loving relationship with his father, the fraught feelings he has about meeting his dying grandfather for the first time, the sweet affection he has for his little sister and for his mother, the Star Trek references, the gorgeous explorations of Iranian place and culture and food, everything about this book is just beautiful.


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Strange Grace By Tessa Gratton Cover Image
$12.99
This item is out of stock with our warehouse. Some recently published books may be in stock @ Room. Email to check.
ISBN: 9781534402096
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - September 17th, 2019

This is a rare gift of a YA story—protagonists who love their families and community, who trust that the way things are done is the way they ought to be done, then upon finding out the lie behind the seven year sacrifice, they take their power, enlist their community, and fight through grief and anger to risk everything on a new option. The prose is stylistically spot-on, giving the depth of magic in the forest and the lived-in humdrum existence of the townsfolk equal weight, with some incredibly visceral imagery to bring the story further to life. The romantic threads between the three protagonists are so lovely and unusual to see, and the way the romance is important but doesn’t supersede the main plot works beautifully. The plotting and pacing are great, and the heightened story of a small town caught up in an historic cycle of life and death between the forest, the devil, the witches, and the people was perfectly spun. I loved this book and I know I will be thinking about it for a long while.