Looking for a cool new book this season? TFK Kid Reporters read and reviewed some of the best books of the year.
Barb the Last Berzerker: Book 1
Barb of Bailiwick is the last Berzerker of her generation. The rest were kidnapped by the evil Witch Head. But Barb escapes with Witch Head’s sword, the Shadow Blade. She must rescue the Berzerkers before Witch Head destroys them. Along the way, Barb realizes that humans and monsters have more in common than she thought.
Kids who enjoy reading action-packed graphic novels will like this book by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson. It’s perfect for fans of the Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Plus, Barb is a strong female protagonist who shows girls that they can be warriors. —By TFK Kid Reporter Orlie Weitzman
The Beatryce Prophecy
According to a prophecy, a young girl will unseat the king. That girl is Beatryce. With soldiers chasing her, she sets out through the woods to find the king’s castle. She makes friends on her journey: a timid monk, an orphan, and Answelica the goat. Can they protect Beatryce?
Author Kate DiCamillo tells a story about how love can give us hope and guide us through a rough situation. Readers who seek to change the world will appreciate Beatryce’s ability to see its beauty while defending others. —By TFK Kid Reporter Lauryn Chew
Black Boy Joy
The short stories in Black Boy Joy, edited by Kwame Mbalia, celebrate the pleasures of Black childhood. The book starts with the tale of a kid who goes into the Between, where he catches stories and brings them back to our troubled world. There are also stories about triumphs, competitions, and getting dressed for your first day of school. Most are short, with simple plots. You don’t have to read a giant book all in one go. You can take it a little at a time. People who enjoy bite-size stories of happiness will like this collection. —By TFK Kid Reporter Tabitha Kho
Blancaflor, the Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America
Blancaflor is a girl with magical powers. She comes to the aid of a young prince who’s being tricked by an ogre into giving up his kingdom. This graphic story by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez is a retelling of a Latin American folktale. It presents us with characters we can relate to and encourages us to feel confident and not to hide our powers. Blancaflor is a book for kids of all ages. —By TFK Kid Reporter Ethan Zhang
Chunky, by Yehudi Mercado, is a colorful graphic memoir. When the author was a kid, his parents and doctor encouraged him to be more active. In the book, Hudi tries sports, including baseball, soccer, and football. But they all take Hudi away from the thing that he’s truly passionate about: comedy. His imaginary friend and mascot, Chunky, appears throughout the story to help Hudi achieve his dreams. Chunky is a great book for kids who want to read about friendship, family, and trying to find where they might fit in. —By TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Sandor
Houdini and Me
Harry Mancini is an 11-year-old in New York City. He has read every book he can find about the great magician Harry Houdini. He has the same first name as Houdini and lives in a house where the magician once lived. One day, Harry hits his head on some rocks. He wakes up in a hospital and finds a flip phone. When he opens it, he sees a message from Harry Houdini—who has been dead for nearly a hundred years! Are the boy’s friends messing with him? Or could it really be Harry Houdini? Anyone would love Houdini and Me, by Dan Gutman. It’s a thriller you’ll want to read in one sitting. —By TFK Kid Reporter Ronak Bhatt
Paradise on Fire
In Paradise on Fire, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Addy is a shy, 15-year-old girl who lives with her grandmother in the Bronx, in New York City. When she was young, Addy escaped from an apartment fire that killed her parents. Now she draws maps of the places she visits. When a fire breaks out at the wilderness camp her grandmother enrolled her in, Addy knows what to do. But the counselors choose a route she knows isn’t safe. Will Addy be able to lead her fellow campers to safety? Readers will love the mix of suspense, action, and emotion in this book. —By TFK Kid Reporter Via Ryerson
The Side-by-Side Declaration of Independence
This book explores the American Revolution and the founding of our country. It brings the Declaration of Independence to life with colorful illustrations, graphics, cartoons, and quotes from historical figures, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It’s an easy-to-read, informative page-turner that keeps you glued to your seat. The Side-by-Side Declaration of Independence, by David Miles, is an absolute necessity for anyone looking for a kid-friendly history book. —By TFK Kid Reporter David Murtagh
In the village of Perchance, there are animals known as screechers. People despise them. But Willodeen loves them. So as screechers slowly disappear over the years, Willodeen becomes upset. Meanwhile, hummingbears are beloved in Perchance. When they vanish too, Willodeen works with her friend Connor to solve the mystery of the disappearing creatures and to speak up for all animals. As an animal lover, I related to Willodeen and Connor. Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate, can be appreciated at any age. —By TFK Kid Reporter Gabri Blankson
Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero
Yusuf Azeem is hoping to have a great first year in middle school. Standing in his way are the hate notes left in his locker and his struggle to find his place in a community where Muslim families like his are often treated badly. Yusuf’s uncle gives him journals that he kept around the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The journals help Yusuf (and the reader) understand how hard it can be to fit in as a young Muslim male living in the United States. Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero, by Saadia Faruqi, will appeal to readers who like stories about everyday kids overcoming challenges and finding inner strength. —By TFK Kid Reporter Creedence Peterson