What's Up in YA

MG/YA Crossover Recommendations: What’s Up in YA

Hey there, YA Readers!

Kelly is off on a well-deserved vacation this week, so she asked me to come on to host her YA newsletter to talk about some great middle grade/YA crossover reads! If you’ve read my stuff on Book Riot, you know that I love middle grade books (books geared for eight to twelve year olds). But I read lots of YA too, and it’s always fun to find “bridge books” that are fun for older middle grade readers who are looking for something new but who might not be into the more mature themes of typical YA.

The following books have just been released or are very-soon-to-be-published books that would appeal to older MG readers but would still be interesting for YA lovers. So many awesome titles out there this year, and I look forward to hearing what you think about them!

First, let’s look at some fantasy books. My first pick is Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters by Margaret Dilloway. This Japanese retelling of the Momotaro Peach Boy story is fresh, modern, and funny. Sixth grader Xander Miyamoto finds everything boring: school, annoying Lovey from school, and his no-adventure spring break. When his father gives him a comic book about a samurai warrior who pops out of a peach pit, Xander also finds that boring… until it leads to an adventure for him and his best friend Peyton to save Xander’s father. Spring break turns out to be not so boring after all. For those who love this book (as I’m sure you will), look out for the sequel. Momotaro: Xander and the Dream Thief comes out on April 18th.

Another new fantasy read, The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, will be released by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 28th. An exciting, Middle Eastern spin on Jumanji, The Gauntlet is a great read for readers who love adventure and games. When twelve-year-old Farah discovers a wrapped package on her birthday, she assumes it’s a gift from her aunt. Upon opening it and beginning to play it with her two best friends, they discover that the rules of the game are life and death, and when Farah’s brother gets sucked into the game and disappears Farah and her friends have no other choice but to follow him. But no one told them that the only way to escape the game is to win it…

One of my favorite books of the year is Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren, published by Bloomsbury USA on April 4th. I couldn’t put this book down! The book begins with thirteen-year-old Valor purposefully getting herself sent to Tyur’ma, an ice-cold children’s prison. She does this to follow her twin sister Sasha, who was accused of stealing a priceless item from the royal family. Author Ruth Lauren builds her story with skill and exquisite detail. A perfect read for upper middle grade and above who want a story filled with adventure and suspense.

One more fantasy pick: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones, coming out from Alfred A. Knopf on September 19th. I know this book doesn’t come out for a while, but I had to add it because it’s such a fresh take on Regency-era mysteries and would be a lot of fun for many readers, especially advanced upper middle grade readers. The story is set in 1818 and begins with 16-year-old Annis Whitworth discovering that her father is dead and that all his money is missing. Oh, and that he might have been a spy. That leaves her with no choice but to become a spy too, of course. Unfortunately, no one takes her seriously so she takes matters into her own hand, using her rare magical ability to sew glamours, garments that can disguise the wearer completely. Then she takes on a double life and disguises herself as Madame Martine. Can she find out who killed her father and save her inheritance?

My favorite genre is realistic fiction, and there are some great books coming out for older middle grade and younger YA that you should keep an eye out for. My first pick: Braced by Alyson Gerber, published by Arthur A. Levine Books and coming out on March 28th. This is an amazing book about scoliosis and how to persevere amidst the many plot twists of adolescence. Rachel Brooks is thrilled about a new school year, the possibility of playing forward on her soccer team, and being done with appointments with her scoliosis doctor. But just when things start to look up, Rachel gets bad news: the sideways curve on her spine has worsened and Rachel needs to wear a restrictive brace twenty-three hours a day. I loved this book, and it’s definitely a great one for tween and teen readers!

Speed of Life by Carol Weston is coming out on April 4th from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, and I cannot wait. It’s the story about fourteen-year-old Sofia, whose mother died eight months ago. While her friends and community have been super supportive, with the new school year everyone is moving on while Sofia is still struggling. She comes across advice columnist Dear Kate, and finds herself writing to her… a lot. Suddenly, she finds herself opening up to Kate and sharing about her grief and even asking some embarrassing growing up questions. Which is great until Sofia discovers a secret about Kate that changes everything. I loved this funny, multicultural cast of characters and the realistic portrayal of grief.

The fabulous cover of Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail sucked me in immediately. This modern-day take of Cyrano de Bergerac is so funny and enjoyable with a quick, quirky humor. It begins when Gracie starts noticing A.J. – like, noticing, noticing. But A.J. likes Gracie’s friend Sienna, and Sienna wants Gracie to write texts to him from her because she’s too nervous to do it herself. A.J. has surprisingly witty replies to her texts, really unlike how he is in person, and Gracie finds she’s enjoying talking to him. But wait – if she’s writing on behalf of Sienna, is someone writing on behalf of A.J.? A perfect adventure in mistaken identities, this book kept my interest from first page to last.

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar (Nancy Paulsen Books, 4/11/2017), is another one of my favorite reads from this year. This compelling story is based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s as the daughter of Cuban-Jewish immigrants adjusting to life in New York City. It’s told from the point of view of Ruthie Mizrahi, hopscotch queen and proud owner of a brand-new pair of go-go boots. But when a devastating car accident leaves Ruthie in a body cast and confined to bed for month after month, Ruthie has to find peace as her body heals. A beautifully written, compelling read. (And the cover! So gorgeous!)

For non-fiction, Lion: A Long Way Home Young Reader’s Edition by Saroo Brierley, is a great foray into young reader’s editions. Adapted from Saroo Brierley’s memoir about being separated from his family on a train in India when he was five, this story tells a riveting tale of memory and what it means to feel connected to family and a culture. A great bridge book for readers getting interested in narrative non-fiction.

Well, that’s it for me! Thanks for letting me share some of the great crossover MG/YA books coming out. Next week, Kelly is back with more YA awesomeness. Happy reading!

-Karina Glaser