Jan 24, 2011

2011 Debuts: Young-Adult and Middle Grade

For the penultimate entry in my series of debut spotlights, I'm targeting a younger demographic than that of my average reader. Still, some people (who aren't me) have kids, and in a world where Twilight is the industry standard for successfuly "young adult" fiction, they could use all the help they could get to find some quality recommendations. So without further adieu, here are a few books that might keep the kids entertained. Although if they are anything like I was at that age, a few books might only last a week.

Young Adult

Title: The Girl of Fire & Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Green Willow / Harper Collins
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Synopsis: Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people. Although she bears the Godstone in her navel, a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her as lazy and useless and fat.

On her sixteenth birthday, she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much-older and extremely beautiful husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife. Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone. As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court maneuvers to take advantage of the young princess, Elisa becomes convinced that, not only is her own life in danger, the whole world needs saving. But how can a young girl who has never ridden horseback, never played the game of politics, and never attained the love of a man save the world? Elisa only knows she's going to try--so long as she doesn't have to give up pastries.

If your kids haven't quite reached young adult status yet, I would suggest any of these middle grade adventures along with Kid vs. Squid or The Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhout.

Middle Grade

Title: Kat, Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson may be the despair of her social-climbing Step-Mama, but she was born to be a magical Guardian and protector of Society--if she can ever find true acceptance in the secret Order that expelled her own mother. She’s ready to turn the hidebound Order of the Guardians inside-out, whether the older members like it or not. And in a society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, Kat is determined to use all her powers to help her three older siblings--saintly Elissa, practicing-witch Angeline, and hopelessly foolish Charles--find their own true loves, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way!

Title: The Mostly True Story of Jack
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Synopsis: When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his crazy aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for a long time. . . .

When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends-not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack's imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It's up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible.

The Mostly True Story of Jack is a tale of magic, friendship, and sacrifice. It's about things broken and things put back together. Above all, it's about finding a place to belong.

Title: The Princess Curse
Author: Merrie Haskell
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Synopsis: A retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", in which an herbalist's apprentice in 15th century Romania attempts to break a curse and instead discovers a door to the Underworld.

Again, I'm sure I missed some excellent debut authors. Feel free to correct my oversights by leaving any additional recommendations in the comments.

The next entry in the series will look out past 2011, highlighting some debuts that aren't slated for this year but are no less anticipated.

You can the full index of highlighted 2011 debuts here.

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