Sunday, November 1, 2020

A First Look at Some 2021 MG Debut Novels

Hi, everyone!

In an effort to avoid reading the news, listening to the news, and getting stressed out over the election here in the U.S. as well as the surging Covid cases (all over the world AND here), I've decided to resurrect my sadly-neglected little blog about books!

And the best use for this blog right now is to support and promote the first group of my fellow MG 21ders! (My own debut MG novel, EVERYWHERE BLUE, arrives June 1, 2021 from Holiday House. No cover yet. Sigh. It'll be revealed in January. For now, here's the Goodreads link.)

As a 21der, I have the honor and privilege of reading as many ARCs of the 21ders' books as I can. I won't be able to read all of them in a year or two -- there are 50 of us MG debut authors alone, and twice as many YA debut authors!

Please support these wonderful authors and consider pre-ordering their books from Bookshop, Indiebound, or your local Indie bookstore, or if you insist, from B&N or Amazon. You can even order direct from the publisher! I'm including the publisher links here.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE by Christina Li, HarperCollins, January 12, 2021

Told in alternating points of view, this lovely story of two very different 12-year-olds who become friends will resonate with you. Ro, grieving for her dead father, loves science and wants to build a rocket. Benji loves comic books and wants to find his father, who left his family a long time ago.

A quietly beautiful story about connections. The characters feel so real to me!  Ro and Benji will linger in my mind for quite a while. I love their growing friendship and the way they help each other through some tough times.  (I  actually posted about this book in September)

ALONE by Megan E. Freeman,  Aladdin/Simon and Schuster, January 12, 2021

A compelling novel in verse about 12-year-old Maddie, who is left behind when her town is mysteriously evacuated overnight. How she learns to survive makes for a fascinating read. In fact, I read this in one day. The verse format is perfect for this intensely emotional story, with absorbing details about Maddie's life on her own, accompanied only by a neighbor's dog.

TAKE BACK THE BLOCK by Chrystal D. Giles, Random House Children's Books, January 26, 2021

Fast-paced and exciting story about one boy's growing awareness of social justice. I'm so impressed by the voice in this novel! Twelve-year-old Wes feels like a real boy to me, with real worries about his friends and his neighborhood. His growth, from someone in the beginning who cares most about his shoes and clothes and video games, to a socially-aware and strong leader among his neighbors and classmates, is phenomenal! The writing style is highly accessible, and middle-grade readers will learn about gentrification and social injustice without even realizing they're learning. A powerful, timely read.

A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON by Kate Albus, Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, Feb 2, 2021

Orphaned siblings join other evacuees from London during World War II, and seek a home in the country. They deal with bullies in their first billet, and overcrowded conditions in their second. But they manage to handle it all because they find solace in the local library.

I fell in love with this novel from the very first page. What a delightful story! William, Edmund, and Anna will steal your heart, and you'll find yourself racing to finish to learn if they find a forever home (and if it's the one you hope!). But at the same time, you'll want to slow down and savor this book, because it's such a wonderful read and filled with so many gorgeous, and very quotable, lines. (But since I read an e-arc, I'm not supposed to quote from it!)

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Next time: I'll be discussing THE GILDED GIRL by Alyssa Colman, REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR by Payal Doshi, MANY POINTS OF ME by Caroline Gertler, and THANKS A LOT, UNIVERSE by Chad Lucas. 

It's lovely to have so much to read when I'm trying to escape from the world right now! How are you handling these unprecedented times? Stay safe, everyone!


  1. Thanks for sharing what you've been reading. I've been reading a lot too. I'm excited for Christina Li's and Chrystal Gile's books and plan to feature them both on the blog.

  2. I'm handling these unprecedented times using the time-tested strategy of freaking out. ;) I'm excited that you're bringing back this blog—I always love reading your posts! These books sound wonderful, and I look forward to your cover debut in January! Thanks for the great post!

    1. Oh, Completely! I've been freaking out for weeks, especially today, with the election, which we probably won't know the results of for days or even longer. Thank you for your kind words!

  3. #newMGhearttugs Appreciations for the nod to these, which I will follow.

    Cover for the #KateAlbus also can be a poster for #bookshelflove. I’m reading a lot of books of kids in Europe in WW2; your fine description of A Place to Hsng the Moon recalls Kimberly Brubaket Baker Bradley (The War That SavedMy Life) Eager for the Kate A. MOON. More anticipation!

    1. Thanks, Jan! Yes, Kate's book is right up there with The War That Saved My Life, but it's also a JLG Gold Standard Selection! I knew librarians would love this book, since it's mainly about... libraries and books!


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