A Reading List for Spring!


A Reading List for Spring!


As we head into spring, I thought I’d share some insights from five middle grade authors. I interviewed all of them recently about their new books on my blog Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb.


Christina Diaz Gonzalez said of her new graphic novel, Invisible: “Having been a student who learned English after starting school, I always felt a connection with students that were learning English as a second language.” She added, “I noticed that there weren’t many books that showcased them and I also knew how valuable illustrations are when learning a new language. Having the story be in a graphic novel format seemed to make perfect sense.”


Ellen Potter is the author of the new novel Hither & Nigh. The novel features a magical element, and Potter said, “I suspect that if magic exists, it would slip into your life very naturally, imperceptibly. I don’t think our brains could handle it otherwise. That’s why I tried to melt the familiar with the magical. I want my readers to experience the magical transition the way [my character] Nell experiences it.”


Shelia P. Moses wrote the historical novel We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963, which focuses on the 1963 civil rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama. “I was inspired to write We Were The Fire after visiting Birmingham in 1989 on a personal trip,” Moses said. “A few years later, I met [comedian and civil rights activist] Dick Gregory and he told me his journey in Birmingham. It changed my life.”


Katherine Marsh set her new novel, The Lost Year, in Ukraine in the 1930s and also in the United States during the Covid pandemic. “I’ve visited a number of schools already on book tour and at every single school--urban or suburban or rural--kids know what is happening in Ukraine,” she said. “This is why it’s ever more vital to give them The Lost Year and a better sense of Ukraine’s 20th century history, especially as there are important historical through-lines between the Holodomor [the famine that devastated Ukraine in the 1930s] and what is happening between Russia and Ukraine today.”


Last but not least, James Ponti has released a new volume in his City Spies series, called City of the Dead. When I asked about his research for the book, he said: “I did a lot of research about ancient Egypt, all of which was fascinating. I interviewed Dr. Kara Cooney, a leading Egyptologist, and she said that when you stand in front of the Great Pyramid, you feel very small, which is exactly what the pharaohs wanted. That got me thinking a lot about intent. Then I began to read about the present-day search for more tombs in the Valley of the Kings and that intrigued me and became a key element of the plot.”


Hope you feel inspired to read one or more of these books this spring!


--Deborah Kalb