Chunky is a new graphic memoir in which Yehudi (Hudi) conjures an imaginary friend/mascot, Chunky to support him through a challenging time in his life. Hudi is a funny kid with a serious interest in comedy Because of childhood illness, Hudi has had one lung removed. He is also chubby with zero athletic prowess, in a family of athletic people. His dad won so many sports trophies in school and encourages Hudi to pick a sport. His mother thinks sports will also help Hudi regulate his weight. And so Hudi begins to try sport after sport — with hilarious results, and Chunky cheering him all the way.
Chris Baron is the author of the new verse novel, The Magical Imperfect. I enjoyed this story set in 1989 San Francisco about a boy who develops selective mutism, until a friendship breaks him open in the best way. I chatted with Chris Baron about his new book, writing about mental health and severe eczema, and why writing in verse comes so naturally to him. I loved this heartfelt interview, and I know you will too. Chris is also giving away two signed copies of his book!
Don’t Hate the Player opens with two kids: Emilia and Jack meeting at a game arcade while attending another kid’s birthday party. Jack is entranced by Emilia’s gaming ability, and the two become fast friends meeting up every year at that same kid’s birthday until Jack moves and they’re separated. Emilia is now an overachieving teen, on the hockey team, running for class VP and with a cute guy vying to be her boyfriend. But she’s also secretly a gamer by night, as part of a team of online gamers. Her real life and online world come close to meshing when she gets the chance to play in a gaming competition. She also realizes soon that Jack is on one of the opposing teams.
Alexis Nedd is an entertainment writer whose foray into YA fiction is a new novel, Don’t Hate the Player. Alexis and I chat about her new book, the similarities between her and her main characters, the dark side of gaming, and how her day job as a journalist prepared her for this novel. She also shares her intriguing journey to becoming a YA author. Enjoy!
The Magical Imperfect is a middle grade verse novel about a boy named Etan. Etan develops selective mutism after his mom has to go to a treatment facility for a mental disorder in 1980’s San Francisco. Around that time, mini-earthquakes are frequent and Etan tries to keep up his daily schedule, which is basically school and then time with his grandfather. Sometimes, he helps an older shopkeeper in the neighborhood walk her dog and run errands. It is while he is on one of those errands that he meets Malia, a Filipina-American girl with severe eczema.
90 exciting new middle grade releases to watch out for this fall. Please note that most books on this list are contemporary, realistic middle grade books, with the occasional sci-fi. These are the books I like to read, and this is essentially my fall reading list. Hopefully, you’ll find some picks for your own list!