Staff Picks: Start your year with Audie's Middle-grade recommendations!

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Happy 2018, from all of us here at City Lit!   We have lots of exciting book clubs and events coming up (including a book release and tribute event for the great Denis Johnson), so stay posted for more on that!

In the meantime, if you're anything like me, then the cold weather, plus traveling, plus holidays, plus end-of-year feelings, plus beginning-of-year feelings may have sapped your ability to focus for extended periods of time.  So: might I recommend sinking into some excellent middle-grade fiction?  The benefit of children's books is that they are inevitably page-turners, designed to make you stay up all night, flashlight-under-the-covers-style.

If you're not anything like me, and have laser-like focusing abilities every day, all day, then congrats! You are a superstar.  And I still highly recommend this kids' lit:

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz  

The subtitle of this book really tells you everything you need to know: this is The Story of Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog.  What more could you want? Set in the French countryside during the Crusades, the aforementioned magical children are pitted against intolerant folks of every sort, and ultimately must face King Louis of France in a fight to save their families, their villages, their heritage, and themselves.  This is a story of miracles, ethics, and bravery. Often surprising, sometimes unexpectedly serious, but always enjoyable, this is a rollicking epic that also manages to be thoughtful and thought-provoking.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This book is twisty-turny and heartfelt, with a voice I would follow anywhere. Both an homage to A Wrinkle in Time and a story that stands solidly on its own, this novel follows Miranda during her sixth-grade year, when she begins to receive notes from a stranger, one who knows just a little bit too much about her.  The notes request that Miranda write letters in return, hinting that she may be the only one who can prevent a future tragedy from happening. At its heart, this is a story about unexpected friendship, family, and love.  It's deftly written: mysterious but not confusing, with a plotline that will keep you guessing until the end, and a main character who will stay with you.

~Audie