The Force of Fire by Sayantani DasGuptaWelcome to: the Kingdom Beyond, where serpents rule over humans and demonic rakkosh.
What happens: Though she's training to be a freedom fighter, rakkoshi Pinki is more of a “solitary diva-loner type." She's also willing to listen when serpent Sesha offers her a tempting deal: he'll help her master her out-of-control fire-breathing if she betrays the rakkosh rebellion.
Series alert: This funny and fast-paced fantasy is 4th in the popular Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series.
Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina IrelandWhat it's about: Ever since her father's murder in 1922, Ophie's been able to see ghosts. Now, Ophie and her mom both work at a very old, very haunted manor, where Ophie's ability leads her to investigate the sinister, mysterious death of one particular ghost.
Why you might like it: This historical mystery thoughtfully blends the real-world horrors of racism with supernatural suspense.
Try this next: Ronald L. Smith's Hoodoo and Royce Eden's Root Magic.
Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel MakonnenWhat it's about: In the far-future city of Addis Prime, gamer Yared lives with his Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa, never suspecting that his uncle's wild stories about lost space empires could be true. Then the giant robotic monsters come for Yared, and he has to reconsider everything he knows.
Read it for: gripping adventure, sharp wits, and an imaginative science fiction world.
Did you know? Co-author Prince Joel Makonnen is descended from the real-life Imperial House of Ethiopia.
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley; illustrated by Tara AudibertIntroducing: seven-year-old Josephine "Jo Jo" Makoons Azure, an outgoing, imaginative kid who lives on an Ojibwe reservation and worries about staying friends with her BFFs Fern (a classmate) and Mimi (a cat).
About the author: Author Dawn Quigley is Ojibwe herself, and she adds a list of Ojibwe and Michif words at the end of this series-starter.
For fans of: Juana Medina's Juana and Lucas books and Abby Hanlon's Dory Fantasmagory series.
Long Lost by Jacqueline WestWhat it's about: Stuck in the shadow of her figure-skating sister, 11-year-old Fiona finds comfort in a spooky, unfinished old library book filled with hints of hidden local history that's even creepier than fiction.
How it's told: Long Lost goes back and forth between Fiona's modern life and tales of the sisters from the mysterious old book.
You might also like: Katherine Arden's Small Spaces and Anne Ursu's The Lost Girl, two other fantasies with an eerie, haunting edge.
Books You Might Have Missed
The Canyon's Edge by Dusti BowlingThen: A year ago, Nora's birthday was interrupted by a public shooting that killed her mother, leaving Nora and her dad shocked and grieving.
Now: Nora and her dad are hiking in an Arizona desert canyon when a flash flood carries off her dad and their supplies, leaving Nora with nothing but her own will to survive.
Who it's for: Told mostly through page-turning poetry, The Canyon's Edge is perfect for readers who love intense emotions and edge-of-your-seat survival stories.
Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian GoerzStarring: Jamila Waheed, who's happy to skip boring summer camp in favor of hanging out with Shirley Bones, her oddball new neighbor -- and the neighborhood's resident kid detective.
Read it for: a realistic friendship story, an action-packed mystery (featuring a missing gecko), and bold, busy artwork.
Series alert: The 2nd book in this graphic novel series, Shirley & Jamila's Big Fall, is due out in November.
Here in the Real World by Sara PennypackerWhat it's about: While avoiding "Meaningful Social Interaction" at rec center camp, 11-year-old dreamer Ware hides out in the crumbling abandoned church next door, turning it into the Middle Ages castle of his dreams and making friends with Jolene, the tough, practical girl who's been growing a garden on the church's land.
Read it for: short chapters, memorable characters, and a sensitive story about misfits who band together.
A Wish in the Dark by Christina SoontornvatThe place: Chattana City, where the Governor who once saved the people from the Great Fire with his magical light now controls all the city's light, creating an uneasy society of haves and have-nots.
Featuring: Pong, a poor orphan who escapes from the darkness of Namwon Prison; Nok, the privileged prison warden's daughter who must find Pong to restore her family's honor; and the hard truths they both discover about freedom, power, and standing up to injustice.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!