Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena BarronWhat it's about: Comic book fan Maya might've grown up with her papa's tales about West African orishas and otherwordly creatures, but it's not until werehyenas attack her Chicago neighborhood that she realizes the stories might be true.
What happens: With her papa missing, it's up to Maya and her friends to channel their powerful heritage, battle the sinister Lord of Shadows, and save the world.
For fans of: the fast pacing and legendary world-building in Roshani Chokshi's Pandava series.
A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan Featuring: Pakistani American Sara, who's frustrated about starting 6th grade at a public school, rather than the Islamic academy she loved; and white, Jewish Elizabeth, who's struggling to hold both her family and her best friendship together.
What happens: After they're partnered at a South Asian cooking class, the two girls form a shaky friendship as they practice for a cooking contest and deal with the prejudice of their classmates.
Read it for: relatable characters and a realistic look at everyday challenges.
Hide and Seeker by Daka HermonWhat wrong: Justin's friend Zee is finally home after being missing for a year, but he's not the same. He won't say where he was, and he's nervous, violent, and full of dire warnings.
What happens: Justin and his friends don't know what to make of Zee...not until they go missing too, vanishing into a nightmare realm where they're stalked by the terrifying Seeker.
Who it's for: readers who relish eerie mystery and spine-chilling horror.
Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza LayneFeaturing: 12-year-old goblin Beetle, a reluctant witch-in-training; her shape-changing BFF Blob Ghost, who haunts the 'Allows Town mall; and her cool, newly returned childhood friend, Kat Hollowbones.
What happens: As Beetle and Kat muddle through their changing feelings for each other, Blob Ghost's home is threatened. Will Beetle's unpracticed magic be enough to save her best friend?
For fans of: other inclusive, offbeat graphic novel fantasies, like Kat Leyh's Snapdragon and Molly Ostertag's Witch Boy series.
Ikenga by Nnedi OkoraforWhat it's about: After his father is murdered, 12-year-old Nnamdi receives a life-changing gift: an ebony statuette that transforms him into a gigantic, superpowered figure who delivers vigilante justice while hunting for his father's killer.
Why you might like it: This darkly funny story pairs breathless (and sometimes violent) action with a gripping murder mystery.
Further reading: If you like the brave main character, inventive magic, and richly detailed Nigerian setting, you might also enjoy the author's Akata Witch series.
Twists on Traditional Tales
Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada KellyStarring: 12-year-old Lalani Sarita, the last hope of Sanlagita Island.
What happens: After Sanlagita is plagued with disaster and illness, Lalani sets out across the sea on a quest from which no man has ever returned: to bring back good fortune from the legendary Mount Isa.
Did you know? Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly based this enchanting, hopeful fantasy on folktales from her Filipino heritage.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame MbaliaWhat it's about: A visit to his grandparents turns into an epic adventure after seventh-grader Tristan accidentally punches a rift into another world filled with figures from African myths and African American legends.
Who you'll meet: powerful John Henry; tricksters Anansi and Brer Rabbit; and the exasperating, hilarious Gum Baby.
Series alert: Eager for more of Tristan's encounters with vivid fantasy worlds and iconic characters? The sequel, Tristan Strong Destroys the World, is out this month.
Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya PasternackWelcome to: Zmeyreka, a tiny village in 10th-century Kievan Rus where the people still use magic even though it’s illegal.
What happens: In order to save her family’s farm, Anya, the only Jewish girl in the village, joins up with Ivan, the youngest in a family of Fools, to hunt down a legendary dragon and collect the reward.
Why you might like it: The combination of Russian history and folktales will intrigue readers of fantasy and historical fiction alike.
The Real Boy by Anne UrsuWhat it's about: As helper to Caleb, the last magician in Asteri, orphan Oscar spends his time with herbs and cats, away from the stress and unpredictability of other people. But when Caleb disappears and the children of Asteri get mysteriously sick, Oscar has to step up -- and step way out of his comfort zone.
Who it's for: Inspired by the story of Pinocchio, this magic-infused tale of finding friendship and overcoming fear is a good bet for fairy tale fans.
The Dragon Warrior by Katie ZhaoWelcome to: San Francisco’s Chinatown, which has been “demon-free since ‘83” thanks to the warriors of the Jade Society.
What happens: Although Feryn Liu and her brother have been unfairly cast out by the Jade Society, they take up a quest to prove that Feryn is destined to become the legendary warrior known as the Heaven Breaker.
For fans of: Rick Riordan, and other authors whose adventure stories feature modern kids alongside old gods and mythological creatures.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!
Indianapolis Public Library
P.O. Box 211
Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-0211