The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie AndersonWhat it’s about: The villagers call her “Yanka the Bear,” not just because she was found in a bear cave as a baby, but also because she’s so much bigger than most 12-year-olds. When Yanka’s legs transform into bear legs, her curiosity about her origins sends her into the Snow Woods in search of answers.
For fans of: Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, as well as other enchanting fairy tale-style fantasies featuring witches, dragons, and daring heroines.
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen CallenderWhat it’s about: Twelve-year-old King knows too many secrets. King knows that his older brother Khalid didn’t really die, he just turned into a dragonfly. King knows where his runaway friend Sandy is hiding. And King knows that Sandy is gay -- just like him.
Read it for: strong emotions, memorable characters, and a Louisiana setting so vivid you can almost feel the humidity.
Twist by Sarah CannonStarring: horror writer Eli, fantasy artist Neha, troublemaker Court, three friends who accidentally unleash a horde of imaginary monsters made real. If they can make it through a group project with their most annoying classmate, they can fend off shadow beasts and fanged slugs, right?
Why you might like it: Eli, Neha, and Court put their creativity and courage to the test as they defend their town in this funny, suspenseful, and just-scary-enough fantasy set in 1983.
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae KellerWhat it’s about: Having grown up with her halmoni’s Korean folkales, Lily knows better than to make a deal with a magical talking tiger. But when the tiger offers to heal Halmoni’s illness in return for Lily releasing the stories Halmoni stole years ago, Lily can’t say no.
Why you might like it: Combining Lily’s extraordinary quest with her everyday family life, When You Trap a Tiger is a good choice for fantasy fans who enjoy getting to know authentic characters.
Snapdragon by Kat LeyhWhat it’s about: Despite the sinister rumors about the one-eyed town witch, middle school misfit Snapdragon isn’t scared -- especially not after she learns that the witch is actually Jacks, a crabby, Crocs-wearing old lady who might be just the friend Snap needs.
Featuring: an adorable three-legged dog, a magical motorcycle, an articulated rabbit skeleton, and several long-held secrets.
For fans of: Lumberjanes comics (co-written by author Kat Leyh), Molly Ostertag’s The Witch Boy, and other imaginative graphic novel fantasies.
Midnight on Strange Street by K.E. OrmsbeeWelcome to: Callaway, Texas, home of the unusual substance known as “glow,” and home to a glowboarding team the called the Sardines.
What happens: The Sardines -- Avery, Dani, Bastian, and Lola -- develop psychic powers, and soon find themselves targeted by a shady government agency and some very unfriendly aliens.
Why you might like it: With thrilling glowboarding action and a high-stakes conflict, this futuristic story will grab sports fans and science fiction readers alike.
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue ParkWhat it’s about: In 1880, 14-year-old Chinese American Hanna and her father arrive in in Dakota Territory, hoping to make a new start. When they’re met with hostile racism, however, it takes all of Hanna’s determination to follow her dreams of going to school and becoming a dressmaker.
Is it for you? If you loved all the satisfying details of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books but you want a more inclusive look at frontier life, you won’t want to miss Prairie Lotus.
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker RhodesWhat it’s about: At their mostly white prep school, dark-skinned Donte faces relentless racist bullying, while his light-skinned brother Trey is effortlessly popular. After being framed and arrested for an offense committed by Alan, the captain of the fencing team, a fed-up Donte decides to train as fencer and beat Alan at his own game.
Further reading: Similar to Black Brother, Black Brother, Jason Reynolds’ Track series stars realistic African American characters who find confidence and pride through sports (and their teammates).
Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz RyanThe setting: the fictional country of Santa Maria, where Max Córdoba listens to his Buelo spin incredible stories, wonders about his long-absent mother, and hopes to make the local fútbol team.
What happens: Max learns that Buelo’s stories are true -- their family really does serve as guardians who guide refugees to safety in Mañanaland, and now it’s Max’s turn to undertake a hazardous journey.
Read it for: a poetic and powerful fantasy story with roots in the real world.
Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin YunWhat it’s about: Everyone expects something from Pippa Park: her family expects her to help at their laundromat, her fancy school expects her to excel in class and on the basketball court, and her rich friends expect her to live up to the lies she tells to fit in. Can she make it through the year without letting anyone down?
Why you might like it: Even as she makes mistake after mistake, you’ll find yourself cheering for bold, funny Pippa.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!