Please welcome Katie Zhao today for our #ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2020 with the Children’s Book Council. She has created a book list on middle grade fantasy novels with diverse main characters. Her debut novel is inspired by Chinese mythology, and we are giving away 3 copies of The Warrior Dragon. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
The Warrior Dragon by Katie Zhao
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized. . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny? [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Middle Grade Fantasy Novels with Diverse Main Characters
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Starring Tristan Strong, a seventh grader who hails from a line of boxers, TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY by Kwame Mbalia brings African folktales and mythological characters to life. Tristan Strong is shipped off (against his will) to Alabama to spend the summer on his grandparents’ farm. There, he meets a doll-like creature that actually turns out to be a mythological character, and accidentally rips a hole into the Midpass. While dealing with his grief and guilt over his best friend Eddie’s death, Tristan and several black American gods must convince god Anansi, the Weaver, to seal the hole in the sky. Full of humor and heart, this smashing middle grade fantasy novel is a must-read for lovers of mythology. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
J.C. Cervantes weaves an exciting series-starter with THE STORM RUNNER, which is a great introduction to Maya mythology. The protagonist, Zane Obisbo, has a limp and walks with a cane, and the other kids make fun of him for it. He likes to explore the sleeping volcano in his backyard. One day, a twelve-year-old girl named Brooks enters Zane’s life and tells him that the volcano is the prison of the Maya god of death. Even scarier, it’s up to Zane to fulfill a prophecy and take on a quest for the gods in order to save the world. Filled with humor, adventure, and gods in the modern world, this fast-paced book is definitely the perfect read for kids (and adults who love quirky kids’ books!) [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
In Roshani Chokshi’s middle grade debut, twelve-year-old Aru Shah accidentally unleashes an ancient Hindu demon, the Sleeper, by lighting the Lamp of Bharata. All she wanted to do was impress her friends, but unfortunately Aru gets much more than she bargained for when this sets off a chain of events. Aru must set off on a quest with her sister, Mini, and guardian pigeon, Boo, in order to stop the Sleeper and save the world. As a long-time fan of Rick Riordan’s work, I definitely see the great humor and excellent worldbuilding reflected here. Roshani’s excellent cultural spin makes ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME a fun, funny middle grade read that seamlessly weaves Hindu mythology into a modern American setting. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
Kiranmala is just a normal twelve-year-old girl until Halloween when her parents disappear, and a rakosh demon appears in her home, trying to eat her. Two princes show up on her doorstep, and Kiranmala realizes that her parents have been right along. She’s an Indian princess from out of this world! Whisked away from New Jersey to another dimension, Kiranmala and the princes must solve riddles, defeat demons, and find her parents, in order to save the world. In the humorous and action-packed spirit of PERCY JACKSON, THE SERPENT’S SECRET by Sayantani Dasgupta is sure to thrill and captivate young readers. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
Anna Meriano’s debut novel LOVE SUGAR MAGIC centers around protagonist Leonora Logroño. Leonora is always told that she’s too young to help her family prepare their bakery, which is beloved by many, for Dia de los Muertos. Then, one day she discovers the truth; her family has been keeping a huge secret from her. Leonora actually hails from a line of brujas, or witches, who infuse their delicious baked goods with magic. Leonara also has magic in her veins–and when she uses it, disaster strikes! This fun middle grade novel, full of family and heart, is a magical read for younger audiences. [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
3 Book Giveaway of The Dragon Warrior
We are giving away 3 copies of The Warrior Dragon. Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. We can only mail to U.S. addresses.
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author.