2018 Best Elementary Fiction!

Here are my picks for the top books for elementary readers that span the entirety of elementary school grades:

Baby Monkey Private Eye by Brian Selznick Bob by Wendy Mass

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin (9781338180619)

A winning new easy reader that pushes the boundaries of the format – My Review

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, illustrated by Nicholas Gannon (9781250166623)

A deftly written magical tale of rain, friendship and families – My Review

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson Hi, Jack By Mac Barnett

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson (9780399252525)

A book that celebrates diversity and asks deep questions about our modern society, this is a novel that so many children will see themselves reflected in and others will learn something from. – My Review

Hi, Jack! By Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli (9780425289075)

Two masters take on the easy-reader format in this first in a new series. – My Review

Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan Mallko and Dad by Gusti

Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan (9780062686237)

A boisterous, battle-filled book that will appeal to young knights and young dinosaur experts and anyone looking for a good read. – My Review

Mallko and Dad by Gusti (9781592702596)

An incredible book that is a picture book, but as thick as a novel thanks to the quantity of images crammed inside waiting to inspire you to love. – My Review

Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake by Jeff Mack Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake by Jeff Mack (9781534404311)

Using plenty of vaudeville-like falls, trips and hazards, the book is fast-paced and funny. – My Review

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech (9780062570734)

Creech is an amazing author. Her books are so readable by children, the length just right, the story incredibly focused. – My Review

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini Vernon Is on His Way by Philip C. Stead

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini, illustrated by Dan Williams (9780525539094)

A devastating piece of fiction – My Review

Vernon Is on His Way: Small Stories by Philip C. Stead (9781626726550)

As always, Stead hits just the right notes with this book. – My Review

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (9780316561365)

In a world where the upper classes are part human and part animal, the Paper Caste or fully human people are the most oppressed. Every year eight girls from that Paper Caste are chosen to become the king’s consorts. This year though, there are nine girls, after Lei is seized from her family and brought to the royal court. At the court, Lei is forced to train to be pleasing for the king. Meanwhile she is desperately looking for information about her mother who was taken by force several years earlier. But things are about to get even more difficult for Lei as she refuses the King’s advances and then falls in love. But what can one young woman do in a world that is stacked against her? She can find the fire of revenge.

In her debut novel for teens, Ngan has created a swirling world of scents, colors and textiles. It is a world of incredible beauty with an Asian flair that is intoxicating and quickly immerses the reader deeply inside. From the bathing tubs with their steam to the opulence of the court, this setting demonstrates that there is beauty that contains endless dangers. Ngan does not shy away from the brutality of the life of a Paper Girl, creating a book that is both mesmerizing and violent. People triggered by rape and domestic violence should be cautioned.

Lei is a heroine who transforms right before the readers’ eyes into something much stronger and much more dangerous. She is a young woman stolen from her family filled with hope about her mother’s fate. She becomes more hardened in some ways and yet at the same time falls in love with another of the Paper Girls and becomes softer and more open. It is a powerful convergence for her, creating a woman willing to risk everything for those she loves.

The first in a series, this fantasy novel is a mix of LGBTQ, romance and vengeance that is entirely tantalizing. Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Jimmy Patterson Books.