Hello, my friends! Today I am here with a couple of mini-reviews of some really, truly amazing middle-grade books for you all. So without further ado, we’re going to jump right in.
The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant
I’m just going to come out and say it—The Hatmakers is easily one of the best middle-grade books I’ve read this year. It’s honestly been a while since any story grabbed me as quickly as this one did and held onto my attention for the whole time. The Hatmakers is just a really magical story filled with humour and wholesome moments. It’s just such a feel-good story, I don’t know how else to put it. It’s set in a sort of historical setting with historical figures like King George and a number of mentions of other English monarchs and historical moments, but it also has a bit of a magical twist to it that I really enjoyed. I love when middle-grade books do that and this gave me very much Pages & Co vibes though with a completely different storyline. If you’re a fan of Anna James, I definitely think this is one you should pick up as well. The characters are wonderful, the story is fun and just filled with little cute moments. I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on book two—I think this definitely has the chance of becoming a new favourite middle-grade series of mine.
The Book Smugglers (Pages & Co #4) by Anna James
After reading The Hatmakers, I just couldn’t resist picking up the next book in the Pages & Co series by Anna James to keep those warm, fuzzy feelings that middle-grade gives me. The Pages & Co series is one of my favourite series—I honestly recommend it to everyone I possibly can. It’s just the perfect series for readers, especially if you’ve loved reading since you were a child. You get to revisit some of your old favourite characters alongside Tilly and her friends and family. As you might be able to see from the cover, this one has a little foray into The Wizard of Oz which I absolutely loved. I never read the books as a kid but I was a huge fan of the movie and I’ve been kind of going through a resurgence in my love for it lately, so it was so nice to see it in here. It’s hard to talk too much about the rest of the plot with this being the fourth book in the series, but it was a lot of fun as per usual. My only complaint with this one was that we didn’t get to see Oskar, Tilly’s best friend, who is one of my absolute favourite characters in the series. But I am so excited for the next book in this series now!
The Ice Whisperers by Helenka Stachera
I bought The Ice Whisperers on a complete whim because the cover was cute and the synopsis made it sound incredible. I was definitely not disappointed by it, but this was a lot different than what I was expecting. At times it was a little creepy and unsettling but in a way that made it impossible to stop reading, but it was also really sweet and a lovely representation of sisterhood. It reminded me a little of some childhood classics—things like The Secret Garden or even The Chronicles of Narnia that have that sort of magical feel about them and you feel transported somewhere else. My only complainant is that I wish this was a series—there feels like there’d be so much to explore and even though this is an ending to this story, it would’ve been fun to see more of this world. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more books from Helenka Stachera in the future!
How To Make Friends With The Sea by Tanya Guerrero
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, so naturally, I didn’t pick it up until now as 2021 draws to a close. Despite the fact I put it off for so long, this ended up living up to all my expectations and more. It may be one of the sweetest, most adorable and feel-good books that I’ve read this year. It’s just such a beautiful story about siblings (particularly those that aren’t by blood) and overcoming your fears. This is also filled with disability representation, and while I can’t speak to how realistic it is of the particular disabilities included, as a whole it felt very healthy and safe. There is just so much goodness in this book and I’m so glad that I finally picked it up. I think it’s definitely earned a spot in my favourite middle grades of all time. If you’re looking for something with a lot of heart, then this is the perfect little read!