Backlist Reads — The September Shivers [Guest Post]

By: Guest Post Photo By: @a.o.tales

It may not be a popular opinion, but I have always loved back-to-school season. From the potential of a fresh notebook to the beauty of a box of unused crayons, to me, September is a month of possibilities! But I, someone who also dislikes change, know that new beginnings can mean some fear, worry, and anxiety. So that is what I wanted to focus on for this month’s backlist article — tackling those back-to-school anxieties that we all face from time to time!


Unseen Magic by Emily Lloyd Jones

After moving from place to place, Finlay is so happy to finally settle down and have somewhere to call home. But Aldermere isn’t your “normal” town: the tea shop constantly vanishes and reappears in a new place, the crows must be fed or they will root through your trash and cause mayhem, and Bigfoot might be wandering in the nearby forest! But she loves this town, even as she worries she will do something to mess it up and have to move again. Finlay has extreme anxieties and often turns to the local tea shop that sells a brew to help her forget, but when Fin tries the tea once again to help with her fears over an upcoming school project, things backfire and she accidentally unleashes an evil doppelgänger! Now Finlay will have to face those fears she has buried deep in order to save the town she loves.

I loved this comforting magical realism story that discusses how critically important it is to process and properly deal with our past hurts, fears, and frightening experiences in order to, not only heal but be able to understand those phobias and anxieties.


Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

Starting at a new middle school is daunting enough, but when Bree finds out she must enroll in an elective and all clubs besides the swim team are full, daunting doesn’t begin to describe her panic! Bree has been afraid of water since an accident when she was little, so being forced to join the swim club is truly her worst fear come to life. But sometimes the best experiences come from the places we least expect them to! Follow Bree’s amazing story of conquering her fears as she learns to swim in this wonderful middle grade graphic novel that provides an incredible conversation on racism and the history of racism that the Black community has faced in the sport of swimming. Guaranteed this novel will inspire you to try new things!


Omar Rising by Aisha Saeed

In this powerful companion novel to Amal Unbound (you don’t need to read this first to enjoy Omar Rising, but it is a highly acclaimed middle grade if you’re interested!), we follow Omar as he begins a new school year at the prestigious boarding school for boys, Ghalib Academy. Omar has won a scholarship and this opportunity has the potential to greatly change his life, coming from poverty as the son of a servant. But the opportunities for scholarship students aren’t the same as paying students, from being exempt from school clubs and sports to having to perform chores and manual labor to “earn their keep.” It soon becomes clear that the system is rigged to weed out scholarship students. Omar must rely on his smarts, his friends, and his courage to fight against the prejudices he faces in this powerful story about class, privilege, and the bravery of speaking up.



Take a page out of Bree’s story and join a new club, sport, or maybe even sign up for an online MasterClass this year! It may sound simple but I highly encourage you to try something new in your coming year, especially something outside your comfort zone. My daughter started grade six very shy and after encouraging her to try a new club last year, I was so proud when she joined the Tech Force club. She liked it so much she went on to join the basketball team and the Leadership club! From my own experience, the best opportunities have come from breaking out of my routine and trying something new, like Instagram and blogging! Great experiences and friends await you!

Omar desperately wanted to join the Astronomy club at his school in Ghalib Academy, and I totally understand why — space is fascinating! Ever wonder what constellations you're looking at when you look up at the night sky? Take out the guesswork by downloading the free app, Sky Guide, to your phone or tablet. Then simply point your phone to the sky and let the app tell you all about what you are seeing! Bring the skies alive with the amazing artwork and stories of all the constellations in this app. The whole family is going to want to get in on this activity!

Make a Crow Stick!
I absolutely love crows and believe they are a highly underrated animal that gets a bad rep. They are so intelligent and contrary to popular belief, crows are actually good omens and are commonly believed to represent positive meanings such as transformation, intelligence, fearlessness, and adaptability! All fantastic qualities to bring with us into a new school year. Crows play an important part in Unseen Magic so let’s make our own little crow to pop on our bookshelf, nightstand, or plant pot to remind us to be brave like all the protagonists in this month’s article! I love this simple crow stick craft from Kids Activities Blog!

Thanks so much, Cheryl! Be sure to give her a follow on Instagram and check out her blog, And Other Tales, for more great book reviews and recommendations!