Finders Keepers Book Recommendations

By: Shanleigh Klassen

We’re on a treasure hunt in our February 2022 theme: FINDERS KEEPERS! This box is full of super fun goodies to keep in your treasure trove.

Our February book is a spellbinding contemporary fantasy set against a backdrop of Caribbean folklore. We think you’re going to love this enchanting, mesmerizing read, but just remember — be careful what you wish for.

Read on for recommendations for more middle grade stories inspired by folklore, folk tales, and mythology. Like what you see? Be sure you subscribe for our FINDERS KEEPERS box, available now!

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Book cover for Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. Image shows a young Black girl encircled in the tail of a Black mermaid-type creature sporting a beautiful loc updo with coral bits. In the bottom left corner is a Black boy with red markings all over his body, staring up at the two figures. All three of them are underwater, surrounded by fish and coral.

In this sequel to The Jumbies, it’s been months since the events that brought the wicked jumbies to Corinne’s doorstep, but everything hasn’t gone completely back to normal. Corinne’s neighbours no longer trust her, and as more and more children from around her Caribbean island home go missing, their suspicious eyes fall to her. To rescue the missing children and clear her name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But of course, Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Taking inspiration from Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, you’ll not want to miss out on the action-packed next chapter of Corinne’s journey.

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Book cover for Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega. Image shows two young Black girls on bicycles, with the girl on the right also have a cat in her bicycle's front basket. The girls are framed by a decorative pillared archway. Ghosts float around both girls.

For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Her father runs a ghost tour and Lucely, well, she’s always been able to see the spirits of her family appearing as cucuyos (fireflies). But when Lucely and her best friend Syd cast a spell that accidentally awaken malicious spirits, Lucely realises that the spirits of her family are in danger. Teaming up with Syd’s grandmother Babette, Lucely must find a way to save her family — both alive and dead. Featuring inspiration from Dominican folklore, this is an action-packed, ghost-filled adventure that is equal parts spooky and heartwarming.

Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne
Book cover for Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne. Image shows a young Black girl standing among a crashing wave, her hands on her waist defiantly. Behind the girl is the figure of a laughing woman hidden in the waves, her claw-like hands surrounding the girl.

Josephine loves two things more than anything else: her father and cricket. Since her mother’s death, it’s been just Josephine and her father, which is exactly as she likes it. Sure, there have been other women who’ve tried to take her mother’s place, but the mischievous Josephine has always found a way to scare them off. That is until the day her father brings home the unsettling Mariss, a woman bent on changing Josephine’s entire life and who simply can’t be scared away. There’s certainly something wrong with Mariss, and Josephine is determined to figure it out. Inspired by Caribbean mythology, this is a touching adventure that perfectly captures the strength and love of the father-daughter bond.

Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly
Book cover for Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly. Image shows a young Filipina girl in a red boat. Behind the girl is a giant tree to which cling various birds, plants, and mosses.

Lalani lives on the island of Sanlagita in the foreboding shadow of Mount Kahna. She dreams, like so many on Sanlagita, of sailing to the paradise on Mount Isa — only no one has ever returned. But then Lalani makes a wish that endangers her entire village. To make amends, she sets out across the distant sea in search of a flower that might just make up for her mistake. Inspired by Filipino folktales and featuring a slew of magical creatures and characters, this is a compelling story that’s all about finding courage, and where sometimes the hero is simply an ordinary person.

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron
Book cover for Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron. Image shows a young Black girl wielding a staff, lit up with glowing white symbols. The girl is silhouetted in an orange hue, fading to pink than dark purple. The girl stands over a darkened cityscape.

Maya thinks the fact that she’s begun seeing weird creatures all around her Chicago neighborhood and her dreams of a shadow man are just that — dreams. Imagine her surprise the stories her father has told her all her life are true, and not only that, but Maya herself is a godling; half-human and half-orisha. But now the veil between our world and the Dark is failing, and her father, the Guardian of the Veil, is missing. Armed with his magical staff and with her two best friends at her side, Maya will have to unlock her celestial powers and fight a horde of creatures to rescue him. Inspired by West African mythology.

Root Magic by Eden Royce
Book cover for Root Magic by Eden Royce. Image shows two young Black kids, a boy and girl, back-to-back, silhouetted by a green glow in the distance. The kids stand barefoot in a forest.

It’s 1963 in South Carolina, and things are quickly changing for Jezebel and her twin brother Jay. Shortly after the passing of their grandmother, Jez and Jay’s uncle, Doc, starts training them in rootwork, the African American folk magic that has been the legacy of their family for generations. As their lessons in the Gullah practice advance, they become more and more aware that they’ve also inherited connections to the spiritual world, and something else that threatens them in a very real way. With elements of magical realism against a backdrop of social change, this is an unforgettable story about family, community, and culture.

Tell us your favourite stories inspired by folklore and mythology in the comments below!

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