Whatcha Reading, Jr? July 2022

By: Shanleigh Klassen Photo By: @bookskidslove_

Another month has come and gone, and boy was it a scorcher! Take a look below at some of the incredible books the OwlCrate Jr team read throughout the month of July, and let us know what books you read in the comments below!

Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
Book cover for The Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega. Three children stand centered on the cover, a brown-skinned Latine child with curly shoulder-length brown hair wearing a light purple sweater in the front, with a pink-haired white child wearing black to their right and a black-haired white child also wearing black to their left. Magical wisps in shades of blue and pink surround the three figures, leading up to a pair of ominous eyes in the background.

I always love a fun witchy story and this one was no exception! This book follows Seven, a young Witchling attending a ceremony which will place her into her future coven. But on the night of the ceremony, every other Witchling is placed, except for her and two others. They were going to be Spares! That is, until Seven invokes the Impossible Task. If the three Spares succeed, their coven will be sealed and they will gain their full powers; but if they fail, they’ll be turned into toads, forever! And their Impossible Task seems well and truly impossible.

This book has everything you could want from a story about witches and magic. There’s fun spells, potions, familiars, grimoires! And the author does an excellent job of modernizing all of these classic witchy things. The world building is also very well thought out, and as a reader you feel like you’ve been given access to a real magical community. If you love magic, mystery, and adventure, you should definitely give this one a try!

— Babs

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Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Book cover for Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. A young Korean tween in a full-body space suit stands with a matching helmet resting on one hip against a deep red and purple sky. Above the tween is an astral fox.

Intergalactic adventure awaits! I had so much fun reading this middle grade sci-fi from the always excellent Rick Riordan Presents imprint of books.

Meet Min, who is fed up with life on her home planet of Jinju, and with hiding the fact that she comes from a long line of fox spirits. She wants nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her older brother and join the Space Forces to see more of what's out there. But when news comes that her brother has disappeared from his post and is accused of leaving to find the mythical Dragon Pearl, Min decides something isn't right and takes it upon herself to investigate.

This is an incredibly fast paced, fun, edge-of-your-seat story that has you rooting for Min and her battle to clear her brother's name, all while hiding her true identity with her fox-magic. This book is on the older edge of middle grade (Min is 13) and I think it would make the perfect bridge between middle grade and YA!

— Cori

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New From Here by Kelly Yang
Book cover of New From Here by Kelly Yang. Image shows three children outside a home on a sunny day. A young Asian American girl stands holding a red bicycle behind two Asian American boys, one of whom is wearing a dinosaur costume and drawing in chalk on the road. The other is wearing a dark red shirt and blue shorts and lounges on the sidewalk.

Kelly Yang, author of the incredible Front Desk series, returns with another timely and heartfelt story about courage, family, and perseverance in the face of unknowable hardship. When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, Knox’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, leaving behind his father who still has to work and support the family from afar. Now in America, Knox and his family are unsure if they’ve made the right decision as racism towards Asian Americans skyrockets, their parents’ jobs are at risk, and the virus continues to spread across the globe.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for my first story covering the COVID-19 pandemic, but Yang has this knack for approaching sensitive topics with sincerity and finesse. Watching the beginning of the pandemic unfold has this almost foreboding quality to it, but does ultimately provide a calming sense of hope for an uncertain future. Knox knows that what really matters when things begin to change is making sure that those you love are cared for. And isn’t that just a beautiful message?

— Shanleigh

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