We’re redoing the booklists at my library, and finally my manager had the sense to assign me the fantasy and sci-fi ones (in both genres I am the queen of readers’ advisors for middle grade/middle school/YA). So I’m going to cheat and share my fantasy list, because it’s really so awesome (IMHO, at least).
Alexander, William. Goblin Secrets
Rownie is the youngest child among Graba’s stray children. Graba is a witch with mechanical chicken legs, and she uses the children to run errands for her. Rownie is stray because his older brother, Rowan, disappeared after performing in a play. Acting is illegal in Zombay, unless you’re a goblin, one of the Changed, because acting changes who you are, as the Change does. Rownie sees a goblin play while on an errand for Graba, and finds himself on stage, as a giant who turns into a bird. When the goblins promise to teach him their secrets and help him find Rowan, he leaves Graba and her strays behind, and starts a quest to discover Rowan and the secrets that lie in the heart of Zombay.
Fforde, Jasper. The Last Dragonslayer
In the old days, magic was freely available, magic users (wizards, sorcerers, soothsayers, etc.) could do spells without even thinking about it, and everyone used all the magic they liked, any time they liked. Until the magic started draining away, no one knows why. Now magic is strictly regulated, and can only be used if you’ve received the proper approvals. Jennifer Strange works for Kazam, an employment agency for magic users. Need a Soothsayer or a Magic Carpeteer? Call Kazam. But strange things are happening at Kazam and in the world around them. The soothsayers are predicting strange things, and even people who don’t usually see visions are seeing them, and all of them make it clear that something big will happen soon, something involving Jennifer and lots of Big Magic, magic of a kind for which you definitely can’t get approval!
Goodman, Alison. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
Eon has a secret. On the surface, Eon is a twelve-year-old boy with a limp who can see the Imperial Dragons and who therefore, limp or not, can enter the contest to become a Dragoneye, apprentice to the human embodiment of one of the twelve dragons, and one of the most powerful men in the empire. But what no one must ever know is that Eon is actually a sixteen year old girl, not a twelve year old boy. There are no female Dragoneyes, but nothing can change the fact that Eon sees the twelve dragons better than anyone else, so she must enter the contest as a boy. Magic is uncertain, perhaps Eon can be chosen, girl or not. If she isn’t, certainly there’s not much to look forward to in life as a servant girl with a limp.
Grove, S.E. The Glass Sentence
Almost a 100 year ago, the Great Disruption occurred. The world, which in 1799 had all been moving along normally, suddenly broke apart, and now countries and even entire continents are moving in different times. You might find yourself among the dinosaurs in one country, only to encounter the year 3005 in the next. Sophia Tims comes from a family of renowned explorers and cartologers (map-makers of the post-Disruption world), and so knows these difficulties well, especially since her parents disappeared on their travels between worlds and times. Now she lives in Boston, with her uncle Shadrack, the most famous Cartologer of them all. Unfortunately, someone sinister seems to need a cartologer, and that someone has kidnapped Uncle Shadrack. Now with only the help of Theo, another child, a refugee from the West, Sophia must try to rescue her uncle and save the world from the power of the Glass Sentence.
Haskell, Merrie. The Princess Curse
Reveka, a herbalist’s apprentic, is drawn into a mystery which involves twelve princesses, a charming and unsettling stranger, and a dying land. Can she save the princesses, the land and live happily ever after? Only if she can break the mysterious curse that lies on the land and the stranger, and that could take everything she values from her, and still not allow her to win. A wonderful mix of fairy tales and myths with a fabulous heroine and an excellent romance.
Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 13
Platform 13 is an ordinary train platform in King’s Cross station, London, England. Or is it? Actually, it’s a long-forgotten doorway to a long lost magical land. And if you encounter it on the one day in every nine years when it opens, you might meet a wizard, an ogre, a witch and a fairy who have come looking for a young prince, who was stolen the last time the gateway was open. Unfortunately, since then, the prince seems to have become a horrible brat named Raymond, and it’s going to take all the magic this quartet can call on to take him back to the lost island and make him behave like a fairy tale prince!
Meloy, Colin. Wildwood
Prue (Prudence) McKeel is an ordinary kid with an ordinary life. Until her baby brother is kidnapped by a crow and carried off to the Impassable Wilderness that surrounds Portland, Oregon. The worst thing? It’s kind of Prue’s fault. So of course Prue sets off to rescue her brother, with the help of a boy named Curtis. What they find in the Impassable Wilderness is impossibly wild: magic both good and bad, talking animals both friendly and not, and some very exciting bandits. A fabulous, scary, intriguing adventure! Book 1 of an excellent trilogy.
Nimmo, Jenny. Midnight for Charlie Bone
Charlie Bone is a normal kid, except that he isn’t. He comes from a long line of magicians, and when his father’s family discover that Charlie has magic of his own, they send him to Bloor’s Academy, a school for wealthy smart people, but also for magicians in training. Suddenly appearing at a wealthy genius school when everyone knows you’re poor and thinks you’re stupid isn’t easy, but mysterious voices are telling Charlie that he has a quest to fulfill, and so clearly the only thing to do is ignore everyone and get on with learning magic so he can complete the quest. Book one in a fabulous eight book series that is the perfect thing to read if you couldn’t get enough of Harry Potter.
Pratchett, Terry. A Hat Full of Sky
Tiffany Aching is a witch, or at least she will be when she’s been trained. Unfortunately, the nasty things that lie in wait for girls who have untrained power aren’t going to wait. When one of them takes over Tiffany’s body, she’s very much left out in the cold, and it isn’t clear that even with the help of some real witches and Tiffany’s notorious but loyal friends, the Nac Mac Feegle (little blue fairies with Scottish accents who love fighting and stealing), that Tiffany will ever get herself back.
Valente, Catherynne M. The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making
When the Green Wind comes and offers to carry September (a girl from Omaha) to the gates of Fairyland, of course September says yes (wouldn’t you?). Whatever September expected (and she isn’t sure what that was) Fairyland isn’t it. Fairyland has rules and regulations, forms that must be filled out, and procedures that must be followed, or at least it does since the Marquess took over. September is not a rules and regulations kind of girl, especially not if they include chaining the wings of her new friend A-L, a Wyvern (cousin to a dragon), because only leopards and licenced ragweed stalks are allowed to fly in Fairyland under the new rules. So of course, September decides to rescue Fairyland from the Marquess, and of course, she meets new friends (and a few enemies) and has many adventures, which continue in books 2 and 3 of this fabulous series.