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Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

Angela Misri does it all, with her Portia Adams series about Sherlock Holmes' granddaughter and a fantastic middle grade series about cats and a raccoon surviving the zombie apocalypse (why not!). The latest book in the latter is Trip of the Dead, and it's out now.

Here, she shares some compelling companion reads that you can share with your favourite young avid reader.

**Enter here for a chance to win Trip of the Dead and three other middle grade novels as part of the DCB Middle Grade Bundle!**

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Surviving the City, by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

I’m a nerd in every aspect of my life, including my bookshelf, so this graphic novel had me at the cover. This is a story of two friends and their abiding love for each other throughout their lives. It will resonate with anyone who has lost someone who gave them their sense of belonging.

I challenge you to decide which captures you more—Spillet’s finely chosen words or Donovan’s perfect visualizations of a city that doesn’t feel like home.

*

Heart Sister, by Michael F. Stewart

Just when you think you’ve read every YA title out there, a new one spins up and destroys your weekend because you can’t put down the book.

Following Emmitt on his journey to find all the recipients of his late sister’s organ donations is just one heart-poking chase after another—you’re never ready for the next one, and you’re really not ready for the ending. I love books that make you feel like it’s your life, your grief and your family, and somehow, Stewart manages to do that, deepening that connection chapter after chapter.

*

Sliding Home, by Joyce Grant

It’s not easy to get me to pick up a book with a baseball scene on the cover, but this isn’t so much a sports book as it is a story about every kid who is transplanted into a new community and is somehow expected to flourish. As a first-generation immigrant in Calgary, my life and the lives of my schoolmates with were so far apart I might as well have been going home to another planet.

Miguel and I come from very different places, but that feeling of being split down the middle for the life our families want us to have and the lives we see around us that look so much less dramatic and stressful, is real, and so well-written by Grant. Also, now I’ve read a baseball book!

*

Fatty Legs, by Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton and Christy Jordan-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes

I may have picked up this book because of the title, but I locked in on page one in the anecdote about the red stockings that made the author’s legs look enormous. Trigger immediate flashback to junior high and being forced to wear thigh-high socks in gym class that did nothing for my gams.

The story is not one of defeat, though; it follows the required rebellion against the evils epitomized in those hateful stockings and it’s a fight I am so here for. 

*

Who Is Tanksy?, by Bev Rosenbaum

I first read this book (in one sitting) when I was looking for stories for my daughter to answer questions about the political divisiveness that was increasing all around us. This is both a political story and a story that could be set in any school at any time in recent history.

The tensions and drama are so relatable, and Rosenbaum has achieved that perfect balance of “timely and timeless” in her story—not an easy feat.

*

The Lost Scroll of the Physician, by Alisha Sevigny

I fell hard for Sesha and Ky in the first book in the "Secrets of the Sands" series, and the follow-up does not disappoint.

This adventure set in ancient Egypt satisfies all my needs for rich historical detail. This new sibling adventure reveals more about the characters I loved in the first book (and some that I really hated). I love Sevigny’s attention to detail, descriptions of a time that I can only imagine and especially her super-smart heroine, who is not without flaws (rare).

*

The Walking Boy, by Lydia Kwa

The fact that this book was inspired by real events is astonishing because Baoshi’s quest is impossible with a capital “I.”

Regardless, there’s something about the walking journey (and its slowness that makes you feel like you’re absorbing a little Buddhism by not missing the speed and drama of a regular quest story) that makes it one of my favourite historically based novels.

*

MiNRS3, by Kevin Sylvester

As a writer of series, I try not to be too hard on other writers of series, but as a fan, it was hard to wait for the third book in the MiNRS set to come out. The children of Perses have a new quest  and it’s mission-critical to the entire Earth, but you almost forget the sci-fi grounding of this story because you’re three books in and you are so committed to these characters.

Sylvester is one of the best at this—making you not only care what happens to them, but also, what changes them. What choices will they make? Will their alliance fracture? What will those choices mean to them as young people who must be leaders?

It’s a lesson in multi-character development that I take as guidance for my own writing.

*

Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L. M. Montgomery, by Melanie J. Fishbane

As someone who grew up in Canada’s school system, I felt like I was pretty cognizant of my Anne of Green Gables lore, but Maud was that special book that gave me insight into the creator of one of my favourite book series. Books about authors run the risk of being boring (authors are rarely as interesting as their writing), but Fishbane skirts that issue by setting it in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s teen years, paralleling Anne’s age at the beginning of the books.

I know I see Anne differently after reading Maud, and that’s pretty cool to say decades after reading the original series.

*

Learn more about Trip of the Dead:

Trip, the clumsy but streetwise raccoon, has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse with the help of animal friends and a few kind humans. But he can’t help but notice one thing: he’s the only raccoon in his crew. In fact, he’s the only raccoon he’s seen in ages.

Where have all the raccoons gone?

The answer to that question is scarier than any zombie horde. People have discovered that raccoons are more than just rodents who knock over their garbage bins; they might be a tool for ending zombie-ism.

And that is bad news for raccoons.

February 25, 2021

Books mentioned in this post

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Trip of the Dead

by Angela Misri
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
tagged: humorous stories, monsters

Trip, the clumsy but streetwise raccoon, has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse with the help of animal friends and a few kind humans. But he can’t help but notice one thing: he’s the only raccoon in his crew. In fact, he’s the only raccoon he’s seen in ages.

Where have all the raccoons gone?

The answer to that question is scarier than …

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Surviving the City

by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 12 to 14
  • Grade: 7 to 8
tagged: canada, aboriginal & indigenous, girls & women, coming of age

Winner of the Indigenous Voices Award, alternate format and an In the Margins Top Fiction Novel for 2020

Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens …

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Sliding Home

by Joyce Grant
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 10 to 13
  • Grade: 3
tagged: baseball & softball, friendship, business, careers, occupations, depression & mental illness, emigration & immigration

Miguel hasn't missed El Salvador since arriving in North America with his mother and sister. But with his father still in El Salvador and gangs shaking down the old neighbourhood, life isn't easy for Miguel.

When his father's situation becomes critical, Miguel becomes desperate to bring him to North America. But he can't even afford to join his base …

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Fatty Legs (10th anniversary edition)

by Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton & Christy Jordan-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes, foreword by Debbie Reese
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
  • age: 9 to 11
  • Grade: 4 to 7
tagged: native canadian, cultural heritage, women

The beloved story of an Inuvialuit girl standing up to the bullies of residential school, updated for a new generation of readers.

Margaret Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton’s powerful story of residential school in the far North has been reissued to commemorate the memoir’s 10th anniversary with updates to the text, reflections on the book’s impact, and …

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Who is Tanksy?

by Bev Katz Rosenbaum
edition: eBook
  • age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
tagged: school & education, self-esteem & self-reliance, politics & government

Thirteen-year-old Tanya Kofsky is invisible. She hates that no one listens to her, at home or at her new school. So as student elections get underway, Tanitha starts secretly painting controversial images on the walls of the school. Soon everyone is talking about this amazing artist with a lot to say.

The election results turn out to be a catalyst f …

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The Lost Scroll of the Physician

by Alisha Sevigny
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
  • age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
tagged: ancient civilizations, death & dying

2021-22 Finalist for Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award, MYRCA Sundogs and, Red Cedar Book Awards

Sesha must race to find a priceless scroll before time runs out.

After a brutal fire takes their parents’ lives, Sesha and Ky, children of the pharaoh’s royal physician, are left charming snakes and stealing food to survive. Unsure of who to t …

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The Walking Boy

by Lydia Kwa
edition: Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged: asian american, fairy tales, folk tales, legends & mythology

The Walking Boy is a quest novel set in early eighth-century Tang Dynasty China, in the final days of the rule of the first Female Emperor Wu Zhao. The ailing hermit monk Harelip sends his disciple Baoshi on a pilgrimage from Mount Hua to Chang'an, the Western capital; Baoshi is the "walking boy" charged with locating Harelip's missing former lover …

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MiNRS 3

by Kevin Sylvester
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
  • age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
tagged: science & technology, pirates

The action-packed conclusion to the MiNRS space adventure series, which School Library Journal praised for keeping readers “on the edge of their seats.”

We do what we do best. Run. Hide. Survive.
The children of Perses must return to Earth. They defeated Major Kirk Thatcher on their adopted planet, but his evil plans are still unfolding. People …

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Maud

A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery

by Melanie J. Fishbane
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover
  • age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12
tagged: biographical, canada

For the first time ever, a young adult novel about the teen years of L.M. Montgomery, the author who brought us ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

     Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery -- Maud to her friends -- has a dream: to go to college and become a writer, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, …

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