Every year it seems there are different themes in each crop of new books, and for 2013 middle grade (ages 8-12) there have been a lot of fantastical, whimsical, magical realism stories. But, what's the big deal with magical realism anyway?
Magical realism addresses everyday life in a unique way that makes the plot of a story much more unpredictable. Sometimes it takes this kind of new viewpoint to see the importance of things we take for granted or miss. Magical realism isn't simply an escape of reality, rather, as defined by bookseller Alex, "it is near enough to reality that we can accept it as truth, but far enough away that we get to experiment." Imagination feeds the mindset of overcoming the impossible!
Real life has many curveballs, but nothing like the curveballs of magical realism where you'll find time continuums, strange messages that take some out-of-the-box thinking to solve, puzzles, mysteries, and random strangers with important bonds unknowingly made. Here are a few great titles to introduce you and your young reader to the joys and excitement of magical realism.
North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler (author of Emily Windsnap)
This is one of the most riveting tales I've read all year. Mia is up against multiple mysteries during her spring break -- her missing grandfather, a missing friend, a new friend, a strange time continuum, and events that are unreal. Though a time is lost and another found, in a away that no real person could experience, North pulses down on the realism of unanswered questions and agonizing secrets.
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
A great whimsical tale of talents, peanut butter, and cake portrays that "It's the way we deal with what Fate hands us that defines who we are." (And if you enjoyed Savvy, this book is for you!) Of course you can't physically steal talents with an icy hand and empty jar, but it is hope that keeps us moving, opposed to selfish ambition and self pity that blind you to answers.
The Last Present by Wendy Mass
The Willow Falls series is my highest recommendation for girls ages 9 to 13. The final book in this series is essential and NOT a let down. It answers a lot of questions posed in the first three books. Magical realism in this book is opportunity lost and opportunity found, but just how far can you place your burdens on others? (You can read Last Present as a standalone, but it won't be as good without 11 Birthdays, Finally, and 13 Gifts.)
Posted by Emily M.