Here are two stories of children in very different worlds, but both considered to be bad luck.
The first was all over the blogs I read in the middle of Cybils season last year. It’s just as delightful a few months later!
Trials of Morrigan Crow. Nevermoor #1 by Jessica Townsend. Hachette, 2017.
Every Eventide, in a world powered by Wunder and Squall Industries, the 12-year-long Ages change. But babies born at Eventide are considered cursed, responsible for all the troubles around them and doom to die at the start of the next age. Morrigan Crow is barely tolerated by her powerful family for most of her life for just this reason, as her father pays out fees to everyone around who claims that Morrigan’s interference caused them to sprain their ankles or lose the spelling bees.
The age is just changing and Morrigan has seen the terrifying smoke hounds out to get her. Suddenly, she is rescued by flamboyant, ginger-haired Jupiter North, who takes her to his beautiful Deucalion Hotel in the Magical Kingdom and tells her she’ll be competing in formal Trials to be one of the next members of the Wundrous Society. Much like a certain boy wizard, she’s set adrift in a world with unfamiliar rules. She meets kids her age who may become friends (a decently diverse lot, though that’s clearly not the focus), and is constantly wondering what talent she might have that would cause Jupiter North to break so many rules to bring her over. This is fast-moving despite its length, and lots of fun. It will be eligible for this year’s Cybils, but is already on of the High Five for Michigan’s YouPer award.
I have always loved a good solid story of the middle ages, (fantasy touch not necessary but appreciated) and this one came recommended by both Betsy Bird at a Fuse #8 Production and Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library.
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Greenwillow Books, 2018.
Boy considers that to be his name. He’s considered bad luck because of his hump – it’s 1350, and a deformity like that must be an outward manifestation of some horrible sin. He used to be cared for – and beaten – by Father Petrus – and now is beaten and less cared for by Cook, the new wife of brain-injured Sir Jacques, since his Lady her beautiful babies all died in the plague. When a man called Secundus comes by looking for relics of St. Peter, Boy decides to join him in hopes of being healed by pilgrimage himself. It doesn’t take long before Boy has traveled farther than he ever has before – or to discover that Secundus is not the holy man that he’s led Boy to believe. Boy’s lively character balances out the old-fashioned feeling, and humor, action, and feeling are also kept nicely balanced. Though the action is less over-the-top, it would still pair excellently with The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz.
There’s also Bad Luck Girl, the last book in the American Fairy trilogy by Sarah Zettel, for another bad luck kid. And of course, Catherine Gilbert Murdock has written many wonderful but quite different books for teens, including Dairy Queen and Princess Ben.