In case you missed it the Brown Bookshelf held a KidLit Rally on Facebook Live last night. I only got to watch part of it (which was excellent), but the good news it is archived now so I can go back and watch all of it.
Back to my #CybilsReadDown list – I have finished all but one of the physical books from my main list, and am now trying to work through the ebooks. These and the new books I bought – newer and mostly by authors of color – are feeling a lot more interesting and relevant than older books by white authors that were on my backup pile. So, those books may just stay in my emergency book reserve for now.
The Thief Knot by Kate Milford. HMH Kids, 2020. ISBN 978-132846689. Read from ARC. Ebook through Libby but not at my library.
Here is a welcome return to the world of Greenglass House. This book is told from the point of view of Marzana, a girl a little bit older than Milo whom we met in Ghosts of Greenglass House. (There will be spoilers if you haven’t read those first two yet!) Marzana’s mother (light skinned) was once a famous player in the Nagespeake underground, while her father (dark skinned) is in law enforcement. But because her mother is officially retired, Marzie knows almost none of the stories of her mother’s daring escapades, something that has always been a sore point.
Marzie and her best friend Nialla (who reads white) are bored, spending their time hoping for something interesting to happen. They’re regulars at the local bookstore, where they’re huge fans of a choose-your-own-adventure series whose choices sometimes require cutting up the book.
Then, law enforcement visits her house, asking for help. A girl has been kidnapped, with an impossibly large ransom demanded in just a few days. Could Marzana’s mother track down a few suspects, and see if there’s any chance the child is being held in the Liberty of Gammerbund, the independent and fiercely secretive neighborhood where they live? The ransom note – with only the child’s fingerprints on it – is cut out of a comic book series that Nialla loves. Surely, if they put their heads together, they could figure something out that the adults might miss.
Soon they are building a crew (diverse in both ethnicity and skills) to help them solve the mystery. Marzana finds herself leading – and that’s challenging for a girl who doesn’t know how to make small talk and has Nialla go over her conversations with other people to make sure that she, Marzana, did okay. I had a deep, deep sympathy for this level of social anxiety!
The plot is twistier than it seems at first glance, and I was pleasantly surprised by the twist! As always in these books, the place is as important as the people and the events. The building on the cover is Marzana and Nialla’s school, a converted mansion filled with secrets, some beautiful and some hilarious. Expect some ghostly interactions, as in the first two books. While the first two Greenglass House books are both set during the Christmas holidays, this book is set just as schools are getting ready to release for the summer, making this the perfect time of year to read it.
For more twisty mysteries with a diverse cast in an almost our world with a magical twist, try the York books by Laura Ruby. Are there other books like these, especially by authors of color? Please let me know in the comments!