From Nigerian magic to a Malaysian folk tale, these middle-grade books will work kids’ imaginations no matter where they are. Plus, they are the perfect way to set the spooky mood as we head toward Halloween this fall. Check them out below!
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe is a fantasy adventure about a girl who is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before she turns 13 years old. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic forever. The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic and often mixes up her spells. Whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep. When she lands on the sleepy coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: Set up a magical repair shop and prove she’s worthy with her “semi-magical fixes” that repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, her semi-magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love.
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor is a novel set in contemporary Nigeria. Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, the most powerful criminal around, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he’s not sure how much a 12-year-old boy can help — until a mysterious nighttime meeting that results in a magical object that enables superpowers.
Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia is about a space-obsessed 12 year old named Paola Santiago and his two best friends. Ever since their schoolmate drowned, they know they’re supposed to stay away from the river. Pao’s mother always warned her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into the water. When Pao and her friends venture to the Gila to test her new telescope, it seems like maybe her mom was right. Pao must enter the world of her nightmares to face the relentless spirits and rescue her friends.
The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf is a twist on a Malaysian folktale. Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit, a ghostly companion that she names Pink. But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side — and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive before they are both lost to the darkness.