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Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

A great list of books for middle-grade readers by author of new novel Trip of the Dead.

Book Cover Trip of the Dead

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!**


Book Cover Surviving the City

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.


Book Cover Heart Sister

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.


Book Cover Sliding Home

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!


Book Cover Fatty Legs

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. 


Book Cover Who Is Tanksy

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.


Book Cover The Lost Scroll of the Physician

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).


Book Cover the Walking Boy

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.


Book Cover MINRS 3

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.


Book Cover Maud

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.


Book Cover Trip of the Dead

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.

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