This week we celebrated both National Science Fiction Day and J R. R. Tolkien Day. In honour of this, here are some recent sci-fi and fantasy books for youth.
Operation Do-Over by Gordon Korman
Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to travel back in time? But, if you were really thrown into such a situation, what would you do? Mason and Ty are best friends whose friendship is tested when a new girl named Ava joins their seventh-grade class. Mason finds himself competing against his best friend for the first time in his life and eventually, both he and Ty decide that they value their friendship more and make a pact: a non-Ava treaty. But Ava, in fact, likes Mason and he ends up breaking his pact with Ty. Five years later, Mason’s life is a mess. He has no friends, no girlfriend, his dog has been hit by a Roto-Rooter truck, his parents are divorced and he has just been expelled from school in his senior year. Everything has gone wrong and he can trace all of it back to the day he broke his pact with Ty. As Mason is driving his Volkswagen, he thinks that if he could go back he would do everything differently. That’s when his car crashes into a furniture van and when he wakes up, he’s 12 years old again. Mason is excited at the chance of a do-over, to be able to fix everything. But can the past, in fact, be fixed even if we get the chance to go back in time? Operation Do-Over is Gordon Korman’s 99th book, a highly entertaining and relatable story from this beloved, prolific author. Grades 4-7
Squire by Nadia Shammas, Sara Alfageeh
This stunning fantasy graphic novel is a David vs. Goliath story of sorts, of how an ordinary girl from a subjugated class overcomes her circumstances to infiltrate the highest ranks of a rigid military force. Aiza is a member of the subjugated Ornu people, but she has always dreamt of becoming a Knight, the highest military honour in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire. Knighthood is the only path to full citizenship for Aiza. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program. But the program is not how she imagined it. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined. This is a timely story about loyalty and duty told through the deft artwork of illustrator, Sara Alfageeh, and moving words of writer Nadia Shammas. Grades 9-12
The Enchanted Bridge by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Cherise Harris
The Enchanted Bridge is the fourth book in the Dragons in a Bag series. Our intrepid lead, Jaxon (or Jax), has come a long way since his grandmother entrusted him with delivering baby dragons back to their magical world. But, in the process of doing so, Jax and his friends upset the balance between the worlds that resulted in strange occurrences back home. In the latest book in this magical series, Jax and his friends are not the ordinary kids they used to be. After taking care of magical creatures as long as he has, Jax is convinced that the creatures ought to be free to return to the human world, but not many see things that way. Jax finds himself caught up in a secret plan involving the Guardian of Palmara’s mysterious twin brother, Ol-Korrok. But to reach Palmara, Jax and his friends must cross Ol-Korrok’s enchanted bridge connecting the two realms. Is Ol-Korrok really the ally he pretends to be? Or has Jax set in motion a plan that will endanger both realms? This is yet another thrilling adventure filled with magic and many fantastic beasts. Grades 3-7