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Greta’s Favourite Books of 2021: Part I

Though January is over half-way over, we’ve only just finished coming up with our favorite books from the past year. It turned out to be quite hefty, so we’ll be dividing it into two parts. All of these books are definitely amazing, but there are so many awesome books out there. Feel free to share your favorites!

Favorite FFTW book: The Ghost in Apartment 2r by Denis Markell (December)

Though I love all the books we’ve done for Food for the Worm, The Ghost in Apartment 2r is one of my favorites. In it, Danny, a younger brother who’s put up with living in a closet (yes, a closet) for years and is furious to discover that his long promised room will not be his own. Rather, it’s being turned into an AirHotel room as another source of income for the family. So annoyed is Danny that when he starts seeing a ghost in the middle of the night, no one believes him. With some luck (and sadly, research), Danny and his friends will hopefully manage to put the ghost to rest.

Favorite book by a FFTW author: The Friday Barnes series by R.A. Spratt (July) / League of Secret Heroes: Cape by Kate Hannigan (March)

In the Friday Barnes series, a girl genius who has minimal social skills manages to get into an expensive boarding school thanks to a reward she earned for solving a mystery. Once there, Friday immediately discovers a great market for earning her allowance- the students of her new school. Many of them are constantly running into trouble and have the cash to pay Friday to solve the case. But will she be able to solve the appearance of a mysterious swamp creature that’s been leaving the teachers bewildered?

Note: The author catches you up at the beginning of each book, so it matters little what order you read them in.

In The League of Secret Heroes: Cape Josie wants nothing more than to help in the war against the Nazis any way she can, especially since the conflict took her beloved father. However, she can’t help but think that it’d be a whole lot easier if she was a superhero, like Zenobia or Nova the Sunchaser. But the superheroes are long gone, so Josie’s best shot at helping is becoming a puzzler for the war effort. Sadly, though, the girls in the room’s tests are tossed out, and Josie has lost her shot at cracking codes, but won the opportunity to do a lot more (including saving innocents) with her new friends Akiko and Mae.

Note: The first book in the series is Cape. I would recommend reading them in order.

Favorite Graphic Novel: Boxers and Saints (duology) by Gene Luen Yang

During the Boxer Rebellion in late 18th century China, there were two sides, the Boxers and the Christians. In Boxers, the story is told from the point of Little Bao, who harnesses the powers of his gods to fight and free their land from the foreign devils. Meanwhile, in Saints, Four-Girl, an unwanted fourth daughter, finds friendship and a real name in Christianity. But being a Christian is deadly in China. Using the visions of a holy woman she sees, Four-Girl (now Vibiana) must find the courage to stand up for her faith.

Note: Since the books are complementary, it works to read them in either order.

Favorite Fiction that occurs during war: Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee / Rescue by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Brother’s Keeper is set just before the Korean War in North Korea. 12 year old Sora and her family must obey the strict rules of their leader in order to survive. However, war is brewing, causing many North Koreans to try to escape to the south, Sora’s family among them. The trip will be extremely perilous and when a bombing leaves Sora and her 8 year old brother on their own, they must find their way to Busan, South Korea from the north.

In Rescue, Meg Kenyon, who worries daily about her father while trying to work as a spy for the Resistance in France in World War II. To make matters worse, the codes her father left her to solve are nearly gone. Plus, word that her father is trapped in a Nazi camp casts doubt over his return. However, a chance to save her father appears when Meg discovers an injured British spy in her grandmother’s barn. If Meg agrees to guide a family of German refugees to safety, one of them will free her father. Meg agrees, but the journey is far from easy, as Meg struggles to keep the family safe and crack her father’s final code. Plus, betrayal may be imminent from one of the refugees-but which one?

Note: Jennifer A. Nielsen also has written a lot of other World War II-era novels. They are all amazing, but I especially liked A Night Divided, a post-war East Germany/West Germany book.

Favorite Newbery Honor (past and present): Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Annabelle’s life in her small Pennsylvania town has largely remained calm, despite the two world wars that have recently occurred. Then, a new student, Betty Glengarry moves to Annabelle’s town. Though quickly shown to be a bully, Betty’s attacks seem random-at first, she quickly zeros in on the perfect victim- Toby, a reclusive World War I veteran, who has been viewed as crazy by the town for years. Though Annabelle considers him to be quite kind, Betty has discovered her target and turns everyone against Toby. Will Annabelle find her voice and stand up for Toby?

Check out Part II!

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