Fuzzy Tween Reviews

Age: 10-13

When we finished The Black Canary, we were not impressed, but that doesn’t mean another 10-13 year-old wouldn’t be. There’s time travel, learning about 17th century London, and there is an internal struggle for the main character, but it appears that the character being biracial was kind of slapped onto the story. Actually, the time travel was kind of slapped onto the story, as well. There was no true point to why he traveled there, no wrap up to why the time travel occurred, no grand conclusion to why he is special.

We like the normalization of ethnic literature, but we found that James’ race, or mixed race, was not normalized, so much as erased, and when race was added into the conversation, the reader was hit over the head with it. James does not really work to resolve any of the issues that are presented to him, and all in all, we were kind of bored.

However. We still believe this review should be here. You may love this book, and if you don’t, it is a good talking piece to investigate why you don’t. 

You can pick up a copy by selecting the image above, but we recommend picking it up from the library first.

Age: 10-13

“Note to self: I’m officially resigning from love.” This is the first sentence of the first chapter of  The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, and as captivating and intriguing as that sentence is, you know the book just gets better. Arturo is Cuban, growing up in Miami, and if that isn’t enough, he’s just thirteen.

Sprinkled with a close knit family, a rich grasp of Cuban culture and excellent Spanish, Cartana brings Cuban Miami to life. We loved that the antagonist was Wilfrido Pipo (yes, you read that right, or are we reading too much into a name?), that Arturo admits that his Spanish isn’t the best because he was raised in the U.S., but “sometimes used Spanish words when English words couldn’t fully explain what I needed to say.” We adored that he had that crummy first job (a dishwasher no less), a crush on a girl, a fight for success, but the best part of this novel is the richness of the characters. Each character is developed in a way that they are not only memorable, but integral to the story.

We could gush, we will gush if you email us, because The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is just that good, but we really don’t want to give anything away. Pick up a copy by selecting the link in the image! We found that Thriftbooks was more expensive than Amazon, and Barnes and Noble was on par. Or you can get a copy from your library, but pick up this book and enjoy.

Age 8-12

A talented chef, a magical, sentient, pot, dragon hunters, dragons, lizards, a quest for new magical ingredients: what could go wrong? Or better yet, what could go right? 

In Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1, you meet Rutabaga, a bored chef who has decided to travel the world and get new ingredients, preferably magical ones, for his cookbook. We love this book for its casual melanin. where color has no bearing on any of the characters. They are just there, as if it is…normal (Pun!).

We also love that the graphic style of this book. It is mainly graphic novel, but also some regular pages, and some formulated, actual recipes, as well (though we don’t recommend some of them. Spider soup anyone?” Rutabaga the Adventure Chef is a rip-roaring, fun ride, that also instills those overcoming adversity, not being afraid to try new things (and others) morals. 

Pick up a copy by selecting the link above, though we have found a couple on Thriftbooks, if you can catch them.

Age: 8-12

“There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains.

This is no such story.

Sometimes, you are an ordinary child.

Sometimes, you choose yourself.”

Thus starts the grand adventure of Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly. And also: thus begins Fuzzy’s first foray into an Asian tween book, and whoa was this a ride worth taking. The map is everything. The introduction is everything. This book is everything; it is indigenous, full of language and experience, but also timeless, sexless, and without gender for the story it tells, of perseverance and strength, is everyone’s story.

Age: 8-14

There is speculation about what race Gregor, from Gregor the Overlander, is. Twice in the book, there are references that make us think that he is of one ethnicity or another, but it is a pleasurable fact that Suzanne Collins has written such a strong character, that her ambiguity about his and his sister’s race are irrelevant. 

This world is amazing. When Boots, Gregor’s two-year-old sister, falls through a grate in the laundry room, he dives after her, and tumbles into a subterranean world. But this is no Wonderland. This is Underland, where giant cockroaches and intelligent rats coexist with human beings. As he searches for answers, Gregor comes to realize that Underland is on the brink of war, and even more, there is a prophecy with him in it. 

We like this book because the world-building is amazing, the characters are definitely not stereotypical, and the adventure is one, wild ride. Pick up a copy by selecting the image above.

Age: 9-13

As definite fans of anything Rick Riordan Presents, we were super excited to read Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, and it DID. Not. DISAPPOINT. 

After the death of his best friend, Tristan Strong has been having a hard time adjusting to the loss. As such, he is being sent to stay with his grandparents in Alabama. On a farm. Although he is dreading the visit, Tristan goes, only to have his journal stolen on his first night there, by a sticky creature, a gum baby, or in African American tales, a tar baby. You see, Tristan has not only stumbled into the world of gods and legends, both African and African American, but he has also ripped a hole in the sky, and through it, all the mythical monsters of MidPass are coming through.

Woven with an excellent mix of African-American folklore and African mythology, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is by far, one of our favorite books this year for African American fiction. You can pick up a copy on Amazon by selecting the image above, but we found that the price was the same no matter what store you went to. GET A COPY.

Age: 8-12

On a rainy night, Raj Banerjee, who has just moved to the sticks from Brooklyn, opened the door of his new house, and in rushed a soaking wet cat. His mom wanted the animal out, but Raj wanted a pet. Little did he know that his new kitty is actually an evil overlord alien from the planet Lytterboks.

Filled with a surprising amount of detail and adventure, a trio of artists have created this rip-riding adventure with Raj and Klawde. We enjoyed Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat, the first book in the series, so much that we ordered the rest of them. More reviews will be forthcoming, but the main thing we took away was HOW FUN IS THIS? We also loved that Raj is brown and that brown skin doesn’t make a lick of a difference to the story. Normalized melanin.

Klawde is sophisticated enough that we think older elementary or even tweens would enjoy the plot, humor and  writing.

Pick up a copy by selecting the image above for Amazon, but we found this book for around $7 everywhere.

Age: 11-14

Rick Riordan’s Red Pyramid is definitely a tween and up book, but it ranks up there with as one of our favorite series.

Carter and Sadie Kane, siblings who are the descendants of ancient pharaohs and magicians who could literally host Egyptian gods, embark on an amazing fantasy adventure to find themselves, repair their relationship and save the world.

Rick Riordan did an amazing job of combining the storylines of both biracial children in the world of man, and the story of who these children are in their fantasy environment. Easily recognizable issues blend well with fantastical magic and skill. Together with an all new cast of Riordan characters, Sadie and Carter fight, make friends with, or evade both gods and goddesses alike.

Slightly cheaper on Thriftbooks, but only if you plan on getting the free shipping, which then requires you to spend more, you can pick up a copy of The Red Pyramid on Amazon by selecting the image of the book.

Age: 8-12

Klawde is back! Book two of Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat brings us a new rocking ride with Enemies

Thanks to the betrayal of his closest lackey, Floofee Fur, Klawde has been re-banished to Earth and returned to Raj. Unfortunately, Klawde isn’t the only alien kitty that’s been banished this time. So has General Ffang!

Simultaneously, Raj is dealing with a new school and a new town, and his reaction to this has been to embellish a bit on the truth. When an old friend turned enemy also transfers to this sleepy little spot, fur, er, perhaps hair will fly!

Join us in enjoying Klawde and the gang with a series of mishaps and chaos, particularly the ride on a robot, in this all new adventure from Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat. Oh, and did I mention this book has kittens? A kitten army!

Pick up a copy of Klawde from by selecting the main image.

Age: 8-12

Molly Knox Ostertag has created a brilliant dialogue with her graphic novel, The Witch Boy. This book is perfect for tweens or older elementary students. In a society where boys and girls both have a strict path, thirteen-year-old Aster is not ready to conform. Aster is supposed to become a shape shifter, but all he wants to do is learn magic. When something happens that threatens the lives of all of the boys in his village, Aster must step up and let the world know what he has been secretly learning. Filled with twists and turns, but a very straight forward story line, The Witch Boy is a beautiful story that shows what happens when you question gender roles, or perhaps just don’t have them. 

Fuzzy loves this series. Aster’s parents appear to be black and white, but race is not discussed. Aster is the perfect blend between them, a darker skin tone than his mother but with her reddish hair, and a lighter skin tone than his father. Aster is surrounded by people of various ethnicities, but we especially loved his budding friendship with Charlie, a possibly African American girl with definitive “black” features and hair, who is non-magical, and non-conforming in all of the best ways.

Pick up a copy on Amazon of The Witch Boy by selecting the main picture. We found it there for two bucks cheaper.

Age: 9-13

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliot is an amazing journey through Brooklyn and other worlds with Jaxon, aka, Jax. It starts with this courageous boy being dropped off to spend the day with an old woman everyone calls Ma, who turns out to be a witch! Filled with amazing scenes, mythical creatures and plenty of magic, this book is a must read for any magical adventurer, but the wonderful part, the excellent part, the part that made it all the more interesting to us, is that Jaxon, Ma, Vikram, Kavita and so many other characters are  paper bag , pecan , rich earth , so many other shades of brown. This is a definite love for any fuzzy-head, searching for the magic in their everyday world.

Pick up a copy by clicking on the picture and simultaneously helping support our website! 

Age: 8-12

Molly Knox Ostertag and Aster, the Witch Boy, are back in their second book: The Hidden Witch. As usual, her art work and the plot were amazing. 

This second installment of this series involves a plot centering around Charlie, and allows us to see much more of Charlie’s life. Unfortunately, even though she doesn’t have any magic, Charlie can’t seem to stay away from the magical, and this time, she’s in trouble. A Fetch is after her, and without Aster’s help, she’s doomed, but Aster is not powerful enough to protect Charlie, which means he has to ask for help from the very last person we’d expect.

While Ostertag is usually pretty straightforward, the ending twist is always worth the read. Watching Aster and Charlie are also just as fun, and this book added a third character we expect to see more of, Ariel.  As usual, we love how Ostertag presents her characters of many hues and ranges as people rather than their skin color…almost…as if it’s normal?

Pick up a copy of The Hidden Witch by selecting the image above, and as always, thank you for helping to support our website! Or grab a copy on Thriftbooks.com. We found it there for two bucks cheaper.

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