Five Fascinating Epistolary Reads for Tweens

image of girl with black hair and glasses in jean jacket giving thumbs up inside green circle. box underneath reads Miss Mahee's Booklist. light blue background around white.
Booklists for you

Hi everyone, welcome to July’s first post. In order to showcase the different titles I’ve read, I thought a booklist would be the best way to set it out. So, get ready for some interesting epistolary novels for kids to enjoy!!

For me, novels set out as letters or a mixture of media tend to move quite quickly. In saying that, it doesn’t mean that I finish it quickly, but the opposite. I tend to savour the changes and if the letters are from more than one person, then I try to keep track of the voice change. The selection of contemporary titles in this post are ones I thought had unique and quirky storylines. 

two different images. right image of girl standing in front of field holding green envelope with Extra. right side of boy in log shirt and small hat holding white envelope with Credit. red letters at bottom read Andrew Clements.
An engaging read

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

This book is not completely composed of letters as much of the narrative is prose. The letters are between two unlikely pen pals; Abby Carson from a middle school in Illinois and Sadeed Bayat in Afghanistan. We get to learn about the different lifestyles and cultures from the letters exchanged by these two tweens. This story stood out for me because it wasn’t just about their daily lives, but about the two vastly different cultures. Clements is truly a masterful writer as he cleverly wove in the political situation in Afghanistan into this story and portrayed the severity of life there during those tumultuous times during the early 1990’s. A good read for tweens who enjoy learning about other cultures!! 

image of young boy writing on top of large pile of paper with desk lamp. image of torn paper behind him with handwritten letters 'dear sister.' blue background.
An adorable story

Dear sister by Alison McGhee

If you like adorable stories then this is perfect for you!! Written completely as letters and notes passed between a brother to his baby sister until he leaves for college. I really loved how the typography or font used made it look like someone had written all over the book!! Readers can see the blossoming of the siblings’ relationship throughout their childhood with arguments, fears, and everything in between!! The images that accompany the letters gave this adorable book an extra element to love!!

image of helicopter with bright search beam focusing on large tree in middle of lawn. house and mountains behind. letters in white above read Breakout.
An engaging read

Breakout by Kate Messner

Kate Messner has created another masterpiece in this story set against the backdrop of the Adirondack mountain range and the forest land around it in the small town of Wolf Creek where the maximum security prison inmates outnumber the population. We read of Nora Tucker’s family and her best friend Lizzie and of new girl Elidee, whose brother is spending time in prison. Their voices are unique as we hear their thoughts and fears and feelings in the form of letters, text messages and articles they’ve written. Even Nora’s younger brother Owen’s cute creations add another layer to the story. I didn’t think this would be heavy reading but it was. We learn of racial profiling, bullying and those bonds of community and family, loyalty – where does it lie when it comes to family who betray you in the worst possible way and how it affects youg children. Although this is fiction, it’s based on a real-life manhunt that took place in 2015 when two inmates broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility.

image of group of kids sitting on bench. boys with backs turned cheering game. girl in middle looking at us with purple cap and striped tshirt. white baseball by her feet. red letters at top read Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!
An interesting read

Get a grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit

Vivy Cohen is an autistic girl who’s quite good at baseball. This story is in letters from Vivy to her hero, famous major league pitcher V.J. Capello. We read of her adventures in the local little league, her issues with her health, and how she deals with bullying. What I really enjoy in these books is how we have an inside track to the fears and hopes of our young protagonist. I actually learned quite a bit about how the autistic mind works in this book and the bonds young Vivy has with her family and friends. A really fascinating and quirky story on neurodiversity and baseball!!

yellow stamp shaped image on blue background. top half has tent with owl inside and bottom tent has upside shark. image of spiky trees behind both tent shapes. dark letters in middle read To Night Owl from Dogfish.
An engaging read

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

This epistolary read has more than two voices, meaning there are letters exchanged between almost every character. We meet two tween girls, Avery and Bett, whose gay dads have a relationship and learn of how the girls are forced to form an alliance. What starts with animosity ends as a bond stronger than a friendship!! The emails and letters span from one summer to another and describe some hilarious and interesting adventures between the two girls. The emails sent between the parents, teachers, and occasional grandmother give us an extra element in the internal tracks of the adults in the story. At times in middle grade fiction you find this missing but here it adds to the story! A really good collaboration between a pair of amazing authors!

I hope you enjoy these titles and if anyone has any other recommendations similar to these please let me know!!

Stay safe and keep reading

Miss Mahee

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