At the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12, young readers will find plenty to interest them. • Six of the festival's featured authors will be presenting books for kids from ages 7 to 17. Whether it's the story of a boy who can talk to sharks or a girl who learns about the power of magic, a novel about a girl who goes to a school that teaches how to make love charms or one about a teenager dealing with a family mystery, a fanciful graphic novel about a time-traveling Egyptian queen or an engaging novel about the real-life childhood friendship between authors Harper Lee and Truman Capote, there are books for every kid who loves them. • These authors will be talking about and signing their books at the festival this year.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor
Paul Durham's The Luck Uglies trilogy (HarperCollins) is set long ago and far away in Village Drowning, a rural spot that might seem idyllic but has its dark side. Girls like the books' main character, 11-year-old Rye O'Chanter, are forbidden to read. Strange creatures called Bog Noblins lurk outside the village wall, and gargoyles occasionally come to life. Durham's books, for readers in grades 3-7, have won such awards as Florida's Sunshine State Young Readers Award for 2016-17. He lives in New Hampshire.
In Autofocus (HarperTeen), Lauren Gibaldi's second novel for teens, a high school senior named Maude gets an assignment: create a photo portfolio that shows the meaning of family. For Maude, whose birth mother died giving birth, that meaning is an open question. So Maude goes to visit her best friend in Tallahassee, her mother's hometown, to try to solve the mystery of her background. While she's at it, she finds a new relationship of her own. Gibaldi, a librarian, lives in Orlando.
In Love Charms and Other Catastrophes (Swoon Reads), Hijiri Kitamura returns as a student at Grimbaud, where, besides studying to become a maker of love charms, she must deal with a mean girl — and with a perfect boyfriend who is given to her in, literally, a gift-wrapped box. Kim Karalius' second novel, for readers in grade 7 and up, is a sequel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters. Karalius graduated from the University of South Florida and lives in the Sunshine State.
In Mike Maihack's Cleopatra in Space (Graphix) series of graphic novels for readers in grades 3-7, Cleopatra — yes, that Cleopatra — is whisked to the very far future by a mysterious tablet and finds herself grappling with classes in a high-tech high school as well as trying to save the galaxy from an evil tyrant, as a girl sometimes must. The books are fast-paced and full of sleek and colorful manga-style art. Maihack lives in Lutz.
G. Neri, who lives in Tampa, won a Coretta Scott King prize for his book Yummy and a Florida Book Award for Hello, I'm Johnny Cash, among other honors. His latest book, Tru & Nelle (HMH Books for Young Readers), for grades 3-5, is a charming, often funny novel based on his research into the real-life friendship between two kids who grew up to be very famous authors: Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, and Truman Capote, writer of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Ellen Prager has a Ph.D. in marine science and has been part of research expeditions around the globe, so she brings expert knowledge to her series of adventure books for readers in grades 2-7. The latest, Stingray City (Mighty Media), focuses on a boy named Tristan Hunt. Tristan and his friends, volunteers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, help investigate the disappearance of stingrays and other marine life off Grand Cayman Island. Tristan must try to solve the mystery while hiding a secret of his own: He can talk to sharks. Prager lives in St. Petersburg.