Recommended for ages 9-13
Buzz doesn’t have the easiest home life. His mother disappeared six months ago, his scholarly father is distant and cold, and a kid at school is a jerk who happens to be on the opposing soccer team at school. He meets up with Mary, the new girl at school who happens to be a little… different, and the two discover that Sunna, the Norse goddess of the sun, is taking up residence in a local weatherwoman’s body – just before she’s kidnapped by Loki, the infamous Norse god of mischief. Since Sunna is also the goddess in charge of Sunday, Saturday’s now on a repeating loop, and Buzz and Mary need to go on a quest to find the Runes of Valhalla, which will lead them to the day guardians – seven gods and goddesses who keep time in order – before Loki gets to them. It’s a race against time to save the world!
I know mythology books get a lot of play, and I love it. I can’t get enough of the new takes on these mythic tales, and considering that I still can’t find a library copy of Rick Riordan’s Sword of Summer, not to mention the fact that the Percy Jackson series still flies off my shelves, neither can middle grade readers. Secrets of Valhalla is a fun spin on the Norse myths that incorporate the Greek and Roman pantheon, too. It’s a quest novel, it’s a friendship novel, and it’s a family novel. While kids are waiting for their copy of Magnus Chase to come in, give them this book. Display with K.L. Armstrong’s Blackwell Pages and Kate O’Hearn’s Pegasus series (and she’s got her own Norse book, Valkyrie, coming out in February), have a mythological read-aloud, and ask the kids to choose which day guardian they’d like to be (I’m thinking Sigyn should have been a day guardian, but that’s just me). The ending is tied up nicely, so I’m not sure if we’ll see a sequel, but never say never…
Jasmine Richards’s first novel, The Book of Wonders, is also full of fantasy and magic. Her author webpage has a bio and contact info, plus reviews on her first book.