The best books for readers who wish Hermione had her own series

Who am I?

I’m qualified to talk about Hermione Granger because she’s a bold rip-off of my own experience at boarding school. My family didn’t have a lot of money. However, I was always the smartest, most original, hardest-working kid at school. Then I got a fat scholarship to an exclusive and fabulously wealthy boarding school 3,000 miles from home. I arrived as a poor, immigrant, POC, gay, transfer student into the eleventh grade. I was the muggle-born kid plopped into a world of privilege and power with something to prove, just like Hermione. But because the author did such a good job of capturing my life, I won’t sue.


I wrote...

Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword (Book 1)

By Henry Lien,

Book cover of Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword (Book 1)

What is my book about?

A fourteen-year-old girl and her little brother leave their homeland to study at an academy that teaches a sport combining figure skating with kung fu. “It’s Hermione Granger meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets the Ice Capades meets Mean Girls.” — The New York Times

Nebula Award finalist, Parents’ Choice Foundation Silver Medal, multiple starred reviews, Amazon Top 500 Books bestseller

The books I picked & why

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Akata Witch

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Book cover of Akata Witch

Why this book?

This book gets called “the Nigerian Harry Potter” a lot. It’s about a magical school sorta and the worldbuilding is delightful and includes things like pouty blue wasps that are diva artists, perimeter bushes that confiscate weapons, and other fantastical inventions that are unlike anything I’ve ever read. However, what I loved most was the unexpected spirit of the main character Sunny Nwazue. She’s not your typical middle grade heroine who is defined by self-doubt and who follows the expected rising self-esteem arc. Instead, she’s incredibly no-nonsense and is very focused on doing the work she needs to do, whether it’s mastering her magical heritage, or solving a serial killer mystery. This focus on work is something that I love about both Hermione and Sunny.


The True Meaning of Smekday

By Adam Rex,

Book cover of The True Meaning of Smekday

Why this book?

Gratuity Tucci, the main character of The True Meaning of Smekday, isn’t like Hermione Granger on the surface. She’s a biracial, twelve-year-old girl who doesn’t respond to Earth being invaded by aliens by diving into books and solving everything like Hermione would. However, what she does share with Hermione is the ability to make me spray soy milk out of my nose all over the book. I’ve never laughed so hard reading any book. And I have zero sense of humor so that’s saying something. Bonus points for the audiobook version read by Bahni Turpin whose characterizations are so hilarious and plain different, that I challenge you not to imitate some of the lines she delivers.


Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism

By Georgia Byng,

Book cover of Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Why this book?

Like many of the Potter books, this book is sort of a puzzle box built around an object that is governed by clear rules. The main character, Molly Moon, discovers a book that teaches her to control animals and people around her with the power of hypnotism. The book drops Molly's character into a clear set of rules and then has fun watching what she does with it, in a way that reminds me a bit of Hermione’s use of that special object in Prisoner of Azkaban. It also is a fantasy about unlimited power. Seriously, what if you could make anyone anywhere do anything you wanted them to?


True Grit

By Charles Portis,

Book cover of True Grit

Why this book?

I did a Facebook post asking people for the best book starring a female main character by a male author. The number one response was True Grit. It’s a Western set in the 1860s about 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who seeks justice for the murder of her father by an outlaw. She’s incredibly capable and steely-willed, like Hermione. The world she inhabits is a bleaker one than the Wizarding World and the book isn’t marketed as a middle grade book. However, the character of Mattie carries the reader through the harsh world she inhabits. Mattie’s not a friendly person but there’s something that warms me up reading a story where the smartest, bravest, and most resourceful person is a determined young woman seizing her fate by the throat.


Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: The Night Things

By Ted Naifeh, Warren Wucinich (illustrator),

Book cover of Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: The Night Things

Why this book?

Like Hermione, Courtney comes from a non-magical background and discovers her own magical heritage. Her stubborn curiosity propels her into a fantastical world operating under our own. She also has a sense of justice and would deffo have allied with Hermione in S.P.E.W. Unlike Hermione, Courtney isn’t studious or diligent. She’s a bit of a slacker and a grump. What I love about this series is the prickly heroine and the treatment of the fantastical world. Like the Wizarding World, the fantastical worldbuilding in this series is built on familiar Western fantasy creatures and tropes. What’s special about it is the stylish Goth-chic interpretation through the author/artist’s artwork and the examination of the ethical conundrums latent in fantasy since fantasy is often about power.


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