The best new mythology-inspired middle grade fantasy—for kids who loved Percy Jackson

Why am I passionate about this?

I had a lot of troubles as a kid, and my favorite escape was getting lost in fairy tales and mythology. For me, those stories were a window into ancient worlds full of strange rules and powers, where magic was real and nothing was outside the bounds of possibility. As an author, I get to build my own stories and worlds inspired by the tales I loved so much as a kid, and I’ve loved reading about new heroes and heroines whose tales are rooted in the powerful traditions of peoples from all over the globe. I’m happy to be sharing some of my recent favorite mythology-inspired books!

I wrote...

The Edge of Strange Hollow

By Gabrielle K. Byrne,

Book cover of The Edge of Strange Hollow

What is my book about?

Called “spookily thrilling with superlative worldbuilding,” The Edge of Strange Hollow is a mythology-inspired coming-of-age adventure about friendship, found family, and perseverance. 

Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like: shape-shifters, hobs, witches, Valkyrie battle maidens, and even a three-headed dog. Banned from the wood, Poppy longs to hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects with her parents, but when they disappear on a routine expedition, Poppy and her friends must break every rule to save them. She soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem...and the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

Gabrielle K. Byrne Why did I love this book?

Kiki manages her anxiety by drawing stories featuring her family ancestors, but when her sketchbook becomes a doorway into the world of Indian mythology, she’s dropped into a fight between a Hindu Goddess and a Demon King trying to escape into the real world. 

I love stories featuring kids who doubt themselves, but who learn they are strong and capable. Any kid struggling with anxiety will surely see themselves in Kiki. The adventure is fantastic, Mandanna’s writing is lovely, and Kiki and her friends are all easy to care about. Whether readers are new to Indian mythology, or they’ve already burned through the Aru Shah and Kiranmala stories—this is an exciting and expansive tale promising much more to come.

By Sangu Mandanna,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Kiki Kallira is more of a worrier than a warrior - but today she will learn to be a hero. The mythical beasts she loves to draw have come to life, and she is the only one who can defeat them. A middle-grade fantasy inspired by Hindu legends about anxiety, creativity and finding your own strengths. For 8+ fans of Abi Elphistone and The Land of Roar.

Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mum is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one…

Book cover of The Last Shadow Warrior

Gabrielle K. Byrne Why did I love this book?

This fun read, full of humor and adventure, is a mash-up of Viking lore and the story of Beowulf in a contemporary setting. Abby, grieving over the death of her mother, is also at a new school—not to mention training as the last of the Aesir warriors destined to hunt and kill Grendels. When a Grendel starts hunting her instead, Abby has a lot to unravel and conquer, fast. 

I adore quirky stories that play with Western myths (heck, I wrote one), and this book has that in spades. For kids that love Norse mythology, this will provide smiles, snorts, and a perfect dose of white-knuckled page-turning. We grow with Abby as she builds new friendships and conquers old fears. She’s a great contemporary heroine with absolutely relatable problems.

By Sam Subity,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Shadow Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Percy Jackson meets Thor in a laugh-out-loud, action-packed adventure inspired by Norse mythology.

Twelve-year-old Abby Beckett is proud to come from a long line of elite Viking warriors known as the Aesir. She's spent her entire life training to hunt the horrific creatures known as Grendels--the ancient foe of the Aesir--just like her mother did before she died. But there's just one, small problem: No one has seen a Grendel in centuries, and the Viking Council wants to disband the Aesir . . . forever.

When her father is injured in an attack that leaves him in a coma, Abby…

Book cover of Spindlefish and Stars

Gabrielle K. Byrne Why did I love this book?

An absolutely unique story that takes the mythology of the Greek underworld and gives it a twist (or two). Clo only has her Dad. He’s always been a little different—as has she—but when he disappears and leaves her a ticket for half-passage across the sea, Clo finds herself stranded on a mysterious island with a weaver, a cat, and an odd little boy—Cary, who has secrets of his own. 

I loved the stunning and strange machinations of Clo’s days on the island and working to unravel its hidden truths alongside her. She feels like a friend, and her dawning need to protect Cary is touching and relatable. The writing is beautiful, the imagery haunting, and Clo’s need to understand—and escape, is somehow both urgent and dream-like. Deep thinkers will love this book.

By Christiane M. Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spindlefish and Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A spellbinding middle grade fantasy inspired by Greek mythology, for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Book of Boy.

Clothilde has lived her whole life in the shadows with her (sometimes) thieving and (always) ailing father. But when he fails to meet her one morning, sending her instead a mysterious ticket of "half-paffage," Clo finds herself journeying across the sea to reunite with him. The ticket, however, leaves her on a sunless island populated only by creaking fishermen, a rumpled old woman, a piggish cat, and a moon-cheeked boy named Cary.

Clo is quickly locked away…

Book cover of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Gabrielle K. Byrne Why did I love this book?

This is a fast-paced, funny, thought-provoking, page-turner. Tristan, grieving the death of a friend, and the loss of an important boxing match, is navigating guilt, anger, and loss. But his friend’s journal sparks a high-stakes adventure to win over Anansi, the West African weaver god, with famous friends like Gum Baby and Brer Rabbit at his back. 

I loved being in this expansive new world of Tristan Strong. With characters that some kids may have heard a lot about…and some nothing at all, the story draws on African mythology as well as rich and complicated folk history to give readers tons to chew on. The adventure alone is worth the read, but what stood out most to me was the way Tristan is forced to grow. He learns what it means to be truly strong—what it takes to be strong for others and for himself—and how to let go. 

By Kwame Mbalia,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

*"Mbalia expertly weaves a meaningful portrayal of family and community with folklore, myth, and history―including the legacy of the slave trade―creating a fast-paced, heroic series starter."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading…

Book cover of Gods and Heroes: Mythology Around the World

Gabrielle K. Byrne Why did I love this book?

Sometimes the best book for readers who love mythology-inspired stories is a book of mythology! There are lots of these compendiums out there, but it can be hard to find collections that don’t feel distant or dull. This one is recent (if not “new”), and is really well done. Illustrated like a graphic novel, Gods and Heroes highlights funny and quirky aspects of engaging characters, while also sharing in-depth stories that will entrance middle grade readers.

I loved the humor and connection Briggs brought to characters from twenty-three different cultures. These are personalities that are entertaining and powerful enough to have their stories handed down through thousands of years of human history, and who will continue to inspire stories in the years to come.

By Korwin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods and Heroes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's the perfect way to introduce kids to legendary lands, powerful gods, brave heroes, wild creatures, and more! Skillfully told and illustrated by Korwin Briggs, it's the who's who and what's what of ancient culture, organised alphabetically.

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Funny Folk Tales for Children

By Allison Galbraith,

Book cover of Funny Folk Tales for Children

Allison Galbraith Author Of Funny Folk Tales for Children

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a storyteller and folktale collector. All my jobs have involved telling stories – as a community librarian, in theatre, in education, and since 2006 as a professional storyteller and writer. I work in schools, festivals, and outdoor education with all sorts of people and their animals. I have honed my skills to find the most enjoyable traditional tales that can be shared widely. I live in Scotland, where I encourage families to read and tell their favourite stories together. Storytelling is a living art form that belongs to everyone. More than anything, I love the natural world, and I bring the magnificence of nature into all my work.

Allison's book list on world folktales for reading to everyone over six

What is my book about?

These are the funniest folktales in the world. You will be amazed at the intelligent animals and LOL at the ridiculous scrapes the humans get themselves into in these short stories. Discover why dogs are our best friends, learn how to change a cow into a zombie, and meet a shape-shifting, cartwheeling raccoon dog.

Suitable for reading age 7+. This book is perfect for storytime & reading together at bedtime and holidays. These stories will cheer even the grumpiest grandparent up :).

Funny Folk Tales for Children

By Allison Galbraith,

What is this book about?

'It's the best present you can give. It never breaks and doesn't need batteries. What is it?'

The answer is inside THIS BOOK!

Eleven of the funniest traditional tales from around the world. Laugh your socks off as you discover why dogs are our best friends, learn how to flummox fairies, and meet a shape-shifting, cartwheeling badger.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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