Here are a few recent MG realistic reads.
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
Half a Chance is a short fast read, which is good because not a lot happens in the book. It is one of those slow books about a summer at a lake with bird watching and a grandmother who is slowly losing her memory. It is also a book about friendship, family, and photography. All of these elements combine well. The characters are portrayed very simply and without a lot of depth but they are relatable. Nothing about the book stood out as being special or something to take note of though.
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
This is an enjoyable story about a girl found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck at the age of one. She is raised by the man who finds her, and together they go on a quest to find the mother she is certain is still alive. Half of the book covers Sophie growing up in England. The other half takes place in Paris and focuses on the search for the mother. The Paris rooftops play a significant role in the story as Sophie befriends the homeless orphan children who call them home. It is well written and engaging and will appeal to young readers who enjoy historical fiction and quiet stories about family and friendship.
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazier Blakemore
There is not a lot of MG historical fiction about the McCarthy Era so this is a nice book to be able to have available for kids to read. I liked how the book showed the community fears and reactions of the time,but did it through a child's eyes and with a child's perception of the world. I loved how Hazel so fervently believed in what she learned about the Red scare and she took these lessons and thoughts to heart. I felt her reaction was completely genuine for some one her age. I did think the book was quite a bit longer than it needed to be to tell the story it was telling. It dragged in many places.
West of Moon by Margi Preus
This is an interesting combination of historical fiction and myth. The Norwegian folktales are woven into the story in Astri's head. They are the story she tells her self and her sister to keep herself sane and grounded. There is no true fantasy element in the story itself. It is a historical fiction novel. I found this a tad disappointing as I wanted a fairy tale retelling. i did really like Astri's character. She is bold, courageous, and not above doing hard things to change her life. She has her wits about her. I also liked how she was torn about her more difficult decision and what it meant about who she is as a person. I didn't like how once I had adjusted to this being straight up historical fiction some magical realism was thrown in toward the end.