Maryland has a long history of producing wonderful writers: Edgar Allen Poe, H.L. Mencken and Frederick Douglass, of course and, more recently, Tom Clancy, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Madison Smartt Bell, to name a few. But our great state’s authorial talent extends much further. Though perhaps not household names, countless Maryland writers are producing fantastic books every year. Enhance your bookshelf with some of these local works (some even set in Baltimore!), appropriate for kids of any age.
Books recommended by Rona London of the Ivy Bookshop.
Picture Books (ages 2-6)
“The Perfect Dog” by Kevin O’Malley
Join one lucky little girl as she sets off on a journey to find her perfect pooch. Some dogs are too big, some are too small—but when she finds the one that’s just right, she couldn’t be happier (Penguin Random House).
“Shape Shift” by Joyce Hesselberth
Trapezoids, hexagons, diamonds and ovals…Hesselberth’s fun, simple illustrations help little learners identify common geometrical shapes in everyday life (Henry Holt and Co.).
Early Readers (ages 6-8)
“The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary” by Laura Shovan
With Emerson Elementary set to be bulldozed by the end of the year, the fifth-grade class is determined to keep their school alive through a series of powerful poems—while making some surprising discoveries along the way (Wendy Lamb Books).
“I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark” by Debbie Levy
Encourage little historians to learn more about the “Notorious RBG” and her impact in the Supreme Court, particularly through her long record of history-making disagreements and dissents (Simon & Schuster).
Middle Readers (ages 8-12)
“Hoodoo” by Ronald L. Smith
Hoodoo Hatcher was named for the particular brand of folk magic his family has long practiced in small-town Alabama. The only problem? He’s totally non-magical. But when a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, it seems Hoodoo is the only one who can save the day…but can he cast a spell in time (Clarion Books)?
“The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog” by Adam Gidwitz
This adventure story is as exciting as its title is long. Follow the three “magical children” as they escape through Medieval France, encountering brave knights, not-so-dangerous dragons and, of course, the holy greyhound Gwenforte (Penguin Random House).
“Seven Stories Up” by Laurel Snyder
In this Baltimore-based book, Annie’s grandmother is dying, but she’s never met her before…that is, until she wakes up one morning and finds herself in 1937. There, she meets a girl her own age…that just so happens to be her long-lost relative (Random House).
Young Adults (ages 13-18)
“Frannie and Tru” by Karen Hattrup
Frannie is miserable. Financial hardship has forced her out of her comfy Catholic school existence and into a lonely life at a Baltimore magnet school. But when her cousin Tru is sent to live with her because his parents can’t accept his sexuality, Frannie’s life begins to change in ways she didn’t think possible (HarperCollins).
“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
This dynamic, timely novel is this year’s “One Maryland, One Book” pick—and it’s easy to see why. Told alternately by a white teen and a black teen, the story powerfully confronts issue of race, prejudice and justice (Simon & Schuster).