Wylde Wings (Hope Well Books, 2022), written by Kate Ristau and illustrated by Brian W. Parker, is my favorite read so far this year. This middle grade fantasy/adventure is packed with everything I love in a contemporary fantasy, including helpful owls, a badass grandmother and lots of tacos.
The story centers around Gwyn, a kid with two great best friends and a journal for his art and his thoughts (perfectly rendered on the page by Parker). Unfortunately, he also has an extremely distracted dad which his not helping anything, as Gwyn muddles through a serious loss in his life. And then, on a field trip to the science museum, he sprouts wings.
As Gwyn learns to use his wings without accidentally killing himself, he is also immersed in a world he always hoped might exist, but didn’t really believe – a world of magic and power, a world of stories and healing.
Ristau and Parker have created a story of wild chases in the air, zombie battles on the ground, and a boy who finds healing through the power of stories and the magic found in them. Full of action and humor, this is a super fun book and by the end, you might find you’ve stumbled onto some magic yourself, the magic of a tale well-told.