These are three books I have read as a panelist for the middle grade science fiction and fantasy committee for this year's Cybils Awards.
1. Floors by Patrick Carman
Reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Floors is the story of Leo's quest for the four boxes left behind by the Whippet Hotel's inventor (yes, the inventor) Merganzer Whippit when he mysteriously disappears. If Leo can find all the boxes before the hotel manager Ms. Sparks can stop him and take over the hotel herself.
2. The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
Louise loves vintage clothes. So much that when she receives an invitation to a special vintage sale she does not hesitate to go. Marla and Glenda the shop's proprietors help her into a beautiful early 1900s gown which whirls her away to a voyage on the seas. Louise returns to her life happy to be herself, but with a new appreciation for the lives lived in vintage clothes. The illustrations add a wonderful layer to the story. I also appreciate the light fantasy element after having read so many stories layered with magic and science fiction.
3. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Of all the members of the royal family, only Princess Celie truly understands the castle and in return it cares for her when her parents disappear, leaving her, her sister Princess Lilah, and her brother Crown Prince Rolf alone to deal with the usurping Prince Khelsh.