I had not heard of author Amy Zhao when she contacted me about featuring her fourth book. Not surprising as about 75% of my reviews are for contemporary stories. When I do dip into fantasy and magical realism, I hope for a unique plot with engaging characters, wildly imagined worlds, and a few crazy creatures thrown in to spice things up. I got all three with The Legends of Pinena – Invasion of the Aliens.

Look out world, I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot from Amy in the future.  You see, she’s a 12-year-old author.



Amy spent 14 months perfecting the novel and its shows with the character arcs and progression of the action filled plot.


There are some page turning endings to almost every one of the 33 chapters. You can’t help but continue with these types of lines: I gulped, horror and fear encasing me. It was a trap.


The Slucus are half-slug, half octopus creatures out to destroy fairy worlds. They’re creepy and make the perfect antagonist blocking any takeover from Pia and her friends.


The action scenes were well crafted and they each elicit a high level of emotions out of readers. Just what writers of any age want.


A bonus section of 24 pages is included with writing experiences, lessons and tips that will encourage kids to start writing their own creative stories. Amy’s web page is also filled with writing tips, and you don’t have to be in sixth grade to benefit from her suggestions.

Here’s the official scoop on this new title:

the legend of PinenaPia knows she’s in trouble when suddenly a portal appears in her school and teleports her to a different planet, in a different galaxy …

Right into the middle of a 9-year long war between the fairy inhabitants of the planet and the invading half-slug half-octopus evil aliens.

But Pia’s sudden arrival to the planet has caught the attention of a dangerous enemy. An enemy who knows that Pia has strong powers that she herself is not aware of. An enemy who knows how to turn her powers against her.

A young adventurer.

A traitor, out for revenge.

A hero, hidden and ashamed.

A fierce warrior with a horrible past.

A beloved General, only dreading his twisted fate.

A neglected prince, seething with unspeakable rage.

The balance of the galaxy hangs in their precarious fingers.

BOOK BIRTHDAY:  March 14, 2020  PAGE COUNT: 347


At the moment, Amy Zhao is a 6th grader in the Northshore School District.

Amy wants to encourage & inspire one million kids to read and write more!

She has been writing books for a few years. Amy started writing this book when she was 11 years old and published it just as she turned 12. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find Amy …

– singing her heart out when she thinks nobody’s watching

– playing basketball with friends

– (attempting) to draw

– and stocking up on candy (since you never know when there will be a candy apocalypse)

Amy wants to be a great author someday.


She is well on her way! You can order her book through Amazon or through Amy Zhao Publishing.


Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration:

All you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). Email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com
Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book or author you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Diane T says:

    Love this. I think my boys would enjoy reading this book. Thanks for featuring it today.

  2. Danielle Hammelef says:

    Just wow to this author. Thanks for featuring her book today–she is inspirational.

  3. Wow. This sounds like a very accomplished young lady. I wish her good luck with this novel. Thanks for telling me about it.

  4. Amazing that a 12-year-old has authored a book that sounds very compelling. She certainly has a future. And, I also like that she’s learning a lot about the publishing business.

  5. Pingback: A MIDSUMMER DAY’S INTERVIEW – with 12-Year-Old Author Amy Zhao | Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

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