Once, again, I've been reading a lot of excellent kid's books lately!
The wonderful EGG & SPOON, by Gregory Maguire, features a peasant girl from a remote and starving village, an aristocratic girl traveling through the country by train, the Tzar, the Tzar's godson, a Faberge egg, the Firebird's egg, a legendary ice dragon, and Baba Yaga, along with her chicken-legged hut, among many other Russian-themed elements. It all comes together in this sophisticated literary YA (and crossover) novel that is a pure pleasure to read.
In Meg Wolitzer's BELZHAR, Jam Gallahue is sent to a school for kids who have suffered through enough trauma that they don't fit in at at their traditional schools anymore. She and four of her classmates are chosen for a special English class, assigned Sylvia Plath to read, and given special journals. What Jam and her classmates discover as they write is both comfort and nightmare. BELZHAR is compelling YA.
Jennifer L. Holm (Babymouse, Turtle in Paradise) crafts a strong MG featuring eleven-year-old Ellie and her scientist grandfather, Melvin, who has turned up looking strangely like a dorky teenager (who still dresses like her grandfather). Melvin has discovered a "fountain of youth" but now that he looks like a kid, he can't get back into his lab to finish his experiments. THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH is funny and very readable.