Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce - Lovely lyrical writing, great world-building, and a gripping adventure. Yes, it's about unicorns. Get past that, and you'll find a mature and thoughtful YA story more people should read.
Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas - It's an MG that is just so sweet and fun I'm always surprised when people haven't heard of it.
-Lisa Gail Green
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley - Now that her latest book, Chime, is getting so much attention, maybe people will take a second look at her previous works. I hope so! Like Chime, it's got beautiful prose and a wonderfully thorny girl protagonist.
The Night of the Solstice by L.J. Smith - One of my all-time favorite mid-grade fantasies. It's about four siblings who discover that mirrors serve as a passageway to another world, and that on the winter solstice, our own world will be invaded. It's a fast-paced book full of wonderful magical moments and realistic family interactions.
The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt - It's a middle grade novel for about a 3rd grader and it was published quite a while ago so I think many have forgotten about it. It's about a young boy who goes on a quest to find the definition of the "delicious" for the royal dictionary. Of course, everyone has a different definition of what is delicious and he's soon embroiled in an adventure meeting mermaids and dwarves and a plot to takeover the kingdom. It's one of those books that can be read on two levels, a simple, fun adventure story or with deeper meaning, more symbolic meaning. It's a wonderful book that is really quite deceptive in its simplicity.
Taash and the Jesters by Ellen Kindt McKenzie - Taash is a boy being raised by an old woman and a jester; one day he walks down a forbidden path in the forest and ends up rescuing a baby from a group of witches at the height of their evil ritual. Then he goes on the lam with the child and meets up with his jester's "cousin twin." The witches are in hot pursuit, of course. An adventure well spiced with humor alongside the peril, plus the characters feel very real.
The Wicked Enchantment by Margot Benary-Isbert - The Wicked Enchantment takes place in a German town maybe a century ago. Upset when her new stepmother is cruel to her beloved dog, Anemone runs away from home--but merely across town to one of her honorary "aunts." Then she works to solve a mystery: why has the mayor of Vogelsang banned the sale of eggs just before Easter, and what happened to the statues missing from the cathedral? A circus comes to town, the men of Vogelsang are acting almost as strangely as the women, and Anemone must avoid pursuit by her icky little stepbrother and his pals throughout. This story has a rollicking feel and a unique magical dilemma. Too bad it's out of print!
The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall - A funky, off-beat MG fantasy with incredible heart, soul--and a sense of humor!
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli - A take on Rapunzel, which is gorgeously written and does a wonderful job of expanding on and adding depth to the fairy tale.
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev - A ton of fun, brimming with a cast of characters both original and familiar (most of them come from famous plays). It was unlike anything I'd read before, and that's hard to come by!
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb - it's a beautifully written, romantic ghost story.
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy - Lesser known because it is tragically out of print. I am seriously baffled as to why--with the recent paranormal romance craze, a reissue would make complete sense.
Okay, readers. What are your favorite YA and MG fantasies that don't seem to get the attention they deserve?