Favorite Middle Grade Reads of 2012

Member of the Nerdy Book ClubMy Favorite Middle Grade 2012 Books

I'm going to cheat just a little bit, in order to keep this post at a reasonable length. The Nerdy Book Club community has been amazing at sharing the love for both

Wonder and

The One and Only Ivan.

I whole heartedly endorse this affection, and I urge anyone reading this post to immediately go buy and read those books. In this post, though, I'm going to focus on a few books that didn't make the rounds as energetically.

First up, two gems from Walden Pond Press.

by Barry Wolverton
Hardcover, hardcover, 287 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Walden Pond Press
ISBN 0062027913 (ISBN13: 9780062027917)

Lockley is a puffin - not a penguin, thank you very much. Neversink is his island home. Many species of auk live on this island, along with a single garrulous walrus named Egbert and a lovely hummingbird named Ruby who visits each summer.

Yet their life is about to change as an owl named Rozbel comes to power as kind on the nearby land of Tytonia. He is a little bird with a big Napoleon complex, and he wants power over the auks as well as the owls.

Auks, especially the puffins, just "Go with the flow". That life philosophy won't work any longer, though, and Lockley must find another way to save the auks, the island, and his wife and new egg.

This book was a fun, energetic ride! A great adventure, with a lot of laughs.

My son gave it 4 stars. His main complaints? The book was too short and he wants to know more about Lockley's puffling! I believe that means it's time for Mr. Wolverton to get cracking on the next book, right?

(In case you missed it, this book came along with a wonderful experience for my puffin loving son.)

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
by Christopher Healy (Goodreads Author), Tod Harris (Illustrations)
Hardcover, 419 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Walden Pond Press
ISBN 0062117432 (ISBN13: 9780062117434)

Do you know Prince Charming? Maybe you think you do... but did you know that he was more than just one man? These princes want to be sure you get to hear the real deal. 

Oh, the kids are going to LOVE this one!

Full of silly humor, buckled swashes, and unusual fairy tale characters; there is something in this tale for all kinds of readers.

This is a must buy for libraries and classrooms!

After two books about heroes, we need a villain to round out the bunch, right? Never fear - 

The Cloak Society    is here! 
by Jeramey Kraatz (Goodreads Author)
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by HarperCollins
ISBN 0062095471 (ISBN13: 9780062095473)

When I first picked this book up from the library, it disappeared. Yes, that's right - it vanished! It wasn't super powers, though. It vanished into my fifth grade son's room. The next day he brought it back and declared it "awesome!".

His Thoughts: This book is about a boy named Alex Knight and how he grew up as a fourth-generation cloak,a super Villain society to fight the rangers of justice. Untill a junior ranger compromises every thing. As in he saves her life. After that things start to get complex. To find out more read this book by Jeramey Kraatz.

I loved this book. If you liked the Unwanteds or Magyk you will love this book. I thought that how they dropped their names in exchange for a super-villain identity is cool along with how they each have separate powers and gadgets is super cool!

My Thoughts: I completely agree on this one. Every kid wants to please his parents, right? Yet every kid gets to a point where he must make his own choices. Just imagine how much harder that would be when your parents are grooming you to take over a Super Villain Society like Cloak! This story will appeal to all kinds of readers. It has humor, action, and some great messages about making your own choices. The best part? It's the start of a series!

(If you'd like to see some science connections for this cool book, check out my Sci Friday post

The Lions of Little Rock
by Kristin Levine
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
ISBN 039925644X (ISBN13: 9780399256448)

Goodreads Summary: Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958.
Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.
But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

My Thoughts: While science fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres, historical fiction comes in a close runner up. This was an amazing book, both for the historical context and the characters in the story. The main character, Marlene was amazing. I loved the way she viewed the world, and I loved the fact that she was clearly a gifted mathematician. Dare I say that I'd love to see her and Meg Murry together in the same room? The storyline was powerful. Kids and adults standing up against segregation. I loved how even many of those who started off as negative characters were shown as real human beings, too. There were no easy answers, and no easy happy ending. 

I definitely intend to include this book on my recommendation list for my students in the fall, and I'd love to use it for a book club or reading group.

Rounding out my list is another book with an amazingly strong girl lead. 

Eye of the Storm
by Kate Messner
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Walker Childrens
ISBN 0802723136 (ISBN13: 9780802723130)

Set in the "not too distant" future, Eye of the Storm captures a world where climate change has completely altered the landscape. Immense storms sweep through everywhere, altering life as we've known it. Jaden is sent to live with her father in StormSafe community to attend a cutting edge science camp when she uncovers secrets her father is hiding about his weather research.

Environmental "near future" science fiction at its best, this book will appeal to readers who are fascinated with meteorology, climate science, and even mystery. A tiny hint of romance sweetens the tale.

Kate Messner is a master at crafting strong female protagonists. Jaden is a joy to read, and I love how her math and science background is just a part of who she is - not something that is seen as "odd" in any way.

What were some of your favorite middle grade fiction books this year? 


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