Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Middle Grade Novels of 2014

Middle Grade Love


We're getting the theme down now, right? Lots of awesome books - not enough time to read them all. I can't claim these books are the best books out there of all, because I certainly can't read everything. What I CAN claim is that these are books you should try to get into your library. It's a good time to be a reader.

REALISTIC FICTION

Rain Reign
It's been a great year for books that give kids a window into other people's lives. Rain Reign was a compassionate peek into the life of a girl with Asperger's (even though the DSM doesn't use that term any longer) and other issues. She's fascinated with homonyms and adores her dog. Kids will be able to connect with her, even while learning about the pieces of her life that are completely different from their own.

I liked the way her classroom aide is presented - maybe this will also help kids understand some of the reasons kids they know may need a little extra assistance in their days.




The Secret Hum of a Daisy

I don't always read a lot of realistic fiction, but after hearing so much buzz about this title I made sure to add it to my list. Wow, am I glad I made the time! While compassionate understanding is one big theme this year (and Secret Hum has that in spades), another trend I noticed was celebrating artistic natures and makers in general. I kept getting an itch to make sculptures while reading this one.

Someone needs to make a display of some of the wonderful creative - artistically inspiring books that have published lately!
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4878838?shelf=artistic-creative-inspirations (in case anyone wants to get started?)


SPECULATIVE FICTION

The Fourteenth Goldfish
I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Holm's Babymouse, and I know she's a skilled writer of historical fiction (though I haven't yet read them). This book proves that she has a deft hand with science fiction for middle grade readers, too.

Kids who aren't huge fans of science fiction - but who are interested by science itself - will be sucked into the story. I love all the science love. There are mentions of so many amazing scientists... you'll want to be sure to have some biographies on hand of Marie Curie, Oppenheimer, Galileo, Salk and more. It would also be a great book to partner with the more traditional text Tuck Everlasting (which is coming up on its 40th anniversary), since both books take on the theme of living forever.



Minion
I got the pleasure of hosting John David Anderson's "Five Ways to Take Over the World" vlog during the blog tour. There's a trailer for the book at this post, too!
http://www.mariaselke.com/2014/06/blog-tour-minion-by-john-david-anderson.html









Spirit's Key
Love mystery, adventure, and a little bit of spooky? Love animals and stories of preteens learning to accept their skills and talents?

Spirit is an intelligent, passionate, loving young woman. The story moved quickly and will delight middle grade readers.

Kids who loved Savvy and also enjoy mildly spooky tales will love this book.






LITERARY TIE-INS

I Kill the Mockingbird

It made me laugh - a lot. A trio of book loving friends form a group of "literary saboteurs". The bookish humor is amazing. The lessons are great. The friendship - and a touch of romance - rang true. Read it for all the great book references because it's worth it even just for that!
Two things gave me pause (but certainly didn't keep this book off of my favorites list):
1) their teacher called himself "fat Bob" - but fat jokes (though they were limited) make me cringe a bit.
2) will it feel dated quickly? Lots of specific tech references to twitter and Instagram sound cool now - I just hope it doesn't keep kids from enjoying in a few years.

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

Great adventure. As an adult, I loved the Twain references. This is easier than Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, so maybe kids will take these stories and remember them when they get to Twain's works.
Becky Thatcher was so much fun. Maybe the stories really WERE all about her....




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