I decided to focus on my current favorite type of reading, middle grade. I decided not to include any classic middle-grade titles, and I also set a rule that I couldn’t repeat any titles from my post, 13 Middle-Grade Titles to Booktalk. (Otherwise, half of this post would be a repeat of that post.)
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller. This is an accessible nonfiction graphic novel that tells a fascinating true story and also uses visuals creatively to show what it was like for Helen Keller before she learned to communicate.
Bud Not Buddy. This book has it all: rich characters, detailed setting, page-turning plot, and important themes. And Bud is one of my favorite characters in fiction. His “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out Of Yourself” are so funny. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry–the best kind of story.
The Graveyard Book. Spooky, disturbing, timeless.
Locomotion. This verse novel by Jacqueline Woodson features an unforgettable character who finds an identity for himself as a poet.
Liar & Spy. I loved the different twists and turns in this story. I think this novel is even better than Stead’s tremendous Newbery winner, When You Reach Me.
Frindle. What a great plot: Nick Allen takes up his teacher’s challenge of trying to get a new word included in the dictionary.
Snicker of Magic. A new favorite that exemplifies all the reasons I love middle grade. The kind of book that the #heartprint hashtag is all about. (For more on #heartprint books, check out JoEllen McCarthy’s post for Nerdy Book Club.)
Invention of Hugo Cabret. This is Brian Selznick’s own description of his tour de force illustrated novel: “Paris in the 1930’s, a thief, a broken machine, a strange girl, a mean old man, and the secrets that tie them all together.” And movies!
Rules. Cynthia Lord creates a deeply relatable character in Catherine, who is equal parts helpful with her autistic little brother and annoyed and embarrassed by him. She wants to do the right thing, but she also wants to fit in and have friends, and she doesn’t always make choices she feels very good about. A wonderful story about family, friendship, acceptance, and difference.
Music for Dolphins. Karen Hesse’s story of a girl raised by dolphins isn’t for everyone, but I found it thought-provoking, beautifully written, and ultimately very sad.