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Matthew Muddles Through by Glenda Mathes

Matthew Muddles Through (Matthew in the Middle #1) by Glenda Mathes. CreateSpace, 2014, 220 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 8-12 Bottom Line: The everyday adventures of a small-town preacher’s kid acquire eternal significance in this low-key series for middle graders. Matthew Vos belongs to a shrinking culture: the church-going, catechism-learning, […]

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13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Razorbill, 2006. 336 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: ages 15-up Bottom Line: Since its publication in 2006, 13 Reasons Why has become the go-to novel on the subject of teen suicide, but it’s more sensational than useful. Suppose, when you get home from school one […]

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Laid-Back Homeschooling: a Word of Encouragement for the Year Ahead

I’m not quite ready to retire to a rocking chair in front of the general store, bending the ear of hapless passers-by: Yessir, it was rough back in them early homeschoolin’ days . . . But still, it’s fun to off-handedly mention that when we decided to take our third-grader and first-grader out of public […]

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Reflections on Selections

It’s not easy being selective, especially when perusing book titles for the honor of World Magazine Children’s Book of the Year. For last year’s pick, The Warden and the Wolf King, the committee assembled a bit late in the process, meaning a rush to scan the field (books published between May 2013 and May 2014), […]

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The Winners’ Circle

World Magazine has chosen a “book of the year” for at least twenty years.  In 2013, the magazine diversified a little and chose three books in different categories.  And last year, what should come along but a Children’s Book of the Year, chosen by committee with some (ahem) ties to RedeemedReader.com. Last week, World rolled […]

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Lilliput by Sam Gayton

Lilliput by Sam Gayton, Illustrated by Alice Ratterree. Peachtree, 2015. 252 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 10-12 Bottom Line: Lilliput is an entertaining (alternative) window into Gulliver’s Travels, but may be too violent for sensitive readers. Lily’s world turned upside-down when the giant waded out of the sea and snatched […]

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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015. 198 pages including appendices Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: The story of how a handful of schoolboys sparked the Danish Resistance makes thrilling reading for middle-graders interested in WWII history. […]

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Ranger in Time series by Kate Messner

Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail and Danger in Ancient Rome by Kate Messner. Scholastic, 2015. About 125 pages, plus author note. Reading Level: Chapter books, ages 4-8 Recommended for: ages 6-8 Bottom Line: The “Ranger in Time” series is a fun way to introduce early readers to history, as a loveable search-and-rescue […]

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*Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

*Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. Dial, 2015, 304 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, age 10-12 Recommended for: all ages Bottom Line: Circus Mirandus, a magical tale for middle-graders, avoids sentimentality and can easily be adapted to a Christian understanding of the Kingdom. Micah Tuttle is swiftly approaching a crisis: Grandpa Ephraim, who raised him from […]

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SIX by M. M. Vaughan

SIX by M. M. Vaughan. Simon & Shuster (Margaret K. Elderberry Books), 2015. 361 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: Ages 10-14 Bottom Line: SIX, a science-fiction novel for middle-graders, offers likeable characters and the intriguing possibility of teleportation. Parker Banks has had a lot of adjusting to do over the last […]

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Fort by Cynthia DeFelice

Fort by Cynthia DeFelice. Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2015. 200 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 10-12 (especially boys and reluctant readers) Bottom Line: Sweet-but-rough justice is served up in this boys-only summer tale that pits three losers against two bullies. Wyatt Jones, age 11, is enjoying the last of his summer […]

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