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*Retro Reads: North to Freedom by Anne Holm

North to Freedom (I Am David) by Anne Holm.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1963 (first edition), 256 pages. Reading Level: 10-12 Appropriate for: ages 12-up Bottom Line:  After escaping from the soviet prison camp that comprised his whole world, a 12-year-old boy must come to terms with who he is in relation to the world. The […]

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Septimus Heap

Originally published a couple years ago, this post explores one fantasy series for middle grade readers.    You know you have a good book . . . . . . when you love it so much that as soon as you finish it, you read it aloud to your younger siblings, and they love it. […]

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Newbery Buzz: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin

It’s that time again!  Less than a month before the American Library Association announces their Youth Media Awards, and chief among them is the coveted Newbery medal.  The speculation has begun, and for the next few weeks, Betsy and Janie are going to be talking about some of the leading contenders.  Please note: our discussion […]

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Brick Flicks by Sarah Herman

Brick Flicks: A comprehensive guide to making your own stop-motion Lego movies by Sarah Herman. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. 206 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, Ages 12-15 Recommended For: Middle Grades, Young Adult, Ages 10-up (for experienced Lego builders; may require parental assistance) Moviemaking with Legos has been going on long before the popular feature film […]

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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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Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve. Random House, 2014. 208 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10 Recommended For: Ages 8-10 Bottom Line: A rollicking chapter book adventure with missing parents, mysterious islands, and one determined boy. When Oliver’s parents disappear while exploring a mysterious island, 10-year-old Oliver Crisp doesn’t panic.  He is made of sterner […]

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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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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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Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon.  Greenwillow Books, 2015.  368 pages.  Reading Level: Young Adults, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 15 and up Bottom Line: A darker steam-punk fantasy, Illusionarium will be enjoyed by teenage boys and girls who enjoy alternative reality. Arthurias, 1863, is an outpost colony in the North Sea populated by miners and those who love a […]

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Making the Team by Stephanie Perry Moore and Derrick Moore

Making the Team by Stephanie Perry Moore and Derrick Moore. Alec London Series. Lift Every Voice Books (a Moody Imprint), 2011. 160 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-12 Recommended For: Ages 8-10, especially boys Bottom Line: Alec London learns to trust God in the midst of parent issues, friend issues, and sibling issues in this realistic […]

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