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Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey

Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey. Viking, 1979, 191 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, 8-10 Maturity Level: 2 (ages 4-8) and up Centerburg Tales is set in the same, small Midwestern town as Homer Price and uses many of the same characters. While Homer Price, though fiction, has a down-home, realistic feel of a boy’s experience, […]

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An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work

An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work by the National Gallery of Art. Chicago Review Press, 2014, 176 pages. Reading Level: Middle grade, ages 10-12 Maturity Level: 3 (8 and up) This book is a collection of “Inside Scoop” newsletters, a family quarterly published by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, […]

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The Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky

The Carnival of the Animals, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Mary GrandPre. Knopf, 2010, 32 pages (CD included). Reading Level: Picture book, ages 4-8 Maturity Level: 2 (ages 4-8) and up Camille Sainte-Saens supposedly wrote The Carnival of the Animals in 1886 as an inside joke for his music students. Many of the musical themes […]

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Listen to the Birds: An Introductions to Classical Music by Ana Garhard

Listen to the Birds, by Ana Garhard. The Secret Mountain, 2013, 48 pages each (CD included). Reading level: Picture Books, ages 9-12 Maturity Level: 3 (8-10) and up There are lots of ways to introduce classical music, depending on the age of the child. Ms. Garhard’s way is to group musical excerpts around a theme […]

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Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. Viking, 1943. 149 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, 8-10 Maturity Level: 2 (ages 4-8) and up McCloskey has transformed his picture book hero, Lentil, into a slightly more grown-up Homer Price. Homer lives outside the town of Centerberg and experiences small town America in all its glory. Folks know each […]

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Ava and Pip by Carol Westin

Ava and Pip by Carol Weston. Sourcebooks, 2014, 211 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grade (11-12) Maturity Level: 4 (11-12) On the first day of fifth grade, Ava asks her parents why they named her Ava. “Because we like palindromes,” says Dad. That’s why Ava and her older sister’s name spell the same forward and back, […]

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Always, Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh

Always, Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh. Sourcebooks, 2014, 311 pages. Reading level: Middle Grade (8-10) Maturity Level: 3 (8-10) Abigail Walters is starting sixth grade with high hopes of joining the pom-pom squad. She and her best friends Alli and Cami (better known as AlliCam) have planned and practiced for it since third grade, and Abigail […]

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Somebody on This Bus is Going to Be Famous by (our very own) J. B. Cheaney

Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous by J. B. Cheaney. Sourcebooks, 2014. 304 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades (8-10, 10-12) Maturity Level: Level 4 (10 and up) Our story opens with a tragedy: a school bus has gone off the side of a steep road in the midst of a torrential downpour. […]

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Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Clarion, 2014, 384 pages. Reading Level: Middle grades (ages 10-12) Maturity Level: Level 4 (10 and up) The Greenglass House is an old inn set on a remote cliff near a smuggler’s cove and is run by Milo (an adopted boy of Asian heritage) and his parents. And in Greenglass House, […]

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A Scary Story

The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier. Amulet, 2014, 350 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Maturity Level: 4 (age 10 and up) Teenage Mollie and her little brother Kip are on the road at a very inauspicious time and place—mid-nineteenth-century Ireland. Their parents have sailed for America, intending to send for them when they […]

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The Castle Behind Thorns

The Castle Behind Thorns, by Merrie Haskell. HarperCollins, 2014, 341 pages. Reading level: Middle Grades, ages 11-12 Maturity level: 5 (ages 11 and up) Sand awoke curled in the ashes of a great fireplace. He doesn’t even remember falling asleep, and his surroundings give him no clue how he got here—wherever “here” may be. As […]

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