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The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan & John Park Davis

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis, illustrated by Todd Harris. Little, Brown, 2014. 433 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: The Map to Everywhere offers an action-packed fantasy quest in which protagonists must find and assemble the pieces of a map. Fin, formerly […]

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Story Thieves by James Riley

Story Thieves by James Riley. Simon & Shuster (Aladdin), 2015. 383 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: This action-packed fantasy-within-a-fantasy puts characters into their favorite stories, but also raises questions about authorship, fate, magic, and science. The only excitement Owen has in his life is breathlessly following each […]

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Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Masterminds by Gordon Korman. Balzer & Bray, 2015, 336 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 12-15 Bottom Line: Masterminds raises some interesting ethical questions in the midst of a fast-moving thriller that pits kids against grownups. Who would want to live anywhere but Serenity, New Mexico? Yes, it’s small, and kind […]

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*Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnischen

*Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnischen. Simon & Shuster, 2015, 392 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 12-15 Bottom line: In Red Butterfly, a Chinese girl raised by American parents must figure out who she really is after discovering she has no official identity. Kara, age 11, speaks English as well […]

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Paper Things by Jennifer Jacobson

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Candlewick, 2015, 376 pages Reading Level: Middle grades ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 (especially girls) Bottom Line: The protagonist of Paper Things struggles to be loyal to her brother and her guardian as she endures a season of homelessness. For four years, ever since Arianna’s mother died, Ari […]

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Lucky Strike by Bobby Pyron

Lucky Strike by Bobby Pyron. Scholastic (Arthur Levine), 2015. 263 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 8-12 Bottom Line: A “lucky” lightning strike changes a lonely boy into a celebrity, with results no one would have predicted. Nate Harlow figures he’s the unluckiest boy on the whole Gulf Coast, starting when […]

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A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd. Scholastic, 2014, 311 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 8-12 Bottom Line: A Snicker of Magic is the folksy tale of a girl who needs a home, but it may rely too much on “magic” as a cure-all. Felicity Juniper Pickle just wants to […]

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*The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton adapted by Nancy Carpentier Brown

*The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton adapted by Nancy Carpentier Brown, illustrated by Ted Schluenderfritz. Hillside Education, 2007. 147 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-12 Bottom Line: This well-done adaptation of four famous Father Brown stories preserves the original lively spirit of Chesterton’s famous sleuth. The Father Brown Reader is a collection of four famous Father […]

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*Bible Review: ESV Following Jesus Bible

*ESV Following Jesus Bible. Crossway, 2015. 1401 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: The features of Following Jesus Bible point young readers to the presence of Christ in all scripture in a way that’s accessible to middle grades. In recent years, much welcome attention has been paid to […]

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The Only Game by Mike Lupica

The Only Game by Mike Lupica (Home Team series, #1). Simon & Shuster, 2015. 321 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 8-10, especially boys Bottom Line: Character values and the drama of baseball itself take the field in The Only Game, while character development and plot remain on the bench. Walton […]

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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. Scholastic Press, 2009. 194 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: The young reader’s version of the author’s best-selling Manhunt offers all the drama of Lincoln’s assassination and the ensuing search for John Wilkes Booth. One hundred and fifty years ago, on […]

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