Tag Archives | boys

Zane and the Hurricane

Zane and the Hurricane: a Story of Katrina, by Rodman Philbrick. Scholastic, 2014, 181 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 11-12 Maturity Level: 4 Zane does not want to spend a couple of weeks in New Orleans—Smellyville, he dubs it—but his mom has just discovered an almost-relative of his late father there and insists he […]

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Almost Super

Almost Super, by Marion Jensen. Harper, 2014, 251 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-12 Maturity Level: 3 (ages 8-10) Every four years, on February 29, the Baileys of Split Rock gather for the adolescent members (12 and older) to receive their specials powers. It always happens at 4:23 p.m.: a flash of light, and […]

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Curiosity, by Gary Blackwood. Dutton, 2014, 310 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 11-12, Young Adult, ages 12-14 Maturity Level: 5 (Ages 12-14) Philadelphia, 1836: Rufus Goodspeed has led a sheltered life as the only child of his sheltered father, a Methodist minister. Partially crippled from birth (which birth also took his mother), Rufus feels […]

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What is War Good For?

How do you use the label “anti-war?” As in, “Saving Private Ryan is the best anti-war movie ever made, or “All Quiet on the Western Front ranks at the top of anti-war literature.” In 1969, Edwin Starr’s Motown song “War” became a huge hit. Its theme was simplicity itself: WAR!  What is it good for? […]

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The Warden and the Wolf King

The Warden and the Wolf King, by Andrew Peterson. Rabbit Room Press, 2014, 519 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-14 Maturity Level: 3 and up (from age 10) Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are the children of Nia and Esben Wingfeather, though they never knew their father. Esben was once the High King of Anniera, […]

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The Great Greene Heist

The Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson. Scholastic, 2014, 226 pages.  Age/interest level: 9-13. Everybody loves a con man, as long as they’re not the ones getting conned. Jackson Greene already has this reputation at Maplewood Middle School. If any elaborate pranks have been played, he was “allegedly” behind it. He comes by his talents […]

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It’s Summertime! Let’s Learn Something!

While we’re gearing up for our summer reading challenge (still time to sign up!) the kids may be looking around for something to read. Fiction comes to mind—what a great time to catch up with Percy Jackson or Greg Heffley! Or not. Though lighthearted fantasy or humor seems right for summer, don’t neglect nonfiction. Kids […]

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The Shakespeare Stealer–and an Interview with Author Gary Blackwood

The Shakespeare Stealer (1998), Shakespeare’s Scribe (2000), and Shakespeare’s Spy (2003), by Gary Blackwood.  Penguin Group; Puffin Books.  Age/interest level: 12-16. True story: in 1998 I was shopping around a manuscript about a 14-year-old boy in 16th-century London who through a series of happy misfortunes becomes an actor in William Shakespeare’s theater company.  Before starting […]

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Middle Grade Fiction with Fibonacci, Tesla, and More!

When I was a child I read large numbers of mysteries and was always somewhat irritated when I had to go to math class. I did just fine in math class, but all that specificity got in the way of my more verbal and creative side. If you have children that sound like this–or, believe it […]

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Adventuring with Wilder Good, Gannon & Wyatt, and a Giveaway!

NOTE: The giveaway contest is closed–congratulations to Nellie, who recommended Ivanhoe as her favorite adventure story.  “High interest” children’s literature (see our explanation here), covers many genres and age levels.  Today we look at some worthy titles in the travel/adventure genre for middle graders–and you, lucky reader, may have a chance to win three of […]

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Sequelville: in Which We Follow up on Some Old Favorites

Sometimes fans of a popular book DEMAND a sequel (see Origami Yoda, below), and sometimes the entire series is planned out from the beginning.  Whether a series conclusion lives up to its promise is another story, but all of these sequels have their charms.  Click on the highlighted title of the previous book to read […]

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