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 […]
Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Baseball by Howard Bryant. Philomel Press, 2015. 228 pages, including index. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: Legends is an enjoyable compendium of baseball’s greatest players and games, written with the middle-grade reader in mind. “This is not a perfect book,” […]
Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale. Amulet, 2014. 128 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Maturity Level: 4 (age 10 and up) This is the fourth volume of “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales,” all of which employ the author’s namesake (the heroic Revolutionary-War spy) as narrator for some dark, dramatic chapters in history. […]
This book is a “Best of the Best” pick from our Winter Book Fair. CLICK HERE to see more gift ideas! *The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Harcourt Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 237 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grade, ages 10-12 Maturity Level: 4 (ages 10-12) and up Bottom line: The Crossover, a verse novel for middle grades, […]
The Wimpy Kid phenomenon keeps on going, and so far has outlasted the dystopia phenomenon, the vampire phenomenon, and the zombie phenomenon. Volume 8 in the series, Hard Luck, is set to release on Nov. 5 with a 5.5 million print run. I reviewed The Third Wheel, Wimpy Kid #7, with observations on the genre […]
Got a novel idea? It’s easier than ever to get published, but if the imprint on the spine of your masterwork is Xlibris or iUniverse, don’t expect placement on the New York Times bestseller list. There are always exceptions, such as Christopher Paolini, a hardworking homeschooler who completed his first dragon novel (Eragon) at the […]
“Grammar” is a stretchy word, enclosing syntax (sentence structure), spelling, punctuation and parts of speech—the mechanics of language. Along with algebra, principal products, and geology, it would probably win a top five spot in the “Why do we have to learn this?” category. When it came to diagramming sentences, some of the kids in my […]
Dystopian fiction for middle-grades isn’t new: Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a classic of the genre. The success of The Hunger Games means similar titles for younger ages would be showing up soon. These two are good examples, even though each comes with a little twist–the first stirs in a generous measure of magic, and […]
Wrapping up our two weeks of Lorax-inspired environmental emphasis, how do children’s books specifically reflect growing concern about our care of the earth? Because of course they do. Any publisher will gravitate toward books that speak to a current issue, so expect to find plenty of books in your local school and public library about […]
Soldier Bear, by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman. Translated by Laura Watkinson. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011, 145 pages. Age/interest level: 9-12 World War II started when the Germans and the Russians went into Poland, the Germans from the left and the Russians from the right. They stopped exactly in the middle, where they […]
Picture books are traditional, and YA is new and glamorous, but the area of literature I consider to be “classic children’s” is that big glorious milestone middle—the golden years between, say, eight and twelve, when you were old enough to hop on your bike and seek adventure in the neighboring woods and vacant lots, when […]
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