Tag Archives | middle-grade

Reflections on Selections

It’s not easy being selective, especially when perusing book titles for the honor of World Magazine Children’s Book of the Year. For last year’s pick, The Warden and the Wolf King, the committee assembled a bit late in the process, meaning a rush to scan the field (books published between May 2013 and May 2014), […]

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Lilliput by Sam Gayton

Lilliput by Sam Gayton, Illustrated by Alice Ratterree. Peachtree, 2015. 252 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 10-12 Bottom Line: Lilliput is an entertaining (alternative) window into Gulliver’s Travels, but may be too violent for sensitive readers. Lily’s world turned upside-down when the giant waded out of the sea and snatched […]

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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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Legends by Howard Bryant

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,” […]

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Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood by Nathan Hale

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. […]

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*The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

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, […]

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Middle-Grade Losers, or, What Hath Greg Heffley Wrought?

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 […]

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Kids–Try This at Home

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 […]

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Laid-Back Grammar

“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 […]

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Dystopia, Junior

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 […]

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A Parent’s Guide to Environmentalism in Children’s Literature, Part Two

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 […]

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