Tag Archives | middle readers


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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Seven Stories Up

Seven Stories Up, by Laurel Snyder. Random House, 2014, 229 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10 Maturity Level: 3 (ages 8-10) Annie and her mom arrive in Baltimore on a sad mission: to say farewell to Annie’s grandmother, who is on her deathbed in the former luxury hotel built by her great-grandfather. Grandmother is […]

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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 Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya

The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, by Jane Kelley. Feiwel & Friends, 2013, 201 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10, Ages 11-12 Maturity Level: 3 For Zeno, it starts like any normal day, except that Dr. Asgard, his servant, seems to be taking a nap on the floor. None of the noises Zeno […]

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For the Birds

NOTE: Today we begin experimenting with new formats for our book reviews, in anticipation of some big changes ahead–and we need your feedback!  Please scroll down below the review for more. National Wildlife Federation World of Birds: a Beginners Guide, by Kim Kirki. Black Dog & Levanthal, 2014, 80 pages including glossary and index. Reading […]

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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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Summer Tales

Two middle-grade summertime stories, both by Newberry-winning authors: Half a Chance, by Cynthia Lord. Scholastic, 2014, 218 pages. Age/interest level: 10-14 Lucy is used to moving—it’s her third time in 12 years. This time, her photographer dad and computer-programmer mom have moved to a New Hampshire lake mostly populated with summer people, so the friends […]

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Digging in the Dirt

Due to the loooong winter experienced by those of us in the Midwest and eastern United State, we’ve been slow to get our garden in. Also a bit tardy to look around and notice the new gardening books that always start popping up in March. But better late than never: here’s one nice addition to […]

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Faithgirlz in Action: Two New Series

Zondervan’s “Faithgirlz!” books are series novels aimed at middle-grade girls. These two “girlz” series fall prey to some common weaknesses of Christian fiction, but show some bright spots too: Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek (Good News Shoes, #1), by Jill Osborne. Zonderkidz, 2014, 238 pages. Age/interest level: 8-12. Riley Mae Hart loves shoes: […]

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Over the Moon and across the Pond

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon, by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Candlewick, 2014, 240 pages. Age/interest level: 9-13 The magical car seems to be flying for the last time in this latest installment of her time-traveling adventures (following Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race against Time, which takes her and the Tooting family back […]

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