Recent Releases for Middle Grades
Summer vacation has started in many places around the world, sadly though not in my little corner of the world. I still have three weeks to go, heavy sigh. I used to do a middle grade book review every week, but when I decided to cut back a little bit on my blogging, that was one of the posts I decided to let go. I still read books for Tweens, but I just have not been posting about them. So I decided recently that I want to start that up again, just not on a weekly basis. I think it will be either monthly or bimonthly depending on how many I get done in a month. These were all great books that I read the last couple of months that are worth adding to your middle grade reading lists.
Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart
I mentioned this book in my May wrap up, but I thought I would mention it again because it is so good. All of his books are very different from each other, but they all have a great adventure and a great deal of heart. It is told from the dog’s point of view, Brodie, who starts off dead at the start of the book and in dog heaven. Even though dog heaven is great, he starts to remember his life and the boy that he left behind. He can’t shake the feeling that his boy is in danger and he must go back to help him. So with the help of an ‘angel’ and with his dog friend Tuck he goes back to earth as a spirit to help his boy as much as he can. Brodie encounters many difficulties on his journey, including demon dogs and a sarcastic cat, but he gets through it all with courage and determination to do what is right. This story does get dark at times, as all of his do, but there is a lightness as well, and a hopeful ending. All of Dan’s books are must reads for most of my students.
Burning Magic (Shadow Magic #3) by Joshua Khan
This is the third and possibly last book in this series, although I hope not. I love the world that the author has created here as well as the main two characters and I hope to see more of their adventures. Princess Lily and Thorn travel to the Sultinate of Fire a neighboring kingdom to visit their friend Prince K’leef. They are immediately thrust into palace intrigue, a murder mystery and other adventures. Lily discovers much about her powers and her family’s past while helping K’leef keep his kingdom away from his evil brother and sister. A great adventure and sure to keep you up all night reading. Although I missed not being in Gehena and Castle Gloom, this was a great adventure and the ending was satisfying. I like Lily and Thorn a lot and enjoy watching their characters develop. The world and the magical system is great with giant bats, zombies and murdering ghosts to boot. A great middle grade series.
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
A book by two of my favorite middle grade authors? Yes, Please! This book was great. A sweet read about friendship, growing up and remembering childhood dreams and promises with some mythology and magical realism. It is also set in Australia which I love seeing. Not enough books are set there. Livy is visiting her grandmother again after five years, and she can’t shake the feeling that she is forgetting something important. Then she finds Bob in her closet. Bob insists that he is a chicken, but it is pretty obvious that he is something else entirely. He has been waiting for Livy for five years so that she can help him find his way home like she promised to five years ago. What unfolds is an amazingly magical story that will capture the hearts of many.
The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society #1)
by Adam Gidwitz
Elliot’s first day at a new school and he ends up on a field trip. He makes a new friend on the bus, Uchenna, and although he finds his new teacher, Mr Fauna a bit odd, he finds himself caught up in an adventure that he won’t soon forget. Elliot is a book worm after my own heart and Uchenna has an adventurer’s heart that will appeal to many kids. Although some kids may be disappointed that there are no Unicorns in this first book, the Jersey Devil certainly makes up for it. This version of the Jersey Devil is sweeter than the traditional. Elliot and Uchenna are great characters and although the environmental message is a bit heavy handed at times, there is a great adventure with lots of action and some pretty nasty bad guys. Funny at times but with a nice sense of innocence for the evil in the world, this is a good start to a fantasy series.
The Language of Spells by Garret Freyman-Weyr
While the cover is certainly going to appeal to many, the style of writing might be difficult for some middle schoolers and might keep them from enjoying a good story. The style is some what old fashioned and it can be a slow read because of the that. Told from the perspective of Grisha and Maggie is a tale that is magical but also offers up some world history. I really liked both characters, they have an interesting perspective on the world, and Grisha offers some fascinating insight into the world of magic. I also liked that most of the story is set in Vienna, but they travel to London and Rome. Once you get past some of the early story about what happens to Grisha, which was a tad boring, you are treated to a wonderful story full of friendship and the willingness to sacrifice that friendship in order to do what is right. This is not a story for everyone, but for those who find it they will cherish it. I would recommend it to those who loved The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
If you enjoy reading middle grade or if you are looking for some good books to add to your child’s summer reading list you can’t go wrong with any of these.