November 27, 2015

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Mermaids, Pirates, and Terrifying Tales | Middle Grade Series Update


A round up of some recent and forthcoming middle grade series and sequels.

This article was published in School Library Journal's October 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

What Do Tweens Want?


Librarians create special spaces and services for preteens.

This article was published in School Library Journal's October 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Seven Dead Pirates: A Ghost Story by Linda Bailey | SLJ Review


Bailey, Linda. Seven Dead Pirates: A Ghost Story. 304p. ebook available. Tundra. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781770498150.

Gr 4-7–There is little joy in lonely Lewis Dearborn’s young life. He’s the only child to older, overprotective parents, shy to the point of becoming selectively mute at school, and friendless. One bright spot is his relationship with his eccentric great-grandfather, who lives in Shornway, a run-down mansion by the sea. When his great-grandfather dies, Lewis and his parents move into the ramshackle […]

The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau | SLJ Review


RESAU, Laura. The Lightning Queen. 336p. Scholastic. Oct. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545800846; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545800860.

Gr 3-6–If books were written in black and white, The Lightning Queen would be written in color. Esma, a young Romani girl, meets Teo, a young Mixteco living on the Hill of Dust in the mountains of Mexico, when her traveling caravan makes a stop in Teo’s small village. The Romani bring with them the magic of cinema films, and after the loss of […]

Review of the Day: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

The Nest By Kenneth Oppel Illustrated by Jon Klassen Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-4814-3232-0 On shelves October 6th Oh, how I love middle grade horror. It’s a very specific breed of book, you know. Most people on the street might think of the Goosebumps books or similar ilk when they […]

Review: Roller Girl

This summer I challenged myself to read as much as I could. I made sure to keep my house inundated with books, which between the loads of reserves I placed at the public library and the many books I still have from Book Expo America, is not a problem. I also wanted to do a […]

Tears will Be Shed: Heart-Wrenching Novels for Middle Grades │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

Penderwicks in Spring

Keep a box of tissues nearby. The following novels selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild are sure to pull heartstrings.

Mariella Mystery, Zombie Hamsters, and Magic | Series Update


These series updates are sure to please fans: Mariella Mystery is on the case, Ehrich Weisz continues the search for his brother, and Havelock McCreely writes another “Zombie Hamster” installment.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Best Books 2014: Revolution| Middle Grade


In the second installment of her documentary novel series, Wiles introduces Sunny and Raymond, two kids from Greenwood, MS, who, though close geographically, lead vastly different lives. In alternating perspectives sprinkled with song lyrics, photos, and other ephemera, readers learn about the tumultuous Freedom Summer of 1964, the injustice of Jim Crow laws, and the brave acts of ordinary people who risked their lives in the fight for civil rights.

Best Books 2014: Sisters| Middle Grade


In a follow-up to Smile (Scholastic, 2010), Telgemeier recounts the highs and lows of sisterhood—from the annoying to the heartwarming. Set against the backdrop of a summer road trip, the humorous narrative and the expressive art capture the intricacies of the tenuous sibling bond in this pitch-perfect graphic novel memoir.

Best Books 2014: Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms| Middle Grade


Will, 12, is a quintessential wild child, having grown up on a farm in Zimbabwe run by her British father. When he dies, she is sent to a boarding school in England and must use all of the survival skills she learned in the bush, and then some, to negotiate this strange new world. Will is a firecracker of a character whose distinctive voice and indomitable spirit will stay with readers for a long while.

Best Books 2014: West of the Moon| Middle Grade


Norway—it’s not just for Disney princesses anymore! In this enchanting story set in the mid-19th century, two sisters are separated by grim circumstances until the resourceful Astri escapes from her wretched goatherd master and finds Greta and the girls make their way west to meet their destiny in America. Weaving superstition and folkloric elements into a gripping narrative, Preus creates a unique brand of magical storytelling.

Best Books 2014: The Red Pencil| Middle Grade


In this lyrical “novel told in poems, pictures, and possibilities,” 12-year-old Amira’s family life and dreams of going to school are shattered when Janjaweed militants attack her Sudanese village and force the survivors to flee to a refugee camp. Silenced by her grief, the girl’s voice and spirit are slowly restored by the amazing gift of a tablet and a red pencil. A heartening and powerful read.

Best Books 2014: The Boundless| Middle Grade


Will Everett, son of a Canadian railway exec, is booked on The Boundless, a gilded transcontinental supertrain that boasts all the bells and whistles of the steam age. Accidentally separated from his dad, Will winds up on the back of the mile-long train, trying to make his way up front. This breathless adventure features nefarious criminals, kindly circus performers, and ferocious Sasquatch. Rip-roaring good fun.

Best Books 2014: Rain Reign| Middle Grade


Literal-minded Rose finds joy in discovering homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings). Diagnosed with Asperger’s, Rose struggles when rules are broken, making her an outcast in school and straining the tenuous relationship with her impatient and verbally abusive father. A surprising bond with a stray dog and the loving support of her Uncle Weldon help Rose discover hidden strengths. Readers will root for this seemingly unlikely hero.

Best Books 2014: My Heart Is Laughing| Middle Grade


Sweetly optimistic Dani almost never lets life get her down, but her spirits flag when she encounters a pair of class bullies, an especially trying experience without the support of her best friend, who recently moved. This simple yet sensitively drawn narrative from an author with an intuitive understanding of the joys and pains of childhood makes for a delightfully reassuring tale.

Best Books 2014: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy| Middle Grade


With her mother recently dead, Ophelia’s on her own, wandering the museum where her father works until she comes across an imprisoned young boy who sends her on a series of perilous tasks. Foxlee sensitively conveys a child’s experiences of loss and death with exhilarating adventure, fraught with just the right level of danger to hook budding fantasy lovers.

Best Books 2014: El Deafo| Middle Grade


Navigating a new school and friendships can be tricky, but when things get tough, Cece dons her alternate persona, El Deafo, whose superpowers—which emanate from the Phonic Ear strapped to her chest—help her find her way in the hearing world and discover the person she wants to be. With liberal doses of humor and quirky color drawings, this touching autobiographical graphic novel leaps off the pages straight into readers’ hearts.

Best Books 2014: Nest| Middle Grade


“Chirp” Orenstein lives year round on a salt marsh on Cape Cod and is a budding dancer and an avid birdwatcher. The 11-year-old’s idyllic childhood ends when her vivacious, free-spirited dancer mother is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and slips into a deep and irreversible depression. Ehrlich tackles tough subjects with tenderness and grace as she shines a light on family strength and resilience in the face of loss.

Best Books 2014: The Night Gardener| Middle Grade


In this spine-tingling and atmospheric tale in the Victorian gothic tradition, orphan Molly and her little brother Kip find work as servants for an odd and sickly family in a dilapidated English mansion. Creaky stairs, darkened hallways, malevolent spirits, and one terrifying tree will set readers’ hearts pounding. Auxier explores the power of storytelling and the unbreakable bond between siblings.