Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Middle Grade Novels

Thank goodness winter break has given me some time to catch up on all of the great 2014 books I haven't gotten to yet. I am trying desperately to NOT read any 2015 books until I get through about 10-15 of the middle grade novels I want to read from 2014. Once I start 2015, they will keep coming and I'll never find time to get back to my stack.

So far, I've read several good middle grade novels. None of these are really a match for 3rd graders but they seem great for 4th-6th.

Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau is a book that I think lots of kids will like.  It is a great into into historical fiction for kids new to that genre.  The story is about the dolls that America sent to Japan in 1926. This is the story of one girl and one doll.  Lexie is dealing with the death of her father. She has recently moved in with her grandparents so there is lots of change in her life.   But her class is sending a doll to Japan as part of the Friendship Doll and Lexie feels very connected to the doll.  Loved the stories and the characters in this one and learned a lot about the Friendship Dolls.  I can think of several 4th graders who might like this one.

All I can say about Revolution by Deborah Wiles is WOW! I loved Countdown and have been anxiously awaiting this second book in Wiles' 60s trilogy.  I am not sure how I waited so long to read it but it is amazing. Just like in Countdown, Wiles weaves real photos and quotes through the story of a girl growing up in the 60s.  This book focuses on Freedom Summer in Mississippi (1964). A fabulous story with believable characters. And I have to say that I learned a great deal about the summer of '64 that I didn't realize.  This is one I'd love to reread. A must read and accessible to 5th graders and above. I wish more adults who are not children's lit fans would find books like this one, as it seems to be one that everyone should read.

I'm about halfway through Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick and can already think of several readers who would like this book. This is a story for sports fans but it is different from others I've read in that the character is not an athlete. Instead, his dad and grandpa own an umpire school (Behind the Plate) and Casey is a big part of it. But mostly, he wants to be a sportswriter.  This is a great story with great characters and a different kind of sports story for kids who love Matt Christopher and Mike Lupica.

I listened to the audio of Tell Me by Joan Bauer and I LOVED it. 12 year old Anna is definitely a favorite character of 2014.  She is funny and kind and quirky.  Anna's parents are having some trouble so they send her to spend some time with her grandmother--in a town that is getting ready for a big Flower Festival. There, Anna sees a little girl who seems to be held against her will and she feels that she must do something.  The book tackles the real issue of human trafficking in a way that is accessible to middle grade and middle school readers. The story is a great one and I am thinking perfect for 5th and 6th grades.  


  1. Oh dear! Four more books to add to my TBR list. I hadn't even heard of any of these! Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. Oh, goodie! Read Revolution but don't know the other three! Adding to pile.

  3. Are you familiar with The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson? Sounds like a good companion book to Ship of Dolls.

  4. Thanks for your kind words about my book! I somehow missed that Joan Bauer book--will get into the pile asap. Thanks!

  5. One thing I miss about teaching middle school is that I just don't read these books any more. It is definitely time to pick up some new titles - am intrigued by all of them, for different reasons!


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