Middle Grade Monday: Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Middle Grade Mondays happen… well, every Monday. See what others have posted this week on Shannon Messenger’s blog. ~     ~     ~ You don’t need me to sing the praises of this NY Times bestseller by Newbery winner Rebecca Stead. But I’m going to anyway because it caught me off guard. from GoodReads: Georges (the s is silent) has a lot going on. He’s having trouble with some boys at school, his dad lost his job and so his mum has started working all the time – and they had to sell their house and move into an apartment. But moving into the apartment block does bring one good thing – Safer, an unusual boy who lives on the top floor. He runs a spy club, and is determined to teach Georges everything he knows. Their current...

MGM (or YA?) The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

(Cynthia Heinrichs is the winner from our FUTUREDAZE anthology draw – yay) Last week on MG Monday, Barbara Watson discussed and listed several MG books that she thought were on the cusp of YA. As a matter of fact, some of these books are difficult to place on shelves for this very reason. These are the type of MG books that interest me the most. Books that challenge exceptional readers, have complex characters, address important themes, but steer clear from any sex and graphic violence. Teens who are not into love triangles need great stories, too. Interestingly, on a panel at FaerieCon this weekend, I heard an author define YA as ages 14+, and this is not the first time I have heard someone in the industry say this (though many will define it as 12+)....

Middle Grade Monday: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

Current Giveaway: Enter to Win a copy of FUTUREDAZE: an anthology of YA Science Fiction. Click Here for information (Deadline: Friday, Feb 22) ~     ~     ~ When I first came across THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK  in an elementary school library, I knew I had to get a copy of my own. You may not think you know who the mysterious “Harris Burdick” is – – but I’ll bet you’ve seen some of this artwork before (which is really the work of award-winning author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg of Polar Express and Jumanji fame). In 1984, Van Allsberg published a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. The “gimmick” around the book was that a mysterious author-illustrator dropped off 14 black-and-white drawings, each...

Middle Grade Mondays: ALA Con Books for Boys (2013 Preview Part Two)

Last weekend I attended the ALA Midwinter Confence and returned with a suitcase full of books, an iPhone full of cover shots, and an earful about the fabulous books being released in 2013. It was really difficult to limit it to just a few, so I decided to focus specifically on books for boys. Prisoner 88 by Leah Pileggi Charlesbridge, July 2013 Since Ms. Ying Ling mentioned it in her comment last time, I thought I would talk about Prisoner 88, which was recommended to me when I said the middle school group I’m working with was predominantly boys. This debut novel is “inspired” by the true story of a 10 year old boy (James Oscar Baker), the youngest prisoner in the history of the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary. From the back cover of the ARC:...

Middle Grade Mondays: Live from the ALA Midwinter Conference

This is my first time at the ALA conference and for someone who is easily over-stimulated, it’s quite overwhelming. And this isn’t even their big one. Imagine booth upon booth of book displays for the latest award-winners, reviewer picks, and up-and-coming releases (with a definite slant towards children and young adult literature). Book-lover / educator paradise. I had to stay focused or I would have imploded, so my tour of the publishers’ booths was primarily geared toward the upper middle grade reader, especially since I have to create a reading list for an up-and-coming class I’m teaching. Below is a short list of some of the books I am excited about and I will post more later this week. I’ll list a variety – some literary...

Middle Grade Mondays: All Creatures Great and Small

I’m always trying to find books for solid middle grade readers who aren’t mature enough or interested in YA matters yet. Who don’t care about love triangles, but want something challenging. I wasn’t a big reader of horse or dog stories when I was a kid, but I adored the ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL series by James Harriot when I was in 6th grade. And I mean every time I read them (the first three, at least), they warmed my heart all over again. I kept forgetting how good they were. I haven’t read them in years and wondered if my taste was suspect as a child. So I looked them up on GoodReads and, sure enough, all the books score consistently high marks. They are heart-pulling, authentic (semi-autobiograhic) stories by an English...