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...

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: We Like Spies

I mentioned before that I’ve been going through an adult fiction (no not THAT kind), reading streak to stretch my perspective and challenge my mind a bit. (and increase my vocabulary, I’ve picked up these words among others: commove, impecunious, and avoirdupois). It feels good, like yoga for the brain. So, this week I decided to ask some fellow writers (and one husband) what their favourite books were when they were 10. And why. I’ll start with The Husband, whose favourite book was THE SPY LADY AND THE MUFFIN MAN by Sesyle Joslin. It’s actually the only kids book he owns other than The Places You Will Go (by Dr. Seuss). Never heard of it? Neither had I. And unfortunately, not many other people have either. It came out in 1971, it’s...

Middle Grade Mondays: The One and Only Ivan

(I just realized this is my first post of the New Year. So, Happy New Year!) At the end of the year I was cruising through several “Best of 2012 Middle Grade Reading” lists and I would say that the most common denominator among them was this book: I really don’t need to sing its praises to you. If you spend any time in the blog-o-sphere looking for middle grade reading material, you came across this title. As a matter of fact, I had heard so much universal praise for it that I bought it, hoping to be able to use it in the classroom at some point. I actually thought it was a novel in verse when I bought it (may have something to do with the book store owner telling me it was a novel in verse). It’s not marketed that way as far as I can...

Middle Grade Monday: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

I adored this book. It’s the late 60’s and humankind is about to take the first step on the moon. But this isn’t having much impression on one fourteen-year-old who just moved to “stupid Marysville.” from Amazon: So begins a coming-of-age masterwork, equal parts comedy and tragedy, from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever...