Book Blog - Middle Grade

Katherine Longshore 3 Tuesday, May 22, 2012
It's book blog week again, and this week we're talking about great books for younger readers.  I feel very lucky that through the Class of 2k12, I know three fabulous middle grade authors  whose books have been published recently.


Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest. (From 2k12 website)

MAPMAKER is a delightfully fun read, full of engaging characters and quirky twists.  Goldenrod is the kind of girl I wanted to be as a child - always ready for adventure, and not willing to let anyone put her down.  I read the ARC to my kids and my youngest is reading it again now - a true test if there ever was one.

CHAINED by Lynne Kelly

Ten-year-old Hastin’s sister has fallen ill, and his family must borrow money to pay for her care in the hospital. To work off the debt, Hastin leaves his village in northern India to work in a faraway jungle as an elephant keeper. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and punished until she learns her tricks perfectly. With the help of Ne Min, a wise old man who seems to know all about elephants, Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can. Still he wonders–will they both survive long enough to escape? (from author website)

CHAINED is set in a land as foreign as the future or the past to modern American children, but it is a story identifiable and resonant to all.  The friendship between boy and animal is timeless - think Where the Red Fern Grows or Shiloh.  But Kelly gives us something fresh and challenging in this friendship between boy and elephant, and she challenges Hastin's courage, love and loyalty, too.

Lynne will be guest posting for us on Thursday, so be sure to check back!

ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Street smart Carley Connors is only afraid on one thing—love. 
In the wake of heart breaking betrayal, Carley finds herself in the hands of the Murphys, a foster family that shows her sides of life she’d believed did not exist—safety and predictability. She learns to see herself through their eyes and begins to do more than just long for a better life than she’s had. Although she fights it, Carley learns to love them but—even more incredible—she lets them love her. With the help of her crazy Broadway obsessed friend, Toni, the Murphys do the impossible in showing Carley what it feels like to belong somewhere but when her mother wants her back, will Carley lose the only family she has ever known? (from 2k12)

I read this book in one sitting when I was supposed to be revising - I fell in love with Carley on page one and lived with her through all the lessons life threw at her.  It's not an easy story, but an important one, and one that will encourage kids and parents to talk about it for many years to come.  Despite the heavy material, this book is full of humor and tenderness, and it encourages both of those in the life of the reader.

What middle grade books have you read recently?


Thanks for these, I will definitely check them out ONCE I'VE FINISHED 'GILT'! I recently read "The Mysterious Benedictine Society" which I loved for treating its readers like the smarties they are, "Liesl & Po" (wonderful characters), "Princess Academy" (so interesting) and still reading "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland..."...

I need to get the first two books. I have Chained but have yet to read it. I made my 12 yr old son read it to gauge how much I would cry. He came in sad at night when he was trying to sleep. He told me it was an awesome book! I've been meaning to let Ms. Kelly know he said that. He is a voracious reader and it's hard to keep him in books. I'm so glad for the new releases coming out.


PB - I loved the Mysterious Benedict Society - probably more than my kids did!

Heather - ONE FOR THE MURPHYS will make you cry, too. Had to give you fair warning. But so worth it.

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