Middle Grade Books! A guest blog by Lynne Kelly

Katherine Longshore 1 Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's my pleasure to introduce a special guest today, Lynne Kelly, author of CHAINED (which I blogged about on Tuesday.)  I thought it would be fun to get someone who writes Middle Grade novels to visit and talk about what she's reading, so Lynne graciously agreed to fill in for Veronica today.

It's book blog week, and the Muses were kind enough to ask me to fill in when they needed a guest poster. And this week's topic is middle grade literature, so how fun is that? Some of my favorite books ever, the ones that stand out for me years after reading them, are for middle grade readers. It's a time when everything is still new, when we can still become anyone. Each book teaches us something about ourselves, who we can be and who we'd like to be, who we'd like to avoid as a friend and who we'd like to avoid becoming.

Today I'm sharing with you two new favorites—one I'm reading now and one I enjoyed earlier this year.

THREE TIMES LUCKY by Sheila Turnage

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known. (from Goodreads)

I first heard about THREE TIMES LUCKY while at the Houston SCBWI intensive with editor Heather Alexander, who mentioned it as a great example of voice. It sounded like something I might like, so I looked it up on Goodreads right then and couldn't stop laughing as I read the description. The main character's best friend is named Dale Earnhardt Johnson, III? Yes, I'd have to read this for sure. And how's this for a first line: “Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt.” That's the kind of line that draws me in and keeps me reading to find out where this trouble is headed. It reminds me of Lois Lowry saying that a first line should give a hint that something is wrong. This is a book that has all my favorite things—humor, mystery, interesting characters, and a spot-on voice.


On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Mayas own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?

With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family trees brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.

As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late. (from Goodreads)

Anne is one of the authors I've been lucky enough to get to know through the debut groups The Class of 2k12 and The Apocalypsies, and her book is one of those I couldn't wait to read. And I wasn't disappointed once I got my hands on it; THE CABINET OF EARTHS is also a fun mystery-adventure, but with fantasy, too. Whenever I did have to put it down because of pesky things like jobs that interrupt our reading time, I couldn't wait to get back to it to find out what would happen to Maya and her family, and what in the world was up with that cabinet.

And because I love first lines, here's the one from THE CABINET OF EARTHS: It was his own grandmother who fed Henri-Pierre to the Cabinet of Earths, long ago when he was only four.

Thanks to the YA Muses for having me today, and let us know about any new or old favorite middle great books you're reading now!

Thank you, Lynne!

Lynne Kelly is the author of CHAINED, published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, and in bookstores now!


I think I confessed last week when you wrote about Chained that I gave it to my 12 yr old on to read first so I could gauge how much I was going to cry. Looks like I'll do okay with it though I'm sure there are some sad parts. That is a mighty big elephant Lynne Kelly is standing beside. Knowing how you all feel about elephants and that they are lucky, does it make you want to stand beside an elephant??

I will have to read Three Times Lucky. I live in NC and you can't go anywhere without seeing Dale Earnhardt's name. At least not where I live (Race City USA). And I have Cabinet of Earths on my TBR list. But that first line of Three Times Lucky, that's definitely an attention grabber. I love MG fiction. I'm always looking for something to challenge my MG reader. He can read higher, but he likes MG because of the content. Can't blame him. I like it too.
Great guest post!!


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