Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Eight 2015 Middle Grade Novels I've Read Lately

LOST IN THE SUN by Lisa Graff

Narrator Trent, who first appeared in UMBRELLA SUMMER, is kind of unlikeable at first, but he finds a friend in mysterious Fallon Little. This book got starred reviews all over the place, and like all of Lisa's books, it's worth reading. For some reason it's hard for me to talk about. I'm still thinking about it.

A HANDFUL OF STARS by Cynthia Lord

Another friendship novel! Set in Maine, it chronicles the friendship between Lily and Salma, who is the daughter of migrant blueberry pickers. Also, there's a dog who needs an operation, and a Blueberry Queen pageant. As someone who has written a whole novel about a migrant Florida citrus girl, this one was fascinating and enjoyable.

THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER by Liz Garton Scanlon

I was charmed by Ivy Green's quest to find her mother after she (her mother) ran off with Hallelujah Dave (love that name!) to the Great Good Bible Church. And guess what: it's also a friendship novel. :)


Another one with a zillion starred reviews... and it's a friendship story! This one is told in multiple voices, one of them mysterious who uses 2nd person, which was a strange experience for me. Everything else I loved -- especially Bridge's cat ears. :)

OLD WOLF by Avi, illustrations by Brian Floca

Two stories in this one: old wolf Nashoba's story, and young Casey, who loves video games and thinks he'll enjoy real-life hunting as well. The wolf-raven parts moved me. Beautiful.

CIRCUS MIRANDUS by Cassie Beasley

Micah Tuttle believes in magic because it's what his grandfather has been telling him since forever... and now that his grandfather is sick, and his awful great-aunt has invaded their lives, Micah NEEDS magic. HE also needs a friend. This one reads like a classic, and yes, it's also a friendship novel!

THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

This book. THIS BOOK. This is exactly the kind of book I love and love and keep on loving. (The other book so far this year that made me feel that way? RED BUTTERFLY by A.L. Sonnischen.) Girl with a club foot has been shut in her ENTIRE life until she follows her brother Jamie when he is evacuated out of London to Kent during WWII. The way the relationship develops between Ada and caregiver Susan... how Ada finds her power... beautiful! (I will now read every other book the author has written.)

GEORGE by Alex Gino

Finally a book for kids about a transgender kid! It's kind of a coming-out story -- a coming-out that is made so much easier thanks to a good friend. The world needs more Kellys!

(Like this one? Read for-adults GOLDEN BOY by Abigail Tarttelin about an intersex kid named Max.)


  1. Great list! I just finished THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE and loved it as well. So so good! I have GOODBYE STRANGER here, we'll see if I can get to it before it's due back at the library. :)

    1. Ha! Lisa, library books are THE BEST for helping me actually finish books in a timely fashion... gotta take 'em back! :)

  2. I've read four of these - Circus Mirandus, Goodbye Stranger, The War that Saved my Life, Lost in the Sun - planning to include all four in our Mock Newbery book club. My fave - The War that Saved my Life! Which ones would you recommend from the remaining four as Newbery possibilities?
    Oh, and have you read Echo? You should listen to it, the audio version is exquisite and adds an additional layer of enjoyment with the music.

    1. Ramona, I tried ECHO as an ebook and just couldn't stick with it! I will have to try the audio, since you are so high on it. The other book that really moved me this year besides WAR & BUTTERFLY is LISTEN, SLOWLY. Sounds like you're going to have fun with your Mock Newbery this year. :)

  3. Hi Irene,

    I hope to have read all these recommendations by & by as most are titles I've heard of in favorable reviews & Cynthia Lord's migrant story I enjoyed reading in ARC. (I need to read your migrant story!) Appreciations for introducing/reminding about these good titles.

    Offtopic - I saw that you are headed to Hoover! I am too & yesterday I submitted my 6 poems for little kids on a beach/shore theme, for criticism. I'm so thrilled that SB is that interested in poetry to include it in the event. Hope to meet you there & put a live face to an online pal.

  4. Thanks for sharing your latest reads! I look forward to checking them out.


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