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Books in a lee light

Julie Hakim Azzam’s diagnosis of ADHD for Ramona Quimby has me of two minds AT LEAST. I agree it’s good that readers with ADHD can find in Ramona a mirror, friend, or hero. But if we position the character as a child with ADHD, are we being faithful to the text, which leaves her undiagnosed? […]

Middle grade fiction – Serafina’s Promise

Perhaps you have read about the studies that demonstrate how reading can build empathy. Those studies usually use adults as subjects but anyone who has seen a child moved by a fictional story knows that reading can make us better people. Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg offers young readers the chance to learn about […]

The Thing About Jellyfish

Through NetGalley, I had the opportunity to read The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin, a middle grade book that will debut mid-September 2015. In this book, Suzy Swanson processes the death of her old friend Franny and the end of a friendship. She grieves the way that she and Franny grew apart before Franny […]

Middle-Grade Madness recapped

Shoshana has written up an excellent recap of last night’s goings-on at the Cambridge Public Library. I’ll just add my thanks to the panelists, who were all engaged, enthusiastic, and nice to me and each other. (Jeanne Birdsall brought along a belt for me to use if things got out of hand, but luckily I […]

Middle-Grade Greats panel recap

To Jeanne Birdsall, middle grade means a series that follows a large family through its ups and downs. To Bruce Coville, it means a funny fantasy series. To Alice Hoffman, it means magical realism. To R. J. Palacio, it means a novel about someone who has trouble fitting in. To Rebecca Stead, it means a […]

Come early

Cambridge Public Library is telling me they expect to run out of room at Middle Grade Madness, tonight at the Main Library at 6:00PM; show up early to be guaranteed admission. Youth services director Julie Roach is legendary for the ease with which she firmly shuts the door on even the most well-connected mom trying to […]

Middle Grade Madness

Next Monday, September 28th, I’ll be moderating a panel of five middle-grade Random House authors at the Cambridge Public Library at 6:00PM. Participating authors include: –Jeanne Birdsall, talking about THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING –Bruce Coville, DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE –Alice Hoffman, NIGHTBIRD –R.J. Palacio, AUGIE & ME –Rebecca Stead, GOODBYE STRANGER Quite the lineup, no? […]

Arts + crafts with Ivy + Bean

I’m a big fan of the Ivy + Bean series, so when the Ivy + Bean Button Factory (Chronicle, March) arrived in the office, it made its way to my desk (thanks, Katie!). For $12.99 you get enough materials to make fifteen buttons, featuring illustrations of Ivy and Bean by Sophie Blackall plus such quotable […]

Going for gold

Is it too early to get excited about the Summer Olympics? I’m not really a sports person, but I do get excited about my two favorite events: the 400 meter Drool-Over-Michael-Phelps relay and women’s gymnastics. I was eleven years old when the Magnificent 7 dominated the 1996 summer games — the perfect age to marvel […]

Have your cake and read it, too

Prequels are trending, especially those that take readers back to the childhoods of established characters: Alice McKinley, the Baby-Sitters Club girls, Bartimaeus, even James Bond and Carrie Bradshaw. Now Alexander McCall Smith has jumped on the bandwagon (or should I say tiny white van?) with an early chapter book featuring a young and pre–traditionally built […]