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For animal lovers only

king_me and marvin gardens

Four middle-grade novels feature animals (and one mysterious creature) that change the protagonists’ lives. From an inventive, slightly mystical environmental fable to a compelling work of historical fiction, these are all recommended for the animal lovers in your life. Me and Marvin Gardens is a smart, environmentally conscious fable with a lot of heart and […]

Old-fashioned reading in modern times

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Literacy enthusiast that I am, I’ve always believed that the reading block in my class schedule should solely focus on, well, reading – reading long and strong, as well as reading across genres. Yet, there’s a third type of literacy that educators across the globe are acknowledging as increasingly important within a student’s repertoire. We […]

Review of The Best Man

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The Best Man by Richard Peck Intermediate, Middle School     Dial     232 pp. 9/16     978-0-8037-3839-3     $16.99     g e-book ed. 978-0-698-18973-7     $10.99 Rise and toast The Best Man, Peck’s story about Archer Magill, a boy growing from a raw dollop of kindergarten id into a functional middle-school kid, a budding citizen of the world. As a participant […]

A little light fantasy

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With historical, contemporary, and folkloric set-ups, this selection of new light fantasies has something for every middle-grade fantasy fan. Grayling’s Song is a moral tale with a simple lesson: it’s not magic but rather “courage, cleverness, imagination, good judgment, and good sense” that make for a hero who can overcome evil. When her wise-woman mother […]

Some audiobooks!

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Variously set long ago, far away and right here, right now, these audiobooks deeply engage middle-grade listeners in the struggles — and triumphs — of their protagonists. George, Alex Gino’s middle-grade novel about a transgender girl named George (who secretly thinks of herself as Melissa), gets a remarkable reading from narrator Jamie Clayton, herself transgender. […]

HBook Podcast 1.2 – What House Are You?

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Podcast the second in which Roger and Siân talk about Harry Potter, jury duty, and Hufflepuff Pride. Warning: there are a few mildly annoying but not terrible crackles after the 18 minute mark (because someone—Siân—just HAD to sort Roger on her phone) Books we talk about: J. K. Rowling, The Cursed Child and the Harry […]

From the Guide: Comics for Middle Graders

colossal_rutabega the adventure chef

This year’s ALA honorees El Deafo and This One Summer show that graphic novels and comics continue to soar in popularity and critical acclaim. In their article “Comics Are Picture Books: A (Graphic) Novel Idea,” Elisa and Patrick Gall urge audiences to look at the form with fresh (and less intimidated) eyes; and on our […]

The Thing About Jellyfish

The Thing Aboutu 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 […]

Tales with tails

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Who wouldn’t want a giant, invisible, jelly bean–eating cat as a best friend? In the following imaginative middle-grade animal fantasy stories, creatures interact with humans in unusual ways, or they are the stars of their own shows. Fifth-grader Jackson, protagonist of Katherine Applegate’s Crenshaw, is the one scientifically minded member of his dreamy family, which […]

Best book bracketology

March Madness- Picture Books

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. A fresh, clean bracket has names neatly penciled into open slots, representing optimism and promise for excitement. Meanwhile, the sweetness of the beginning is quickly thrown into tumult, as surprises abound and unpredicted losses become the talk of Twitter. The competition is fierce, […]