Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday

MondayMiddle Grade Monday is an original meme to spotlight a great Middle Grade read!

While writing last week’s MGM post, I suddenly remembered a book I had read and loved as a kid… but had ultimately forgotten as I grew older. That book is FLIPPED by Wendelin Van Draanen.

331920It didn’t take much to jog my memory and stir up feelings and memories of why I loved this book so much.

Flipped is a romance told in two voices. The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time Bryce saw Juli, he ran. That’s pretty much the pattern for these two neighbors until the eighth grade, when, just as Juli is realizing Bryce isn’t as wonderful as she thought, Bryce is starting to see that Juli is pretty amazing. How these two teens manage to see beyond the surface of things and come together makes for a comic and poignant romance.

First, let me say that Bryce and Juli are not teens. I think they are 12/13 in the book so not quite old enough for this to be considered YA, especially since they are in middle school.

Half of the book is Juli being hopelessly into Bryce and him avoiding her at every turn… mostly because he family is considered strange because the don’t care about the state of their yard, keep chickens, and work hard to save old trees. That’s what connected me to Juli when I was a kid- my family were definitely weekend warriors (hiking, camping, flea markets, yard sales, aimless driving) and our yard was usually haphazardly groomed with giant unruly (but truly beautiful) flower beds. We also had yard chickens, much to one neighbors revulsion. I understood Juli’s confusion over why the state of their yard should even matter.

The second half of the book is Bryce realizing Juli is fantastic and Juli realizing that Bryce is, well, kind of a jerk. The admired becomes the admiree and I loved how Bryce definitely got knocked down a peg when he realized Juli wasn’t that impressed with him anymore.

It’s a short, quick read but it’s definitely worth it!

Have you ever read FLIPPED? Thoughts?




Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday

MondayMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme to spotlight a great Middle Grade read!

stargirlStargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

I won a copy of Stargirl when I was in 5th grade for being the nerdy 5th grader that read more books than any of the other 5th graders in school. (I still have my reading chart. A whooping 150 books.) I think I actually won a prize pack of treats and a few different books- Stargirl, Flipped, and a couple of other lower MG books. But Stargirl was my absolute favorite and it’s still a favorite to this day.

The thing that stuck with me most was that Stargirl was just unabashedly happy to be herself. It was a great lesson on how it feels and looks when we try to shrink people into meeting our expectations. As I grow older, I also understand Leo’s desperation for Stargirl to be accepted. We want the people we love to be happy, safe, and loved by everyone they meet and we want everyone to see them the way we do.

Even seeing the cover of this book gives me a hit of nostalgia.

Time for a reread.

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday: The Shrunken Head

MondayMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme to spotlight a great middle grade book!

chLadies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages: Welcome to Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders!

I read CURIOUSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD by Lauren Oliver last year and fell in love with this group of young freak-show performers.

This is a middle grade mystery that a has a bite. While not quite as gruesome as her book LIESL AND PO, this packs it’s very own punch in the murder, the shrunken head, and the very house our young heroes live in. This is definitely at an atmospheric read and I think it would be perfect as a rainy day mystery novel!

This is the type of book that makes you love all of the characters- even the bad ones! While the mystery isn’t that hard to figure out if you pay attention, it had a nostalgic Nancy Drew vibe to it (thanks to Pippa) that made knowing the twist ahead of time not so bad. Even if you do figure out who our thief is, the journey through the museum and the character’s that live there are well worth continuing to read.


Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (June 26)

MGMMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme created to spotlight a great middle grade book!


249840LETTER IN THE ATTIC by Bonnie Shimko.

I am so in love with this story. I won’t tell you that it’s a particularly hard read or that you’ll take away some great, life-changing message but the book has a feel good vibe that will make even the hardest cynic smile. First, let me say that the synopsis is misleading. If you’re looking for an LGBTQ novel where girl meets girl, falls in love, girl gets a boyfriend but then realizes that she is also in love with a girl… walk away. This is about a young girl maturing and coming to terms with her sexuality and her changing life. Be prepared to fall in love with the minor characters.

Lizzy McMann, A feisty twelve-year-old, lives with her immature mother and Manny, her father (she thinks) in a fleabag Phoenix hotel. One night, Manny’s sudden announcement that he wants a divorce forces mother and daughter to move to upstate New York to live with Lizzy’s grandmother and grandfather—a mixed blessing. At school, Lizzy befriends, then falls in love with, Eva Singer, who is dyslexic, looks like Natalie Wood and lives right down the street. Like all girls her age, Lizzy has to deal with her first period, her first bra and her first boyfriend. But what scares her most is her love for Eva. She is also concerned with getting a new husband for Mama—especially after reading Mama’s letters that she has found in the attic. Then Eva gets a boyfriend and Mama’s life enters what seems to be a new crisis. . . . How Lizzy comes to grips with life’s strange twists and turns makes fascinating reading for adults and young readers alike.

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (June 19)

MGMMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme created to spotlight a great middle grade book!

23203257LILY AND DUNKIN by Donna Gephart has been on my TBR for what feels like a super long time. It’s one of those book I keep meaning to pick up.

Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t.

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

Have any of you read this book or know of any reviews from trans reviewers?

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (June 12)

MGMMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme created to spotlight a great middle grade book!


12477984MARCO IMPOSSIBLE by Hannah Moskowitz is another MG LGBT book I’ve heard about but haven’t read yet. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one, though!

Thirteen-year-old best friends Stephen and Marco attempt a go-for-broke heist to break into the high school prom and get Marco onstage to confess his love for (and hopefully steal the heart of) Benji, the adorable exchange student and bass player of the prom band. Of course, things don’t always go according to plan, and every heist comes with its fair share of hijinks.

You can follow Hannah on twitter @hannahmosk

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (June 5)

MGMMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme created to spotlight a great middle grade book!


13414183BETTER NATE THAN EVER by Tim Federle is a book I’ve heard so many great things about. It’s so hard to find LGBTQIA+ fiction when it comes to middle grade book, but from all the reviews I’ve seen, Federle knocks it out of the park with this one.

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.

What middle grade LGBTQIA+ books do you love?


Middle Grade Monday · Uncategorized

Middle Grade Monday (May 22)

MondayMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme created to spotlight a great middle grade book!

This Monday I wanted to spotlight a middle grade book that hasn’t come out yet but I’m really excited for!

25117605We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

SPIRIT HUNTERS comes out 7/25/17!

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (May 15)

MondayMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme to spotlight a middle grade book!

1016314BIRDWING by Rafe Martin is a continuation of the Grimm Fairytale ‘The Six Swans’. In the original fairytale, six brothers are turned into swans by their evil stepmother. In order to break the spell, their sister must make each brother a shirt out of nettles and keep a vow of complete silence for six years. She completes this task but unfortunately does not finish the sixth shirt, leaving her youngest brother disfigured with a wing for an arm.

This book picks up after the fairytale and follows Ardwin, the youngest brother through his journey as he struggles to find his place and either accept himself and his wing or allow his father to cut his wing off and replace it with a golden arm.

I picked this up on a whim at the used bookstore and have put off reading it for several months because while I am a fan of fairytale retellings and continuations, I was put off a little by the medieval time frame it was set in- princes and castles just really aren’t my thing. This was surprisingly good and while the storyline did drag at times, the story and Ardwin’s journey were uplifting and his final acceptance of himself was triumphant.

The cast of characters was great. There was a good mix of characters to love, hate, and pity. Alene is with us but for a short time in the book, but her characterization was probably the strongest and most honest of all besides Ardwin himself… prepare to fall in love.

Would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fairytales, adventure, and self-discovery!

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (May 8)

Middle Grade Monday is a weekly post to spotlight a MG book!

22875507familyI first picked up WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard in June of 2016. It ended up on a ‘recommended for you’ list on goodreads after I read STARBIRD MURPHY AND THE WORLD OUTSIDE and after reading the synopsis, I wasn’t that impressed and felt a little burned out on the whole cult premise books. I did, however, put this one on my TBR and ended up finding it for super cheap at a used bookstore.

I’m glad I did.

I loved the main character, Jory. I loved how in the beginning he was totally trusting in everything Caleb (his step-father and apparent dooms-day prepper) tells about the “signs” that surround them… even though Caleb seems to be the only one who sees any signs.

I was surprised at the role mental illness plays in this story but was grateful for it. Caleb clearly has PTSD from his time in the service and it has warped his perception of the people and the world around him. Even deeper than that is Jory’s mom. To me, it felt as though she never quite believed Caleb but he had become her “savior” so many years ago that she couldn’t back up on him. She might not have believed him, but she did believe in him- she believed that he would continue to provide for her and the children, which relieved her of having to work outside of the home and kept her agoraphobia at bay.

As stated in several reviews, the ending is abrupt. I, however, will not complain about it as it felt realistic to me. I think the family, specifically Jory’s mom, played along with Caleb’s delusions until it became very evident that he intended to follow through with his plan. The ending was fast but they had a very quick decision to make- to continue to follow Caleb or to decide for themselves if what he was saying was true.

27562475I’m hoping the sequel RACE THE NIGHT will answer some lingering from questions from the first book like where exactly Kit came from and what happened to Caleb and the rest of the family after the end of the book. I haven’t picked this one up yet I’m sure it will be just as fantastic as WATCH THE SKY.


Have you read either of these books?