Posts Tagged ‘Middle Grade’

Modern Day Classic: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

April 24th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Middle Grade
 

Some books just feel timeless. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is one of those books. It could have been written during World War II (the same time period it’s set), although it was published in 2011. The language has a classic, poetic feel and the story is timeless.

 

Twelve-year old September is bored with her life in Omaha. Her mother works long hours for the war effort, and her father is abroad, serving his country. The Green Wind offers to take September on an adventure, and they head to Fairyland. Luckily September has the tools to save Fairyland.

 

September is a strong character, and the friends she makes add to the story. She faces real problems and has to find courage within herself.  This is a great novel for children and young-at-heart readers who enjoy fairy tales, fantasy, and whimsical writing.

 

 

 

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Source: Purchased an e-version

Read: March 2012

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

September 7th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Middle Grade
 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children took me by surprise. By the back cover copy, I thought it would more of a ghost story with maybe some light horror type elements. It’s actually a fantasy novel along the lines of an X-Men type story with no technology and a little more magic.

In the present day, teenage Jacob loses his World War II grandfather to what police and his parents call a vicious dog attack. Jacob knows this isn’t true, as he found his grandfather and saw the hideous monster responsible for the attack. Jacob falls apart, and eventually his father takes him to a Welsh island for six weeks. The island is interesting to both Jacob and his father. To his father, it’s a birdwatchers paradise. For Jacob, it’s a chance to research his grandfather’s past, as his grandfather was evacuated from Poland to an orphanage on this island during World War II.

Jacob’s grandfather showed both his son and grandson photos of ‘peculiar’ children, like a girl floating a few inches off of the ground. He told them tall tales of his life in the orphanage before he enlisted in the Army. As Jacob finds the bombed-out orphanage, he realizes that maybe those tails weren’t quite as tall as he’d assumed.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a great novel for both older middle-grade and younger YA readers. There’s a little romance but it’s inline with novels like Rick Riordan’s Olympian series. The old photos add a nice visual touch to the novel. This is clearly the first novel in a series, with an end that clearly sets up the adventure for the following books.

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Source: Nook e-book
Read: August 2011

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The Unwanteds: Dystopian Middle Grade novels mixes an idyllic magical world with a cold, repressive regime

August 2nd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Middle Grade
 

In Quill, the people are divided into three groups: wanted, necessary, and unwanted. The unwanted are eliminated. Permanently. When thirteen-year old Alex is declared unwanted, he tries to stay strong and be grateful that his twin brother Aaron is wanted.

When Alex arrives at the eliminated site he’s shocked to find that instead of being killed he’s taken to the magical world of Artime. Created to protect the unwanted, who tend to be artists, musicians and other creative folk, Artime is a magical paradise with fun classes, talking statues, and more. Alex is finally able to express himself, as drawing, creative thinking, and expressing emotion are encouraged in Artime while banned in Quill.

Meanwhile, Aaron progresses in the Quill University and has come under the eye of the country’s dictator, Justine. Alex wishes Aaron was with him in Quill, feeling a bond between them that increases over time. This bond could destroy Artime’s very existence.

The Unwanteds would make a nice combination gift pack with The Giver by Lois Lowry and Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Fans of Harry Potter might also enjoy it. The world is a fun mixture of cold, repressive regime and colorful world in which children are taught to use their creativity to solve problems. Alex makes his own choices and faces consequences, yet he also has a strong mentor able to both understand and guide him.

Definitely recommended for middle grade readers.

Read by: Kelly

Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Date read: July 2011
Source: ARC

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2010 NBA Winner: Mockingbird

January 30th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Award-Winning, Fiction, Middle Grade
 
Kathryn Erskine's Mockingbird

I’m always curious about books that earn major awards as hype and quality don’t always overlap. With Mockingbird, I  immediately saw why it won the 2010 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The novel tackles several difficult subjects—Asperger’s Syndrome, school shootings—and blends them into a moving story. Writing about these subjects in a way appropriate for middle grade readers is impressive. The ending is fairly pat, but it makes sense for the intended audience and honestly: who doesn’t like a reassuring (if not happy) ending?

I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon and, inevitably, I thought of it while reading Mockingbird. Both books are told from a narrator unable to relate to the people around them, and both authors use a disability as a way to shine light on delicate emotional situations.

Caitlin grows throughout Mockingbird, learning words like “closure” and “empathy” as she tries to relate to the people around her. While this can be a tad heavy-handed, it works. This would be an excellent book to use to teach the concept of metaphors to younger readers. For example, Caitlin prefers to draw in black and white, since colors muddle the world. Yet by the end of the story she starts using colors since she understands the world is nuanced and she can’t hide her head under couch cushions when facing problems.

Read by: Kelly

Title: Mockingbird
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Read: January 2011
Source: Public Library

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