Audience: Middle Grade
I watched from the window as the boys tumbled out of the brick schoolhouse across the field from us.
Amal loves school and her dream is to one day go to college and become a teacher. But one day, a chance encounter disrupts her life. She becomes an indentured servant to the family of her village’s corrupt landlord. Amal plans to work until she pays off her family’s debt, but when she finds out the truth, what will she do?
This story takes place in Pakistan and is meant for a middle-grade audience. Amal is a fantastic strong female character; she knows what she wants, she knows what is right, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
I listened to the audio and the narrator, Priya Ayyar did a wonderful job. I’m counting this for “A” for the HA a-z challenge on Goodreads.
Recommended to grades 4-6.
It’s the very first thing I see when we pull into town.
This is a charming story about a feisty 9 year-old girl (Lemonade Liberty Witt) who is forced to uproot her life to live with her grandfather (who she never even met) when her mom passes away. Willow Creek is the Bigfoot Capital of the world and Lem’s neighbor, 11-year old Tobin Sky, is the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. Together, Lem and Tobin follow Bigfoot leads and try to capture him on film.
This is a realistic story set in the 1970’s that deals with some pretty serious issues surrounding grief and loss. Lem is grieving the loss of her mother and Tobin is dealing with his father’s disappearance after coming back from Vietnam. Tobin and Lem are cute together and their interactions bring humor to what is a pretty serious theme. The additional plot line with Tobin’s father is a little overwhelming and his issues with PTSD may be hard for children to understand. The end of the book is a bit surprising considering how realistic the rest of the book is, but overall this is a touching story of friendship, loss, and dealing with grief.
Recommended to: Grades 4-6, fans of realistic fiction who can deal with a bit of sadness
I’m only wearing five braids to school today.
– First Sentence
Mya is excited for Spirit Week and she is counting down the days with her braids. When she gets to one, it will be time for Spirit Week. But the partner picking doesn’t go her way and she ends up with Mean Connie Tate (the school bully) for a partner instead of her best friend Naomi.
As Mya would say, “good gravy.” And she says that often as she tries to navigate friendships, bullies, and Spirit Week challenges. Mya learns a lot about people and about judging others by what you hear about them. She is a perky little girl and easy to like, even though she doesn’t always think things through before she acts. Mya is a strong personality, but she desperately wants to repair her friendship with Naomi – even though Mya didn’t really do anything wrong. The flavor of Texas really comes through in the writing. In the audiobook, the narrator does a fantastic job of sounding like a Texas girl with attitude.
I think grownups reading this book will easily recognize the characters for who they are, but kids might be a bit surprised by the ending. The story is engaging and certainly humorous at times. You can’t help but laugh about some of the phrases that Mya comes out with. Girls will enjoy this one.
Recommended to: 3rd-5th graders who like stories about friendship and triumphing over adversity.
“Tell me how you survived the whale attack,” the reporter said.
– opening lines
Could you survive if the whale watching boat you were on capsized and you were left floating in the cold ocean? Travis and Marina are in just such a situation. Luckily, Travis is wearing an immersion suit, and Mariana has survival supplies in her vest (and a lot of knowledge). All they have to do is stay out of the water, find land, and get rescued. Simple, right?
So, this is a good book, but the plot is a little thin. Things resolve a bit too easily for me, but I don’t think kids will mind. At the end of the book, there is a section with “U.S. Coast Guard-Approved Cold Water Survival Tips” which kids will probably find very cool and informative.
It’s about 100 pages, easy to read and about survival, kids will love it.
Recommended to: Grades 3-5 (and some second graders), fans of the I Survived series, adventure fans, reluctant readers
There are a lot of things you should probably know to understand why a bunch of kids decided to climb up a treehouse and not come down.
– First Line
Imagine a never-ending sleepover in a treehouse with 9 of your best friends. Just so you know, the treehouse has a bathroom (but no stove), two floors, a craft station, a platform for deliveries, a skylight, and a zipline. The thing is, the kids are staying in the treehouse and refusing to come down until their parents give in to their demands. While a treehouse sleepover sounds amazing (and who wants sleepovers to end), 10 kids in close quarters can become stressful for even the best of friends.
Winnie originally stays in the treehouse every Wednesday – so her divorcing parents can have equal numbers of days with her. When Winnie realizes she is failing 5th grade and the only time she gets any homework done is Wednesdays in the treehouse, she decides to stay there permanently. But, will her parents ever see reason and stop fighting over everything being exactly equal??
The plot touches on issues like divorce, screen time, tv privileges, and other difficulties between parents and children. It’s an engaging story with realistic characters who love and support each other through everything. The format is a group memoir (written by Winnie) and there are cute illustrations and post-its from the other characters throughout the book.
Kids will love the idea of living in a treehouse with their friends and not having to answer to parents. (There is a plot point that prevents the parents or police from entering the treehouse which verges on ridiculous, but the kids won’t mind.)
Recommended to: Grades 3 – 8, fans of realistic fiction, and reluctant readers. Fans of James Patterson’s Middle School series will enjoy this one. 🙂
Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
Penelope Torres (Peppi) is thinking of these rules as she starts a new school. When a boy (Jaime) tries to help her pick up all her stuff, the mean kids start calling her Nerder Girlfriend. Embarrassed, Peppi pushes Jaime and runs away. She feels guilty and spends most of her time trying to figure out how to apologize. When a rivalry heats up between Peppi’s art club and Jaime’s science club, things become even more awkward.
This is a charming middle school story that kids will enjoy. It is age appropriate for 3rd grade and up – no violence or bad words – just a sweet story with a hopeful ending. The graphics are expressive and fun, a highly recommended graphic novel.
Someone once told me that money can’t buy happiness. They obviously never had to ride a baby bike to the first day of middle school.
Chloe is determined to earn money this summer (maybe by babysitting). What she didn’t plan for is her parents deciding to send her to career camp. There she will have the opportunity to see what it’s like to be a cake decorator, athlete, scientist, or veterinarian. Well, Chloe knows for sure she doesn’t get along with animals, by maybe she could work with the cake decorating thing. But, life has other plans… Between spiders, a goat named King Arthur, a rude girl named Victoria, and Director Mudwimple, Chloe’s summer is looking ruined. But luckily Chloe meets a friend, a bouncy girl named Paulie (who Chloe nicknames Pogo), and finds out two of her friends from home are also there, Nathan (her secret crush) and Sebastian.
The story is told through Chloe’s experiences and nightly journal entries. Chloe is relatable and the drama seems pretty accurate for a bunch of middle school aged girls living in a cabin together. Chloe’s friendship with Pogo and the difficulties with the bully Victoria seem to be accurate portrayals of middle school relationships. Chloe doesn’t always make the right choice, but in the end, she does the right thing. I read this quickly in one sitting and I think 4th through 8th graders will enjoy it.
Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood
This is a sweet story about a young girl whose family moves from North Carolina to New York state. She has been home-schooled for her whole life so far and when her parents decide she should go to school, she is scared. She doesn’t want to go. She dreads the bus, the other students, sitting in school all day… But, she finds something at school that she never had before… a best friend.
Young girls will love this sweet story about friendship, dealing with change, and discovering who you are.
Grades 3 – 5, fans of realistic fiction.