Elza and I love games almost as much as we love reading middle grade books. You’ll find more of these over on Middle Grade Carousel and posting throughout the day on our Twitter account. Follow us and play along! ~CJ
In Goodbye Stranger, three girls who’ve promised to always be friends navigate their way into seventh grade. An honest story with discomfiting moments, deftly balanced by all the reasons we keep going, even when stuff’s complicated. In The Stone Girl’s Story, in the years following their sculptor/father’s death, his statues grow more weathered, and the marks that animate them are dangerously faded. Before they go still, his final masterpiece, a stone girl named Mayka, decides to travel into the city below their mountain home to find a sculptor to recarve their stories and save their lives. In Nothing Ever Happens Here, Izzy is thrilled to land a part in her school’s upcoming production of Guys and Dolls, but the very same day she carries home the wonderful news, her dad steals the limelight by making a shocking announcement. He’s always been a she … and needs the whole family’s support while going through transition.
Tornado is short and heartwarming. While a family huddles in their farm’s storm shelter, they beg their uncle to retell the story from his (and their father’s) childhood about a dog named Tornado. In Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook, when one of the class pets is stolen, Edgar decides to take the case. Soon it’s a race between him and a copycat rival to solve the mystery. The story includes pages from Edgar Allen’s titular notebook, including interviews and speculations. At the same time, we get in on some of his homework assignments, so there’s an interesting smattering of poetry and creative writing folded in. The Ice Garden is a mostly contemporary tale with a portal fantasy twist. Jess can’t be outside during the day because she’s allergic to the sun. No school. No playgrounds. No friends. But while at the hospital for her usual checkup, she “meets” a boy in a coma. And while sneaking out of the house one night, she finds a gap in a hedge that leads into a twilight world where everything is made of ice.
Dragon is the seventh book in the Five Ancestors series and delivers a solid finish. In Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Rosie sometimes gets upset with her best-friend-since-always Bailey, especially when a new girl in the neighborhood takes a shine to him. No one is better at diffusing tension than Granny Torrelli, who comes over to cook and to tell stories about when she was Rosie’s age. Both the food and her grandmother’s honesty and humor do help. Tumble & Blue turned out to be a favorite read for the year. Somewhere in Blue’s family history, on the night of red crescent moon, a wish was made that twisted the fates of every generation that followed. Some have it good. Always good. Some have it bad. And Blue is one of the cursed ones. Changing his fate seems impossible, especially with everyone else in the family vying for the chance. But his new friend Tumble is willing to help.
Mouse is the sixth book in the Five Ancestors series. Still loving my kung fu advenures. January is the first book in a (you guessed it) 12-book series set in Australia. Callum Ormond doesn’t have much to go on, but he knows he needs to get away, stay hidden, and solve the riddle his dead father left behind in the form of several drawings. Because he’s already been blamed for a crime he didn’t commit. Action-packed! And then Firelight continues the Amulet series of graphic novels.
Eagle is the fifth book in the Five Ancestors series, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Escape from Lucien is another continuation, since it’s the sixth book in the Amulet series of graphic novels. But The Secret Key is a series starter, so I can talk about that one! Agatha is smart, observant, and steeped in the fiction of her namesake, Agatha Christie. In fact, Hercule Poirot is her imaginary friend. But few people appreciate her little investigations. But when a new case presents itself, Agatha knows it’s her big chance to prove herself.