Category Archives: Middle Grades

Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone

When Samuel Collier was twelve, he came to the brand new James Town colony as a servant to Captain John Smith. Blood on the River is his story. The story covers just before he came to the New World through the Starving Time (though he was at Point Comfort and so did not experience those terrible months the way those who stayed in James Town did). There is a slight bias toward the colonists causing most of the problems with the Natives. I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it to middle grade age kids interested in the founding of Jamestown.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 80
Pages Read in 2018: 19,033
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron

Catherine the Great: Empress of Russia by Zu Vincent

Catherine the Great schemed her way from being a minor princess to empress of Russia. She had lots of ideas, some that she never was able to carry out, and could be pretty ruthless when it came to dealing with enemies. This Catherine the Great Wicked History book tells her story and asks if she really was wicked or just did what she had to do to achieve her goals. I highly recommend this book to kids learning about Imperial Russia.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 77
Pages Read in 2018: 18,268
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under History, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Adrian

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

A Lady Writing by Vermeer goes missing during a transfer between art museums. Strange letters pop up trying to get the public on the side of the art thief. Calder and Petra, sixth graders at the University School in Hyde Park, find patterns and coincidences that just don’t seem like mere coincidences in their quest to find the missing painting.

Chasing Vermeer is a cute book. It’s completely fiction, but sprinkled with real facts about Vermeer. It’ll get kids minds working trying to solve all the puzzles (including letters written in code) along with the characters. I recommend this book to middle grade kids. It makes a decent family read-aloud. Just have paper and pencil handy to solve the coded letters when you get to them.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 71
Pages Read in 2018: 17,057
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is really, really strange for the first half. The second half is also strange, but a little less so. My 10-year-old son liked it. I don’t think it’s especially worth taking the time to read, though.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 68
Pages Read in 2018: 16,465
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz

Covering Prince Henry the Navigator, Bartholomew Diaz, Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvares Cabral, John Cabot, Amerigo Vespucci, Juan Ponce de Leon, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, and Ferdinand Magellan, Around the World in a Hundred Years tells the story of about one-hundred years of exploration in a way younger readers can understand and find interesting. On occasion it drags a bit, but the majority is quite fascinating. I recommend it to upper elementary to lower middle school age kids.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 54
Pages Read in 2018: 13,298
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Middle Grades, Non-Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

The Second Mrs. Gioconda by EL Konigsburg

Why did Leonardo da Vinci paint the portrait of the plain second wife of a a merchant, the Mona Lisa? The Second Mrs. Gioconda follows the story of Salai, Leonardo’s young servant, through his friendship with another plain woman, the Duchess Beatrice, in order to attempt to answer this question. The book is a quick read and quite interesting. I recommend this book to middle grade age kids who are interested in or studying da Vinci.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 36
Pages Read in 2018: 8511
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski

Twelve-year-old Molly Jemison is kidnapped and given to some women of the Seneca Tribe. She goes from frightened to learning about and embracing the Native ways, though always wanting to find her first family again.

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison is based on a true story. The book reads fast and guides the reader through Molly’s emotions as a captive of the Seneca people. I highly recommend reading it to middle grade age kids.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 33
Pages Read in 2018: 7891
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz