Category Archives: Middle Grades

The Button War by Avi

In Poland, four friends find the Great War right at their doorstep and embark on a war of their own, trying to find (steal) the best button from the military men’s uniforms. It’s quite depressing and filled with horror and death, as one would expect in the middle of a war, but it is told from the viewpoint of a twelve-year-old so it’s tone is kind of innocent. The writing is excellent for the most part. The only thing I really didn’t like was most of the time the dialogue attributions were so-and-so said, followed by what they said. That is quite awkward to read out loud (it probably wouldn’t have seemed so stilted if I head read it silently to myself). I recommend it to older elementary kids on up to adults.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 28
Pages Read in 2020: 6693
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

The Hero Next Door

The Hero Next Door is a collection of short stories written by award-winning authors and aimed at middle grade readers. Each story includes a diverse group of people, focuses on at least one child, and has a hero doing every day things because something that seems simple to one person can be huge to another. I quite enjoyed most of the stories. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 11
Pages Read in 2020: 3141
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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Middle Grades, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Vine Review, Short Stories

Hula for the Home Front by Kirby Larson

The second book in the American Girl Nanea series, Hula for the Home Front sees Hawaii continuing to deal with the aftermath of Pearl Harbor through the win at Midway. The story addresses many very serious topics like worrying about an older brother enlisting in the military, all written in a way kids can understand. The last few pages give the history of what was happening during the time period of the book and a little more information about things mentioned in the book like Dogs for Defense. I highly recommend this book to kids who enjoy historical fiction. It makes a great family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 115
Pages Read in 2019: 29,710
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

The Spirit of Aloha by Kirby Larson

The Spirit of Aloha is the first book about Nanea, American Girl’s 1941 doll. She’s a Hawaiian girl living on Oahu where her father works nights at Pearl Harbor. It’s easy to guess what the big event in her life, and the focus of this book, is. As with all American Girl books, it’s told simply so kids can understand, but still tackles hard things like rounding up those of Japanese descent and the bottle shortage that made it difficult to treat people in the hospital. I highly recommend this book to kids. It makes a great family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 113
Pages Read in 2019: 29,194
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Allies by Alan Gratz

Allies is written in the same style as Refugee by the same author. The point of view regularly changes as the storylines slowly converge. This one covers midnight to midnight on June 6th, 1944, more commonly known as D-Day. Some events are compressed to make it all happen within that 24 hour time frame (those changes are explained in the notes after the story). While Allies is aimed at middle grade kids, it doesn’t shy away from difficult topics including racism within the troops, the desire of some soldiers to kill Nazis to get back at them, and the many, many deaths on that fateful day. It’s very well written. I highly recommend this book.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 111
Pages Read in 2019: 28,817
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: Vine Review

Slacker by Gordon Korman

Cameron Boxer is a total slacker so when his parents tell him he has to do something off electronics in order to keep his video games, he creates a fake school club that gets out of control when people take it seriously. Slacker alternates viewpoints each chapter giving you insight into all aspects of what is going on. Cam’s character development is excellent. The story is quite enjoyable. My 11- and 13-year-old sons liked it a lot (especially my 11-year-old video game addict).

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 109
Pages Read in 2019: 28,117
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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

A little bit creepy. That’s the best description of The Darkdeep. A foggy island, four kids, a weird pool in the basement of a houseboat, and something that reads your mind and makes your worst nightmare pop into existence. At times, the story lags and gets repetitive, but it certainly keeps you reading because, seriously, what the heck is the Darkdeep (not to mention the thing in the jar and why are there slugs all over the secret room… so many questions). I recommend this book to middle grade kids and whole families. It would make an excellent read-aloud.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 94
Pages Read in 2019: 23,891
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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Crushing on a Capulet by Tony Abbott

The sixth and final Cracked Classics, Crushing on a Capulet, is based on Romeo and Juliet. Devin and Frankie fall into Verona and try their best to give the tragedy a happy ending. As with all the Cracked Classics, this one is super fun and gives middle grade kids the chance to learn the story without having to dive right in to the difficult language of Shakespeare. My 11- and 13-year-old sons enjoyed it a lot (as did I). I highly recommend Crushing on a Capulet (and all the Cracked Classics; you can read them in any order).

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 93
Pages Read in 2019: 23,619
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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

X Marks the Spot by Tony Abbott

Devin and Frankie learn about characters in X Marks the Spot, the fifth Cracked Classics book. Based on Treasure Island, the friends are once again sucked into a book. The Cracked Classics are a clever introduction for middle grade kids to classic books. They are fun and funny and just might inspire your kid to read the real thing. I highly recommend X Marks the Spot and all the other Cracked Classics, too (you don’t need to read them all or in any particular order). They make a great family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 90
Pages Read in 2019: 22,966
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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 is a fictionalized account of the son of a FDNY firefighter and what happened to him and his dad on September 11th. It portrays the feeling and emotions of the morning without being too graphic since it is aimed at children. I highly recommend it to kids learning about 9/11.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 89
Pages Read in 2019: 22,822
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Filed under Middle Grades, Realistic Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Adrian