Have you checked out Middle Grade Mania yet? It's an uber-helpful directory of MG book and author blogs. Find it here: Middle Grade Mania
Speaking of middle grade, I read two excellent MG books last week:
From Goodreads: Prairie Evers is finding
that socialization isn't all it's cracked up to be. She's been
homeschooled by her granny and has learned the most from traipsing
through nature. But now she has to attend public school, and feels just
like her chickens--cooped up and subject to the pecking order. School is
a jolt for Prairie until she meets Ivy, her first true friend. But
while raising chickens and the great outdoors have given Prairie wisdom
and perspective, nothing has prepared her for the give and take of
friendship. When Prairie finds out that Ivy's home may not be the best
place for Ivy, Prairie must corral all her optimism and determination to
hatch a plan to help.
This book had all of my favorite MG elements: great writing; a spirited protagonist with a seriously strong, funny voice; animal adventures; well-developed (and lovable) secondary characters; richly detailed small-town setting; layered lessons about life and friendship.
I enjoyed it so much I'm adding Airgood's adult novel, South of Superior, to my TBR list.
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
From Goodreads: When seventh grader Georges (the S
is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a
twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges
becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the
mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer
becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to
go for your only friend?
When You Reach Me was one of the best books I read last year, so I could hardly wait for Rebecca Stead's next book. Plus: references to Seurat and pointilism? Spying? 12-year-old spies who drink coffee? YES. Sign me up.
This was another fantastic book. There's so much I could gush about, but one thing that Stead really excels at in particular is crafting honest and vibrant supporting characters. For example: Bob English Who Draws, a kid who doodles on his papers and is an advocate for spelling reform. (I won't give away some of his nontraditional spellings, which are awesome and charming.) Or, a candy shop owner who always counts back change, giving two dimes and nickel instead of a quarter just so he can say, "One dime makes ten, two makes twenty, and a nickel is twenty-five cents."* Georges and Safer and everyone in their Brooklyn world felt so real that I kind of miss them.
What MG have you read lately? Any recommendations?
*Not a direct quote; I already lent out my copy.