The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy
This is a middle grades road trip story. Maybelle enters a singing contest in hopes of meeting her father and stealing his heart. Only to find out maybe it isn’t his love she really needs.
Coo by Kaela Noel
This sweet middle grades novel is a debut. Coo is a young girl who has been raised by pigeons. While this is completely implausible, it is forgivably so because of Noel’s clever writing and strong characterization. Coo is “rescued” by an unlikely savior who, as it turns out, could use a bit of rescuing herself. Together they team up to care for one another and the pigeons they both love.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
This book is brilliant. I am not sure my words can do it justice. I want to reread it just to study Yang’s craft. He skillfully pulls off a postmodern style by writing about the making of the book as part of the storyline. He made me fall in love with basketball–the history of it, the ritual of it, the love players and fans have for the game itself. He confronts tough issues with pure grace, including racial and gender inequities. This is one I will be sharing for sure!
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
When I need a vacation read, I always turn to Sarah Dessen. This book grabbed me right from the start. Dessen has a way of creating setting in which I want to remain and characters who I want to know. Emma Saylor spends the summer discovering her past, embracing her present, and finally forging a future that honors both. This is a light read that touches on issues of social class in an accessible way that teens will take to heart.
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
This is a fantastic read! William, better known as Scoob, makes a clean getaway from spring break punishment by jumping in his G’ma’s RV. Little does he know he is headed for the road trip of a lifetime! Using his G’pa’s old Green Book as a guide, he and G’ma set out to finish a trip that was cut short many years ago when G’pa was arrested for stealing. Middle grade readers will learn a bit of history on the stops they make along the way, while G’ma reveals family secrets that help Scoob figure out his own identity.
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole
My friend elsie recommended this picture book to me, and what a gem it is! The origin story of this paper bag begins multiple turns before the title page and continues through generations. This is a story about conservation, holding on, letting go, and passing along a meaningful legacy. This is one to treasure!
On the Horizon: World War II Reflections by Lois Lowry
Lowry tells her own story of discovering family movie footage of herself as a child playing on a Hawaiian beach with the USS Arizona ship in the distant background. In this poetry collection, Lowry juxtaposes her innocence in that moment with the devastation caused by the attack on Pearl Harbor that ultimately sank the ship. She follows stories of individual lives lost in the Pearl Harbor attack with poetic stories from the nuclear attack on Hiroshima to create a powerfully moving, delicately illustrated collection.
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
This is a stunningly beautiful middle grades story about the burning embers in each of us. It is a story about casting light through darkness. Pong and Somkit won my heart as did everyone who helped them along the way. Each time I had to close the cover, I longed to return to the beautiful Thailand-ish fantasy world Soontornvat created. This book is on my list of all-time favorites.