Monday, March 31, 2014

Catching up on middle grade books for MMGM

There are so many cool middle grade novels pubbing in 2014, that I'm tempted to read only what's new. After all, I have to keep up, right?

But then there's my TBR list... So this last month, I've been playing catch-up at my local library. I thoroughly enjoyed these gems from 2012 and 2013, some of which I first heard about on other MMGM posts. Added bonus: they're all multicultural!



Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi (Charlesbridge, 2012, for ages 9 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): American-born Skye and her Japanese cousin, Hiroshi, are thrown together when Hiroshi's family, with his grandfather (who is also his best friend), suddenly moves to the U.S. Now Skye doesn't know who she is anymore: at school she's suddenly too Japanese, but at home she's not Japanese enough. Hiroshi has a hard time adjusting to life in a new culture, and resents Skye's intrusions on his time with Grandfather. Through all of this is woven Hiroshi's expertise, and Skye's growing interest in, kite making and competitive rokkaku kite flying.


Why I recommend it: This is one of those quiet books I adore so much (and I don't think there are enough of them). Skye and Hiroshi seemed like real kids to me, with real concerns. Loved the kite flying, the alternating points of view, and the little bit of Japanese I picked up from reading this.






P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/Harper, 2013, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Eleven-year-old Brooklyn girl Delphine feels overwhelmed with worries and responsibilities. She's just started sixth grade and is self-conscious about being the tallest girl in the class, and nervous about her first school dance. She's supposed to be watching her sisters, but Fern and Vonetta are hard to control. Her uncle Darnell is home from Vietnam and seems different. And her pa has a girlfriend. At least Delphine can write to her mother in Oakland, California, for advice. But why does her mother tell her to "be eleven"?

Why I recommend it: A glorious sequel to the award-winning One Crazy Summer, this made me feel I was right there in 1960s Brooklyn. What I love most, though, are the relationships: especially among the three sisters, plus the sometimes-prickly relationship between Delphine and her distant mother. (Have to admit, I have a soft spot for the name Delphine, because I had a great-grandmother with that name.)





Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry (Random House, 2013, for ages 9 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life to the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl's father was lost on the last hunt, and now the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl's people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.


Why I recommend it: In a word: Pearl. The thirteen-year-old is headstrong, loving, and realistic. But the setting also deserves special mention. I could feel myself transported to the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s, with the ocean, beaches, rocks, and mist. Parry includes a glossary, historical notes, cultural notes, and other back matter, so this is perfect for schools.


For other Marvelous Middle Grade posts, see Shannon Messenger's blog.

What books are you catching up on?


26 comments:

  1. Two of these are on my list. I'm not familiar with Written In Stone, so on my list it goes!
    I will be playing catch up in May and I have a month to get my tbr list straight and ready.

    Great features as usual, Joanne! :)

    ~Akoss

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    1. Can't wait to see what you read when you catch up, Akoss!

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  2. All of these sound great! Thanks for the list.

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    1. You're welcome, Andrea. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. I enjoyed Flying the Dragon and have Written in Stone on my TBR list (I'm going to nudge it up a few places). Never heard of P.S. Be Eleven but it sounds like a great sequel. Thanks for featuring all of these unique titles.

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    1. Greg, if you haven't read ONE CRAZY SUMMER, read that before you read P.S. BE ELEVEN. Or read them both!

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  5. Thank you for mentioned Flying the Dragon, Joanne! And thank you for the nudge I needed to tackle my TBR pile. :-) I loved ONE CRAZY SUMMER but haven't gotten to P.S. BE ELEVEN YET, and WRITTEN IN STONE looks lovely.

    Thanks again,
    Natalie

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    1. Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I really enjoyed your book.

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  6. Great. Three more books for my toooo-long TBR list, but you make these sounds so great. What can I do? Thanks for telling me about them.

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    1. Ha ha, I know, Rosi. For some strange reason, my TBR list is still just as long as ever...

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  7. Written in Stone is my very next (waiting in the wings to come on stage) book, and I can't wait to dive in! These other two also look fantastic, and have gone on my TBR pile. As you say, so many books... :) But, isn't it lovely to know there are so many delicious books waiting?

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    1. Yes, Suzanne! It's a delightful dilemma to have.

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  8. I LOVED Flying the Dragon! :D Great reviews! :) I am the tallest guy in my class (I'm 5'7"-ish), so I know how Delphine feels.

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    1. Ah, then you would enjoy P.S. Be Eleven. Thanks, Erik.

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    2. Thanks, Erik! And how is it that you're 5'7" already?? You're as tall as I am. :-)

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  9. Now that is some mighty fine reading you got in there! Hope the future holds even more for you. And I hear ya on only reading what is new...so many good ones coming out.

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    1. That's the problem, Deb. I'm always torn.

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  10. I haven't read any of these books, thanks for the reviews. They sound like a trio of winners.

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  11. Thanks for reading Written in Stone. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. This one is very dear to my heart and I'm thrilled to be headed back to Taholah School to celebrate the book with my former 5th graders for whom I wrote the book. Many of them have kids of their own at the grade school now. And here's the cool thing! Random House sent me 9 boxes of books to give to the students in Taholah to thank them for all their help with the book.

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    1. That is really generous of Random House! Lucky students. Thanks for stopping by, Rosanne. I'm honored.

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  12. Thanks for the great recs! I loved Written in Stone. Such a heartfelt book and I loved getting to hear the story behind it when Rosanne recently came to our library. Flying the Dragon has been on my list for awhile, but I haven't heard of P.S. Be Eleven.

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    1. Jenni, you're so lucky to have met Rosanne!

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  13. Those covers are all lovely. I remember reading a review for the first one somewhere. They all sound great.

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.