Monday, May 26, 2014

Catching up on middle grade -- Part 2

Back in March, I wrote about catching up on some worthy middle grade gems from 2012 and 2013.

Well, there are plenty more books on my TBR list clamoring for my attention. Like toddlers. And this is what they're shouting:

       "Pick me up."

       "No, no, me! Pick me up instead."

       "Don't listen to them. Over here. Me me me!"

Which one do you listen to? How do you decide to read Book A before Book B or Book C? Sometimes, of course, it's a question of finding them in the library. Or if you're lucky, you win a copy. :)

Sometimes, you just have to buy the book that's pestering you. But unless you've won the lottery, you can't afford to buy them all. Times like this I miss working in a bookstore, where I had thousands of ARCs vying for my attention. I still couldn't read them all, though I certainly tried. Back then, I read quickly, and I read as a bookseller.

Now, I go to the library and I try to read as a writer.

Here are three more worthy novels from 2013 you should add to your TBR list (yes, I'm evil that way!). Bonus: they're all historical fiction, about different time periods in American history.

Synopses: from the publishers (edited slightly for brevity).


Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine (for ages 9 to 12, Scholastic, Sept 2013)

It's 1972 and life will never be the same for Red Porter. He's growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Stony Gap, Virginia. 

Red's daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business, a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store rolled into one? 

When Red discovers the injustices that have been happening in Stony Gap since before he was born, he's faced with unsettling questions about his family's legacy.

Why I recommend it: I loved Red; he's a realistic, flawed and yet likable character. Writers, read this one to learn about character growth.




Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (ages 10 and up, Margaret K. McElderry Books, August 2013)

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can only take a bow and arrows, his tomahawk and the metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is ten when his father dies, but he knows the friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren't as accepting. John's friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

Why I recommend it: Ghost Hawk is a unique look at our nation's early history. Writers, read this one for her mastery of description! (Note: Because this is the real history you don't often hear about, there is some shocking violence.)





Every Day After by Laura Golden (for ages 9 to 12, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, June 2013)

It's been two months since Lizzie's daddy disappeared due to the awful Depression. Lizzie's praying he'll return to Bittersweet, Alabama for her birthday. It won't feel special without him, what with Lizzie's Mama being so sad she won't even talk and the bank nipping at their heels for the mortgage payment.

As time passes, Lizzie can only picture her daddy's face by opening her locket. If others can get by, why did her daddy leave? If he doesn't return, how can she overcome the same obstacles that drove him away?

Why I recommend it: For some reason, I can't get enough of books about the Depression (Moon Over Manifest being a favorite). Writers, read this touching and inspiring novel for the voice.


How do you handle your TBR list?


22 comments:

  1. My TBR list is actually more like a menu than an ordered list. Yes, I borrow, buy, and occasionally have a free one fall into my hands. There are always several on the shelf waiting to be read. I finished twenty straight first person POV books this year before branching out to a few third person titles. These three have been added and sound wonderful. Thanks for recommending.

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    1. Great idea, Greg: a menu instead of a list. So you can pick and choose. Come to think of it, that's kind of what I do already. Read a few from the shelves. Read a few from the library. Read a new book. Read an old book. Read one because another MMGMer recommends it...

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  2. I always fail when it comes to my tbr list, or pile. lol
    By the way I have one more depression (era) book for your list: What The Moon Said. :)

    ~Akoss

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    1. Yeah, I usually fail too. :) But I'm always trying to catch up. And What The Moon Said is already on my TBR list, thanks to you!

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  3. These sound really good! There's not a lot out about more recent history (like the 70s) and I'm a sucker for anything about the Depression as well.
    I'll be adding these to my ever-growing TBR list as well!

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    1. They're all excellent, Jenni. I always think it's funny when someone talks about the 70s or 80s as history, because I lived through them (along with the 60s!). But you're right - not a lot of MG about that era. Yet.

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  4. I have not read Ghost Hawk. Will head over to Goodreads and add it to my to read list. Thanks!

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  5. Hmm, I think I let me mood decide which books I read next. Though, I tend to go in cycles. Right now I'm scouting for good historicals, so these three are all going on the list! Thanks for the recommend!

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    1. You can't go wrong with these historicals. I go in cycles, too, Suzanne. And always let my mood decide. :) Except if a book is due at the library in two days...

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  6. Oh, my TBR pile is tottering! I feel the way you do about Depression era books. I love them too, so I will be looking for Every Day After. Thanks!

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    1. That's great, Rosi. Although I'm sorry that your TBR stack is already so high!

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  7. Seeing Red is going on my list now. I'd heard of it, but if I don't add the books to my reading list while I'm thinking about it, well, I forget. :-) I read Every Day After (an ARC, I believe) and loved it.

    Availability from the library usually dicatates how I read the books on my list, and lately, my library system has been buying all the books I've been hearing good things about, so LOTS of reading lately!

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    1. Sounds like you have a terrific library, Barbara. Glad to hear you loved Every Day After.

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  8. I haven't read any of these- but I do enjoy a good HF MG book! I read another book by Kathryn Erskine, so I am excited to read Seeing Red. The others look great too. :)

    I try to balance my reading with the books I receive as wins or ARCs and books from the library. I do buy books too, but I definitely use my library A LOT!

    Thanks for sharing.
    ~Jess

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    1. DId you read MOCKINGBIRD? I loved that book. THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE was enjoyable too, though very different.

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  9. Every Day After sounds like a story I'd love to pick up. Thanks for the recommendations here!

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    1. You're welcome, Claudine. And welcome to the blog.

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  10. These books look great! Now to add them to my infinite TBR list! ;)

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    1. Isn't it wonderful, Erik? With so many great books out there we can actually have infinite TBR lists!

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  11. I loved Seeing Red and Every Day After - two Cybils reads. I have an ARC of Ghost Hawk, but haven't read it yet. Hopefully soon. I have no idea how to handle my TBR list, just wade through it the best I can! :)

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    1. I remember seeing the Erskine book on your blog last Fall, Jennifer. That was the first I'd heard of it, so thanks!

      And that's funny about your TBR list. Guess that's all any of us can hope to do.

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