As I've mentioned before, quiet books are often overlooked. SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O'Connor (Coming from Putnam May 12, 2011, for ages 8 to 12) is one quiet book you'll want to add to your TBR list because it's a rich and rewarding read.
Raine is 12 the summer that Mama abruptly decides to take a job as cook and housekeeper for an artist colony out in the country called Sparrow Road. She insists that Raine spend the summer at the colony with her instead of staying in Milwaukee with Grandpa Mac. But at the same time, Mama won't let her go anywhere, especially into the town of Comfort. What is Mama hiding? There are secrets at Sparrow Road, and one of them involves Raine's own past.
The colony is a sprawling estate with a meadow, a pond, artist sheds, and a dilapidated mansion that was once an orphanage. The dusty attic is still filled with narrow metal beds. City-girl Raine gradually gets used to the quiet of the country and also gets to know the four artists-in-residence: stern Eleanor, energetic Josie, friendly Diego and timid old Lillian, who may have a connection to the old orphanage. There is no TV at Sparrow Road, so Raine is bored until Josie convinces her to work on her own form of art and write a story about the orphans who once lived here.
Raine is a wonderful character, well-rounded, thoughtful and always real. This is a rare book in which the main character is a child but all the secondary characters are adults. How Raine interacts with them and discovers her creative side makes for a lovely, touching story. The mystery of Raine's own past adds a layer of intrigue. And the subplot involving Lillian brought tears to my eyes. This is a book about love and forgiveness and coming to terms with the past.
What quiet middle-grade books have you enjoyed?
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger. Today she's giving away a signed copy of A WHOLE NOTHER STORY! Shannon O'Donnell is back and discussing THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN. Myrna Foster is featuring THE ADVENTURES OF DANIEL BOOM AKA LOUD BOY! And Brooke Favero showcases THE CLOCKWORK THREE. Hop on over to their blogs. UPDATE: Sherrie Petersen has an interview with Kekla Magoon, featuring her new MG book, CAMO GIRL.