Category Archives: Middle Grade Novels

Middle Grade Book List

Back on August 7th NPR announced the results of their summer’s poll seeking the Top 100 Teen Books. When I used this list for a YA panel I participated in, I noted a number of these titles are commonly shelved as Middle Grade books. Several people at that talk and since (especially with the holidays upon us) have asked me for recommendations for the younger crowd, specifically for kids who have read the Hunger Games at the ripe old age of say, eleven, and think they should now shop in the teen section for their next read.

Uh, no.

Every library and bookstore section has a range of reading and maturity levels. Of course every reader varies, but it’s fair to say at the younger ages, it helps if the parent/adult knows the book, reads a review or asks for help to know what you’re getting into. Of course, this takes time!

There are so many books, I can’t cover them all, but for starters I took the NPR list (original on website here) and have broken it down to which of those books are shelved in the juvenile fiction section – grades 3 to 6. Per my daughter’s suggestion, I left off literary fiction titles that might be read in 6 to 8th grades. Few kids want to be gifted a ‘school book’.

I have made some notations, if I know something of the book. Please note the numbering is from the original list, in case you’d like to go back and mark up a printout.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling

5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

11. The Giver (series), by Lois Lowry

14. Anne of Green Gables (series), by Lucy Maud Montgomery (younger MG)

15. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman (older MG)

30. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt

31. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

36. Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

40. Abhorsen Trilogy / Old Kingdom Trilogy (series), by Garth Nix (in teen, but I’ve read them and they fit the older MG reader)

42. Discworld / Tiffany Aching (series, by Terry Pratchett (Discworld is adult fantasy, but suitable for older MG – a favorite series of mine. Tiffany Aching is a series for younger shelved in teen, but good for MG)

44. The Dark is Rising (series), by Susan Cooper (loved this series)

51. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (shelved multiple places)

60. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury (Gr 6+ fantasy novel)

65. The Bartimaeus Trilogy (series), by Jonathan Stroud

73. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (Gr 6+ – fantasy novel)

76. The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley

80. The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

81. Daughter of the Lioness / Tricksters (series), by Tamora Pierce (in teen, but good for older MG)

83. The Immortals (series), by Tamora Pierce (in teen, but good for older MG)

84. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series), by Patricia C. Wrede (younger MG)

86. Circle of Magic (series), by Tamora Pierce

92. Leviathan (series), by Scott Westerfeld (in teen, but good for older MG)

94. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (series), by Diana Wynne Jones

98. The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley

100. Betsy-Tacy Books (series), by Maud Hart Lovelace (younger MG)

Sorry, I found I couldn’t stick to where the books are shelved. Perhaps I need to cull out an overlap list, for that awkward 11 to 14 age group. More on my to do list!

More from my visit to the National Book Festival 2012

I ran out of steam before finishing my tale of my author viewings on Saturday. Eventually I had to leave my primo seat in the fourth row and couldn’t get it back. For R. L. Stine I sat over to the side, which turned out to be a bonus.

All day the American Sign Language interpreters translated, standing to the right of the speaker. Sometimes it was a toss up which person on stage to watch, the author or the interpreter. But in my new position watching Bob—the presenter told us R stands for Robert and he said for her to call him Bob—I had a clear view of both the author and the interpreter. This became more interesting as Bob began to tell us about his upcoming release, Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask. This hardback celebrating the Goosebumps series 20th anniversary features two new stories with scares from Halloween, of course.

The Haunted Mask isn’t a new theme for a Goosebumps story, and Bob told us a shortened version of the original. All of a sudden I realized the interpreter was acting it out:

The children putting on their costumes…

…holding out their bags to accept candy…

…trembling all over…

Yikes! This story was coming to life, just like the Haunted Mask! What fun, so much so that I’m looking forward to the release of this middle grade horror / thriller. I figure after reading Anna Dressed In Blood and Girl of Nightmares, I can take it.

The National Book Festival 2012

Well, I’ve forgotten my Six Sentence Sunday again this week, but attending the National Book Festival was an exciting alternative. If you hadn’t seen the advertising, the beautiful poster by Rafael Lopez is terrific.

Wildlife reading! Yes! The theme graced the banners and backdrops and gazing at them was definitely a highlight of my day.

But I diverge. I spent my time Saturday in the Teen and Children Tent, arriving early enough to secure a front row seat among John Green’s fans. I’m a fan—Hey, I got there early!—but I don’t have the time to devote like a teen, er young adult.

However, their enthusiasm was contagious, followed by an incredible talk by the author. I’m not going to try to do a review of any of the authors I heard, but note little snippets that stood out to me.

For John, it’s that he imagines his story plottings as geometric figures. The Fault in Our Stars was a spiral. He had to keep growing the heroine’s story out and picking up others. Will Grayson, Will Grayson with David Levithan was an X. The heros started in different places, their lives entangled and then went separate ways.

Next up was Mike Lupica. I’ve never read his books, but I know Mike’s (Notice how now that I’ve spent 45 minutes in their presence, I can’t help but call these authors by first name? Every talk is that personal.) Anyway, Mike Lupica writes sport books, of which a number fall in the Middle Grade genre and are very popular with boys. Now I know why. His energy is incredible. The books center on friendship, teamwork and loyalty—good themes for any story. He noted that the biggest stories in sports turn on the smallest moments. That could also be true of any good story.

Lois Lowry reminisced that The Giver came about at the time her grandfather (I think!) began to lose his memory, causing her to explore how memory works, why it fails and how we control what’s remembered. She said most books come of creative musings like this, initiated by an event that stirs an emotion in us.

Maggie Stiefvater has incredible energy and stage presence in speaking. Before becoming an author, she was a musician and a portrait artist. When asked how she created the rich characters in the Shiver series, she responded that she develops a character like a portrait. However, there are three methods of portrait creation:

1) The likeness is as good as a photograph. 2) It’s better than a photo. Or 3) The likeness is more realistic than a photo could be. She aims for the third method.

Melissa Marr chose to write her Wicked Lovely series in third person point-of-view, even though first person POV is more common for today’s YA market. I got the reason why at the time, but am finding it difficult to reconstruct from my notes. Here’s a go: She feels that the narrative story takes place not in the events of the story, but what happens between them through the various voices. She feels she can better capture the story through diving into the characters and letting them tell it, rather than placing herself there as a viewer and teller.

The National Book Festival continues today with more great authors and storytellers. I can’t make it down again today, and maybe you can’t either, so it’s heartening to know that the Library of Congress records the talks (Check http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/ for the list of video webcasts) and some sessions will be available through C-SPAN2’s Book TV.

Book Signing for Darkbeast

I had a fun evening attending the signing of Darkbeast, a middle grade book penned by a fellow Washington Romance Writer.

One of the neat things about belonging to local writing chapters in RWA is watching and learning from the other writers. The writing process is so unique for each person and each story. For example, Morgan Keyes’ new middle grade book started as a short story for an anthology on children and animals. She would have had the animal be a griffin, if another author hadn’t chosen it already, and the next three animals she proposed. Finally she settled on a raven.

That’s Caw pictured on the cover, and boy does he have personality. I loved Morgan’s reading of the first chapter, including the voice of Caw who speaks within the heroine Keara’s head. Morgan sounded so comfortable and I thought, Wow, I hope I can be this collected, and do different voices for my characters in a public reading.

I have to say, I love the question sessions the best. You always find out the best tidbits. Morgan gave us a little history on the development of Keara’s world—originally based on Celtic communities—and some of the interesting challenges in working with, of all things, the symbolism of numbers in the story.

Of course, I got my copy signed and am looking forward to diving into Darkbeast’s world—especially since another favorite author of mine also liked it: Tamora Pierce! Check out her quote on Morgan’s website and learn what your darkbeast is. http://www.morgankeyes.com

Presenting CONJURE

I’m pleased to be included in the cover reveal for Conjure, the first novel in the soon-to-be-released Hoodoo Apprentice series penned by my friend and fellow Maryland Romance Writer Lea Nolan. Ta da:

Beautiful, isn’t it? Ah, this dark and dreamy scene perfectly depicts the southern mystery Lea’s fourteen-year-old heroine stumbles into–one that forces her to conjure up a bit of old-time magic.

Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.

Sounds exciting, right? And it is! While we wait to get our hands on a copy, Lea is running a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Read more about Lea’s upcoming middle grade release of CONJURE:

On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13425130-conjure
Lea’s website: http://www.leanolan.com/
Lea on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lea_Nolan

Thanks for stopping by!

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