There’s nothing to warm a librarian’s heart like coming home from a late shift at work and finding your daughter curled up in bed with a book. And a hefty book, at that: Roald Dahl’s The BFG. For some time now, she’s been zooming through short, easy chapter book series along the lines of the Rainbow Magic and Magic Tree House, but this was a step beyond. My mom reported that she’d been deep into it the book all afternoon.
We’ve had an eventful and very exciting week, what with the
election and my mom visiting, but I couldn’t bring myself to make her turn off
the light right away.
“It’s the best book,” she said sleepily when I finally pried it out of her hands.
Even as I write this, Cybils panelists are reading
reading reading like my kid was last night, winnowing the nominees town to a
short list of finalists. The Middle Grade Fiction
panelists have their work cut out for them, with over a hundred novels for
children to choose from.
These are ten that I would love to curl up with myself, and that have already made someone say to themselves—and to the Cybils organizers—“this is the best book”.
- Third Grade Baby, by Jenny Meyerhoff
A book about a kid whose baby teeth haven’t fallen out yet. How did I miss this all year? My kid is in third grade and her baby teeth have only just started to fall out and I didn’t know there were any books about this phenomenon in the whole wide world!
- Savvy, by Ingrid Law
I keep hearing terrific things about this book and it sounds like it has just the right mix of magic and coming-of-age to appeal to lots of kids. As well as, well, me.
- Elvis & Olive, by Stephanie Watson
Ooh the Harriet the Spy fan in me is totally looking forward to this one.
- A Thousand Never Evers, by Shana Burg
My favorite kind of historical novel: a regular kid with a distinctive narrative voice trying to have normal growing-up experiences in the midst of a Big Event, in this case the Civil Rights Movement.
- Shooting the Moon, by Frances O’Roark Dowell
I’ve actually read this one and it is so gorgeous. It has that perfectly jewel-like satisfying well-put-together feeling that just makes me so happy. Also it has a military father who defies stereotypes by being warm and thoughtful.
- Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes, by Peggy Gifford
I read this one too and liked it in some ways even more than the first Moxy Maxwell book. You learn more about her family, her father especially.
- Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look
Who wouldn’t want to read about a 2nd grader who’s so scared of school that he needs a Personal Disaster Kit, but plays a superhero named Firecracker Man at home? Cool. Fun.
- Little Leap Forward, by Guo Yue
Like tales of Jewish immigration to
- Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, by Danette Haworth , and
What are the odds of not one but two kids’ novels in the same year whose titles refer to being hit by lightning? From a brief glimpse at their respective descriptions, it seems like these two deal with similar themes, too: friendship, fitting in, and having your world turn upside down. Different settings, though, and very different first-person voices.
There are lots, lots more that look truly excellent, but I had to cut off my picks at some point lest I overwhelm anyone reading this. Here, once again, is the link to the whole list of Middle Grade Fiction nominees.
November 9, 2008