Book Nook

The Book Nook is getting a new look…

I’ve been a little lame in keeping this tab updated over the last year. There are only so many hours in the day, you know? I’ve found that using Goodreads.com is a much better way to keep track of the books I’m reading, the books I’ve read, and all of my favorites too–with ratings and reviews. I’ll keep the list below up for a little while longer, but eventually you’ll be able to find all of this information on my page (along with more books too) so look for me there!

I also have an author page on the Goodreads site. Click here to find me. You’ll find the link to my own middle grade book, SPIN THE GOLDEN LIGHT BULB, if you’re interested in adding it to your To Read list. Thanks in advance if you do!

If you’ve never stumbled upon the Goodreads site, hurry and check it out now. Pretty much every book is there and it’s a great way to keep track of all the amazing ones you’ve read and what other people are reading too.

YOU’VE ENTERED THE BOOK NOOK…

The books you’ll find here in the Book Nook are all middle grade. That’s what I write and the age category I know best. These are some of my favorites but I’m posting more all the time. Take a peek. One of them may become your favorite too. For easy reference at the library or bookstore, I’ve created a printable version of this list too.

Listed alphabetically by author, these books are targeted at readers ages 8 to 14 years-old, but many should be enjoyed by older readers as well. I’ve included a blurb from the publisher and then my own comments in parenthesis too. Enjoy!

The Prince of Fenway Park (Julianna Baggott)

In the fall of 2004, 12 year-old Oscar Egg is sent to live with his father in a strange netherworld under Boston’s Fenway Park, where he joins the faeries, pooka, banshee, and other beings that are trapped there, waiting for someone to break the 86 year- old curse that has prevented the Boston Red Sox from winning a World Series. (Whether you’re the Red Sox’s number one fan or simply a fan of fantasy stories, you’ll love the tale of how one brave boy took on the curse of Red Sox Nation)

The Boy in the Stripe Pajamas (John Boyne)

Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to “Out With” in 1942, a nine year old boy named Bruno, the son of a Nazi Officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence. (This historical fiction story has haunted me since the day I read it. It’s a tale of an impossible friendship between two young boys from starkly different worlds and will melt your heart. Don’t be afraid to share this important story with your middle grade kids. It’s that good.)

The Double Life of Zoey Flynn (Janet Lee Carey)

Zoey used to live at 18 Hawk Rd. in California. She used to have a best friend, Kellen and a dog, Merlin. Now she doesn’t. Now she lives in Oregon. No one can know her secret. Not her new friends, not her teacher, and not the cop who’s been following her. She has to find her way back home before any of them find out that her family’s living in a broken down green van. (I couldn’t put this one down!)

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Gennifer Choldenko)

A twelve year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935, when prison guard’s families were housed there. Moose has to contend with his strange environment, finding a baseball team, and his autistic sister. (This book is a Newberry Honor winner. I can see why. Read it to slip back to the 1930’s where life was very different!)

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (Gennifer Choldenko)

Kristen and Walk, seventh graders at an elite, private school, alternate telling how race, wealth, and weight shape their relationships as they stand up to a mean but influential classmate, and uncover a long kept secret. (This story has a great message and a few surprises!)

Waiting for Normal (Leslie Connor)

Twelve year- old Addie tries to cope with her mother’s strange behavior and being separated from her beloved stepfather and half-sisters all while she and her mother move to a small trailer by the railroad tracks. (If you’ve heard great things about this book, you better believe them. This story is a winner!)

All Four Stars (Tara Dairman)

Eleven year-old Gladys Gatsby loves food and cooking, so when she lands an assignment to write a restaurant review for a NYC newspaper, she will do anything to make it happen, even risk the wrath of her fast-food loving parents. (This adorable story by a debut author is spunky and full of fun. Fun foods, fun adventures, and fun characters. Gladys is so lovable you’ll want to tag along with her just to see what she mixes up next!)

The Ghost of Fossil Glen (Cynthia DeFelice)

Sixth grader, Allie knows that it’s not her imagination when she hears a voice and sees in her mind’s eye the face of a girl who seems to be seeking Allie’s help. (This story is creepy enough to keep you wondering  what’s happening to Allie. Good thing her friend Dub is there to help her out!)

The Signal (Cynthia DeFelice)

After moving in with his distant father to the Finger Lakes region of New York, 12 year-old Owen faces a lonely summer until he meets an abused girl who may be a space alien. (This book kept me guessing until the very end!)

The Tale of Despereaux (Kate DiCamillo)

The story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread. (This story is more than just a fairy tale. It’s a story that will stay with you long after you read “The End.” I love this one!)

Inkheart (Cornelia Funke)

When 12 year-old Meggie’s father reads aloud from Inkheart, an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of the book, landing in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie’s in the middle of an adventure she thought only took place in fairy tales. (This book is the first of the Inkheart trilogy and one of the best adventure stories I’ve ever read. You’ll want to follow Meggie right into the pages of her book!)

The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

Nobody Owens is a normal boy except that he has been raised by ghosts and other creatures of the graveyard. (This strangely unique adventure story was a Newberry Medal winner. Give it a try. You won’t be sorry!)

As if Being 12 3/4 Isn’t Bad Enough, my Mom is Running for President (Donna Gephart)

Preparing for spelling bees, and having a secret admirer is hard enough, but Vanessa must also deal with real fears of her mother becoming president. (Vanessa is a very realistic character, who felt like a friend by the end of this story!)

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (John Grisham)

Thirteen year- old Theo, who thinks he’s a lawyer, finds himself in the middle of his town’s biggest trial in years.  (If you like mysteries, this story is for you! Theo is a kid who has big dreams and bigger adventures. This is book one in a series…a must read!)

Theodore Boone: Abduction (John Grisham)

Hot off assisting in a high profile murder trial, thirteen year-old Theo Boone is still dispensing legal advice to his friends and teachers. But just when it seems as if his life has gone back to the status quo, a new mystery comes to town and this time it’s personal. (Book two in the series is just as good as the first and full of even more unsavory characters, adventure, and drama for this resident thirteen year-old law expert.)

Shug (Jenny Han)

Twelve year- old Annemarie learns about friendship, first loves and self worth in a small town in the South when everything in her life shifts. Like Mark, her best friend who just doesn’t get it, and Celia, her big sister who never wants to hang out anymore. Annemarie is sure her parents are headed for divorce and with her whole world exploding around her, all she really wants is for everything to go back to the way it used to be. (You’ll like this story for every misadventure Annemarie survives!)

Waiting for Unicorns (Beth Hautala)

After her mother dies, twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn goes to the Artic with her father, a whale researcher. Over the course of one summer, and through several unlikely friendships, Talia learns that stories have the power to connect us, to provide hope, and to pull us out of the darkness. (Every once in a while, a book comes along and its words stay with you long after you turn the last page. The beautifully written story of Talia’s adventure in the artic with her wish jar and memorable new friends is one such book for me and it may become that for you too! The descriptions are so powerful you’ll feel like you’re wearing Tal’s wool hat and mittens every time she steps out of the blue house and into her ice covered neighborhood. This story is a must read for any child (or adult) dealing with a loss, but also for anyone who has a dream and knows how to wish really hard! Beth is my amazingly talented critique partner. Read the first page and you’ll know what I mean!)

Olive’s Ocean (Kevin Henkes)

On a summer trip to visit her grandmother’s cottage by the ocean, 12 yr. old Martha gains perspective on the death of a classmate, her relationship with her grandma, her feelings for an older boy, and on her plans to become a writer. (This book is a Newberry Medal winner.  I had to read it for myself to see why this story was so special. Now I know why! It’s simply amazing.)

Sun and Spoon (Kevin Henkes)

After the death of his grandmother, 10 year old Spoon observes changes in his grandfather and vows to find the perfect artifact to preserve his memories of her. (If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you’ll want to read this book.)

Brooklyn Bridge (Karen Hess)

In 1903 Brooklyn, 14 year- old Joseph Michtom’s life is turned upside- down  when his parents, Russian immigrants, invent the teddy bear and turn their apartment into a factory.  No longer is Joseph at leisure to play stickball with the guys. Now, Joseph works. And complains. And falls in love. And argues with Mama and Papa. And falls out of love. And hopes he’ll see the new amusement park, Coney Island soon. He hopes everything will turn right-side up again. He hopes his luck hasn’t run out—because you never know. (Joseph’s story is full of surprises. If you haven’t read it, check it out!)

Sand Dollar Summer (Kimberly K. Jones)

When 12 year- old Lise spends the summer on an island in Maine with her self-reliant mother and her bright but oddly mute younger brother, her safe world is complicated by an aged Indian neighbor, her mother’s childhood friend and a hurricane. (Great cast of characters.  You’ll love getting to know each one!)

Love, Aubrey  (Suzanne LaFluer)
    
While living with her gram in Vermont, 11 year- old Aubrey writes notes as a way to remember her dad and her sister, while making a new best friend. (Get out your Kleenex. and get ready to cheer for Aubrey through every single page. This is one of my all-time favorites and Aubrey is a character you will never forget!)

Secrets, Lies and Algebra (Wendy Lichtman)

Tess loves math, and she uses mathematical concepts to understand things in her life, so she is dismayed to learn that math and life changes in the 8th grade. (You don’t have to like math to love this book, but if you do it might become one of your favorites!)

At Your Service (Jen Malone)

As the junior concierge of her father’s posh hotel, thirteen year-old Chloe escorts three trouble making royals on their trip to New York City. (This may be my favorite fun read of the year. I mean who doesn’t love fancy hotels, royalty, adventure, and young love? Tweens and young teens alike will step into this fairy tale like story and quite possibly never come out!)

You’re Invited (Jen Malone & Gail Nall)

When twelve year-old Sadie is fired from her Mother’s wedding planning company after a disastrous mishap, she starts her own party planning business and recruits her three best friends. (This fun story set in a fictional beach town is the perfect summer read and these four girls are the perfect best friends to hang out with! They won’t have to drag you into their party planning adventures, you’ll gladly tag along.)

Hothead (Cal Ripkin, Jr.)

Connor Sullivan is a 12 year-old hotshot shortstop for the Orioles, but he discovers he may be a hothead too when he loses his temper at a big game. Will he be able to keep it under control for the championship or will taunts from his rival, his dad’s unemployment, and a new friendship with Melissa send him out of control? (Written by one of the most admired players in Major League Baseball, this story has hero written all over it. But not all hero’s are perfect and I bet you’ll find yourself cheering for Connor up until the last out— just like I was!)

School of Charm (Lisa Ann Scott)

After her beloved father’s death in 1977, eleven year-old tomboy, Chip tries to fit in with her family of beauty queens, making unlikely new friends at Miss Vernie’s unusual charm school in Mount Airy, NC.(This story will make you laugh. It will make you think. It will make you cry. But most of all it will make you want Chip to feel happy again somehow in the unusual place she finds herself in. Definitely one of my top three favorite middle grade books!)

First Light (Rebecca Stead)

Peter and Thea’s worlds collide when he travels to Antartica on an expedition. While exploring icebergs, Peter sees visions that both frighten and excite him. Eventually they lead him to the world of Thea’s people, deep below the ice. (First Light is an amazing story and the world Peter stumbles upon is unforgettable. This is a must read!)

When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead)

As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 20,000 Pyramid, a 12 year-old NYC girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seem to defy the laws of time and space. (Winner of the Newberry Medal. This story is a tale of friendship, family and mysteries beyond our wildest imaginations. I give this book five stars, not just because I met the amazing author, but because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read!)

Breadcrumbs (Anne Ursu)

12 year-old Hazel believes in the power of make believe but the kids at her new school don’t get that. Even worse, her best friend, Jack has changed. Now, when he runs into trouble, it’s up to Hazel to come to his rescue. (This modern day fairy tale will warm your heart. Hazel is a gem and you’ll be happy to follow her on this grand adventure through the magical forest!)

My Middle Grade To Be Read Pile:

Every reader has a To Be Read pile. You know, the books they just can’t wait to read. Here’s my running list…There’s just so many good ones out there just waiting for me to turn the page. Many, (not all) are from debut authors. I’m especially excited to dive into those! I bet you’ll want to add them to your pile too. I’ve heard amazing things about every single one!

Seraphina and the Black Cloak   (Robert Beatty)

My Diary from the Edge of the World  (Jodi Lynn Anderson)

Breaking the Ice (Gail Nall)

Goodbye Stranger (Rebecca Stead)

A Snicker of Magic (Natalie Lloyd)

Just a Drop of Water (Kerry O’Malley Cerra)

Odessa Again (Dana Reinhardt)

Sugar and Ice (Kate Messner)

The 8th Continent (Matt London)

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher (Jessica Lawson)

The Graham Cracker Plot (Shelley Tougas)

The Swift Boys & Me (Kody Keplinger)

Under the Egg (Laura Marx Fitzgerald)

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