Top Middle Grade Fiction reads of 2012
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. (Putnam, 2012. 304p. $16.99. 9780399256448.) I didn't appreciate this book until I discussed it with students. Lions take place after the first attempt at integration in Arkansas schools. It focuses on two families: one white and one black. At times I thought Marlee voice was too mature but this didn't bother the students. And what I saw as a wrapped up ending they thought actually left room for growth since everything didn't work out for both girls. My biggest beef now is the paperback edition. The new cover, featuring two girls holding hands and a cutesy twisty title font, will turn off a lot of middle school readers as too young or too girlish.
|from Simon and Schuster|
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (Aladdin, 2012. 496p. $16.99. 9781442445932.) This cover is deceiving. The cartoon-ish look to the characters make this looks like a fun-filled, rollicking adventure. And it is. But, it's also more. Keeper of the Lost Cities is alternatively funny, sad, and dangerous. Sophie finds out that the life she's been living is not her own. Sad. She belongs to an alternate world and the gift she has is actually very powerful. Cool. She goes back to her home and starts attending school with more people with her gifts but she is not used to being around people like this. Funny. But, Sophie was sent to Earth for a reason. Her gift is extremely valuable but her presence threatens some of the higher ups. And they are willing to go to any lengths to eliminate that threat.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012. 320p. $16.99. 9780061992254.) I hadn’t expected to like this book. It’s a talking animal. But Applegate truly brings Ivan alive and you can believe that what she writes is exactly what he feels. That was a constant refrain from students who read this: it seems like realistic fiction. Applegate does a great job both with characterization and setting. A contender for the Newbery, I believe.
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