I love middle readers. These are the books for kids between the ages of eight and thirteen. While they may have adult themes, you won’t find adult issues being presented in an edgy way–those are teen books. Many of my favorite childhood classics are middle readers: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Bunnicula, and The Wolves of Willowby Chase. That’s why I’m happy to see today’s authors keep coming out with compelling novels to give kids the magical adventures I was lucky to enjoy. And, who am I kidding, grown-ups still read them too!
Pages and Co.: The Bookwanderers
On Street: September 24, 2019 /Philomel (Penguin RH Kids)
At first glance, 11-year-old Tilly Pages’ life looks perfect. Her grandmother owns a wonderful bookshop called Pages & Company and Tilly can indulge in her favorite stories whenever she likes. But there is pain in Tilly’s life too–many years ago now, her mother disappeared. When some of Tilly’s fictional friends show up at the shop–literary characters like Anne Shirley and Alice from Wonderland–Tilly’s adventures become very real. It seems she has a magical ability to “bookwander” into the real world of any story, and danger could be lurking on the very next page…
Note: Paola Escobar’s cover art for this book alone will make you want to grab it. It promises magic, adventure, and wish fulfillment all at once.
Why it’s Worth Choosing
- The illustrations! The charming illustrations…
- What bibliophile of any age wouldn’t love to have the ability Tilly does? Much better than mere invisibility or being able to fly.
- The author feels we are all made of books.
- For adult fans of Jaasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.
On Street: August 6, 2019 / Doubleday
Summer 1959. Washington, D.C. Behind every door you will find a Nazi sympathizer, a foreign diplomat’s family, Holocaust refugees, or even a Russian spy. At least that’s what young John and his friends Ivan, Beatriz and Max think. The kids are convinced that the inexplicable spider infestation is evidence of “insect warfare” by the Soviet Union and are determined to capture a rare, poisonous vinegaroonfor their own purposes. At a party in John’s grandparents’ backyard, the boys doctor the punch with Brazilian rum causing the adults to let down their defenses. Finally, John’s Aunt Elena–who already raises eyebrows due to her Ukrainian birth, swinging social life, and outspokenness on behalf of refugees–roars off with a stranger on his motorcycle. Held together with Bazooka bubblegum and Cold War paranoia, this story is gorgeously written, sweet, and ultimately heartbreaking.
Why it’s Worth Choosing
- Julia Claiborne Johnson, the author of Be Frank With Me, says “Summerlings is the To Kill a Mockingbird of the Cold War generation.”
- Of special interest is the way the author chose to play out global issues in the small street of one neighborhood
- Lisa Howorth is a librarian and bookseller, having founded Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1979.
The Curse of the Werepenguin
On Street: August 13, 2019 / Viking (Penguin RH Kids)
“This book is full of lies and slander. Do not read it or I will hang you from a flagpole by your armpit hairs and raise you up and down for a week!” –Baron Chordata
Orphan Bolt Wattle dreams of finding his true family. But once he has accepted a mysterious Baron’s invitation to far-off Brugaria, the locals warn him that he’s in terrible danger, scream at him, and threaten to hit him with a stale loaf of bread–and that’s just within the first five minutes. The road to the Baron’s manor takes Bolt through a dark forest filled with ruthless but extremely tidy bandits. And everywhere Bolt goes, he can hear the distant, eerie barking of penguins. Then things get worse. Much, much worse.
Why It’s Worth Choosing
- If the reverse psychology of Baron Chordata’s threats sound happily familiar to you Lemony Snicket fans, then this book is for you. Ditto you readers who love Eva Ibbotson, Dav Pilkey, and The Princess Bride by William Goldstein.
- Also for those who love jokes about fish sticks.