Children/Middle Grade

Pluto: A Wonder StoryPluto: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my favorite of the three Wonder “side” stories. Great lessons for kids (and adults), and it had the most Auggie!

The Julian Chapter (Wonder Story)The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Wonder a few years ago and loved it and it’s message. Reading the ignorance of Julian’s parents in the first half of Julian’s chapter was difficult, but I loved Grandmere’s story and how it changed the views of the entire family. I’m excited to read the other mini stories, too.

Felix YzFelix Yz by Lisa Bunker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing style is hard to get into at first, but it makes more sense as the story progresses, and I’m sure kids would love the silliness of it. It’s essentially the stream of consciousness of a 13-year-old and the alien fused inside him that occasionally takes over his body. It includes LGBT themes as Felix grapples with his attraction to his friend Hector, and understanding Grandy (Felix’s gender fluid grandparent) who dresses like a woman three days a week, like a man three days a week, and locks veirself (Grandy’s made up pronoun to identify veirself) in veir room one day and meditates naked, not identifying with any one gender.

This novel deals with acceptance, including subjects of race, identity, and disabilities, in a way that is easy to digest yet still conveys the importance of those issues.

The Great Treehouse WarThe Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book I would’ve loved in elementary school (and I still loved it now!). It’s funny, and I love the kids’ asides and the additional scrapbook-like content (post-it’s, how-to’s, letters, emails, etc.) This will be a hit!

The Soggy, Foggy Campout (Here's Hank #8)The Soggy, Foggy Campout by Henry Winkler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfect series for kids! It’s cute, funny, and any kid that ever struggles in school will relate with Hank. Hank’s friends are diverse, and I also love that Winkler broke the “manly” stereotype and made the father afraid of camping, not the mother. I also love that it is written in Dyslexie font in order to help kids who struggle with dyslexia or reading in general.

The TwitsThe Twits by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my favorite Roald Dahl book as a kid. I remember sitting next to the bookshelf in our playroom, browsing for a book, and picking out this one countless times and reading the whole thing right then and there. I just reread it with a seven year old girl at a local school, and she liked it, but not nearly as much as I used to. Reading this as an adult, I appreciated the humor more in many of the quotes, and I loved the husband/wife banter and trickery. The second half about the monkeys and the birds, however, was a bit slower for me. It is a complete change of pace, and although it’s part of Dahl’s style, I don’t like how he takes the reader out of the story by occasionally addressing them directly.

I probably would have given this book only three stars had I read it for the first time recently, but since I know how much I adored this book as a kid, and that’s the target audience anyway, this deserves a solid four stars. Next up, it’s time to reread the BFG just in time for the movie coming out this summer!

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story is an essential read not only for the intended middle grade audience, but for all ages.

August Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity. After several surgeries throughout his young life, he is healthy enough to attend normal middle school. Middle school is brutal enough for “regular” kids, but imagine looking so different that even mature adults can’t hide their disgust. Emotional and eye-opening, this book will teach kids (and adults) about the simplicity of kindness, the harmfulness of judgment, and the importance of true friendship and support.

All people find themselves giving a second look to someone who is different. We judge someone as “slutty” if they wear revealing clothes, lazy if they are jobless, and scary if they have harsh features. Overcoming these stereotypes is difficult when our society has been built on them, but WONDER gives us hope for the future.

A real story with real characters. Everyone will fall in love with Auggie Pullman.

Confessions of an Imaginary FriendConfessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Adorable, funny, enlightening.

Dare I say that this middle grade novel was uniquely imaginative? Jacques Papier is an imaginary friend who does not realize he is imaginative. Once he does, he goes on a soul-searching adventure and discovers that just because he is imaginary, does not mean he can’t feel real.

Every chapter in this novel is so witty and fun. The author created a work that both children and adults can truly appreciate. There’s philosophical lessons–“I’m only as invisible as I feel, imaginary or not”–and humor that adults and kids will appreciate and understand on different levels–“I’d like to be a magician. Alakazam! Holy Houdini”, “Please never tell that to a girl.”

The story is perfectly cyclical. A wonderful story that will have you reminiscing about your own imaginary friends and wondering what they are up to now.

Mary PoppinsMary Poppins
by P.L. Travers

April 5, 15
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
bookshelves: children, classics, middle-grade
Read from April 01 to 04, 2015

I’ve always loved Disney’s Mary Poppins movie, and although I heard PL Travers’ original novel is quite different, I always enjoy books more than the movies, so I was excited to read this classic. However, it was quite a disappointment. In the book, Mary Poppins isn’t likeable and is quite vain. There are magical aspects to the novel, but it’s not as enchanting as Disney’s version. There also doesn’t seem to be a plot, a purpose, or any sort of climax to the book. (view spoiler). I think the Disney screenwriters did a great service to a story that was originally lacking. I really wanted to love this classic, but it just couldn’t fulfill the hope the movie created.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

March 29, 15
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
bookshelves: children, favorites
Read from February 17 to March 06, 2015

This book truly makes you think twice about mental illness. I don’t know how accurately the author was able to emulate the thoughts of an autistic boy, especially since I haven’t spent any time with someone who is autistic, but I feel like this book can help people understand the illness a little better and realize what they can bring to the world.

The book was well-written and cleverly put together. I enjoyed the diagrams and all the educational facts the character Christopher taught the audience.

Although Christopher was the one with the mental illness he always seemed the most practical and made the most sense. Everyone else had severe character flaws and I think that is a main strength to the book. Christopher may be right that maybe all the people like him will be the ones to survive evolution.

An important and great read!


Esperanza RisingEsperanza Rising
by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Aug 31, 14
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
bookshelves: young-adult, middle-grade, favorites
Read from August 30 to 31, 2014

A wonderful coming of age story based on a Mexican Proverb: “The rich person is richer when he becomes poor, than the poor person when he becomes rich.”

I first read this about nine or 10 years ago when I was in middle school, and I remember loving it. Now as an adult, the story is so much more powerful to me. I can’t imagine the hardships that 13 year old Esperanza must face, but it’s heartening to see her come out on top, even if it’s not in the way most people imagine being “on top” or “rich.”

The words are poetic and every scene has a purpose. An important story for anyone learning to adjust to change, which will be everyone at some point in their lifetime. Although it’s a middle grade novel, teens and adults alike will benefit from Pam Muñoz Ryan’s message.

Esperanza’s story will make you cry and laugh from both sadness and joy. I highly recommend it to all.


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #1)The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

Aug 6, 14
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
bookshelves: classics, middle-grade, children
Read in July, 2014

I listened to the Adventures of Tom Sawyer through an Audible audiobook, and it was entertaining and quick! The whole story was only about four hours and kept me engaged throughout. Mark Twain is a master of dialect. I don’t know of many authors that can effectively pull off that technique today. Twain includes so much action in every chapter, and I can see why this book has remained a classic for so many years.

However, I wonder if this book was published today, would it still receive the same attention it has over the years? Would a publisher even want to publish it? There is much violence in the story since a lot of it centers on a murder in the small southern town, and since this book is intended for children, I don’t think parents would approve of it anymore. It took place during a different time where kids could go off on their own and be missing for hours before parents worried. Many parents are overprotective of their children, and I think several of them would think this story would give bad ideas to children.

I’d love to hear what other people think.

Overall, I found the story humorous, charming, and engaging. I would recommend to people of all ages, including children reading at the middle grade level.


View all my reviews

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