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So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Tess Hilmo Plus Giveaway!

Tess Hilmo is the author of With a Name Like Love. Find her online at

The industry calls them “middle grade novels” but I call them “wonderful books you can adore and then pass on to your friend, mother, child, grandmother and teacher”.  My description is probably too long for publishing catalogues though, so I don’t push the issue.  I feel so lucky to be able to write for this audience.  Honestly, young teens are the most fun, most creative, most accepting group of people I have had the privilege of meeting and it is the coolest thing in the world to sit in my pajamas, eat ice cream and write stories for them.  As hard as you try – I bet you couldn’t come up with a better job description than that!
Some of my very favorite Middle Grade novels include…

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.  This was one of the earliest novels I remember reading and it started my love affair with historical fiction.  Kit is witty and courageous … and there is a witch that needs to be saved! A timeless novel that still reads like a dream.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt.  I have to admit that I am kind of a Gary-Schmidt-Uber-Fan-Geek.  I get all excited about his books and try to get my adult book club groups to read them and talk about them … they are awesome!   Lizzy Bright was my first “Gary Schmidt Encounter” and it still stands as one of my favorite.  Beautifully written and meaningful with lots of laugh out loud moments too.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  Man, this book is so good. SO GOOD.  Read it!!!

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff.  Patricia Reilly Giff is another of my favorite authors and I love just about everything she has written.  In this novel, Hollis is a spunky ward-of-the-state who goes to a different kind of foster home.  She learns to love and trust and even has to step in and save her new foster mom at one point.  I read this book often as inspiration for my own writing.  The author gets it perfect in so many places.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  Sometimes you need an escape and this novel is the perfect choice for those moments.  We follow Minli on a magical journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and change her family’s fortune.  Enchanting doesn’t even begin to explain how lovely this novel is.

In honor of With a Name Like Love being published in paperback, Ms. Hilmo has graciously offered up one copy to a lucky a reader! Check out my review of With a Name Like Love (which I adored!!) Want to win? Leave a comment below!
(one entry per person, US Address only, 13+)


  1. Oh, I love With a Name Like Love, too. Thanks for the great post and the giveaway.

    I also am a Gary Schmidt fan, especially Okay for Now.

    1. This makes my day, Sherry - so glad you enjoyed the novel! And it's nice to meet another Schmidt-uber-fan...Okay for Now was a great one :)

  2. I have not yet read With a Name Like Love but would love to check it out! And I work in a library, with teens, so I could then pass along the book to a teen reader.

    1. Love LOVE librarians...and I still remember my librarians from Jr High and High School.

  3. Great choices -- can't wait to read A Monster Calls. And I'd love to read With a Name Like Love.

  4. Great choices--and her book sounds lovely

  5. That sounds fabulous! Thanks for all the great recommendations, too.

    1. that is my favorite part about this series ... the recommendations. It's amazing how many books I've not run into - even though I read a ton of MG.

  6. This is quite like my own middle-grade greatest hits list, except I have never read Lizzie Bright - It's going on my current "pile" after getting your endorsement. I would love to win a copy of "With a Name Like Love." Pickme, pick me!

  7. Such great recommendations, I'd love to win! Thanks!

    heatheranne99 at gmail dot com

  8. I've already got a copy of WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE (which I really liked), so I don't need to be entered into the contest. I just wanted to say that I really like this feature on your blog -- it's reminded me of some wonderful MG books that I need to read and re-read!


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About Me

Hello! My name is Sarah and I am a Youth Services Manager who works with kids, tweens and teens. I love being asked about great books to read! I started my blog in 2008 as a way to keep track of what I've been reading and to use a reference tool for reader's advisory and it's grown into much more than I could have ever anticipated. In addition to book reviews, I also enjoy posting audiobook reviews, booklists and my adventures in being a librarian. 2017 Library Journal Mover and Shaker Committees: 2021 Newbery Committee 2018 Odyssey Committee 2016 Caldecott Award 2013 Michael L. Printz Committee- Fabulous Films Committee I have also served on the Cybils, Missouri State Library Association Readers Selection Lists, and as an Audies judge. Presentations :  I have offered various presentations at local, state and national libraries and conferences. Topics have included:  What's New in Children's & Teen Literature Engaging Teens in Reader's Advisory Gee