Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Movie Giveaway


If you are anything like the tweens and teens at my library, you can't wait for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters to hit the big screen! I think it's all we've talked about at the library for the past two weeks! :)

If you're excited for the movie, then you are in luck! Thanks to Big Honcho Media and 20th Century Fox, I have a Percy Jackson giveaway just for you!

Want a chance to win? All you need to do is fill out the form below!
-Contest open to US address only
-Ages 13+
-One entry per person
-Contest Ends Monday August 5

-One (1) lucky winner will receive:
·         A $15 Visa gift card to see the film
·         The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) movie tie-in paperback book







Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Author Naomi Kinsman



Naomi Kinsman is the author of the From Sadie’s Sketchbook series, and founder of Society of Young Inklings, an organization dedicated to unleashing the power of young writer’s stories through classes, one on one mentorships and publishing opportunities. The Inklings offers opportunities for writers nationwide, and can be explored at www.younginklings.com. Naomi blogs at www.naomikinsman.com and at www.sadies-sketchbook.com.



Recently, at a school visit, a parent asked me if I had children. When I answered that I do not, she cocked her head and gave me a puzzled look. “Why do you write for kids, then?”


The question has stuck with me, not because I haven’t been asked this exact question before, but because the question came from such a unique perspective. Usually, I’m asked why I write books by a middle-grade book enthusiast who isn’t puzzled by my passion. My standard answer has to do with falling in love with books when I was six and seven and eight, and that love spurring me on to write those kinds of books myself. However, looking at myself through this parent’s eyes, I see that I am a relatively strange type of bird, a Peter Pan of sorts. I do write books for children, but not for my own children, unless you count the hoards of young writers I work with through my organization, Society of Young Inklings. Even more than for them, though, I write my books for the child reader in me. As far as I can tell, in conversations with my many writer-friends, most writers of books for young people feel the same. We all seem to write, ultimately, for themselves. We don’t think of a specific young person, or our own children, or even a classroom of children. We think: What book did I want or need when I was growing up?


And thus, there’s my list of key middle grade books, the ones I engaged with on the deep emotional level of the child reader. I promise, my list is coming, but I do have a side note here.


In another recent conversation with writers, we talked about the books we read as children and didn’t return to until we were adults. Not the books we read casually, but the ones we read voraciously, over and over, not quite sure why we had to keep reading them. One of my friends had gone back to read one of these well-traveled books and realized the book was about the very challenges he faced as a child. But as a child he had no idea. As a child, he thought of the book as an amazing adventure, thrilling, captivating, completely and utterly perfect. He wasn’t consciously aware of the similarities between the child character and himself.


This magic is the reason I both write, and read, middle grade books. The best ones have such a deep “aboutness,” the kind of connection that plugs straight into our authentic hearts. At the same time, these are Stories with a capital “S.” These books thrill and excite, allow us to take vicarious risks, try new things, experience new places, and slip into someone’s mind who may be our polar opposite.


Here’s a list of six books I read and re-read and re-read, and which I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for some middle grade classics:




The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin


The puzzle in this book was what made me pick it up and start to read it, but the fact that the character who figured out the mystery was such a surprise, and someone I could relate to... well that’s what had me reading this one over and over.





A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle


The line between real and impossible is so faint, and even more so, I think, in times of grief. Maybe that is why in this book, where children swim with in the sea with dolphins, and possibly even communicate with them, touches such a chord with me as a reader. This book is everything I love from a middle grade book: an adventure, with some danger, but not an overwhelming amount and real-life, both the light and darkness.




Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh


Harriet isn’t the nicest of characters, and I think that’s why she appealed to me so much as a young reader. Most of the characters I read about were so very good. And while I wanted to be deep-down good, the way they were, I knew I wasn’t always. Watching Harriet, who made really poor decisions sometimes, gave me hope, and without ever “teaching,” helped me discover for myself what friendship sometimes requires.




Five Children and It by E. Nesbit


Five Children and It challenges the perfectionist in me. The children make wishes, meaning well, but even the tiniest of mistakes in their wording results in the hugest of difficulties. One can’t help but laugh at the trouble as it piles up in this book and the children’s joyful exploration as they seek solutions.






The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper


When I was small, the nameless darkness in this book and the way the characters are fated to fight against it gave shape and texture and layered understanding to my own developing questions, such as “how can people do such terrible things?” No simple answer is offered, and yet hope can’t help but rise as the characters fight back courageously.





Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis


There is something so ridiculous about a Dufflepud, who is invisible and one-footed, and always agrees with all the other Dufflepuds. Or a boy, who is so selfish that he turns into a dragon. This story, a grand sailing adventure, would need no deep themes to keep a reader turning pages. Yet, on page after page, a reader can’t help but see herself over and over. One wonders, if I, like Lucy, found a book in which I could read about what others thought of me, would I read it?



To close, I’ll leave you with a list of books that I think I might have read and re-read, had I discovered them as a child. I’d highly recommend any of these, too.


  1. The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby
  2. The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
  3. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  4. Three Times Lucky by Shiela Turnage
  5. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
  6. The Wanderer by Sharon Creech


Happy Reading to all,
Naomi

Monday, July 29, 2013

Judge a Book By Its Cover: Hardcover to Paperback

I love the marketing behind cover changes from hardcover to paperback. Here are some recent changes I've come across:


Hardcover:


Paperback:


-I like this cover change and I don't like it at the same time. I like how the boys are on the paperback but I also like it's just the raven on the hardcover and I think there's a bit too much on the paperback.


Hardcover:


Paperback:


-This is another one that I'm torn on. I like the hardcover because I think it stands out and looks different than other covers out there. But I also think the paperback looks a bit more emotional than the hardcover.


Hardcover:


Paperback:


-I really like how the hardcover has a historical feel, but I do like the paperback showing the different narrators.

And this one isn't a hardcover to paperback but instead an English to Spanish translation cover that I thought was interesting:


English Version:


Spanish Version:


-I like the different takes on Cinderella in the covers and I love how the second version has a missing shoe.

What do you think? Any other cover changes you've seen lately?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Meets That That Make You Do A Double Take

I love book marketing. One of my favorite things as a librarian is to go to publisher previews (either at conferences or via webinars) and hear about all the new titles coming out. I love hearing how the publisher is marketing the book including the "meets" about all the books-like it's this popular book/movie/TV show meets that popular book/movie/TV show. But sometimes this marketing strategy makes me do a double take. Here are some interesting book meets that have had me puzzled and interested about the books at the same time:

Graceling seems like a popular readlike:


"Star Wars meets Graceling


Cruel Beauty by Rosmund Hodge

"Beauty and the Beast meets Graceling


And Stephen King is popular to compare things to, which is strange because he doesn't write YA:


"John Green meets The Stand

Thanks to Kelly for finding this one!



"Stephen King meets Veronica Roth"

Thanks to Katie for finding this one!



"The Shining meets The Breakfast Club

Thanks to Leila for finding this one!

Comparisons to classics:



"Gone with the Wind meets Matched



"The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report

And some other fun ones:



"Fargo meets Pretty Little Liars




"Octavian Nothing meets Lorena Bobitt" 

Thanks to Angie for finding this one!





Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Anomaly by Krista McGee Author Interview


Please welcome Krista McGee to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Krista is the author of several young adult novels, including her newest release, Anomaly. Check it out on Goodreads!

About the Book: The world has been destroyed by nuclear war, so in the future, Scientists rule and everyone lives in Pods underground. Thalli is a musician, meant to play music to enhance the work of others. But Thalli knows she is different-she is curious and feels emotions. She knows she is an anomaly. When her secret is discovered, she becomes an experiment. But she also meets others around her who can help save her-and discover there is more to the world than the Scientists are letting on.

 Anomaly reminded me a bit of a cross between Matched and The City of Ember (mostly because of the setting). I think it fits in nicely with the current crop of dystopian lit as the world building is well done and I was engaged and interested in Thalli's story. Thalli is curious and questions authority, which always makes for an interesting character. 

Anomaly stands out a bit because it is a dystopian as well as Christian fiction. So readers who enjoy religious overtones in their stories should pick this one up. At times I found the religion aspect to be a bit heavy handed, but I know readers who enjoy Christian fiction will enjoy that aspect. 

I was able to ask Krista a few questions about her writing and why she went from YA romance to dystopian:

Were you inspired by any other dystopian worlds to create the world of Anomaly?

 I was influenced by several works as I created the world of Anomaly.I have always loved the dystopian classics, Brave New World, 1984 and The Giver. I am also a fan of the films "Gattica" and the "The Matrix."

You've written contemporary fiction before-what was different about writing science fiction? Why did you decide to write in a different genre? 

The whole world is different in science fiction, so I had to define and create that world before I could begin writing. That was both challenging and incredibly fun. Initially, I made this change because my editors asked me to - I was pretty intimidated to tackle it at first. But as I wrote, God gave me ideas and confidence and I discovered that I love to write this genre as much as I love to read and watch it!

Do you think there's a difference in writing a dystopian for a Christian audience?

 As I said, I love dystopians - the classics as well as the new ones that are out. But, as a Christian, I read those works and feel they are missing the most important element - God. Where is he? Do they really think that, in the future, God will not exist? What I get to do, as a Christian writer, is to answer that question, to create a future where, yes, man tries to eradicate God from the collective consciousness, but God does not allow it. How does that look? And how does he reveal himself? Those are questions I was able to tackle in the Anomaly series.

What fictional character would you like to have dinner with?  

You're killing me! Just one??  Sigh...Well, films are fiction,  so I'll choose a movie character (I just can't pick a literary character...too many!). My favorite film is "The Wizard of Oz," so I think I'd choose Dorothy - but Dorothy as an old woman. I'd want to know if she ever went back to Oz or if she really thought the whole thing was a dream. Did she ever leave home again or is she still living on Auntie Em's and Uncle Henry's farmhouse in Kansas? Is she always the first to go into the storm cellar when tornadoes strike, or does she linger, hoping to be sucked up and return to Oz? Is her favorite color green? Does she have a soft spot for little people? Does she go around town taking scarecrows off the poles in her neighbor's cornfields?

Are you working on anything new you can tell us about? 

I am currently finishing the Anomaly trilogy. It is a challenge to wrap it all up, and a little sad to be so close to saying goodbye to Thalli and Berk and the others who must remain nameless until you read book #2 :) But I love writing these stories!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Librarian and Blogger Amy Koester at Show Me Librarian




Amy Koester is a children’s librarian with the St. Charles City-County (MO) Library District. She blogs about books, programs, and services for youth as the Show Me Librarian

So you want to read middle grade? Hooray! Maybe you’ve enjoyed forays into YA lit, and now you want to explore a bit further down the main character age spectrum. Maybe you have kids in your life--your own children, nieces and nephews, a “little” through Big Brothers Big Sisters--with whom you want to be able to discuss books. Whatever the reason for wanting to read MG, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start.


That’s where I can help, at least a bit. You see, the array of MG lit is vast--there are books on every topic of interest, about every type of character, covering every genre (and frequently blending a few). That diversity can be overwhelming to readers used to the more cut and dry genre labels you see in adult sections of bookstores and many libraries. To help you get started, I’ve come up with a few options. Read on.


If you like mysteries...
Down the Rabbit Hole (Echo Falls, #1)

  • Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams - Ingrid idolizes Sherlock Holmes, so she doesn’t balk when she accidentally becomes involved in a murder investigation--despite her already busy life. This mystery, the first in the Echo Falls series, includes misdirection, intrigue, and a bit of grit to appeal to any mystery fan.

    Three Times Lucky

  • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage - Mo LoBeau’s entire life is a mystery; after all, she ended up in Tupelo Landing after floating downstream in a hurricane. When a murder takes place in her quirky town and her father figure aims to avoid the investigating feds, Mo takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of things. This mystery boasts an intricate plot as well as some amazing characters.



If you like historical fiction...
Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution



  • Sophia’s War by Avi - Sophia and her family live on the island of Manhattan during the Revolutionary War, and they must keep their anti-British sentiments secret when a British officer comes to board at their home. Young Sophia is completely taken by the officer’s manners and suavity, and her feelings begin to interfere with her values. This novel is rich in historical detail, spanning several years of the Revolutionary War. It also features incredibly well-developed characters full of emotional nuance and complications.

    The Lions of Little Rock

  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine - Marlee is growing up in 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, smack in the middle of the divisive school integration issue. Her own household is split on the issue, with Marlee and her father supporting desegregation while her mother and sister do not. Marlee’s understanding of the issue only deepens that year, especially when she discovers a truth about her new friend Liz. This wonderful novel shows desegregation from a less-explored perspective while creating characters you feel you simply must support.



  • If you’re a Whovian...
    The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

    • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde - An employment agency for magicians. The approaching death of the last dragon. The imminent arrival of (cue the dramatic music) Big Magic. These are the realities of foundling Jennifer Strange’s life, and she’ll do whatever she can to keep her entire world from plummeting into ruin. The humor, odd setting, and quick, intelligent plot will appeal to fans of the Doctor and his own zany adventures.

      The Graveyard Book

    • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - Nobody Owens is under the protection of the graveyard, having ended up there as a baby following the murder of his family. As he grows older and more keen to explore a life outside of the graveyard, however, his ethereal surrogate family can no longer fully protect him. There’s the promise of adventure, yes, but also the danger of the man Jack coming to finish the murder he began. Gaiman is a master storyteller--and contributor to the Doctor Who universe--whose unique and eerie style cannot help but draw readers in.



    So there you have it, some ideas on where to begin as you venture into the world of MG lit. Find what you like, and visit your local library for even more ideas. Happy reading.



    Monday, July 22, 2013

    I'm Featured On Goodreads

    So I knew it was coming because I had to answer some interview questions. But there is nothing more amazing than opening your email inbox and Twitter feed and having it filled with your friends sending you messages saying "OMG! You're in the Goodreads newsletter!!!"

    And yep, that's what happened Friday afternoon. I saw this Goodreads Voice interview in my inbox:

     
    Honestly, it's still a bit surreal. People read it. And commented! And I just can't believe that Goodreads even asked me to be a featured interviewed member!
     
    If you're curious about what books I love to recommend and what life is like as a librarian, check it out! And add me as a friend on Goodreads if you'd like! I love sharing books with other readers!

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Bluffton: My Summer with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan

    Rating: 4/5 Stars

    Genre: Graphic Novel

    Release Date: 7/23/2013

    Add to Goodreads

    About the Book: In the summer of 1908 a visiting vaudeville troupe is spending the summer in Bluffton. Henry and his friends have a chance to visit and spend time with tightrope walkers, exotic animals and make friends with a young slapstick performer named Buster Keaton. Buster is indestructible-he be tossed around, jump anywhere and never get hurt. Henry longs to learn Buster's tricks, but Buster wants to play ball with Henry and his friends.

    GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I remember first hearing about this book at ALA Midwinter last year. All of the librarians gasped with excitement when they heard Matt Phelan and Buster Keaton used in the same sentence-myself included. So when an advanced copy crossed my desk at work, I knew I had to read it.

    Happily, I was not disappointed. Bluffton is a story about Buster Keaton told through the eyes of Henry, a boy from a neighboring town who is fascinated with Keaton's vaudeville lifestyle. Matt Phelan is a genius when telling Keaton's story and I think this is the strongest part of the book. Instead of telling Keaton's story through his own eyes, he tells it through those around him, who are interested in his life and want to know more. Keaton, in the meantime, is somewhat reserved and more interested in having a typical summer playing ball and spending time outside with friends then around his fellow vaudeville cast mates.

    Because of this storytelling style, I felt we got even more insight into what life was like for Buster Keaton. I felt this was more emotionally powerful because we as readers, along with Henry, are interested observers in Keaton's life. We are outsiders like Henry and I was both fascinated and concerned for Keaton. I thought his life was amazing, but also a bit sad, as you could sense the emotion of him wanting some normalcy from Phelan's artwork.

    The artwork, as always from Phelan, is fantastic and I can't wait to see the finished copy, as advanced copies of graphic novels don't hold a candle to the finished product. The illustrations help tell Keaton's life and his amazing abilities and tricks. Matt Phelan does an excellent job of transporting readers back in time to 1908 and I felt like I was spending my summer in a small town in Michigan, just looking for something fun to come along.

    As much as this is a story about Buster Keaton, it's also a great look back at history. Henry doesn't just spend the summer with the vaudeville performers, but they are living in a small town, trying to decide if the family store is for him, and figuring out his feelings for a classmate. It's all a very sweet, charming look back at a piece of American history.

    I don't believe readers need to have a prior knowledge of vaudeville or Buster Keaton before reading this graphic novel, but expect to have readers asking for more information upon finishing! This book is sure to peak readers interest in this time in history as well as this amazingly talented young man. A great addition to any graphic novel collection that is perfect for middle grade readers. Bluffton is also a wonderful tie-in to biographies and history for cross curriculum reading.

    Full Disclosure: Reviewed from an advanced copy sent from the publisher

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    So You Want To Read Middle Grade: Blogger Jen Robinson at Growing Bookworms


    Jen Robinson has been reading middle grade literature since the 1970s. She has never stopped, though things like college, grad school, starting a business, and having a child have slowed her reading pace at different times. She especially enjoys reading outdoors. Jen blogs about children's and young adult books and children's literacy at Jen Robinson's Book Page: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com. She also publishes a bi-weekly Growing Bookworms newsletter, and shares reading-related links @JensBookPage and http://facebook.com/GrowingBookworms

    I wouldn't go as far as Jeanne Birdsall to say that middle grade fiction saved my life (see the May/June 2013 issue of Horn Book Magazine). But I do think that it made me who I am today. I believe that middle grade novels helped me to develop my core value system. I learned resilience from Sara Crewe and independence from Pippi Longstocking. I learned about loyalty from Anne Shirley. I learned that it's ok not to fit in from Meg Murray. I learned to love mysteries from John Bellairs and to be fascinated by dystopias from John Christopher. I learned from Zilpha Keatley Snyder to search for the unexpected and from Elizabeth Enright to value everyday pleasures. All of these authors spoke to me, not by writing books dripping with overt messages, but by creating relatable characters, and putting them in interesting situations.

    There are plenty of other middle grade titles that I've read since becoming an adult that have had their impact on me, too. Here are 12 that have stayed with me (and/or that I expect to stay with me in the future). All are books that I heartily recommend to others, and any one of them would make a great starting place for someone looking to tip a toe into middle grade fiction, whether child or adult. They are in alphabetical order by author.
    The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

    The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I adore the Penderwick family, and recommend this book (and sequels) to people ALL the time. These books remind me, in the best possible way, of my treasured Elizabeth Enright novels (but fresher, for a modern audience). The first book, especially, captures that feeling of summer stretching out endlessly ahead, full of possibility. The Penderwicks is about family relationships (it features four sisters living with their father), friendship, and loyalty. Reviews: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2006/04/the_penderwicks.html, http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2008/05/the-penderwicks.html, http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2011/05/the-penderwicks-at-point-mouette-je anne-birdsall.html

    Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1)

    The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins (also known as The Underland Chronicles). Before Collins became hyper-famous as the author of The Hunger Games series, she wrote this five book middle grade series set deep beneath New York City, featuring large, intelligent insects and rodents. Here's what I said in my review (http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2006/02/some_recent_rea.html) of the first two books: "They're about a mis-matched team of characters of different races going on a quest (shades of the Lord of the Rings, but in a much shorter, easier to digest story). They have to learn to get along, despite vast differences in mind-set and habits, and they face peril and adventure." Other reviews: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2007/02/gregor_and_the_.html and http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2007/07/gregor-and-the-.html. I first read these as library copies, but then purchased the set for my husband, who also adored them.
    The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1)


    The City of Ember (and sequels) by Jeanne DuPrau. I found the premise of the City of Ember irresistible, and read each of the books in this series as quickly as I could upon publication. The first book begins in a city located deep underground, completely isolated from the larger world (if there even still is a larger world). With supplies, including light bulbs, running out, two 12 year olds search for a way out. This book is filled with secrets and suspense, and is MUCH better than the 2008 movie would suggest. I only have reviews of the third and fourth books of the series: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2006/06/the_prophet_of_.html and http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2008/07/the-diamond-of.html.

    Shug


    Shug by Jenny Han. I love Shug because I think that it perfectly captures the transition to middle school (something that middle grade readers are anxious about, and that, as an adult reader, I for some reason find endlessly fascinating). Uncertainty over one's social standing. Guilt over friends one is drifting away from. Hesitance to grow up. All set against difficult, but realistic, family dynamics. The end of my review (http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2006/11/shug_jenny_han.html) from 2006 has stayed with me: "Upon finishing this book, my first thought was that I wanted to buy it for the three sixth grade girls who I know. I think that it's a near-perfect window into starting middle school, and the struggle to balance being oneself against fitting in."

    Penny from Heaven


    Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm. Penny from Heaven is a historical novel set in 1950's New York. The story is episodic, but the historical details ring true, and the characterization is phenomenal. In my review (http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2006/10/penny_from_heav.html), I concluded: "Penny from Heaven has an old-fashioned feel, focusing on somewhat quirky characters, and mostly ordinary life events. There's much for an adult like myself to love about this book: the writing, the pathos, the suspense, the humor." I listened to this book on audio in 2006, and still have a hint of Penny's voice in my head. Penny from Heaven won a Newbery Honor in 2007.

    Alabama Moon
    Alabama Moon by Watt Key. Alabama Moon is a survival story about a 10-year-old boy who has been raised in remote woods in the Southeastern US by his father. When his father dies, Moon sets out for Alaska, where he expects to find fellow survivalists. Instead, he ends up in the hands of the government. From my review (http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2009/04/alabama-moon-watt-key.html): "Alabama Moon is a story of survival, but it's also a story about understanding the complex needs of individuals. It's about taking responsibility for yourself, but also about letting other people in." But most of all, it's a great story, about a character that I came to care about deeply.

    See You at Harry's

    See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles. See You at Harry's is the most recently published title on my list (May, 2012). It about a quirky family who owns a restaurant, and a very sad thing that happens to them. It is brilliant and devastating, and the kind of book that stays with the reader forever. The characterization and family dynamics are spot-on, as are (it seems to me) the details of running a family restaurant. My review: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2013/02/see-you-at-harrys-jo-knowles.html

    Rules

    RULES by Cynthia Lord. RULES is about a teenage girl whose younger brother has autism. The rules of the title are rules that she writes out for him, to help him to understand what other people do and don't find acceptable (since he can't intuit these things the way most people can). Cynthia Lord brings authenticity to this book as the parent of a son who has autism. RULES won a Newbery Honor in 2007, and has since evoked a tremendous level of reader response among kids and adults. My review: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2006/06/rules_cynthia_l.html


    The Giver

    The Giver by Lois Lowry. The Giver is the least recent title on my list (1993), and a book that I read long before I started my blog. It's a classic dystopian novel set in a town so highly controlled that people don't even see colors, or raise their own children. There are three sequels (the most recent, Son, was published in 2012: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2012/09/son-lois-lowry.html). But the original book remains the strongest, I think. It won the Newbery Medal in 1994, and set the standard for the boom in modern dystopian literature. Every adult should read it.

    Heat

    Heat by Mike Lupica. Heat was a Cybils finalist in 2006 (I was a Round 2 judge), and a personal favorite of mine that year. It's about a 12-year-old boy named Michael who is a very promising baseball player, but whose chance to play is threatened by a series of personal problems. Heat also features a great sidekick, and a nice little, age-appropriate romance. It's a love letter to baseball (which helped me to love it), but it's also just a well-written story with a lot of heart. My review: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2007/02/heat_mike_lupic.html

    Holes (Holes, #1)

    Holes by Louis Sachar. Holes is another classic, winner of the 1999 Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, among others. Like The Giver, it's one that I think all adults should read (and no, watching the movie doesn't count, although it is a fun movie). Holes is about a boy named Sanely Yelnats whose family curse results in his getting sent to a juvenile detention facility, where he is forced to dig holes all day. Which doesn't sound interesting, but it is. There are compelling social dynamics between the boys at the facility, and a fascinating tying together of nearly-forgotten historical threads as the plot progresses.

    The Mysterious Benedict Society (and sequels) by Trenton Lee Stewart. I like The Mysterious Benedict Society books, particularly the first one, because they take kids with unique talents (including puzzle-solving ability), and give them real (if over the top) mysteries and adventures. A mysterious, wealthy man essentially collects a team of children, and escapades follow. These are books that are pure, escapist fun, and will allow adult readers to reconnect with their 10-year-old selves. Reviews: http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2007/09/the-mysterious-.html, http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2008/05/the-mysterious.html, http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2009/12/the-mysterious-benedict-society-an d-the-prisoners-dilemma-trenton-lee-stewart.html
    http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2012/05/the-extraordinary-education-of-nich olas-benedict-trenton-lee-stewart.html


    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
    And I'm going to add a 13th bonus title: the first Harry Potter book. It is somewhat redundant to recommend the Harry Potter series at this point. But I remember when I read the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in the summer of 2000. I knew right away that it was special. In fact, I was so enraptured that I had to had to buy the second book from the UK, even though it was going to come out in the US in just a couple of months. It was fresh and creative, filled with wonderful world-building. If you've seen the Harry Potter movies, but never read the books, I can't suggest strongly enough taking them time to read them. Or listen to them. I hear that the audio editions are spectacular.

    And there you have it. 13 titles (and series) that, in one way or another, will nurture your inner child, providing hours of entertainment along the way. If you want to read middle grade, you can't go wrong with these books.
     
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