Read this: Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Sunny Side Up Book Cover Sunny Side Up
Jennifer L. Holm
Juvenile Fiction | Middle Grade
Scholastic Inc.
August 25, 2015
Matthew Holm
Grandparent and child, Family Secrets
Heard the author talk at ALA 2015 - Sunny's situation reminded me of the times I felt left out of family issues.
Kids who are going through or have been through a tough transition in family life, school, or friendship (Isn't that everyone?)
8 +


When is a summer vacation not really a summer vacation? Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun -- it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of . . . old people. Really old people. Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains -- why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .

Read this: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl Book Cover Roller Girl
Victoria Jamieson
Juvenile Fiction | Middle Grade
March 10, 2015
Heard about it on Pop Culture Happy Hour
Middle grade girls and boys, reluctant readers

I read Roller Girl in one sitting, enjoying every minute of Astrid's adventure.

The Newbery Honor Award Winner and New York Times bestseller Roller Girl is a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby—perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier's Smile! For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl. In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverence, and girl power! From the Trade Paperback edition.

Middle Grade March- Books I Read; Gifts to Give

4 books perfect for middle graders to readI finished reading 4 books in March, all middle grade (or younger) stories.

1. Cheaney, J. B. 2015. I Don’t Know How the Story Ends:

Our story begins in a dusty little town in California, a bustling place called Hollywood…

Isobel Ransom is anxious. Her father is away treating wounded soldiers in France, leaving Izzy to be the responsible one at home. But it’s hard to be responsible when your little sister is chasing a fasttalking, movie-obsessed boy all over Hollywood! Ranger is directing his very own moving picture… and wants Izzy and Sylvie to be his stars.

Izzy is sure Mother wouldn’t approve, but scouting locations, scrounging film, and “borrowing” a camera turn out to be the perfect distractions from Izzy’s worries. There’s just one problem: their movie has no ending. And it has to be perfect – the kind of ending where the hero saves the day and returns home to his family. Safe and sound.

My take: This would be nice to give to a young reader interested in history and especially the history of Hollywood.

2. The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts:

An artfully playful collection of unexpected and remarkable facts about animals, illustrated by Swedish artist Maja Säfström.

Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can’t walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom (Bees never sleep! Starfish don’t have brains!) are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection.

My take: A charming book for all ages, my husband and I actually read this together, discussing the tidbits about animals.

3. Benjamin, Ali. 2015. The Thing about Jellyfish

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…

My take: Heartbreaking and beautiful, a wonderful book I would give to any sensitive middle grade student navigating the difficult lessons of growing up.

4. Shevah, Emma, and Helen Crawford-White. 2015. Dream on, Amber

My name is Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto.
I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job.

As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl with a ridiculous name, Amber’s not feeling molto bene (very good) about making friends at her new school.

 My take: I adore spunky Amber who needs encouragement to stand up in the face of racial insensitivity and confront bullying. She creates her own world and works through insecurities by drawing. I wish I had read a book like this in my early years.

“Read a Middle Grade Novel” is part of the Book Riot “Read Harder” challenge for 2016. Read more about the challenge here.

Do you have any middle grade books to recommend?


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