This summer has been a bit….hectic. What with the move and all, I find myself short on the type of energy needed to properly read a variety of more “serious” books. I turn, as I frequently do, to middle grade books for solace. Middle grade books can be tricky but when done well they are absolutely marvelous. Here are some middle grade books I have read this summer and just adored.
Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman is a quick read. Honestly, it might even be early childhood and not quite middle grade but it doesn’t matter because the story transcends age. I cannot see anyone failing to enjoy this delightful tale. Children are left in the care of their father while their Mother is away and they run out of milk. When Father is gone far, far longer than is required to fetch the milk he returns with an extremely tall tale of his adventures in getting the milk. The illustrations by Skottie Young are on nearly ever page and add the perfect touch of whimsy. I had to read it twice in one sitting, I couldn’t get enough. This would be an easy book to hand a reluctant reader since it is short, quick, and fun. Similarly, this would be a fun book to read aloud since it is broken down into adventures.
The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner grabbed my attention in chapter one and took a firm grip on my heart by the final page. I had read Jennifer Weiner’s other fiction books but I didn’t know if she would be successful as a children’s book writer. In my opinion, she excelled beyond any expectation.
The Littlest Bigfoot blends the stories of three children, none of whom feel like they belong. Alice Mayfair is twelve and has been to a new school every year, often sent away to boarding schools by a family too busy to even see her off. All she wants is a friend. Millie Maximus, a Bigfoot from a hidden clan, is obsessed with the No-Fur world. Millie’s boisterous nature conflicts with her clan’s emphasis on staying hidden. Jeremy is the third boy in his family. Being third is hard enough and Jeremy is trying to follow in the footsteps of one genius older brother and one sport talented brother. His parents hardly notice him. When he sees a Bigfoot he becomes obsessed. Maybe if he can find a real Bigfoot he will finally fit into his family of over-achievers?
We have all read stories of kids who don’t fit in. But there is something about the way Jennifer Weiner unravels this particular experience that feels so poignantly fresh. I rooted for all three children, even when each person’s goal conflicted with another. Everyone deserves to feel important and accepted by at least one other person. And this story gave me all the good feels that middle grade books are known for. I cannot wait for the sequel!
Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend has been on my bookshelf for ages. This is mostly because when the sequel came out it was roundly declared “disappointing” by so many people. I let that put me off this book and I should not have. Nevermoor is a fun adventure with wonderful characters and it truly surprised me. If the sequel is lesser, so be it. This was a marvelous middle grade book and I shouldn’t have ignored it for so long.
Morrigan Crow was born on Eventide and, as such, she is unlucky. She is also destined to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. Then she meets Jupiter North. Jupiter offers her an opportunity to live, but to do so she must run to Nevermoor. This magical city is full of surprises but none as big as the plans Jupiter has for Morrigan. He intends her to compete to become a member of the Wundrous society. The competition consists of four dangerous and deadly trials, each set to measure a candidate’s appropriateness. If Morrigan cannot pass she will have to return home and face her fate.
All of this magical fun is wonderful but the real story is one of finding yourself. Watching Morrigan understand who she is without the curse and determine who she wants to become was the best part of the story. It was certainly good enough to ignore the bad reviews and get my hands on the second in the series!
Two Irish children find themselves in the English countryside alone and in desperate need of work. When they locate a position at a crumbly manor house, it seems like their lives are finally looking up. But a series of odd things alert them to the heavy undercurrent of….something. Then, a mysterious person and an ancient curse make their presence know.
I know that I’m a grown up but scary stories take me right back to those moments in childhood where you were sure, absolutely sure, there was a person outside your window. This book is the perfect dose of scary for a person like me (read: scaredy cat). It is a wonderfully told tale sure to keep you reading long into the summer night.
Tell me, please!
Have you read any Marvelous Middle Grade Books?