Mindy’s Middle Grade Favorites

whatthemoonsaidmeaningofmagAs I mentioned at the beginning of the year, my goal for 2014 was to read more middle grade fiction. I’m happy to say that I read several excellent middle grade novels this year, and I blogged about many of them. Some of them will even have a place on my 2014 favorites list. Two favorites have already appeared on Books in Bloom: The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Sovern and What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren. Here are two more favorites that I don’t want to miss featuring on the blog:

secrethumWhen you find the place that feels like home it will hum. You won’t hear it, you’ll feel it. Just like the birds feel the secret hum of daisies. That’s what Grace’s mom had always told her in The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer (another debut author!). Each time they moved—which was often—it was in search of that hum. But when Grace’s mom dies suddenly, Grace is sent to live with a grandmother she has never known in the home where her mother grew up. It isn’t easy for Grace to accept her new home. After all, her grandmother had sent Grace’s mom away when she was pregnant with Grace. On top of grieving for her mom, Grace is the furthest away from the hum of home than she has ever been. That’s how it feels anyway. Slowly she learns about a side of her mother she hasn’t known, she starts to let her grandmother in, and she finds that this may be her home after all. This is a beautiful and ultimately hopeful story that I highly recommend.

absolutelyalmostAlbie in Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff is a great kid, but mostly he feels like an “almost” kid. He’s not quite cool enough or smart enough or talented enough. Almost, but not quite. He’s in fifth grade and he still can’t add or subtract in his head. He still likes to read Captain Underpants books, and he can’t seem to get more than a few words right on his spelling test no matter how hard he studies. He knows his parents are disappointed in him, but he can’t seem to be the son they want him to be.   Now he’s at a new school, where he gets specialized attention for his learning difficulties, and he gets a new baby-sitter—even though he thinks he’s too old for baby-sitters. The new school has some good and some bad. Albie starts to build confidence in himself thanks to Math Club, but he doesn’t quite know how to navigate the new social scene, and his cluelessness makes him a target for bullies. The baby-sitter turns out to be a good thing, though. Callista sees Ablie’s kind heart and matches it with her own kindness. The short chapters and relatable characters will draw in young readers, and I hope the message of kindness will stick with them long after they finish. I know it will with me.

What are your middle grade favorites this year?

mindyF Blogger: Mindy R.