Category Archives: For Kids

Graphic Novel Lineup for Middle Grade

After the success of graphic novels, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, publishers responded with other series geared toward younger readers. During last week’s visit to an elementary school, I spotted kids with their noses buried in Wimpy Kid and Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate books. so I’ve listed some recent graphic novel releases to whet young readers’ appetites.

wimpy

The latest books in these two series include Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School and Big Nate Blasts Off.

When his town decides to unplug the electronics, Greg Heffley isn’t sure he’ll survive. Adding to that, his problems at school and home give him a heap of trouble.

 

Nate

Nate has a crush on Ruby, but that makes Randy, the school bully, upset. While Nate struggles to deal with Randy, he faces problems at his house and the Mud Bowl annual frisbee tournament.

 

Award-winning graphic novels published since late 2015 include:

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler

zoo

When the zoo closes at night, the animals come out of their cages to put on dramatic retellings of famous plays. Part of a series that includes Macbeth, these books cleverly hit the important points of Shakespeare’s stories in a unique way, simplifying them and adding touches of humor that will keep kids giggling while they’re learning.

 

Illustrated by Zack Giallongohenrietta

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

Using her colored pencils, Henrietta draws pictures of a brave girl’s encounter with a three-headed monster.

 

MirkaHereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch

The tagline “Yet Another 11-Year-Old Time-Traveling Orthodox Jewish Babysitter” is the first introduction to the humorous story within. In this installment, Mirka battles an angry, magical fish that has a connection to Mirka’s stepmother. Part of the Hereville series that includes How Mirka Got Her Sword and How Mirka Met a Meteorite.

Two Junior Library Guild selections to watch for this summer:

Rutabaga, the Adventure Chef: Feasts of Fury by Eric Colossalruta

In Book 2 of this series, Rutabaga and Pot encounter giant killer spiders and a gang of hungry gubblins. Are their wits and cooking skills enough to save them? Coming July 2016

toonDinosaurs in Space: Out of This World! By Pranas T. Naujokaitis

Inhabitants of Planet Meatball and Planet Lettuce travel to Planet Earth. Another space dinosaur story in the Balloon Toons series. Releases August 2016.

 

For previous lineups of graphic novels, check out posts by Brian Kell and Yolanda Ridge.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A former teacher and librarian, Laurie J. Edwards is the author of more than 2200 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pen names. As Erin Johnson, she writes the WANTED series, set in the Wild West. Reviewers called her heroine, Grace, the “Katniss of the Wild West.” Visit Laurie at www.lauriejedwards.com.

 

Happy Endings

I’ve read some sad middle-grade books lately.

I mean sad.  Books about war, separation, poverty, judging, death.

It’s no secret that today’s middle-grade books tackle some serious topics, that authors aren’t afraid to stare down the very same monsters our readers face every day. After all, if children must be brave enough to travel life’s imperfect road, we must be brave enough to write about their journeys.

I used to believe that sad subjects were okay in middle-grade literature as long as there were happy endings. You know, all’s well that ends well.

But some of the books I’ve read lately didn’t have happy endings. And, since some of the books I’m going to talk about are very new, I won’t say any more than that in an effort to avoid spoiling anyone’s reading experience.

Just last week, I finished Lauren Wolk’s Wolf Hollow.

 wolf hollow

Not since William March’s The Bad Seed have I met a child antagonist as deceptive and wrong as Betty Glengarry.  Like anyone caught in the web of a narcissist’s lies, the narrator Annabelle can do little to break free of Betty’s ever-worsening cruelty. As I read, I found myself pleading for justice, fairness, and for Annabelle and others to prevail. But literature – and life – doesn’t always deliver justice and fairness and good over evil.

I also recently finished Pax by Sara Pennypacker.

pax

Okay, let’s talk sad. The book was passed along to me by an author friend I was visiting in Kansas City. I started reading in the airport and started crying on page six. Six. The heartbreaking separation of a boy and his pet  (Pax is a lovable and loving cross between man’s best friend and the most adorable house cat you can imagine  – but he’s a fox) at the very beginning was enough to make any reader believe that redemption would eventually come at the end. But literature – and life – does not always offer redemption.

So, does that mean I didn’t like these books? Or that I didn’t like their endings?

Not at all.  There’s more to a “happy” ending than joy. More than joy, I believe an ending must offer hope. And it must ring true.

Above all, it must ring true.

I can clearly remember having detailed discussions with my editor Claudia Gabel (then with Delacorte Press, now with Katherine Tegan Books) as we worked out the ending of my first middle-grade novel, The Beef Princess of Practical County. It’s a story about Libby, who raises cattle to show at the county fair. In the end, Libby’s beloved steer boards a livestock trailer for the slaughter house. It’s not the hoped-for Charlotte’s Web ending. But it has all the truth in it of a Midwest farmer’s daughter’s experience growing up on a cattle ranch. It rings true.

I promised not to talk about the endings of Wolf Hollow and Pax, so I won’t – except to say that both endings ring true.

And when we, as authors, pledge to traverse life’s imperfect road with our readers, offering truth is – in the end – the best that we can do.

Michelle Houts has written four books for middle-grade readers.  Her books have garnered an International Reading Association Award, Junior Library Guild selection, and inclusion on the Bank Street Best Books of 2014 List. She’s currently completing the first three books in a new science-minded series for younger readers, titled Lucy’s Lab (2017, Sky Pony Press).

 

Time Slipping Middle Grade!

The concept of time travel or time slipping has always fascinated me, ever since I read the book, Magic Elizabeth when I was in fourth grade. I also read Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series, of course, with interstellar time travel.

Magic Elizabeth

I often lament that science hasn’t given us time-wrinkling, or time-folding yet, so I can zip across the country for a writer’s conference or a book signing for an author friend, or meet the other writers and authors I correspond with through Facebook and Twitter. I mean, really, time travel inventors–get with the program!

But the great thing is that we can time-slip through books – which I always talk about when doing author visits at schools. Books and stories can take us ANYWHERE, ANYTIME! That’s the real magic of reading!

A_wrinkle_in_time_digest_2007

Here are a few titles I particularly like, including two time travel/time slipping MG’s that I wrote. Because of course I would write one of these stories when I love them so much.

AND! Here’ s a link to a children’s book blog that features Time-Travel Tuesday posts. The blogger has delineated the titles by time period and included author names and dates of publication. http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/p/time-travel-books.html

The Last Snake Runner1

The Last Snake Runner by Kimberley Griffiths Little (2001) MG

Wild Robert, by Diana Wynne Jones (1989) MG

Three Lives to Live, by Anne Lindberg (1992) MG

Archer’s Quest, by Linda Sue Park (2006) MG

Crashing the Party, by Perdita Finn (2007)

Frozen in Time, by Ali Sparks (2009) MG

*The Hotel Under the Sand, by Kage Baker (2009) MG

Justin-Thyme-jacket

The Prince of Fenway Park, by Julianna Baggott (2009) MG

Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! by Matthew McElligott and Larrry Tuxbury (2010) MG

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams, by Rhonda Hayter (2010) MG

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

The Dead Gentleman, by Matthew Cody (2011) MG

Counterclockwise, by Jason Cockcroft (2009) MG

11 Birthdays, by Wendy Mass (2009) MG

 

 

Justin Thyme, by Panema Oxridge (2011) MG

A Year Without Autumn, by Liz Kessler (2011) MGA year without autumn

Odessa Again, by Dana Reinhardt (2013) MG

 

 

 

 

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little (2014) MG

Time of the Fireflies_Cover

The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove (2014) MG

 

 

 

 

 

glass-sentence

If you *also* love Young Adult novels this list has many terrific titles as well:

http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/p/time-travel-books.html

What are your favorite time-slipping books? Please tell us in the comments!

 

 

Kimberley Griffiths Little has published 10 award-winning novels with Knopf, Scholastic, and Harpercollins. Her most recent MG, The Time of the Fireflies, was named a Bank Street College Best Books of 2015, a Whitney Award Finalist, a Letters of Mormon Arts Award Finalist, and was recently chosen for the William Allan White Kansas State Children’s Choice List for 2016-2017. Find Kimberley on Facebook and Twitter @KimberleyGLittl