middle grade read

Star-Crossed book review

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Short blurb: Mattie never wanted to be the star of the eighth grade play, or even the lead role in her own life. But everything changes when she’s forced to step into the role of Romeo opposite the girl playing Juliet: her crush, Gemma.

This book? Beautiful. Wonderful. Great. And, okay, a little young in terms of reading level. But we need more lgbtqa+ books for kids, and this middle grade Romeo and Juliet retelling with a bi protagonist is adorable!

It took a little while for me to readjust to the reading level, but the moment I got over the slightly rocky start I was hooked. Friendships that have realistic complications, addressing how parents can be hard to talk to but still giving the main character a guide in the form of her older sister, over dramatic middle school drama that charmingly parallels the plot of Romeo and Juliet while still having a happy ending, talking about how crushes and who you like changes and how that’s ok! And outright saying that you can like both girls and boys.

And, on a more personal note, this may have been aimed at younger readers but a lot of feelings about realizing you’re Maybe Not As Straight As Previously Planned still hit home for me.

I guess what I’m saying is, this book was right on target. (Except for one place I would say it missed the mark, which is how I feel like the story (perhaps accidentally; there were other factors playing out in the scene, so it’s not a big deal) sort of implied that not telling your friends you’ve realized you like girls immediately after realizing is a sign that you don’t trust them and aren’t being a good friend. It wasn’t a point that was hammered in, but it also wasn’t contested by the narrative after one character basically said exactly that. I would say, personally, that the book should have backed up Mattie’s decision to try and process her feelings before telling anyone; that’s always ok, even if you’re trying to learn not to over think things at the same time.)

Just reading this book, encouraging Mattie throughout her journey, and picking up on all the silly Romeo and Juliet parallels in the plot made me very happy. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to pick up a middle grade book now and then (and of course to the kids middle grade is written for!).

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So, the trailer for Wonder by R.J. Palacio came out two days ago and I’m ashamed I missed it. I LOVED this book. It’s so incredibly important for people to read. 

I hope you enjoy and let me know if you’ve read the book!

Happy viewing!

I wish booklr appreciated middle-grade novels more. I always see people complaining about generic dystopian plots, forced and boring romance, and lack of diversity in young adult and new adult novels.

Middle grade novels fix a lot of these problems! Sure, some middle-grade novels are very juvenile, but many middle-grade novels address very difficult and interesting issues in touching and poignant ways. The novels are inventive, have fleshed-out characters, and are often very emotionally moving.

So if you’re tired of the pitfalls of reading YA and NA, try middle-grade! You won’t be sorry!

I do appreciate that the Patroclus/Achilles myth was gender-swapped in The Last Olympian.

The paperback of SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND by Rebecca Behrens is out today!

From the author of When Audrey Met Alice comes a sweeping middle grade novel about a city girl forced to spend her summer in North Carolina, where she becomes involved in a centuries-old mystery, turning her once boring vacation into an adventure she never could have imagined.

Nell Dare expected to spend her summer vacation hanging out with her friends in New York City. That is, until her botanist mom dragged her all the way to Roanoke Island for a research trip. To make matters worse, her father suddenly and mysteriously leaves town, leaving no explanation or clues as to where he went—or why.

While Nell misses the city—and her dad—a ton, it doesn’t take long for her to become enthralled with the mysteries of Roanoke and its lost colony. And when Nell meets Ambrose, a quirky historical reenactor, they start exploring for clues as to what really happened to the lost colonists. As Nell and Ambrose’s discoveries of tantalizing evidence mount, mysterious things begin to happen. And someone—or something—is keeping watch over their quest for answers.

It looks like Nell will get the adventurous summer she was hoping for, and she will discover secrets not only about Roanoke, but about herself.

The books I got from Half Price Books a couple of weeks ago. I believe ¾ if not 4/4 are middle grade books. I never really read middle grade, or gave it the time of day, until this assignment in one of my classes. I deeply regret looking over this wonderful genre. I didn’t realize middle grade tackled such hard topics.

Calliope June has Tourette’s Syndrome. Starting over at a new school, she longs to make friends. Calliope decides to try her mother’s advice and keep her TS a secret. She just can’t hide her tics and outbursts no matter what though, and soon she’s being picked on all over again. The only person who seems to see her despite her Tourette’s is her next door neighbor, popular class president Jingsong.

Jingsong is wild about Callie, but he is afraid that his friends will ridicule him if he makes their relationship, and his feelings for her public. Everyone thinks he is such a great guy, but he feels pretty crummy hiding his true feelings for Callie from their schoolmates.

A lovely middle grade friendly read.

I have had some amazing luck with thrifted books lately.

I am one of those people who likes having a wizard’s library. Among my regular Muggle reading shelves, I have a shelf for magical texts. Bestiaries, magical creature field guides and reference books, and maps are among my favorite to collect.

The Tolkien Bestiary has been on my list for awhile, but it’s been hard tracking down a copy that isn’t in too poor a condition and within my budget. So I was pretty thrilled to find this paperback copy on Thriftbooks for $4.

It’s also one of the best books of its kind, in my opinion. While flipping through its pages, I found a lot of gorgeous drawings and interesting information. Not all field guides and bestiaries are created equal, and I have to say this is one of my new favorites.

While at BookCon, @ursula_uriarte snagged me a signed copy of Brandon Mull’s Caretaker’s Guide from his Fablehaven series. It’s one of my top favorite series and my highest recommended middle grade reads. I cannot wait for its arrival and to add it next to my other field guides.

Do you have any books that you collect aside from regular novels?

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My May entries for Alexis Winter’s Mini Monotone Book Club. I love picture books and I devour tons of YA, but until recently, I forgot how special middle grade books can be. I read a middle grade book every day for about a week during April, and Some Kind of Happiness in particular stood out to me for its magical forest setting, the transformative power of imagination, mental health issues, family reunions, and the feeling of summer as a kid. Plus the cover of the book by Júlia Sardà Portabella is gorgeous! 

Bonus: Always and Forever, Lara Jean comes out tomorrow! I’ve been a huge fan of Jenny Han since I was in middle school, and her Lara Jean books are my favorite.