middle grade 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?

Guys, I got an ARC of A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander at ALA and I just read the whole thing in a day. It’s perfect. It comes out August 22, and you should probably preorder it now.

Rosa Diaz and her mother are first appeasement specialists but they’ve just moved to the only unhaunted place in America. She meets Jasper who introduces her to the Renaissance festival just as it gets its first ghost ever.

God, I can’t get over how great everything is in this book. Like, both main characters are POC, and their diversity isn’t an issue but it matters, if that makes sense? Like, Jasper’s dad is a knight at the Ren Faire and I’m going to quote an uncorrected proof here so I hope Simon and Schuster forgives me, but when we meet him he’s wandering the Faire pausing “over and over again to answer skeptical questions, and to insist - again, over and over again - that knights of North Africa did indeed ride through European legends of chivalry. I am Sir Morien, he said with every armored step. I have a place in this history. And he made that place as large as he could manage.”

It says on the cover that William Alexander won the national book award, and I can see why. This man can WRITE. I need to go back and read everything he’s written. The world building in this book is glorious, for a world that seems basically ours + ghosts? I want to read more in this intricate world of respect and geometry and ghosts.

It gets pretty scary, so I’d give this to a brave fourth grader up through middle school.

Got two Howl’s Moving Castle shirts a couple of days ago! I absolutely love the book and its animated movie adaption, so when I saw these two beauties, I couldn’t resist buying them. I got lucky with the one on the right- it was the last one of its kind in the store, but thankfully it’s my size!

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

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!).

Throwback to the MG series that made me love Peter Pan!

I was never a big fan of Peter Pan in general, except for Captain Hook’s character, but Peter and the Starcatchers put a new spin on it that I really enjoyed when I was younger. It’s been ages since I’ve read these but I still recommend them to readers when I get the chance!

Do you have any favorite retellings that changed your mind about a story?

IG: novelknight

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!