Sunday, January 3, 2010

Your Post-Cybils Middle Grade Reading List

Cybils time is an intense time, I know. For the past three months, you've been reading nothing but what's nominated in your category. Well, now the Cybils shortlists have been posted and you can relax and possibly pick up, say, a Middle Grade Fiction title. Of course, you should check out the shortlist we came up with - seven absolutely fabulous books - but it's no easy task to narrow the 100+ nominees down to a handful. So I'd like to highlight a few more middle-grade books for your post-Cybils TBR lists.

Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal. Harper Lee Morgan loves words. It's a love she inherited from her mama, a lady so in love with To Kill a Mockingbird that she's read it at least 36 times and named her firstborn child after its author. Yes, Harper loves words, and she's certain that she's going to win her school's poetry contest. The only problem is that she and her mama and her little brother Hemingway have been evicted from their house, so getting to school has become a problem. But Harper's determined to get to school for the poetry reading, just as determined as she is to rid herself of any memory of her whiskey-soaked daddy who told her that her words weren't worth anything.
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look.
Alvin Ho is back and this time he's facing something even scarier than school: camping. Do you know what could happen to you when you're camping? You could be attacked by bears! You could get lost in the woods! There could be a tornado or an earthquake or a flood! So Alvin had better be prepared...

Bobby Versus Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee. Bobby Ellis-Chan and Holly Harper have been secret best friends since they were little kids. Why secret best friends? Because at their school, boys and girls do NOT hang out together. It's never been a problem for them, but lately Holly's been acting weird. She's been acting like... well, like a girl. And it's kind of driving Bobby crazy. Still, he never meant to start a battle of the sexes... it just kind of happened. And now Bobby's got to figure out how to make it right.

Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma. Although Dani's dealing with situations that have been done (divorce, changes in friendship, etc.), it all feels fresh because Dani's seeing it through this film noir lens and comparing her own life to the movies she loves. It puts a fresh spin on things and adds a lot to the story. It made me want to watch all of Dani's favorite movies, too.

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane. I wasn't expecting the magic of the writing. Yes, the book is slim, but the writing demands that you slow down and savor it. I was intrigued by the plot and interested in the characters, but it was the writing they kept surprising me (in a good way).

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O'Roark Dowell. Kate and Marylin had been best friends since preschool until they had a falling out last year in sixth grade. Now Marylin's a middle school cheerleader and Kate is writing songs to play on her guitar. The two of them are in a strange place, not enemies but not all-the-time friends either. As they navigate the strange waters of seventh grade, both girls will start the arduous process of figuring out her place in the world.

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino. It's the summer of 1969 and the whole world is waiting to watch Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. Tamara is gritting her teeth and dealing with Douglas "Muscle Man" McGinty, the wimpy new foster kid who's replaced Tamara's best friend Kebsie down the street. He thinks he's so great, but Tamara can see straight through his lies. He's not training for the Olympics. And Neil Armstrong is not his uncle, no matter what the wormy kid says. Why can't Muscle Man go away and send Kebsie back? Why can't everything go back to the way it was before?

The Year of the Bomb by Ronald Kidd. This is one of my favorite historical periods to read about and Ronald Kidd really brought it to life. Gone was the cohesion and can-do attitude of early 1940s America. Suddenly there was this bomb, this terrible weapon unleashed on the world, and no one was sure what was going to happen. The paranoia of the time is evident throughout the book.