Middle grade books! Those unsung heroes! Those books that take a reader from "chapter books" to the heady realms of young adult! The books, if you will, in the MIDDLE of it all! Our #1 on this list was one of my favorites of the year from any genre, the amazing, charming, funny, heart-tugging, award-winning . . .
1. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead!
Talking about this book with Ann Cannon (author, bookseller, Hamish MacBeth enthusiast, and friend) when the announcement was made, she said that it reminded her of books she read as a kid, like when she read A Wrinkle In Time for the first time. I read it shortly after that, and had to agree! A delightful book from start to finish, I don't think the ALA could have picked a better winner for the Newbery Award!
2. Dragon's Heart by Jane Yolen
I have been waiting twenty years for this book. TWENTY YEARS. The fourth book in Yolen's Pit Dragon Series, which I read as a child (and reread, and reread, until my copies disintegrated), this is the perfect capstone to that amazing tale of dragons, slavery, and revolution on a distant planet. Also, Jakkin was my first crush . . . so it was nice to read about him again!
3. Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
Another joy to read! I've never wanted a sea serpent before, but now it's on the top of my Christmas list!
4. Calamity Jack by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale
The sequel to the trio's Rapunzel's Revenge is equal to (if not better than) the first, filling in Jack's backstory with rich detail as well as sending Jack and Punzie off on a new adventure! Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum!
5. Terrible, Horrible Edie by E. C. Spykman
A reread, but I'm including it because, after years of being out of print, this hilarious story of the mischievous Edie is back in a beautiful new edition from the New York Review of Books Children's Collection! I adore Edie, and hope that the rest of her adventures get the same treatment!
6. Matilda by Roald Dahl
I love Roald Dahl's books, and I love the movie based on this book, so I read it aloud to my son . . . and realized that I had never actually read THIS book! Hysterically funny, as Dahl's books are, and particularly fun to read aloud.
7. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
I had the very great thrill of speaking at a conference with Margaret this year, and once which I didn't realize she was also attending. Caught without my beloved copies of the Shadow Children series, I hastily bought the first book in The Missing series . . . and was hooked. Suspense in spades, and wonderful characters!
8. The 13 Clocks by James Thurber
Another swell New York Review of Books reissue, complete with the original illustrations. I had never read this book before, had never even heard of it, but it was wonderfully creepy and strange!
9. Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet
This has been recommended to me, but I hadn't been all that interested. It's very young middle grade, so I read it to my son, and we both loved this story of a brightly striped dragon, and his adventures with a young boy.
10. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
A Newbery Honor from last year, this is a wonderful Chinese folk tale, further brought to life with gorgeous illustrations!
11. The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
What if a small child from a poor, backward farming community could fly? What if there was a top secret agency devoted to studying such children? What if? What if it was turned into a thrilling adventure story, complete with some of the best dialogue you'll ever find in a kid's book?