Sunday, February 14, 2016

Speed Dating with Middle Grade: Part 10

Title: Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History...and Our Future!
Author: Kate Schatz
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Read If You Like...: Reading about famous people, short spurts of learning, feminism
Three-Sentence Thoughts: A work like Rad American Women—one that celebrates the achievements of a diverse array of women—is totally needed in the realm of literature for young people. Each page spread includes a pop-art-esque illustration of a celebrated woman and a one-page, quick-summary bio that gives just a teaser of said important figure. To me, the content amounts to little more than what an entry-level researcher could quickly compile from a browse through Google, and though I was left with the feeling that way more could be said, perhaps this is the only way a middle schooler will willingly connect with this information to hopefully inspire further independent reading.

Title: The City of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Genre: Dystopian
Read If You Like...: Boy-girl adventure duos, stories with mysterious circumstances, realistic yet improbable worlds
Three-Sentence Thoughts: Ember is a city created hundreds of years ago by a group of people called the Builders, meant to keep its people safe and living for the rest of time, but now the electricity is getting unreliable and food is running out. Lina and Doon stumble upon pieces of a very old document from the days of the Builders, and, as they start to unravel the mystery of Ember, they begin to wonder if they've found the answer that will save them all. This is a great dystopian story that is still packed with adventure and lacks much of the heaviness and despair usually found in YA dystopian novels. (The first in a series of four.)

Title: Sunny Side Up
Author: Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm
Genre: Realistic, Graphic Novel
Read If You Like...: Fun, cartoonish illustrations; realistic stories on everyday issues; books by Raina Telgemeier
Three-Sentence Thoughts: Ten-year-old Sunny is sent to Florida for the summer to live with her grandfather in his retirement community—a vacation she envisioned very differently (more beach and Disney, fewer golf carts and fake teeth). Things look up when she meets another kid her age, Buzz, and many adventures ensue, but Sunny's still wondering why she was sent down to Florida in the first place. With bubbly and bright artwork, the Holm team has created an appealing story about everyday adventures that manages to broach more serious family issues in a manner that is accessible, and still enjoyable, to a younger middle school audience.

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