This week’s books are all novel length, and except for This One Summer, I think they’re all great middle grade reads.
Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud
I can’t wait to read more in this middle grade series about ghost hunters, and it’s not just because the at the narrator of the audiobook was great. Characters, setting and action all came together in a cleverly written story that left me wanting more.
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
This was a read I had trouble putting down and will remember for a while. Definitely for teens, it’s really simply a book about growing up. Some reviewers criticized it for not ending on a more hopeful note. I didn’t see it that way – it seems to me that it was a snapshot of the experiences lived in a single summer, of exposure to events which mature and change the main characters. In the end, it simply moved on to the next part of the characters’ lives, and we were left to surmise if there would be hope or not. One thing which grabbed me was the nuance seen in the illustrations – you could tell the age of the characters – and tell the main characters were being shown in their past – by the simplicity of changes in line. It won a Caldecott Honor and was nominated for the Michael Printz in 2015, both unique places for a graphic novel to hold.
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War, by Helen Frost
Another novel in verse. You know how I love these! This one is a historical fiction set in the War of 1812, and the relationship between Anikwa, a Miami boy, and James, an American whose family lives near the fort in Miami territory. We watch as their friendship is challenged by the coming of war, and through it we learn not only about the tensions between the two groups, but the reasons behind misunderstandings. Any book as beautifully conceived and as carefully researched, with consultation with tribal members, is one which gains my deep respect.
The Pig War, by Mark Holtzen
I’ve long been meaning to read this novel set in our area, written by a fellow SCBWI member. It went to the top of my list when he and I connected over a mutual interest in exploring Washington State history topics for young people. You’ll be hearing more about the conversations we’ve been having. In the meantime, check out this middle grade novel. It’s contemporary fiction but there is a focus on local history of the San Juan Islands to be found in the great storytelling.
Did you finish a novel this week?