Thursday, January 12, 2012

Best of 2011: Middle Grade/Tween Books

Here are our favorite 2011 books for middle-grade readers and tweens! A few of the titles skew a little older (10/11+).

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
It's 1952, and fourteen-year-old Janie isn't happy when her family moves from sunny Los Angeles to dreary London. Then she meets Ben and his father—an apothecary with a secret book of "scientific magic"—and becomes involved in a mission to save the world from nuclear war. This is a fast-paced historical fantasy/adventure.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Fifth-graders Hazel and Jack are best friends. Together, they prefer imagination and fantasy over reality. So when Jack suddenly stops talking to her, Hazel becomes convinced that something magical is at work and embarks on a quest into the woods to rescue her friend from an evil Snow Queen.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing
Authors Tell the Tales
by Chris Van Allsburg

An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
Lucinda's Review.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Three siblings who were separated from their parents under mysterious circumstances a decade ago discover a magical book in their new orphanage. When the book transports them into the recent past—where an evil witch holds an entire town captive in search of the very book they hold—they must find a way to save the town and keep their family together.

Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri
Twelve-year-old Cole is dumbfounded when his mother dumps him on the doorstep of the father he's never met. Even worse, his father thinks that he's a cowboy—in the middle of the Philadelphia ghetto!—and expects Cole to learn the "cowboy way."

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
This novel in free verse follows a year in the life on ten-year-old Hà and her family, from their life in Saigon, to their flight from their home in the wake of the Vietnam War, through the difficult transition to life in America. This is a quick and surprisingly lighthearted read, filled with perception and humor.

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Everyone at Montecello knows that Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston are the children of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, though it can never be spoken of. But what does it mean when the man who wrote "all men are created equal" is your father—and also your slave master?

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Conor is plagued by a recurring nightmare, but when a real monster appears in his room one night, he isn’t afraid—until the monster demands to know the secrets of Conor’s dream. This is a powerful, timeless book full of sharp humor, insight, and a dark eeriness that is echoed perfectly in nightmarish pen and ink drawings.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmid
In this companion book to the award-wining The Wednesday Wars, Doug Swieteck is bummed when his blowhard dad loses his job and the family has to move from Brooklyn to small-town Marysville, NY. It is obvious that the town sees Doug as a criminal-in-training, but after discovering drawing and making a friend, Doug begins to feel okay—for now.

Small Persons with Wings by Ellen Booraem
As a child, Mellie’s best friend was a Small Person with Wings (not a fairy!) named Fidius. After years of ridicule from her classmates, she stopped believing in their existence. That is until her family inherits her grandfather's run-down inn—overrun with bickering, demanding Parvi Pennati (aka Small Persons with Wings)— and she is pulled into a series of magical misadventures in search of a magical ring that has linked her family to the Parvi for centuries.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
In 1977, shortly after his mother’s death, 12-year-old Ben runs away from his Minnesota home to seek the father he never knew in New York City. Fifty years earlier, in 1927, a young deaf girl named Rose runs away from her father’s New Jersey mansion to track down her favorite silent film star. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s is revealed through a series of richly detailed pencil drawings.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
In a society where creativity is a crime, thirteen-year-old Alex is separated from his twin brother and sent for Elimination. Instead, he finds himself in a wondrous place where the “Unwanteds” hone their artistic abilities, learn magic, and prepare for an inevitable battle.

Late additions:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos


Anonymous said...

I like SPI: The Case of The Dark Shadow by T.J. Bonham. It's a tween paranormal story about four friends that deals with family, loss, change, friendship, and being a military kid. I just love the characters! The ending makes it sound like there's going to be a sequel. I can't wait !

Tracy said...

Thanks for sharing, Anonymous! I'll have to look into that one :)

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