Friday, September 28, 2012

Katie's Friday Finds #2

Welcome to the second installment of my Friday book recommendations. If you're looking for action-packed, can't-stop-reading-it middle grade fiction, here are two books for you!

The House on Hackman's Hill by Joan Lowery Nixon; middle grade fiction
Two cousins, Jeff and Debbie, venture into an old mansion to solve a mystery and get a $10,000 reward. The only problem - Anubis, the Egyptian guardian of the dead, doesn't want them in the house. Anubis wants revenge! This is the ultimate thriller for a middle grade reader. It's suspenseful, gripping, and every chapter ends with a cliff hanger.

When I taught upper elementary, we always read this book around October and completed Egyptian activities based on the novel. The kids LOVED it! They would beg to read more. My daughter just finished this book and she had the same reaction, too. Whether you have an accelerated reader or a reluctant reader, this is a phenomenal book as it keeps kids hooked right from the start.

Spy Cat by Peg Kehret; middle grade fiction
Adventure awaits the reader in this novel as Pete the cat and his boy, Alex, get tangled up with two burglars while trying to solve a mystery that's been plaguing the neighborhood. This is another fast paced, exciting novel that kids won't want to put down.

The twist on this story is that Pete the cat co-authored the book. His versions of events will have you laughing out loud. He tends to get upset when his humans don't understand his meows. My daughter finished this book in less than a week, and it earned a rave review from her. This is also another teacher-tested book, and all the kids in class always enjoyed reading it.

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Katie's Friday Finds

Lately I've been reading lots of middle grade books since that's what my daughter currently reads and since I'm in the process of revising my middle grade novel. Then I thought, Well, I love sharing my favorite books with anyone who will listen, so why not put them on my blog?

So here it is, the first installment of Katie's Friday Finds. Each Friday you can stop by and find my recommendations for some great reads. I'll put the age level and a brief synopsis of why you should read this book (or have your child read it, or your niece, or your second cousin's neighbor's kid). I can't guarantee they'll all be middle grade books, or that they'll all be award winners of some kind or even how many books I'll put on the list each week.

What I can guarantee is that all these books have somehow inspired me, made me laugh or cry, helped me to think outside the box, and otherwise had characters that spoke to me and stayed with me long after the book was finished. That's what I deem a great story.

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor; middle grade novel
I first read this book several years ago based on a recommendation from an editor at a writing conference. I loved the book then and I still love it. My daughter (age 8) finished reading this about a week ago and adored the story, too. If you're looking for a funny, heartwarming and sincere tale, here it is. The main character, Georgina, is homeless and lives in her car with her mom and brother. She devises a plan to steal a dog and get some reward money so her family can afford an apartment. Barbara O'Connor does a wonderful job taking the reader on an emotional journey with Georgina, as we sympathize with her plight even though we know what she's doing is wrong. This is a great story with a thoughtful message and deserves to be read.

Junie B., First Grader Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) Barbara Park; early chapter book
I'm including this Junie B. book because not only was it hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, but the message at the end was perfect. The premise of the book is Junie B.'s class has to make a list of everything they are thankful for and enter it to win a school contest. Of course, Junie B.'s class comes up with some outrageous items to put on their list. But really, all the items are stuff that kids are thankful for. And that's what makes the book so great, when you stop and think about all the little things in life that make us thankful, like toilet paper and remote controls. I mean, can you imagine life without either of those, particularly the toilet paper?!

Thanks for stopping by,
Katie M.