Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Best Middle Grade Books

When you hand your middle schooler a book, you want them to be engaged and involved in the story. You however, don't want them taught new swear words, they get enough of that at school. Today, Marissa, from Rae Gun Ramblings and I have each complied a list of the best books that are perfect for your Middle School Student. Check out her list here and read mine below.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This is hands down my favorite Cinderella story. If you have seen the movie, don't let it keep you from reading this book to your kids. It is clever and funny. There is still the same basic cast of characters, Ella, the evil stepmother and stepsisters but in this version you add in some crazy fairies, ogres and giants too. Ella was cursed by a fairy when she was a baby with obedience. She has to follow any direct command that she is given, which could including hurting herself. Ella must figure out how to break the curse before she does something truly dreadful.

The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks by Nancy McArthur. This book had as rolling on the floor as kids. What's not hilarious about a plant that eats your dirty socks? This book is about two brothers a neat freak and a walking disaster area and the crazy sock-eating plants they grow together. I loved it as a kid and so did my brothers.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling- The perfect series for a middle school student to start. It is captivating, fun and will help them WANT to read.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). This fun series is about a princess who likes to fence and practice magic and doesn't want to marry a boring prince, instead she runs off to live with the dragons instead. She becomes a dragon's princess and actually talks the knights who come out of rescuing her. I haven't read this series to my daughter yet, but it is on my list for sure.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale- Miri has grown up on Mount Eskel, it is a quiet life until the King's Priests chose the mountain as the home of the next princess. Each village girl is required to attend a strict princess academy, for when the prince comes in a year to pick his bride. Although Miri is small and feels like she doesn't contribute much to her family's work in the quarry, she finds that she can contribute in much bigger ways. This is one of my favorite princess reads, the main character is endearing and for once you aren't rooting for her to end up with the prince.

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George- When Creel's aunt offers her to a local dragon in hopes that somebody wealthy will rescue her and bring money to the family, Creel decides not to stick around and rescues herself. She strikes a bargain with a dragon, that includes her freedom and an odd pair of slippers. The slipper cause trouble all over the place until the put the fate of the whole nation at risk. Creel must figure out what the slippers do and how to save the country before it is too late.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine- Aza isn't a dainty princess, in fact she is a plain peasant and in a land that prizes beautiful faces and voices more than anything else, she sometimes feels out of place. Aza does have a gorgeous voice and the talent of being able to throw her voice to sound as if it is coming from anywhere in the room. A passing duchess invites her to court and then the queen who has a plains singing voice insists she stays so that she can use Aza's voice as her own. Aza must learn to stand on her own feet and use her voice for good instead of allowing it to be used by the evil

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny LundquistThis retelling of Man in the Iron Mask is just as gripping as the original story, with lots of character and plot elements of its own. Princess Wilha knows what her face looks like, but no one else around her does. Since her birth she has been forced to wear an opal mask, concealing what lays beneath. The few times she has dared to show anybody her face, they have been abruptly dismissed from the palace. There are all sorts of rumors flying around, that her face is deformed, that one look from her can kill, that one look can heal, but when Princess Wilha looks beneath the mask, all she sees is an ordinary girl, so why must she wear it?

Elara is an orphan. She has few friends and spends most of her time serving the family that is supposed to love her, hungry and alone. She is an ordinary girl, until attempts on the life of Princess Wilha thrust her into a royal world that she knows nothing about. Elara now has a chance to be somebody else, but is that what she wants?

Ungifted by Gordan Korman  - Ungifted is a great book about Donovan, a thoroughly average trouble maker, who accidentally gets placed in the gifted school. He is in way above his head, but maybe he is just what the program needs. He learns more than he ever thought possible and teaches the truly gifted kids a few lessons of his own, but what is going to happen when the teachers discover he isn't truly gifted? Will he have to leave his friends and everything he has accomplished?

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger - Sophronia is not at all a proper lady, so when her parents decide to send her to finishing school she can't think of anything worse. With flyaway men, vampire teachers, mechanical dogs, Sophronia soon finds out this finishing school isn't anything like she imagined. They are teaching her etiquette, but also espionage.

This was such a fun universe to read about, set in the past, but with advancements we don't even have today, like robot servants and such. It was a fun combination of the paranormal – with vampires and werewolves – and the world of spies. 

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry- We all know that Peter Pan never wants to grow up but until now we have never known WHY he can't grow up. Peter and the Starcatchers is the prequel to Peter Pan. We find out how Peter comes to live in NeverNever Land. We also find out that he couldn't always fly. It is his adventures in Peter and the Starcatchers that change him to be able to fly. He once was a completely normal boy. This book makes you love Peter Pan even more by finding out his story.

You don't just find out how Peter Pan came to be, you get to watch as the most famous Peter Pan characters come on the scene. The Lost Boys are introduced almost immediately and you get to meet Black Stache, who will turn into Captain Hook. Yup, this book is set so much earlier that Peter hasn't even fed his hand to the croc yet.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - Jacob makes the journey to Cairnholm near Wales, to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up to discover it was bombed out during the last World War. How can that be? His grandfather received a letter from the Headmistress, just a few years ago. It is a mystery that Jacob is determined to solve. 

Heist Society by Ally Carter- A light, fun read about a teenage girl who comes from a family of thieves. She has tried to get away to move on with her life and attend school, but she finds it is a lot harder to escape thieving when so many people don't want her to. This is a light, run read about an art heist. I enjoyed the story and the characters.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen- The young prince has been missing for years, and one man has an idea to bring him back. He auditions four young men to possibly masquerade as the prince, training each one to become more like the missing prince. One will be king and the others will die. Although this book was predictable in spots, I really enjoyed it.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter- Cammie Morgan is a special girl. She is a genius, speaks 14 languages and is training to be a spy. Although she is about to undertake her most difficult covert ops assignment, pretending to be a normal teenager.

Cammie is a 15-year-old girl attending the private Gallagher Academy For Exceptional Young Women, which most of the students just call spy school. Starting in 7th grade, brilliant girls are invited to come live at the academy, learn to speak different languages, attend classes in different cultures, math, science, oh and covert operations.

 Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - Underneath the the world of humans lies a whole secret world of Faeries, a world that 12-year-old billionaire and criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, discovers and exploits in hopes of gaining fairy gold. The Artemis Fowl books are a light, fun and easy read and they get better as the series goes on.   This book is a little bit the Italian Job meets Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. It is an interesting story with a good twist on the typical fantasy characters. You meet some of the top fairies in this book, who are more war generals than fairy God mothers. The humans are the bad characters in the book, but you sympathize with them none the less.

Holes by Louis Sachar - After Stanley Yelnats is falsely arrested for stealing a pair of famous shoes, he is sent to Camp Green Lake where the warden has kids dig holes each day, it seems the warden is looking for something. Could it involve the legend of Kissing Kate Barlow? Holes is a classic, I didn't read this book until I was an adult, and I loved it. My husband was glancing over my shoulder when I pulled up Holes on Goodreads and he asked "Who could rate Holes less than four stars?"

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi - Charlotte's family has moved from England to Rhode Island, leaving Charlotte behind to finish the school year. Charlotte boards a ship for an ordinary ocean crossing when she realizes that she has walked straight into a mutiny. No one is safe. Least of all Charlotte.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - Mr. Westing, a millionaire, has died. He has left his vast fortune to 16 different people, if they can figure out the elaborate game he has set up.

Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson - When Finn, Charlene, Willa, Maybeck and Philby agree to become the models for the new Disney World hologram projections, they have no idea that the will become part of the park. After the sun goes down, the park comes to life and all of the villains from every Disney ride come alive and these five teens are the only things standing between the villains and park domination. If you love Disney, you will love these fun books with all of your favorite villains.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan - Perseus (Percy) Jackson thinks he  is just a regular kid with a horrible step dad, but a series of crazy happenings lead him to find out he is the son of the sea god Poseidon.

The books takes Percy through his first quest to save the Gods from battle and the world from war. He is supposed to figure out who stole master lightening bolt from Zeus. Percy Jackson provides a good introduction to Greek mythology. It does a pretty good job of providing the reader with enough information so you don't have to keep leaving the book to look something up about mythology. I, however, love to know every detail so I was often looking up characters/gods from the book. It was fun to see the Greek Gods in a modern sense and see that at least according to Riordan that they are still up to their old tricks.

Which of these are your favorite?
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