SUMMER READING 2019: SOME MORE FOR SUMMER (MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION)


As July, and the summer is moving quickly along, it's time to take a look at some more summer reading recommendations. This time, it's the middle-grade (or MG) group, generally intended for children 8 to 11 years or so.(I still, after all these years, have a great resistance to 'age-banding' when it comes to books, but that's a discussion for another day.) We think of this age-range as the golden-age of childrens' reading because it is the time when they are most encouraged and most enthusiastic about books. Libraries all have Summer Reading programmes and the bookshops are filled to the brim with fantastic books to lose yourself in over the summer months. And time some time to read with your children. It matters more than you can ever know. While I know this can be a busy time, there's always time for a good book.
The shelves in any childrens' section can be an overwhelming place, so here are some recommendations to get you going.
Malamander by Thomas Taylor plays on ancient myths of sea-monsters and turns this into a missing-persons investigation. Young Herbie spends his days as the chief Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel in the seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea. When Violet Parma appears at his window one night, they are soon off on a quest to discover what really happened to her parents when she was just a baby. But with a host of baddies tracking her down, a hotel manager that wants to do Herbie out of his job and a sea-monster on the loose, things are about to become even stranger than normal. Gripping, humourous and very exciting!
Pog by Pádraig Kenny reads like a contemporary fairytale brought to life in a journey through loss and recovery. After their mother has died, Penny and her family move to her childhood home. All of them are coping with their grief as best they can, but this house is a strange one; filled with magical creatures. Like Pog. Pog is small and furry; one of the First Folk who now live hidden and protect the boundary between this world and another frightening 'Necessary' place. As David and Penny explore, they discover monsters that are slipping through the cracks in ever increasing numbers. While it is a story about loss, it is, more to the point, a story about rising, courage and love. Gentle, imaginative and captivating.
Race The Atlantic Wind by Oisin McGann is the tale of Alcock and Brown and the first aeroplane crossing of the Atlantic. Maggie McCrory has run away from Ireland to join her aunt and uncle in Newfoundland. Resourceful, bold and with a real taste for adventure, her hopes and dreams are ignited by the arrival of the very best aviators in the world, all vying to be the first to achieve an impossible goal; to fly non-stop across the Atlantic. Celebrating the 100 year anniversary of this momentous occasion that changed the world, this book is simply jaw-dropping. A must for fans of historical fiction.
The Little Grey Girl by Celine Kiernan is the second in the Wild Magic series, and it is wondrous. Everyone knows that the Queen and her Raggedy Witches, though gone from the castle, are not dead. As Mup and her family prepare to make the place their new home, there is still a restlessness and dread filling the entire land. The ghosts of the past are hurt and angry, and one of them is about to unleash a punishing rage on Mups' family. The Little Grey Girl is determined that all of those lost to the Queens' ruthless rule will not be forgotten. This is everything a witchy-tale should be; mysterious, heart-stopping and heartwarming...and so very magical.
Pages & Co: Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James is out now in paperback. This is a book that takes the reader into the world of endless possibilities, imagination and adventure to be found in books. Since her mother disappeared, Tilly has lived with her grandparents in their wonderful home, Pages & Co Booksellers. When her favourite book characters, Alice (in Wonderland) and Anne Shirley (Green Gables) appear before her among the shelves, Tilly discovers she is a Book-Wanderer with the unique ability to travel into any story she likes. Perhaps now she will discover what happened to her mother, as well as the identity of her father. An utter delight for any bookworm; or would-be bookworm.
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo is the glorious tale of Louisiana Elefante, who first appeared in the previous Raymie Nightingale. Louisiana's bizarre grandmother wakes her up in the middle of the night because 'the day of reckoning has arrived!' Granny bundles her into the old car and drives away, over the Florida state line, ending up in a small town in Georgia. It isn't long before Louisiana finds herself stranded here, entangled in the lives of the residents and wondering if she'll ever be home again. Thoughtful, compassionate and simply beautiful.
Space Dragons by Robin Bennett will give you a summer adventure like no other. Stan Pollux was looking forward to a normal summer, but when his little sister Poppy goes into his room, again...and messes with his stuff, AGAIN, it sets off a chain of events that are anything but 'normal'. Before he knows what's happening, Stan is rocking through space in the aura of a dragon, who turns out to be the ancient god, Mercury. Along with the other planetary dragon-gods, he's off on a mission or two to rescue his kidnapped little sister and stop Pluto from gaining ultimate power by using the Particle of Light. Shouldn't be a problem if you're a demi-god yourself, even if you didn't know it. Fantastic!
No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton tells the story of Aya, recently arrived in England after fleeing war torn Syria. When Aya discovers a local ballet class, the stern and impressive teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes Aya has what it takes to win a scholarship to a prestigious ballet school. This would be a dream-come-true for Aya. At the same time her mother is not well, Aya must care for her baby brother, they are about to be made homeless and they must use all their strength to remain in the country. But help for them all may be closer than Aya could imagine. A beautiful book, full of kindness, compassion, friendship and triumph.

There are so many wonderful worlds to get lost in this summer; so many others I could recommend. But I will leave you here with these...and be back again shortly with some picture books!
Happy Summer Reading!

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