As a homeschooling veteran, I review middle-grade stories to help parents, librarians, and teachers choose good books.
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Failstate: Legends by John Ottte (2013) looks like a graphic novel, but it isn’t. It’s a middle grade novel, the middle book of a three-book series, but it stands alone very well . No one who picks it up cold like I did will think this is an unfinished story, and unexplained details from the past just make it seem more realistic.
Robert Treskillard concludes his terrific YA Merlin trilogy with this book, Merlin's Nightmare (2014), leaving some threads open for starting a new work focused on Arthur. I’m really enjoying Treskillard’s re-imagining of Merlin as a non-magician. Merlin is a...
Multiple times, it looks like all is lost. How can they survive being stranded on a peninsula, with armed enemies cornering them? How can they survive being surrounded by Vortigern’s murderous men, and then by Pictish barbarians who are only too happy to murder them?
In Merlin’s Blade (2013), the opening book in Robert Treskillard’s Arthurian saga, Merlin begins as a bashful, gawky teenager, son of a blacksmith, nearly blind. Some unknown druids come to his tiny town in post-Roman Britain, bringing with them a mysterious, demonically mesmerizing stone.
I’d heard this anime-style 2016 feature film praised by some in the industry, so I decided to watch it. My takeaway: religious families will want to discuss various elements of the story together. An example: identifying ancestor worship as a substitute for knowing...
In The Rock of Ivanore by Laurisa White Reyes (2012), Marcus Frye has learned a bit of magic that sometimes works. He’s the 14-year-old orphan apprentice to the magician Master Zyll.
In the book Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson (2006), Silver is a plucky 11-year-old whose parents and sister vanished four years ago. She’s being cared for by a selfish mean woman in the family mansion, Tanglewreck, one of those old English manor houses with a lot of mysteries to it.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (2007) is a hot book where middle-schoolers are concerned. It’s a #1 New York Times bestseller, and its sequels are too. Many parents, though, aren’t so thrilled. So what is it about this book that is so appealing to kids?
In One Realm Beyond (2014), a YA series opener from Donita K. Paul, Cantor D'Ahma has grown into a young man. He leaves his elderly mentors and sets off to learn how to become a Realm Walker, using the gifts he was born with. His mentors don't tell him much about what...
How to engage kids in STEM subjects? One way is to have them read intriguing biographies of STEM scientists of note, especially ones that have an engaging story or two in their past. Grace Hopper is one of these people.
The Book of the King (2007), by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, tells a tale full of the supernatural. Its young protagonist, Owen, is one courageous guy.
Rise of the Dragons by Angie Sage (2019), a middle-grade novel and series opener, involves two worlds.