Bridge to Book’s Over/Under of 2012

Bridge to Books FINAL 2

Living in SoCal, I’m lucky enough to be in the same neighborhood as Bridge to Books, a wonderful group comprised of about 30 educators, librarians, publishers, authors, booksellers, artists, and teen readers who are dedicated to getting children excited about books and reading (and they host THE best events). And luckily the Generals of this Literacy Army, Alyson and Alethea, were kind enough to let me co-opt them for an Over/Under! And so without further ado, Bridge to Books gives you:

Overlooked & Underappreciated: 2012 Middle Grade Reads

Spelndors and Glooms

Splendors & Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Alethea: Growing up, I was a huge fan of dark, gloomy orphan stories like Midnight Is a Place by Joan Aiken. I love the atmosphere and the feeling of hopelessness that the characters have to try to overcome. That’s why I was excited to read Splendors & Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz on Netgalley – and I loved it! It’s moody and a little sinister. I don’t know why it isn’t more popular; I think it should be!

Goblin Secrets

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander

Aly: Steampunk. Clockwork parts. Witches. A Troupe of Goblins. Magic. A missing brother. Adventure. For a Middle Grade novel this has it all. Characters you connect with and an interesting plot and setting. I think this one calls for a read aloud. This is beautifully written, and I don’t understand why I hadn’t heard of it until it won a National Book Award.

A Thunderous Whisper

A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Alethea: I have to admit I’m a little biased. I met Christina Diaz Gonzalez when her first book, The Red Umbrella, came out, and I thought both she and the book were terrific. Reading her second novel, A Thunderous Whisper, reminded me what I liked so much about her writing: the evocative style through which she brings to life bygone times and faraway places. She puts the reader right alongside Ani, a young girl growing up in Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, so close you can practically smell the sardines and hear the explosions of Nazi bombs pelting the town.

The Mighty Miss Malone

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Aly: If anyone ever says that historical fiction is dry and boring, then they haven’t read Christopher Paul Curtis and they haven’t met Deza Malone. Curtis creates characters that are memorable. Characters that stay with you and keep begging to be your friend. You can’t read this book without falling for the Mighty Miss Malone and wanting to get to know her a little better. Her strength and passionate spirit will have you cheering for her at all times.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

Alethea: I have often wondered why I didn’t hear so much about this MG/YA debut (Manzano has written a couple of picture books, but this is her first novel). Is it an East Coast/West Coast thing? I’m just not sure. The author whose name may only seem vaguely familiar to most people – Sonia Manzano – is immediately recognizable to just about every person born after 1970 as Maria from Sesame Street. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano is about community, youth activism, and family dynamics as strong mothers, daughters, and granddaughters clash with each other during a tumultuous time in Spanish Harlem. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes cuttingly acerbic, and while parts may be fictionalized, Manzano creates a believable and engaging portrayal inspired by real events.

A Dog Called Homeless

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean

Aly: A young girl, a grieving family, a mysterious homeless man, and a wolf hound all come together to bring healing to a family. When Cally begins seeing her mother after her death, no one will listen. Cally’s friendship with a large wolf hound may just be the link to her mother and the healing of her family. This sweet, touching story will appeal to young readers.

Thank you, Aly and Alethea! And thank you for highlighting Middle Grade – it’s a genre that is still far too overlooked (I think both because it gets lost in the looming shadow of YA, and because people just seem to turn up their noses at the prospect of reading “children’s” books – but you see what they’re missing?!?)  

AND if you’d like to donate to Bridge to Books, which uses all proceeds to host engaging events to get kids excited about reading, just click here!