Callie is a middle schooler who loves working on plays and is super-excited to be the set designer for an upcoming production. But with boy-drama, friend-drama, frenemy-drama, low ticket sales, forever-breaking props and two cute NEW guys on the scene, things are totally hectic. Can Callie and her friends get their drama in check in time for curtain call? (Spoiler alert: YES, the show DOES go on. But it is great fun getting there).
This book is basically more perfectly like ME from age 12-14 than any book I’ve ever read. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. A must for graphic-novel fans, and also any kid, girl or boy, who has ever been interested in theater (either behind the scenes or on-stage) will love it too.
I also loved that there are gay characters and brown characters and every other kind of character and it isn’t an “issue” at all, they are just there, doin’ their thing. Like, you know… how they do in real life. Awesome. <3
Note for parents: Though there is relationship DRAMA in the book, it’s on the ‘crush/group date to a bookstore/chaste school dance’ level, not anything naughty. Fine for 10+
THE DOLL PEOPLE by Ann M Martin, Laura Godwin and Brian Selznick. Everyone knows when you go to sleep or go to school, your dolls have big adventures in your house. This story follows Annabelle Doll, who has been an 8-year-old for 100 years. Nothing much exciting happens in her world UNTIL the brand new neighbors move in - a shiny plastic doll family, including another 8-year-old, Tiffany Funcraft. The two friends solve mysteries and share adventures in this TOTALLY DARLING book, with phenomenal illustrations by Selznick (Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck). The book is thick enough to be a “real book”, but has enough white space on the page and plenty of illustrations so that less fluent readers will feel confident. It has enough drama to be exciting, but not enough to be truly scary. It’s a fantastic read-aloud/family read, too. And there are two sequels, THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD and RUNAWAY DOLLS if your kids like this one. Which they will.
PERFECT for the 8.5/9 year old girl in your life, whether they are shy or outgoing, “tomboyish” or “girlie-girls.” (I hate both those phrases, but you know what I mean.) I’ve never met a girl that age who wasn’t charmed by this book. (Granted my sample size is only a few hundred, but.)
THE FREEDOM MAZE concerns a 13-year-old girl named Sophie, who has gone to stay with her aunt and grandmother in her family’s ancestral country home while her mom attends to the business of being a new divorcee in 1960’s New Orleans. Sophie is understandably cross with her mom and with this situation, and spends the sticky-hot summer days wandering the grounds and bayou and getting lost in books (particularly her favorite childhood comfort reads like E Nesbit, and mysteries ranging from Nancy Drew to Ellery Queen). With all this rattling around in her brain, and the ruins of a neglected plantation to explore, is it any wonder that her imagination turns to haints and other spooky weirdness? And can a reader doubt that such a girl would be just the type to be chosen for her own magical adventure?
There are tons of flashy YA books out today but I must call your attention to a wonderful new middle grade novel, Laurel Snyder’s BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX. Yes, Laurel and I are friends… but if I didn’t know her, and I read this, I’d write her a fan letter. In fact… I guess I am sorta writing her a fan letter right now!
Rebecca’s life is in upheaval with her parent’s separation and a sudden move to a new state and a new school. When she finds a magical box that will give her anything she wants (as long as it fits inside) it seems to be a miracle. She can have money, or french fries, or a diamond. ANYTHING.
Sometimes my friends and I like to chat about books we love. So I’m bringing you a transcript of an actual gchat convo I recently had with my pal, middle grade author Laurel Snyder, about one of our favorite books…
me: Hi Laurel. You know what book I think we should talk about? BALLET SHOES!
Laurel: Because of it being one of the best books ever, one of the few books where I carted my childhood copy off to college (secretly) and reread yearly (secretly)?