July 21

Top 10 Books that Should Have Won the Newbery (According to Me, Anyway) by Stacy Nockowitz

Each year, a group of carefully selected committee members is given an impossible task: to choose the children’s book that they deem the most distinguished written by an American author and published in the previous year. I’m a middle school librarian who previously taught middle school language arts for more than twenty years, and I […]

July 20

Kate Messner and Beth Kephart on the real-life prison break that fueled their new middle grade stories

In June of this year, precisely three years after two prisoners broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, Kate Messner and Beth Kephart published middle-grade novels inspired by the incident—BREAKOUT (Bloomsbury) and WILD BLUES (Atheneum), respectively. Kate’s book takes the form of a time capsule—a collection of letters, images, notes, and reports […]

July 18

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden – Review by Tracy Murphy

Ann Braden’s forthcoming and debut middle grade novel, The Benefits of Being an Octopus, sank right into me. Set in Vermont, Braden has crafted a unique story that highlights the realities of living in poverty, being both child and caregiver, and the chaos involved in the day-to-day existence of being a middle school girl. The […]

July 17

The Worlds We Build by Kali Wallace

The city was born first. Everything else came after. It doesn’t always work that way. Some stories begin with characters, others with scenarios or single images. But City of Islands began with the city. It was so vivid in my mind, and the more I wrote, the more vivid it became. It was an archipelago […]

July 16

Kinda A Reader by Ona Feinberg

We were touring the Lodge when the innkeepers mentioned the library. Courtney and Matt had already been so generous with their time, but my kids practically squealed, “Oh, yes!  We HAVE to see the library!”   The children climbed the steps ahead of me, stepping on the dog blockade, and commenting on how this was […]

July 14

Fighting the FOMO: Ten Ways to Make the Most of Your Local Book Festival (Without Breaking the Bank) by Oona Marie Abrams

I consider myself lucky to live in New Jersey — really! When my parents relocated here from Illinois in 1994, it was quite the culture shock, but I’ve embraced the Garden State enough to call myself a Jersey Girl (Exit 163!) and now raise my own family here. One of the benefits of living in […]

July 11

Captain Superlative by J. S. Puller – Review by Jaymie Dieterle

Captain Superlative has taken Dearwood Park Middle School by storm with her swimsuit-and-tights costume, blue rubber gloves, wig, facemask and cape. You can’t miss her. She seems to know everyone and see everything. She helps injured kids get around the school, distributes peppermints to all the kids who have tests to take, and creates study […]

July 10

The Hundred Dresses, A Little Book with a Long Impact by Lila Quintero Weaver

Certain children’s books reach us right where we live and hold us for a lifetime. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, which was a Newbery Honor Book in 1945, was already a dusty classic when it stole my heart in the mid-1960s. Even so, it’s one book I can’t speak about dispassionately—not when it shines […]

July 09

So What Are You Reading? by Cindy Minnich

It’s a Monday morning that looks a lot like most of my summer Monday mornings. I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, looking at my phone. Most mornings, admittedly, I’m either reading a book on it or scrolling through social media to see what everyone else was up to last night after I went […]

July 07

10 Musical Middle Grade Novels to Rock Readers’ Worlds by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

My middle grade years were immersed in music. I sang in the choir. I learned to play piano. I discovered my parents’ record collection, Top 40 radio, and cassingles. There was joy in lifting my voice, coaxing chords from the keys. There was comfort in hearing pop singers magically echo my deepest feelings. If life […]