Announcing the 2012 Middle Grade Fiction Nerdies

I feel blessed to be able to spend my days talking middle grade fictions with fourth graders in my classroom. I’ve spent the discussing the books with my students that won 2011 Nerdies. Is Origami Yoda real? – is a conversation that students regularly discusss. What would you wish for if you had a magic bread box? -every fourth grader loves thinking about their answer. What did you think about how the two stories came together in Wonderstruck? – Wow! is a common response to that question.

My students and I have spent the first half of the school year falling in love with the books that, today, are being named Nerdie winners. It should be no surprise.  Isn’t falling in love with books what Nerdy Book Club is all about?

The One and Only Ivan

By: Katherine Applegate

Harper Collins


I feel like I could write a 30-page single-spaced essay on how much I love this book. But let me just say this, most of all: I respect the pacing of this book with every core of my being. It moves so gently, and so slowly, in a way that I haven’t encountered in a MG book before. And it so totally works. And the exact day that my 6-year-old said, “I’m wondering if anything exciting is going to happen in this book,” Ruby the elephant showed up (and so it got exciting). It was heartbreaking and beautiful. My 8-year-old said, “I like how what it says on the back — ‘I am Ivan. I’m a gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks” — is like a perfect little poem that describes the book.” There you go

Julie Falatko



By: R.J. Palacio

Knopf Books for Young Readers

At some points during my reading of Wonder I kept thinking what people on Heavy Medal would say about the book. It felt like I was looking for the book’s weakness. Probably has something to do with the fact that I read it Newbery weekend. Thankfully, I was able to remind myself that Newbery really doesn’t mean as much as some(me) make it out to be. My job isn’t to look for faults in a book. My job is to enjoy the story, savor the message, and fall in love with the characters.

This book is amazing, and everyone should read it. I had to stop with 3 pages left because I was sobbing. The thought of the book ending broke my heart. Three days later I was able to finish this 5 star read.



Liar & Spy

By Rebecca Stead

Wendy Lamb Books


An wonderful MG book that I look forward to recommending! It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite childhood books, Harriet the Spy. Stead is a fabulous story teller and makes you feel like you know the characters first hand. The ups and down of life, middle school, friendship, and family relationships are all explored with excellence.

Sherry Gick


The False Prince

By: Jennifer Nielsen

Scholastic Press

What a fantastic middle grade read! The action begins right from the very first pages and there were many twists and turns that will keep readers hooked to the very end. Lots of action, great dialogue, and plenty of mystery make this a great recommendation for dormant readers…boys or girls! Can’t wait for book 2!

Susan Dee


One For The Murphys

By: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

 Nancy Paulsen Books

I had read 40 pages into ONE FOR THE MURPHYS before I had to leave for family activities yesterday.

So, I picked the book back up, and with a cup of coffee, I sat out on the back deck to read some more.

And then, I ended up finishing the book.

Those in my reading community often wonder what books we will love in the next reading year, and we have certainly had some wonderful titles in 2012 already, but I think ONE FOR THE MURPHYS is a game changer for sure.

Read the reviews. Get a feel for the book. But you won’t know it’s “heart” until you’ve actually read this beautiful book.

For what it’s worth, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS comes with Mr. Hankins’s highest recommendations.

Paul W. Hankins


Colby Sharp is a fourth grade teacher in Battle Creek, Michigan. He helps out with #Nerdybookclub, #titletalk, and the #sharpschu book club.