Now that The American Library Association’s Newbery Committee has announced their choices for the Newbery Medal and Honors, let’s look at some other worthy books from 2014. The Nerdy Book Club’s list of outstanding books is longer and frequently more accessible. My favorite book from the list is A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.No surprises here as I love spunky southern girl heroines.
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm has a spunky heroine, but it takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ellie must deal with her grandfather who has found the fountain of youth. He is an old man in a 13 year old body. The story actually gets into the ethics of immortality.
A few days before Christmas a number of guests arrive at a smuggler’s inn run by Milo’s adoptive parents in the Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Each guest has a secret reason for being there and as each guest begins to tell their story, Milo and his new friend Meddy try to find the truth about Greenglass House and themselves. Meddy has a surprise for everyone (and let’s face it, me too) at the end.
Half A Chance by Cynthia Lord is about Lucy, her new home on a lake, the boy summering with his grandmother next door named Nate, photography, kayaking and Nate’s Grandmother’s slowly fading memory. Like her Newbery Honor book Rules, there is no miracle cure or sentimentality, just a coming to grips with a reality.
Revolution by Deborah Wiles is a mix of historical fiction and news stories and pictures from Freedom Summer 1964 in Greenwood, Mississippi. Most of the fictional chapters are narrated by Sunny, an almost thirteen year old white girl and the rest are narrated by Ray, a fourteen year old African-American boy. They meet for the first time on June 21, 1964 at night in a “whites only” swimming pool. People are arriving in Greenwood from up north to help African-Americans register to vote. Real historical figures like Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Bob Moses are woven into this meticulously researched story. Segregation is not glossed over. It is a great book for a mature middle grader and a young adult or adult reader. As the people who lived that summer age and die off, this book will become even more important.
How to Outrun a Crocodile when Your Shoes Are Untied by Jess Keating is a humorous look at being in the seventh grade, living in a zoo, dealing with the Sneers and your best friend moves to New Zealand.
You can find more recommendations at 2014 Nerdy Awards for Middle Grade Fiction.