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Category Archives: Middle Grades (3rd-6th)

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A Year Without Mom follows 12-year-old Dasha through a year full of turmoil after her mother leaves for America. It is the early 1990s in Moscow, and political change is in the air. But Dasha is more worried about her own challenges as she negotiates family, friendships and school without her mother. Just as she begins to find her own feet, she gets word that she is to join her mother in America — a place that seems impossibly far from everything and everyone she loves. -Amazon


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Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school! -Amazon

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Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer.  At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is  the home of Disney World, after all.  But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park.  It’s full of . . . old people.  Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around.  She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors.  But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place?  The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .-Amazon


This series offers a wonderful mix of well-known and obscure tales from many cultures, each masterfully adapted and illustrated by different cartoonist.


These books are just the right amount of funny, factual and GROSS to entice even the most reluctant reader.  Magic for those boys who, “don’t like books!”


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“The Awful Ends to the Awfully Famous”

The most reluctant of readers will find it difficult to resist this consistently disgusting chronicle of the gruesome deaths of 19 will famous people. Bragg’s informal, conversational style and O’Malley’s cartoon illustrations complement the flippant approach to the subject; the energetically icky design includes little skulls and crossbones to contain page numbers. Engaging, informative and downright disgusting. -Kirkus

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“Failures, Flops and Flaws of the Awfully Famous”

In this follow-up to How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, Bragg pokes fun, plays up, and revels in the mistakes of 14 famous figures because “There’s nothing better than reading about how someone else messed up.” Written in a chatty style, full of wit and laugh-out-loud moments, this charmingly irreverent delivery of history is not only entertaining but packed full of lessons to be learned. -School Library Journal

Grade 5+


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I love anything published by the New York Review Children’s Collection (here’s looking at you, Jenny Linsky), but this one nearly charmed me right off my stool as I sat in City Lights Books in San Francisco on a recent trip. What better place to be smitten, and what better book to get the job done?  It’s wondrous, hilarious and unapologetically absurd.



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