Just like the other middle grade novels by Gary Schmidt, The Labors of Hercules Beal (Harper Collins, May 2023) follows the pattern of lonely or troubled kid learning from a loving and helpful teacher over the course of a school year. Once again, the protagonist is a seventh grader, this time a boy named Hercules

Read Post

The Girl Who Sang by Estelle Nadel, illustrated by Sammy Savos and Bethany Strout (Roaring Brook Press, January 2024) is a graphic memoir about a very young Jewish girl surviving World War II hiding in barn. I’m always amazed at what humankind can endure and how strong children can be during hard times. The Girl

Read Post

In the true picture book Green City: How One City Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future by Allan Drummond (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016), the small town of Greensburg, Kansas that had been destroyed by a tornado was able to rebuild with environmentally friendly methods. In fact, all the buildings (schools, banks, residences)

Read Post

The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park (illustrated by Robert Sae-Heng; Clarion Books, 2021) is a brief children’s poetic book with a thought experiment: what one thing would you save if a fire was destroying your home? No limits. After the teacher gives this question to her class, each subsequent page provides a

Read Post

Ginny is used to moving. Even at age 11, this is fifth move. That’s what happens when your dad is military. But her dad’s surprise deployment throws off Ginny’s confidence. Now, in Ginny Off the Map by Caroline Hickey (Christy Ottaviano Books, June 2023), Ginny faces a new house and neighborhood and a long summer

Read Post

Red, a red panda, mourns how all the books for pandas somehow omit red pandas! With the encouragement of his giant panda friend Gee, Red writes his own book about red pandas. The adorable picture book How This Book Got Red by Margaret Chiu Greanias and pictures by Melissa Iwai (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, October 2023) narrates

Read Post

World War II was in full-force when Dory Byrne’s father left to fight. Now Dory and her two brothers are on their own, with their father’s assurance that the community will help them while he’s gone. Nothing Else but Miracles by Kate Albus (Margaret Ferguson Books, September 2023) tells the story of this spunky tween

Read Post

It’s heartbreaking for me to think back on September 11, 2001. Where were you on that day? Everybody remembers. It’s one of those defining moments. The Only Plane in the Sky by Garret M. Graff (Simon & Schuster, 2019; audiobook) is an “Oral History of 9/11” and provides a necessary and thorough account of the

Read Post

The Lost Library, a middle grade novel co-authored by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass (Feiwel & Friends, August 2023) is a magical mystery that celebrates the power of books. Evan loves books, so he eagerly takes two from the new “Little Free Library” that was built in front of the town’s history museum. The books

Read Post