Everyone except Maddie, and I mean everyone, has been inexplicably evacuated from her town in the middle of the night in the beginning chapters of the free verse novel Alone by Morgan E. Freeman (Aladdin, 2021). Now Maddie has no access to anyone (phones have been abandoned). She is without electricity and running water and

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Light Comes to Shadow Mountain by Toni Buzzeo (Pixel + Ink, July 2023) is a fictional middle grade novel centered around Cora May Tipton, a spirited and eager girl living in rural Kentucky during the Great Depression. Cora resides on Shadow Mountain, a considerable distance from the nearest town. Thanks to President Roosevelt’s New Deal

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The easily accessible text and the fun related activities make The Great Depression for Kids by Carol Mullenbach (Chicago Review Press, July 2015) a fantastic choice for the young student in upper elementary school or older that is interested in learning more about the era in our history. The text covers life before the Great

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Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (1998 Newbery Medal Winner) is a young adult novel in poetry about the difficulties of dust bowl living in the 1930s. A changing industry, magnified by severe drought and the Great Depression, meant that farming in rural Oklahoma was more difficult than ever. But Billie’s difficulties are compounded.

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I love Jane Yolen’s talent for writing extends from children’s picture books and poetry to middle grade and older books! Her books almost always seem to delight or intrigue me, and her recent contribution to the middle grade bookshelf is no exception. Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Macmilian Children’s Publishing Group, October 2014) is a fantasy novel

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My first Thomas Hardy novel was simply fantastic. Emotionally poignant but also socially resonant, Tess of the D’Ubervilles (1891) provides an intriguing story about Victorian social and sexual hypocrisy through characters with clear flaws to recognize and appreciate. And yet, although it was clearly a commentary on the social structures and sexual morality in Victorian

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Because my son is so young, I’m just beginning to re-familiarize myself with middle grade fiction; I haven’t really read much since I was a youngster. I remember really loving the gentle rural setting of Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was a young girl: it was one of my favorite books. When

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A six-year-old must walk across a large field and near woods to get to her school bus stop, and in Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward and Julie Morstad (Simply Read Books, 2011), she pushes away her fears by singing as loudly as she can. Although my four-year-old son was a bit concerned that she was by

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Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown and illustrated by John Parra (Tricycle Press, 2011) is based on the true story of a librarian in rural Colombia who delivers library books into the lives of children with the help of his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto. Told from the perspective of a little girl named Ana who

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My four-year-old and I read The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Melissa Iwai (The National Geographic Society, 2002) many times this week. In some senses, this book is simpler than the other bee books we read. Rather than providing a story, it shows, through rhyming descriptions and illustrations, the tools the beekeeper needs to take

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