Thursday, April 1, 2021

Middle Grade Books that build stamina, part 1 - 4.02.21

I love middle grade novels.  I get excited when I get a book that I've been eagerly anticipating and it ends up being a longer story.  I was like that as a young reader too.  But not all readers want long stories.  It's for a variety of reasons.  Many don't have the stamina.  Some don't have the patience.  Some are still growing into those stories.  It's a lot easier to find long novels than shorter ones.  Especially shorter ones that appeal to readers, especially older readers.  
I have stacks of middle grade books that are under 230 pages.  As I read a few, I will collect them in a post.  Hope this helps a reader you may have!

The Magical Reality of Nadia by Bassem Youssef
The Magical Reality of Nadia
written by Bassem Youssef and Catherine R. Daly
illustrated by Douglas Holgate
176 pages
Nadia is starting sixth grade and is excited to see her friends after being away on vacation in Egypt.  As an Egyptian American, she loves her culture and heritage and enjoys bringing Egyptian food to school for lunch.  Nadia is also a big fan of trivia and facts!  She has a great group of friends who pride themselves on being awesome nerds!  But as sixth grade starts and a new boy is in their class, things start to fall apart.  First of all, he makes fun of her food and heritage.  Then her BFF seems to be siding with this bully.  What Nadia needs is a touch of magic.  Surprising her is the necklace she bought at a market in Egypt is actually a magic talisman.  Will this magic help her solve all her problems?
With illustrations and some graphic novel frames, this book was quick and fun to read.  This will appeal to readers who are looking for a fantasy story, but don't want something as long as a Rick Riordan novel.

The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell
The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell
by Jordan Sonnenblick
224 pages
Full confession:  this is my first Sonnenblick book.  And it certainly won't be my last.
What I hear most from readers is they are looking for funny books.  This one is the first one I'll be handing them.  I laughed out loud more times than I can count and - and I feel like this is the true testament if something is funny or not - I read several passages out loud to my 15yo and even she gave a chuckle!
The book reads like a story, however I quickly figured out it's actually a true story of the author's younger years.  The year is never divulged, and a reader will really have to notice details to figure out it's from decades ago.  Young Jordan apparently had it kind of tough - asthma, being short, but not the shortest, being smart, but not the smartest, and having a teacher that really does hate you (this scary teacher really should not have been teaching).  I found myself sympathizing with Jordan, laughing with him, and being impressed with the way he handled situations (even if I would not have recommended it).  Jordan has a pet snake who steals a few scenes, too!
Not only will kids enjoy reading this, it also makes a great read aloud.  Go ahead, see if you can get through it without laughing out loud!

A Field Guide to Getting Lost
A Field Guide to Getting Lost
by Joy McCullough
224 pages
Sutton and Luis are two very different characters.  However they are being thrown together, but not of their choosing.  Their parents are dating... it's starting to get serious... and they want the kids to get to know one another.  Every time they are supposed to get together, something happens and things don't go right.  
Told in alternating chapters, readers get to know each characters individually and then see what happens when their two personalities come together.
A quick and quiet read that becomes hard to put down by the end of the book!

A Game of Fox & Squirrels
A Game of Fox and Squirrels
by Jenn Reese
215 pages
This is a perfect example of a shorter book that is intended for an older audience.  What appears to be a magical realism fantasy story, actually has deeper meaning.  Samantha and her older sister are sent to live with a relatively unknown aunt.  While there, Samantha ends up striking a deal with a magical fox to help her go back home.  However, foxes are well known tricky characters, and a deal with a fox always comes with a price.
What the readers slowly discovers is Samantha and her sister were removed from their home because of an abusive situation.  This tough subject is handled delicately in the story and is carefully woven through the story.  Younger readers may not even be aware what is really being said in the story. 

I will return with more books for these readers!


  1. You are right about this hole in my classroom library. Looking forward to checking out the ones I haven't read yet.

  2. I'm with you that most middle grade books should be around this length. I find that I also enjoy the fact that many are written in 14 point font-- so much easier to read than adult novels!