Friday, 18 July 2014

Jess Suggests | Middle Grade

Last month I read two middle grade books - Malkin Child and Witch Hill - and they got me thinking about some of the books I loved reading when I was younger; books which I still love to read now. So today I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite middle grade books, books I think readers of any age can enjoy!

by David Almond

When a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister's illness, Michael's world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain. Then, one Sunday afternoon, he stumbles into the old, ramshackle garage of his new home, and finds something magical. A strange creature - part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael's help if he is to survive. With his new friend Mina, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health, while his baby sister languishes in the hospital. But Skellig is far more than he at first appears, and as he helps Michael breathe life into his tiny sister, Michael's world changes for ever . . .

Skellig was the first ever book I was assigned to read in secondary school - when I was around eleven/twelve years old - and it's been one of my all time favourite books ever since. Something about this story seems to pull in everyone who reads it; I don't think I've met a single person who's read this book and forgotten about it. This book is gorgeous, and I highly recommend it!

by Cornelia Funke

Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.

Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story.

I feel like the Inkworld Trilogy isn't talked about enough in the book community, which is especially confusing when we take into account that this is a book about books! Inkheart, like a few of the other books on this list, is often classed as YA rather than middle grade, but personally this trilogy doesn't feel like a YA trilogy to me. It has a very middle grade feel to it, and I mean that in the best possible way. A lot of YA nowadays is romance heavy, but this book is nothing short of an adventure book; it's the kind of story that will remind you why you love reading - give it a try if you haven't already!

by Justin Somper

Conor and Grace are twins, recently orphaned after their widowed father's death. Rather than being adopted by the town's busy-bodies, they decide to set sail in their father's last possession, his sailing boat. But a vicious storm sees their boat capsize and the twins are separated. Two mysterious ships sail to their rescue - each picking up one twin before disappearing into the mist. Conor wakes to find himself on a pirate ship and is soon being trained up with a cutlass. Meanwhile Grace finds herself locked in a darkened room, as the vampirates wait for night to fall and their feasting to begin... Determined to find each other, yet intrigued by their new shipmates, the twins are about to embark on the biggest adventure of their lives...

This book is just so much fun! It might not be a literary masterpiece or a stunning piece of writing, but it's a fast-paced, action-packed story, and frankly I refuse to believe that everything we read has to leave us with some powerful message. Sometimes we just need to read something fun and enjoy it - this book is great if you're in the mood for an adventure!

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

This book is a classic, and I just had to include it on this list because I guarantee that you can enjoy this book whether you're six or sixty! This story is nothing short of lovely, and as well as being one of my favourite children's books, it's one of my favourite classics, too. In fact this book is a great place to start if you're intimidated by classics, or if you're a younger reader who's looking to start reading them!

by Louis Sachar

Camp Greenlake is a place for bad boys, where the belief is: "if you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." When Stanley Yelnats, accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit, is sent to Camp Greenlake he really doesn't think it can be so bad. Stanley and his family try to pretend that he is just going away to camp like the rich kids do, and he promises to write to them every day. But the harsh realities of the camp, and the evil Warden with her lizard-venom impregnated fingernails with her own reasons for making the boys in her charge dig so many holes, sometimes make dying seem like a great idea. When Stanley leaves the camp to go in search of his friend Zero, their journey towards freedom becomes a battle with hunger, thirst and heat in the shadow of Big Thumb--a mountain so entwined in Stanley's own family history that he knows if they can reach it they will somehow find salvation.

We started with a book I read in secondary school, so I thought it was fitting that we end with another. Like Skellig, there's something about Holes that just seems to stick with everyone who reads it. This story has so many layers; it'll make you laugh as much as it'll make you cry, and stay with you for years to come. The film adaptation is also worth a watch! 

Have you read any of the books on my list? What are some of your favourite middle grade books?


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