My Mission Statement

I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two GREAT New Middle Grade Titles

Okay, I'll admit, I've been on a YA binge for a while. Now I have two terrific middle grade reads to make up for it. Here's what I love about a great middle grade read--they're for EVERYONE. You can read them out loud to younger kiddos, they make great family read alouds, older people enjoy them, too, especially when they're as well-written as these are, and they make great gifts. MG novels have no *surprise* scenes like the 'lesson' scene in John Greene's Looking for Alaska, so you can safely share them in all scenarios.

First up, WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. Wow, I loved this book from the beginning. It's set in the late 1970s (familiar feeling,eh?)in New York City. Our darling protag, Miranda, is the only child of a single mother who had to drop out of law school because of her pregnancy. Her mother works in a law office and is practicing to go on the 20,000 Pyramid game show. Miranda's life gets a little wierd when her best friend, Sal, decides he doesn't want to hang out with a girl all the time anymore. Then someone breaks into their apartment and leaves her scary notes, not just scary because someone's been in her apartment and knows her name, but scary because this person seems able to predict the future or at least tell things before they happen. Throw in Miranda's job working at a lunch counter (40 minutes a day, during her own school lunch), the school dentist, a 'kicking' homeless man,a first kiss, and frequent references to A WRINKLE IN TIME, and this book is perfection. Science fiction fans will like the time travel aspect of it, but the story is so rich and the characters so well-drawn that all readers (even those who profess to hate sci fi) will enjoy this story. I couldn't put it down.

Next up, HUNGER GAMES. First of all, darn that Suzanne Collins. This book is riveting from the first page to the last, but I will warn you, it's the first of a trilogy. I wouldn't have stayed up all night to finish it if I'd have known I couldn't actually 'finish' it. At any rate, it was worth the concentrated read. The nation of Panem is ruled by its cruel Capitol who controls the people of the twelve districts through fear and near-starvation. For the entertainment of the shiny, happy, and well-fed Capitolites, every year each of the twelve districts must send one boy and one girl to fight to the death in the Hunger Games (24 total). School is cancelled, businesses are closed, so everyone can watch this televised event. The survivor is allowed to live but must then train next year's kids for this horrible event. Once I fell in love with our protag, Katniss, I nearly put the book down because it seemed so awful a thing to read, but I stayed with it and was glad. While it was certainly a horrible, thought-provoking premise, the details were not as gory, horrible as I had expected. The relationships prevailed over the battling, so the story keeps you hooked until the end. I highly recommend this book, and I can't wait to read the sequel which came out this week (but it's not on kindle yet--what???).

Have a great week. Hope you've been able to escape this darn stomache flu. It's not pretty. I'm off to write, write, write. Oh, will I ever sell a book???


Anonymous said...

I'd put Hunger Games solidly in the YA category. The main character's sixteen (I think) and the themes seem more YA to me, too.

Donna said...

AWWWWW, man! I think you're probably right. But no sex, drugs or rock and roll in it.

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman