Tag Archives: middle grade

Three on a Theme: Hispanic Heritage Month

14 Sep

I cheated a little bit this week for my Three on a Theme and went with six books – the past three years’ of authors and illustrators who have won the Pura Belpré Award. The Pura Belpré Award “established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” (ala.org) And even though I am well aware that Latinx does not necessary equal Hispanic, but I wanted to share these award-winning titles with you!


Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.” (Taken from Goodreads)


“The trio from Lowriders in Space are back! Lupe Impala, Elirio Malaria, and El Chavo Octopus are living their dream at last. They’re the proud owners of their very own garage. But when their beloved cat Genie goes missing, they need to do everything they can to find him. Little do they know the trail will lead them to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld, who is keeping Genie prisoner!” (Taken from Goodreads)


El principe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree. The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa. But the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too…
Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.” (Taken from Goodreads)

3“In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again? ” (Taken from Goodreads)

2“Juana loves many things — drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana’s abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning—one that Juana will need to speak English to go on—Juana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones — the hearts — of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina.” (Taken from Goodreads)

1“Based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s, a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed.

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen, a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger. She comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.” (Taken form Goodreads)


2018 National Book Award Longlist

13 Sep

The 2018 National Book Award Longlist was announced today and although there are a number of areas in which you can check out on the National Book Foundation website, below I’ve listed the Young People’s Literature award. I’ll be honest there are a number of titles on the list that I haven’t even heard of, let alone, read yet, which just means I have more on my TBR list now!

I’ve heard a lot about Blood Water Paint and with (almost) an art history minor, this is one that definitely intrigues me and I have read both middle grade titles (which were both really good). I’m excited to see the diversity of authors on the list, but it still leans heavily on young adult literature and I, personally, would love to see more middle grade novels on the longlist.

What are your thoughts on the list? Anything missing that you wish was on the list?

Elizabeth Acevedo, “The Poet X” (YA, realistic fiction)
HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers

M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, “The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge” (YA, fantasy)
Candlewick Press

Bryan Bliss, “We’ll Fly Away” (YA, realistic fiction)
Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins Publishers

Leslie Connor, “The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle” (MG, realistic fiction)
Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins Publishers

Christopher Paul Curtis, “The Journey of Little Charlie” (MG, historical fiction)
Scholastic Press / Scholastic, Inc.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, “Hey, Kiddo” (YA, graphic memoir)
Graphix / Scholastic, Inc.

Tahereh Mafi, “A Very Large Expanse of Sea” (YA, realistic fiction)
HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers

Joy McCullough, “Blood Water Paint” (YA, historical fiction)
Dutton Children’s Books / Penguin Random House

Elizabeth Partridge, “Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam” (YA, nonfiction)
Viking Children’s Books / Penguin Random House

Vesper Stamper, “What the Night Sings” (YA, historical fiction)
Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

25 Star Reviewed Middle Grade Titles

10 Aug

It’s been a busy week here on the blog – Wednesday I posted about the detriments of assigning books as “boy” or “girl” books and on Thursday I gave some great tips about booktalking/reader’s advisory and today I’m offering a list of titles that have receive at least one star review in the past year and a half. These titles would be a great starting point to suggest to middle grade readers looking for a new book to read. A side note: These are not all the star reviewed titles over the past two years, if you want to take a look at the comprehensive list, check out Jen J.’s Booksheets, where she has actually created a spreadsheet of all starred reviews from six different journals! It’s an amazing resource!

25 Star Reviews

  1. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
  2. The First Rule of Punk by by Celia C. Pérez
  3. Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
  4. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  5. It All Comes Down To This by Karen English
  6. Real Friends by Shannon Hale
  7. Refugee by Alan Gratz
  8. Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
  9. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  10. All Faire’s In Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
  11. The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
  12. The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
  13. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
  14. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  15. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  16. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  17. The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
  18. Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
  19. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
  20. Bob by Wendy Maas and Rebecca Stead
  21. Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  22. Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
  23. The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
  24. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  25. Betty Before X by lyasah Shabazz
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