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Registered Members => Book Talk => Topic started by: Jencerv on March 06, 2011, 06:16 PM

Title: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Jencerv on March 06, 2011, 06:16 PM
Hey everyone!
I am in need of your amazing suggestions. Have you read a book recently that knocked your socks off? I teach Children's Lit at the university level and I change up the books every year. And right now I am selecting books for fall. I'd love some contemporary titles (within last five years) that are fantabuolus? any suggestions?

Thanks so much!
Jen
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: olmue on March 06, 2011, 06:22 PM
By contemporary do you mean books published recently, or the contemporary (ie realistic only) genre? (Or I guess you could have contemporary fantasy...?)

Some realistic MG I've read recently that I particularly liked include:

The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall
The Garden of Eve, KL Going (contemporary but kind of magical realism)
Hilary McKay's series about the Casson family (starts with Saffy's Angel)
Flipped, Wendelin van Draanen
The London Eye Mystery, Siobhan Dowd (contemporary mystery)
Rules, Cynthia Lord
Savvy (and Scumble), Ingrid Law
Mudville, Kurtis Scaletta
Palace Beautiful, Sarah DeFord Williams
Eighth Grade Superzero, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
The Healing Spell, Kimberly Griffiths Little
London Calling, Edward Bloor

There are other recent MG I love, but they are either fantasy or historical.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Kurtis on March 06, 2011, 06:25 PM
WHEN YOU REACH ME is the best middle grade title I've read in a few years, and I think it presents a lot of teaching points you can make about character development.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: TracyH on March 06, 2011, 06:30 PM
Here are some of my favs:  

Mockingbird
Waiting for Normal
Shooting the Moon
Each Little Bird that Sings
A Crooked Kind of Pefect
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Jeanne Ryan (Serenissima) on March 06, 2011, 06:31 PM
DANI NOIR -- great example of a strong voice.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: cindoh on March 06, 2011, 06:42 PM
I'll echo some of those already suggested--A Crooked Kind of Perfect, When You Reach Me, Palace Beautiful, and Rules. I'd add The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and Out of My Mind.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Megan on March 06, 2011, 06:43 PM
I don't read a lot of middle grade novels, but the ones I've really loved from the last five years:

WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex
THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z by Kate Messner
WINNIE'S WAR by Jenny Moss
THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas
UN LUN DUN by China MiƩville
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: dinalapomy101 on March 06, 2011, 06:50 PM
In addition to any of those already mentioned, I'll add Jody Feldman's puzzle novels: THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES and THE SEVENTH LEVEL. Fun and smart and addicting!
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Rhonda on March 06, 2011, 07:00 PM
I heard that Love, Aubrey is fantastic--would that count as MG?
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Jody Feldman on March 06, 2011, 07:17 PM
A few others ...
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Swindle by Gordon Korman
Seer of Shadows by Avi
How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart.

As a side note (which I'm reluctant to add because I'm not mentioning this for self-promotion ... truly), I Skype each semester with another KidLit professor and her classes. If you're interested, I'm sure other authors would do the same.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: LindaB on March 06, 2011, 07:20 PM
The Wednesday Wars by Gary B. Schmidt
Millicent Min Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
The Grim Legacy by Polly Shulman
Rules to Rock By by Josh Farrar
The Candymaker by Wendy Mass
Schooled by Gordon Korman

LindaB
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Laura D on March 06, 2011, 07:28 PM
WHEN YOU REACH ME is the best middle grade title I've read in a few years, and I think it presents a lot of teaching points you can make about character development.

Most definitely.

Others have mentioned A Crooked Kind of Perfect. Ditto.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Virginia Bartolus on March 06, 2011, 07:35 PM
THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex

I really loved this one, too.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: cindoh on March 06, 2011, 07:36 PM
I should have mentioned Wendy Mass too... my favorite is Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. I think it would be an interesting companion to When You Reach Me in a class.

Also, for a wonderful warm humor and authentic voice, check out Donna Gephart's As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Rachel on March 06, 2011, 07:45 PM
DANI NOIR -- great example of a strong voice.
Seconding this! I love Dani Noir!

Also:

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: TiffanySchmidt on March 06, 2011, 07:57 PM
Just chiming in to second (and third) some of these:

My faves are:

Dani Noir
Wednesday Wars
Schooled
When You Reach Me
Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

And Firegirl -- has that been said yet?
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Mike Jung on March 06, 2011, 08:07 PM
I'm revising. I'm not here! I'M REVISING DILIGENTLY. But while I'm not here, many of my favorites have already been mentioned but I wanna give a shout-out to NEIL ARMSTRONG IS MY UNCLE & OTHER LIES MUSCLE MAN McGINTY TOLD ME by Nan Marino (a truly wonderful book), WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER by Sally Nicholls (really, really, really sad but also really funny and heartwarming) and CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT by Kevin Emerson (super-authentic and multi-dimensional). *ducks back into revision cave*
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: teri on March 06, 2011, 08:15 PM
Okay, this will be immodest.  But they are teaching The Line in a Children's Lit class at a college I know of right now (I am doing Moodle chats with them) and the professor says it is generating great discussions.  Just in case.  :)
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: dave r on March 07, 2011, 03:49 AM
I teach Children's Lit and one of my favorites (and my students' too) is Among the Hidden by M.P. Haddix. It's older but I've never had a complaint.

Some more recent books:

When You Reach Me
When the Whistle Blows
Alabama Moon
A Thousand Never Evers
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (still in hardcover, but it's a 13.95 paper over board)
All the Broken Pieces
Mockingbird
Where the Steps Were
How to Steal a Dog
Out of Patience
Leepike Ridge
Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Books that are in hardcover, but will be worth the read
Okay for Now (Gary Schmidt) out in May
Fantasy Baseball (out next week) -- this is a perfect book for Children's Lit because the novel encompasses so many C. Lit characters. I'm going to use it for some kind of out of class assignment this summer.
A Tale Dark and Grimm - Gidwitz (may be out in pb by the fall)
A Long Walk to Water - Park
Sean Griswold's Head - Leavitt
Because of Mr. Terupt - Buyea (may be out in pb in the fall)
Dream of Night - Henson (may be out in pb in the fall)

I would love to see your final list, either here or you can email.

keep writing and reading,
dave r
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: CarolineT on March 07, 2011, 04:02 AM
As others have suggested, I would heartily recommend WHEN YOU REACH ME. When I finished the book, the only thing I could think of was, "Whoa." It blew my mind how the author pulled everything together.

I also love/adore/want-to-marry the MG novel ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia. The voice, the characters, the plot---all amazing. It won the Scott O'Dell Award in 2010 and was also listed as a Newbery Honor and a National Book Finalist.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Amy S on March 07, 2011, 04:12 AM
Anything by Karen Cushman. I just read The Alchemy of Meggy Swann and liked it as much as the Midwife's Apprentice.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Jaina on March 07, 2011, 04:36 AM
Many good ones already on this list, but I have to second Okay For Now.  My copy says it's out in April.  I think it should be on the top of your list! Socks=off.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: pjlyons on March 07, 2011, 06:00 AM
Several of my favs have already been mentioned: When You Reach Me, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Millicent Min, Girl Genius. Two that I haven't seen that I would recommend would be The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Lizardmaker on March 07, 2011, 06:08 AM
No one has yet mentioned FRAMED by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Jencerv on March 07, 2011, 03:24 PM
wow! Thanks, everyone! These are great recs and I'm happy to be in the great minds camp. I have taught many many of these!!! :) YOU guys rock!
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: ShelliC on March 07, 2011, 04:36 PM
NOONIE'S MASTERPIECE by Lisa Railsback
SAVVY by Ingrid Law
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: KateMessner on March 07, 2011, 06:02 PM
Lots of my favorites already mentioned here - WHEN YOU REACH ME, OUT OF MY MIND, CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT, & ONE CRAZY SUMMER - but I'd also add Danette Haworth's VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, which is just a great example of regional MG voice, and her upcoming book ME AND JACK, which takes place on the home front during the Vietnam War. Other stories set in that time period that are also great (and would make good companions) include ALL THE BROKEN PIECES by Ann Burg, CRACKER: THE BEST DOG IN VIETNAM by Cynthia Kadohata, and Gary Schmidt's THE WEDNESDAY WARS and OKAY FOR NOW.

I also love Laurel Snyder's voice for this age group - her PENNY DREADFUL is a finalist for the E.B. White Read Aloud Award this year. It's wonderful. I saw Cynthia Lord's RULES mentioned, and that's great - but so is her new title, TOUCH BLUE.  And Ellen Potter's THE KNEEBONE BOY is just incredible, quirky, and full of twists.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: AnneN on March 07, 2011, 07:02 PM
I'm teaching a children's literature class this semester (but more "history of" than yours, sounds like):

Cinderella stories
Little Red Riding Hood stories
Through the Looking Glass
Pinocchio
Heidi
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
Ozma of Oz
lots of picture books
Little House on the Prairie
Judy's Journey (Lois Lenski)
Finn Family Moomintroll
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Charlotte's Web
A Wrinkle in Time
The Diamond in the Window (Jane Langton)
The Arrival (Shaun Tan)
The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak)
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Juliarts2003@yahoo.com on March 08, 2011, 04:44 AM
Seconding & thirding
When You Reach Me
and
Dani Noir

-Adding
Tracking Daddy Down (Marybeth Kelsey)
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Vonna on March 08, 2011, 02:19 PM
OhOhOh! Just out:

How Lamar's Big Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy
by Crystal Allen

It rocks!  :hairdude
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: ghostgirl on March 09, 2011, 09:26 AM
I may have missed it if someone already suggested it, but I used Neil Gaiman's CORALINE with my college kids and it was awesome! 
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: dwrites on March 09, 2011, 10:07 AM
Most of my favorites have been listed. Savvy readers here. I would second HUGO CABRET and WEDNESDAY WARS and add HATTIE BIG SKY.

You also might want to go to From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors for author interviews and current book lists.

http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/

Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Barbara Etlin on March 09, 2011, 02:27 PM
RULES
TOUCH BLUE
THE WEDNESDAY WARS
WHEN YOU REACH ME
11 BIRTHDAYS
A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Judith on March 09, 2011, 03:52 PM
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt   Wonderful description, strong character development, and creative plot
Finding My Place by Traci Jones  focus on an African American girl transferring into a ritzy suburban high school. (It's important to remind teachers to provide for diversity in literature experiences.

Are you looking for PBs as well?
Judith
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: LizLong on March 09, 2011, 07:03 PM
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (Nazi Germany, Jewish girl)
The Skin I'm in by Sharon Flake (inner city, African-American girl)
The Secret School by Avi (1930s remote Colorado, poor white farm girl)

They aren't brand-new, but they're all award-winners and represent very different times and place. Some extras to keep in mind since you have so many suggestions.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Kim Baker on March 10, 2011, 08:38 PM
What a great list!
Humor-wise, I really liked Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, The Mysterious Benedict Society, & Alvin Ho.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: dave r on March 11, 2011, 05:38 AM
Kim,
  Fluffy Bunnies was just LOL funny!
  I just finished Angleberger's next novel Horton Halfpott (ARC). Very funny and fun book.
  And if you  haven't heard, there is a sequel for Origami Yoda called Darth Paper.  Can't wait.

keep writing and reading,
dave r
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: elissacruz on March 11, 2011, 02:48 PM
Not that you have time to rummage through lists, but I thought I'd mention our ever growing list of booklists on our middle-grade-focused group blog.  You might be able to find something there that fits your criteria that one wouldn't think of at first glance.

http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/book-lists/ (http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/book-lists/)

Good luck!  It sounds like a great course!


ETA: Ah, I just noticed that dwrites already mentioned our blog.  Thanks for the shoutout! 
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Franzilla on March 13, 2011, 02:43 PM
I'm late to this...

But I wanted to add Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. And A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper. Also The Year of Secret Assignments by Jacylyn Moriarty too. All three would bring up great issues to discuss. 

I also loved Palace Beautiful. Millicent Min too.

Too many good ones!
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: shoniker on March 13, 2011, 05:19 PM
I will agree to Al Capone..., When You Reach Me, Hugo Cabret, and Mockingbird.  I would also like to recommend:
*anything by Jerry Spinelly (especially Milweed, Maniac Magee, Crash, Stargirl, and Eggs)
*The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
*The Book Thief
*Maus I and Maus II by Spiegelman
*Speak by Anderson
*The Graveyard Book by N Gaimen
*Monster by WD Meyers
*Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
*First Light by Rebecca Stead
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Bigfoot on March 17, 2011, 06:58 AM
Kathi Appelt's KEEPER

THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG by Rodman Philbrick

GROUNDED by Kate Klise

EDGAR ALLAN'S OFFICIAL CRIME INVESTIGATION NOTEBOOK by Mary Amato
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: ShannonH on March 19, 2011, 05:49 PM
THE RED UMBRELLA by Christina Diaz Gonzalez.

THE LEMONADE WAR by Jacqueline Davies.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: AnneB on March 19, 2011, 06:43 PM
A lot of my favorites have already been mentioned, but let me add:
Escaping the Tiger, by Laura Manivong
Do the Math: Secrets, Lies & Algebra and The Writing on the Wall, by Wendy Lichtman
...and just about anything by Lisa Yee.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: 217mom on March 20, 2011, 05:35 PM
Richard Peck and our own Elizabeth Bunce are two authors you should look at.
Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: hazelnut on March 21, 2011, 03:32 PM
Especially for the students who are teachers or teachers-to-be, wonderful newer books with a strong "school" component include:

EXTRA CREDIT by Andrew Clements, which involves an Afghan pen pal and goes well with the young reader's edition of THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortensen
NO TALKING by Andrew Clements
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney, if only because this book is such a wildly popular funny book
EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL OUT OF A TREE by Lauren Tarshis

And, although this book dates back to 2000, JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED A KEY gives insight into the kind of kid (student) almost everyone misunderstands.

Title: Re: NEED awesome middle-grade novels to teach in my university children's lit class
Post by: Toothpaste on March 22, 2011, 04:50 AM
I might be a wee bit biased, but my books have been used as teaching tools - and I think one of the reasons they could work for a university class is that, especially ALEX, they are homages to Middle Grade novels in general (ALEX is divided into three parts - my Roald Dahl section, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan/Treasure Island).

Can't define my own work as "REALLY AWESOME", feels weird - but I'd still like to put mine out there.  They might not be as famous as some of the others listed, but they are both award winning and have been nominated for the Forest of Reading prize in BC and the equivalent in Manitoba which are voted on by students and taught by teachers.  The audio book for TIMOTHY was also nominated for the Audie which is the Oscars of the American Audio Book industry.

Anyway . . .

Here are the titles:

ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN
TIMOTHY AND THE DRAGON'S GATE