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What are your favourite current MGs?

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Owl Princess
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I need to catch up on my MG reading. Which novels published in the past year or two have one or more of the following traits:

- writing that takes your breath away
- fresh premise
- funny
- suspenseful
- sharp dialogue
- great voice

I don't want to read anything depressing, even if it's brilliantly written.

Feel free to recommend your own book, if it fits. :owl
#1 - November 20, 2014, 09:57 PM
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I don't think any of these are depressing.

I enjoyed the writing of HOLD FAST by Blue Balliet (though I didn't like the plot's last half.)
ROOFTOPPERS by Katherine Rundell has a happy theme and great writing.
I'm not sure if FLY AWAY by Patricia MacLachlan is MG, very short, but the plot and writing are awesome.
I loved the spunkiness and sweetness of Iva in IVA HONEYSUCKLE DISCOVERS THE WORLD by Candice Ransom.
One of my all time favorite middle-grades--published a couple of years ago--is THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate. I love the POV. I love the voice. I love the story. And the writing is knock your socks off beautiful! Very nice ending. 
#2 - November 21, 2014, 04:08 AM
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 03:10 PM by Dionna »

THE SWALLOW (Charis Cotter) - I think this meets all your criteria; a book I thought about for a while after finishing it - very well plotted, and unique premise.

http://www.amazon.ca/The-Swallow-A-Ghost-Story/dp/1770495916
#3 - November 21, 2014, 04:37 AM
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2019, Dancing with Daisy (PB)
2019, Say What You Mean (MG)
2018, Talking to the Moon (MG)
2018, A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune (PB)

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Well, both Jeanne Birdsall and Ingrid Law have books coming out in 2015, if you are still looking when you get there. :)

Cosmic, Frank Cottrell Boyce. This is one of my most favoritest middle grade novels! It's hilarious. And heartwarming. And DEFINITELY suspenseful. Great writing, perfect plotting/storytelling, and endearing characters. I've read this to my kids twice.

I also recently read and liked Deamwood, by Heather Mackey and The Boundless, by Kenneth Oppel. They are very different stories, but they share a wild west/early days of the train feel mixed with mythical beasts that are considered scientific in the book world. I don't know that they're laugh out loud funny, but they're adventurous and not depressing.

My Friend, the Enemy, Dan Smith. About some kids who find a German pilot who crashes in their town during WWII. And...he's young, he's like the boys from their town who are fighting the war. And so they make friends with him. Suspenseful, nice writing, a different sort of story, with a good ending. Hilarious, not so much, but again, not depressing.

Saving Lucas Biggs, Marisa de los Santos and David Teague. Some time travel, but part of the solution is in the present.

Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan--nice writing, with a protagonist you can't help cheering for.

Doll Bones, Holly Black--suspenseful (actually, a bit creepy). Not hilarious, but one thing I really appreciated was that it wasn't a book all about And Then They Grew Up And There Was No More Magic, Ever.

MT Anderson's Pals in Peril series--mostly funny, satirical about children's book series. My favorites are Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware, and the newest one (He Laughed with His Other Mouths). They are satirical and funny, but there are also places that catch you with truth, too, especially in the last one.

Tuesdays at the Castle, Jessica Day George--this is just a fun book, about a castle that rearranges itself every Tuesday. And how it helps fight back when the king and queen disappear and the kids are left to defend the castle.

Palace Beautiful, Sarah DeFord Williams--this doesn't involve swashbuckling dragon hunters or anything, but there's a real-life mystery of sorts, plus the writing is lovely--the kind of voice that the character herself is unaware of, but which is delightful and amusing to the reader. ("My name is Sadie Evelyn Brooks. I'm thirteen years old and practically a woman." --this being totally modern day, of course.)
#4 - November 21, 2014, 06:52 AM

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 Christopher Healy's THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM series is a lot of fun, lots of laughs.
#5 - November 21, 2014, 07:03 AM
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Thanks! I'm making a list.

I've already read COSMIC and THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. Loved them both. I'm a fan of Kenneth Oppel's SILVERWING trilogy, so chances are I'll like THE BOUNDLESS.

#6 - November 21, 2014, 07:27 AM
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I loved SILVERWING!!
#7 - November 21, 2014, 10:40 AM

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Oh what a great thread!!!

I loved CIRCA NOW by Amber McRee Turner. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it!

And yes! I am making a list! :)
#8 - November 21, 2014, 11:41 AM
Vehicle Dreams Series-RPKids '16 -'18
(Fire Truck, Bulldozer, Race Car)
Rainy Day Picnic-Read Your Story '18
The Sparrow and The Trees- Arbordale '15

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Valente's "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland" is written in such a unique voice that it captivated me from beginning to end.  I don't think it's a fresh premise (plucky little girl saves magical world) but the writing is beautiful, and there is much humor woven throughout. 
#9 - November 22, 2014, 04:38 AM

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Also, if you don't mind digging up the MG classics ... Look up Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons."  Nothing fantasy about it.  It's set in 1920's England, and is about four brothers and sisters who go sailing on a lake, and have a pretend war with two other kids.  The goal is, whoever can steal the other's sailboat gets to claim the island they camp on.  Nostalgic.  Old-fashioned fun.  It made me want to learn to sail.
#10 - November 22, 2014, 04:42 AM

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Hi Barbara.  A few of my favorite MG reads are WHEN YOU REACH ME, Rebecca Stead, COUNTING BY 7's by Holly Sloan, and SWAY by Amber Turner. (And Steve--I loved**Swallows and Amazon series.  The pace is slower by has a way to just keep you reading).
#11 - November 22, 2014, 06:07 AM

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Ladyslipper,
Nice to finally find another fan of Ransome.
#12 - November 22, 2014, 11:29 AM

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I love Linda Urban's THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. All of Linda's books ooze voice.
#13 - November 22, 2014, 01:25 PM
ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES TOO! Candlewick, 2017
LOUD LULA, Two Lions 2015
CALIFORNIA HISTORY FOR KIDS, CRP
FARMER MCPEEPERS Rising Moon

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Thanks, people! I read and enjoyed WHEN YOU REACH ME when it first came out. It deserved the Newbery.

KatyD, I've loved Linda's earlier books, so that's a good suggestion. I agree that she has nailed the voice thing. Also, I like her flair for humour.
#14 - November 22, 2014, 03:23 PM
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Great thread! Adding to my TBR list...

I loved Kate DiCamillo's FLORA & ULYSSES -- definitely fresh and funny and a great voice. :)
#15 - November 22, 2014, 04:55 PM
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ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman is wonderful--very funny, quick-paced, good voice, and a unique premise. (12-year-old foodie accidentally gets herself hired as a food critic for a major paper.)

Lynda Mullaly Hunt's ONE FOR THE MURPHY'S is absolutely wonderful. About a girl in the foster system, but not depressing. Poignant, funny--an incredible read. She has a new book coming out in 2015 and I can't wait.

GREENGLASS HOUSE by Kate Milford is a wonderful mystery about 5 strangers who show up at an inn one snowy night, and seem to have a connection to each other, and a mystery ensues.

#16 - November 23, 2014, 01:58 PM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 
THE UNBREAKABLE CODE, April 2017
UNLOCK THE ROCK, 2018
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I liked A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.
#17 - November 23, 2014, 02:18 PM

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Better Nate than Ever and Five, Six, Seven Nate, both by Tim Federle.

Both novels have some dark moments but I wouldn't call them depressing.  They have great voice, and are very fresh.
#18 - November 23, 2014, 03:17 PM

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Bumping this  topic:

What are your current (last year or two) favourite MG novels?


I especially like and am interested in:
- funny
- great voice
- historical (but not dry or didactic)
- unusual structure
- multi-cultural/diverse

My personal taboos/dislikes:
- people dying of cancer or other terminal diseases
- anything depressing
- child abuse
- dystopic/end-of-the-world/plagues
- sports books, books about athletes (I can think of only one exception and it was a tiny subplot.)

Thanks!
#19 - April 01, 2015, 05:45 PM
« Last Edit: July 27, 2015, 10:04 AM by Barbara Etlin »
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I really liked Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, which is a fun mystery. Blue Birds by Caroline Rose Starr is a great historical novel in verse. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place was really funny, and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy was just gorgeous. Happy reading!
#20 - April 01, 2015, 06:15 PM
Twitter: @SuperKate
Check out my middle grade book recommendations at www.kidbooklist.com.

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Three Times Lucky and its sequel The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage. If you're looking for a good voice, take a look at these. I loved Three times Lucky, but actually liked The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing even better. Charming with a heart-warming ending. If you only have time to read one, read the sequel. It works as a stand alone.
#21 - April 01, 2015, 09:30 PM

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Thanks, Kate and Pons! Those sound really good. :owl
#22 - April 02, 2015, 10:16 AM
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I love so many of the books already mentioned! Fun thread!

A few additions: It came out in 2011, but A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz is a retelling of fairy tales with a really funny voice and interesting structure. More recently, I cried when I got to the end of The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm not because it was sad, but because I felt I'd just read a perfect book (so hopeful!). El Deafo by Cece Bell made me appreciate how great graphic novels can be.
#23 - July 24, 2015, 04:57 PM

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I'm currently loving Tricia Springstubb's MOONPENNY ISLAND. Stylistically, it's gorgeous, and from the opening pages, the protagonist is somebody I love and want to spend time with, even though I know there will be rough waters ahead for her.
#24 - July 24, 2015, 06:08 PM

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rab, I love MOONPENNY ISLAND too! So great. And also FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. Another recent read that I thought was fantastic was THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE. About WW II when children were sent from London to live in the country because of the potential for bomb raids. The opening chapter was a bit difficult to read emotionally (a very abusive mother) and I wasn't sure I'd be able to stick with the story, but it quickly moved away from the abusive mother so she wasn't at the forefront of the story. It's a really excellent read.
#25 - July 24, 2015, 07:22 PM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 
THE UNBREAKABLE CODE, April 2017
UNLOCK THE ROCK, 2018
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Hands down, I love-love-LOVE Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart.

 :toilet

And did you hear it won the POObery Award?!

(edited to correct spelling errors!)
#26 - July 25, 2015, 12:03 PM
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 10:33 AM by carrots »

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If you love incredible characters, strong voices and Jane Austen era, I heartily recommend the Kat Incorrigible series by Stephanie Burgis. She has done an incredible job with this series and even I, who don't usually like the society's depiction during this period, was completely hooked!

Have you already tried Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens? I have read the two books in this series, they're a lot of fun!
#27 - July 27, 2015, 04:18 AM

Just finished Alan Gratz's League of Seven, which I quite enjoyed, and am surprised isn't getting a bit more buzz. It's an alternative history, with incredibly creative worldbuilding, along with a quest / superhero type story. it reminded me quite a bit of Kate Milford's books.
#28 - July 27, 2015, 05:55 AM
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Just finished Wendy Shang's THE WAY HOME iS NOW, which was excellent!  I normally wouldn't be interested in a baseball book but I read it because Wendy is my friend, and it turns out--AWESOME.  (i'm not surprised--her first book was, too.)
#29 - July 27, 2015, 06:11 AM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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I'm glad you like your friend's book, Anne Marie.

Your mention of sports reminds me to edit my original post to include: "sports" in my list of personal dislikes/taboos.

Got a lot of fresh, interesting books to add to my list!
#30 - July 27, 2015, 09:58 AM
ANTIQUE PIANO & OTHER SOUR NOTES
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Barb  :owl

Website: https://barbaraetlin.com
Blog: https://owlsquill.blogspot.com

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