Read Down 2017: Middle Grade Novels Part II

I begged for Spring and now it is not enough.  It is warm, but not warm enough.

Blog posts are lagging because I am really in crunch time with half marathon training. Two long runs coming, today and next week, but nips into the distances during the week are starting the glorious taper.  I have been learning about my physical limits through all this and  I still do not know where they are. I am learning the importance of stretching and yoga to keep myself from getting hurt when I am pounding pavement and occasionally wondering how close I am to death when I push it too hard.

I survived academia and the daily grind of a supervisor and a healer, trying to keep the reactive emails to my boss to a minimum.  For his sake. But I don’t know how far I can run, or how fast, and I am finding out.  Hopefully my limit isn’t 12 miles because I have a 13 mile race on Mother’s Day weekend to conquer.

I read another round of middle grade novels this time, 8 and up, although one of them I listened to is absolutely not 8 and up.  It is all part of the read down and the exploration of the genre as an adult.  Kids books make me a better mom, but that is a topic for a later post.

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The Headless Cupid, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This book looks like it is going to be magical and sets the tone for it:  a rambling house, a newly blended family, a grieving and precocious eleven year old protagonist.  But really, it is about the very real grief and transition of becoming a new family when old ones fall apart.  The other protagonist, Amanda, who comes to live with them, has clearly been taken care of with a permissive parenting style:  anything goes, not high on limits or supervision, and her distracted mother (as you can’t have a middle grade novel with too attentive and involvement) walks on eggshells to try and ease her transition.  This novel feels very real to me in its depiction of a grieving and transitioning family and its effect on older children who bear the brunt of it.  Yes, there is a mystery and a touch of magic and whimsy right up at the end and this is a series so I am wondering if the last bit sprinkled at the end is extended into further stories.  I would recommend this to a kid who needs to read about other kids overcoming similar challenges.

 

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The Night Gardener, Jonathan Auxier

This one is more straight up magic and whimsy.  Grieving kids, sure, but there is something much more lurking and sinister that is a very real danger.  Significantly more dark than The Headless Cupid.  More overt grief. Kids surviving on the edge of their wits.  And a scary tree that plays on human desperation to survive.  Everyone is hanging on by their fingernails, and the adults are too wrapped up in their own concerns to break free, so of course the snappy fourteen year old girl turned caregiver has to come in and wrench the family free from the tree’s clutches and give them back to themselves.  Interesting read, I wish I had read this when I was a member of the intended audience to have a feel for how this comes across to a child and their limited viewpoint of the world.  How a kid would process all that.  I very much want to read with my son when it is time for chapter books and I will be interested to see what he takes in of it.

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M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman

How this is classified as a children’s book, 8 and up no less, is a mystery to me.  The title would suggest a children’s book, and Neil has written for children, but this collection of his shorter works from different times in his career has too many adult themes that kids would not really understand.  There is one that talks about sex and infidelity, but even the others, like the story of Galahad trying to get the Holy Grail off a woman who got it in a junk shop by offering other legendary items like the Sorcerer’s Stone as a trade would not make sense to a child in the larger context.  His last story that later became The Graveyard Book, which I own but have not read, and that felt more middle grade-y to me than the others.  And I think I found it to be the most interesting and may have moved The Graveyard Book up on the queue.  That one I bought specifically to share with my son someday.  He’s not a huge reader at this point but he and I might find some mutual book loves if I work at it.  Neil is Neil, a true artist, full of whimsy, legends and magic, and I will probably always love him, but this is not for kids.

I like middle grade novels too while shuffling through something bigger. Something bigger and worth it, but that my brain sometimes can’t hang onto.  And I am seeing what I can share with my guy when he is just a little older from now.  I might be getting just a smidge tired of picture books.

Likes/Comments/Shares!!!

 

 

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One thought on “Read Down 2017: Middle Grade Novels Part II

  1. Hello Donovan Reads, Hope you are well. I discovered your blog on Goodreads. That’s where I learned that you were offering to accepting books to review. Having read and considered your ideas about the three “YA” books in today’s blog, I’m curious about the process of getting my latest book on your reading list.

    The book is a reinterpretation of a ancient Greek myth (I am a Grecophile of long standing) but written for a difference audience than the Rick Riordan series. In fact, I read my first Percy Jackson only last year because more than a few potential readers have asked. And, I invite you to consider including in your review, a comparison of that series and the Icarus reinterpretation. Please, take this as a comment and suggestion, rather than a requirement.

    All that said, I would be pleased to send you a review copy at no cost. But, unwilling to pay for the review itself. After you’ve finished with Icarus and the Wing Builder, I would further that you keep it for as long as you like, or donate it to a school or library in your area. Please don’t attempt to market it as a used book on Amazon. What do you think about the proposal?

    All the best,

    Robert

    Robert William Case Area D2 Director, District 26 Toastmasters Author: Icarus and the Wing Builder

    ________________________________

    Like

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