Karen Romano Young | The Children’s Book Review | September 14, 2016
As Selected by Tink from Hundred Percent
C/O Karen Romano Young
If asked what she likes to read most, Tink would probably not mention Brave New World by Aldous Huxley the book that started all the trouble in the first chapter of Hundred Percent. She might mention some other so-called adult books that had deep appeal to her, despite being challenging, such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman — oldies but goodies. She thinks she was pretty much ready for young adult books like Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson and Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; she’s read them, ready or not. She would probably not dare to pretend she had already read certain books in her pile, including Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, which she bought at a second-hand book fair because it was thick and impressive. And she will not — there is no way she will — let you borrow either of the following compendium comic books: Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson, The! Greatest! of! Marlys! by Lynda Barry, or Krazy Kat and Ignatz by George Herriman, her father’s favorite which he let her borrow.
Keeping the list of middle grade books to only five is a big challenge for a reader like Tink, but here are a few she wouldn’t want you to forget. She has read them so many times the pages are falling out.
Written by Cynthia Voigt
Homecoming and its sequel Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt: These books are killer. Four kids in a car in the parking lot outside the mall gradually realize that their mother isn’t coming back. Since they’d been on their way to the home of an aunt they’d never met, the kids set off to get there on foot. Their odyssey leads them far beyond that point. These kids are fierce, loving, and musical, and Tink feels like she knows them, she’s read their every word so many times.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 1981 | ISBN-13: 978-1442428782
I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You
Written by Naomi Shihab Nye
I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You by Naomi Shihab Nye is a book of love poems that Tink can’t get enough of. You understand why.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Simon Pulse | 1999 | ISBN-13: 978-0689813412
The Doll People
Written by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin
Illustrated by Brian Selznick
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, with pictures by Brian Selznick: This sort of thing just breaks Tink’s heart — objects with hearts that can come to life in certain situations and that work within those situations to take care of each other and live their lives. Ditto Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins, with illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Simon Pulse | 2000 | ISBN-13: 978-0786812400
Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Alice Books, such as especially Including Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Tink feels like she knows Alice or maybe is Alice. She thinks Alice’s life is actually a bit better than realistic, because Alice actually gets to have an impact on things the way Tink would like to. So Alice is kind of an inspiration. Also, boy, do these books make Tink wish she had an older brother like Alice’s big brother Lester. The Alice books are also a good source of information that Tink feels is good to have in her life.
Ages 12+| Publisher: Simon Pulse | 2004 | ISBN-13: 978-0689870743
All Alone in the Universe
Written by Lynne Rae Perkins
Well. This one hits really close to home, being about the friendship between two girls who have known each other forever. Tink got this off Kitty’s book shelf of library books. All Kitty said, instead of screaming “Don’t touch my stuff” was, “That’s a good one.” Tink read it twice, starting over again the minute she turned the last page, and then, after a couple of days, read it again. Then Kitty took it back to the library. Then Tink went and got it out again, prompting Kitty to think she had forgotten to return it and to try to swipe it back from Tink. Tink had to open the book to prove it wasn’t overdue and it was out on her card. She’d like to share it with Jackie.
“Oh, hi, Debbie. Maureen isn’t here. She took off somewhere with Glenna Flaiber.
“Oh,” I said. “Okay. Bye-bye.
My balloon popped and shriveled and dropped to the ground with a quiet plop.”
In fact Tink would like to throw it at Jackie’s head. But she won’t. Instead, like all the best books, it makes her feel the opposite of what the title is: not alone in the universe.
Ages 12+| Publisher: Greenwillow Books | 1999 | ISBN-13: 978-0380733026
About Karen Romano Young
Karen Romano Young has written nearly two dozen books for children, and has illustrated several, including the groundbreaking graphic novel Doodlebug and its sequel Stuck in the Middle (of Middle School). She lives in Connecticut.
Written by Karen Romano Young
Publisher’s Synopsis: The last year of elementary school is big for every kid. In this novel, equal parts funny and crushing, utterly honest and perfect for boys and girls alike, Christine Gouda faces change at every turn, starting with her own nickname—Tink—which just doesn’t fit anymore. Readers will relate to this strong female protagonist whose voice rings with profound authenticity and absolute novelty, and her year’s cringingly painful trials in normalcy—uncomfortable Halloween costumes, premature sleepover parties, crushed crushes, and changing friendships. Throughout all this, Tink learns, what you call yourself, and how you do it, has a lot to do with who you are. This book marks beloved author Karen Romano Young’s masterful return to children’s literature: a heartbreakingly honest account of what it means to be between girl and woman, elementary and middle school, inside and out—and just what you name that in-between self.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1452138909
Enter To Win A Copy Of Hundred Percent, By Karen Romano Young!
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Karen Romano Young, author of Hundred Percent, selected these five books for tweens to read so many times the pages might fall out. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Middle Grade Books and Books for Kids Age 9-12.