5 Middle Grade Book Favorites Selected by Allison Varnes
Allison Varnes | The Children’s Book Review | October 25, 2018
Allison Varnes, author of PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN, shares five of her favorite middle grade books …
Written by E.B. White
Illustrated by Garth Williams
This novel touched my heart in so many ways as a child. It was the first time I realized that words could save lives. Not a single word is wasted in this heartrendingly beautiful story of friendship between a lonely pig named Wilbur, and Charlotte, the spider who saves him. I still can’t read it without crying. To this day, I catch and release spiders because one of them could be a friend like Charlotte.
Ages 8 and up | Publisher: HarperCollins | April 10, 2012 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0064400558
Written by Ann Braden
This book has been on my radar for a long time, and I’m excited to finally get to read it! When I was a teacher, I often taught kids who did not have what they needed. I think they would connect with Zoey, a seventh-grader with the weight of the world on her shoulders as she navigates hunger, precarious living arrangements, and the halls of her middle school.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Sky Pony Press | September 4, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1510737488
Written by Marie Miranda Cruz
After losing her father and her home, twelve-year-old Nora lives with her mother in the Manila North Cemetery, which is home to both the poor and the dead. But when her mother goes missing, Nora sets out to find her in this story of perseverance and hope. I need a hopeful story, and I can’t wait to read this one!
Ages 9-11 | Publisher: Starscape | October 2, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0765394590
Written by V.E. Schwab
Now that fall is here, I want to cozy up with a spooky and suspenseful tale! I can’t wait to read about Cass, a girl who can enter the world of ghosts, and find out what happens when her parents move her family to Edinburgh, Scotland, to host a TV show about the world’s most haunted places. I suspect I’ll be adding it to my other ghostly MG favorites such as The Graveyard Bookand The Dollhouse Murders.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | August 28, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1338111002
Written by Leslie Connor
Mason Buttle is in big trouble. Fifteen months after his best friend was found dead in his family’s orchard, another friend goes missing. Mason also has learning disabilities and is the biggest kid in his grade. As a former special education teacher, I think this is an important tale that will keep me turning pages until the truth is revealed.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | January 23, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062491435
Written by Allison Varnes
Publisher’s Synopsis: Celebrate the freedom to read with this timely, empowering middle-grade debut in the spirit of The View from Saturday or Frindle.
When twelve-year-old June Harper’s parents discover what they deem an inappropriate library book, they take strict parenting to a whole new level. And everything June loves about Dogwood Middle School unravels: librarian Ms. Bradshaw is suspended, an author appearance is canceled, the library is gutted, and all books on the premises must have administrative approval.
But June can’t give up books . . . and she realizes she doesn’t have to when she spies a Little Free Library on her walk to school. As the rules become stricter at school and at home, June keeps turning the pages of the banned books that continue to appear in the little library. It’s a delicious secret . . . and one she can’t keep to herself. June starts a banned book library of her own in an abandoned locker at school. The risks grow alongside her library’s popularity, and a movement begins at Dogwood Middle–a movement that, if exposed, could destroy her. But if it’s powerful enough, maybe it can save Ms. Bradshaw and all that she represents: the freedom to read.
Equal parts fun and empowering, this novel explores censorship, freedom of speech, and activism. For any kid who doesn’t believe one person can effect change…and for all the kids who already know they can!
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | September 18, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524771478
About the Author
Like librarian Ms. Bradshaw in Property of the Rebel Librarian, Allison Varnes has fought for her students. She taught English in special education for eight years and once had to convince administrators that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not an endorsement of witchcraft. She’s from a family of teachers and has a PhD in education from the University of Tennessee. And like heroine June, Allison is a former marching-band geek. When she’s not writing, she howls along to the Hamilton soundtrack with a trio of Chihuahuas named after Peanuts characters. Find her on Twitter at @allisonvarnes or on Facebook at facebook.com/allisonvarnesauthor.
Allison Varnes, author of Property of the Rebel Librarian, selected these ‘5 Favorite Middle Grade Books.’ Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Middle Grade Books.