Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Middle Grade? Aisle 5 -- Robin

I just got back from the grocery store where I purchased some of those things they call “fresh vegetables.”

I’ve been so busy the past few weeks revising my middle grade novel that I’ve been relying on my friends over at Stouffer’s to feed the family. The cashier checking me out tonight asked, “Is this Japanese eggplant or Chinese eggplant?” I’m like, “Doesn’t matter! It’s not frozen!”

So another interesting thing has happened over these last few weeks while I’ve been obsessively revising. My husband has become very interested in the book I’m writing. Which is really quite cute, but also kinda weird, but also kinda cool.

He said he wanted to get a better understanding of what makes a good middle grade novel, and he asked me to recommend a book that is the quintessential middle grade book—something that’s fun and totally kid-friendly. I looked through my bookshelf and I handed him a copy of Frindle. You can’t get much better than that. Funny, well-written, and a book any kid would love. My husband sat down and read it in one sitting.


He loved it! He wanted more! He’s now hooked on middle grade fiction! (Thus, the kinda weird, but kinda cool part.)

Which brings me to my problem: What do I give him next? I need to find middle grade books, from classic to modern, that have great hooks and are just plain fun for kids to read.

Any suggestions?

- Robin


Natalie said...

Try RULES by Cynthia Lord.

And how nice that he loves your work, Robin! :-)

Disco Mermaids said...

Hi, Natalie!

Yes, I adored RULES. At the scene at the end, I actually laughed out loud and sobbed heavily at the same time. Very good.



karen lee said...


Colorado Writer said...

Reality Leak by Joni Sensel
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koje
Firegirl by Tony Abbott

heidi said...

Maniac Magee
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Great he's enjoying your genre!
LOL about the fresh veggies, btw. We enjoy a lot of take-out around here. =)

Becky Levine said...

Oh, what fun! We'll all be coming back here to look for ourselves.

The Sammy Keyes mystery series by Wendolen van Draanen (and she's your neighbor, too, I think!).

Bruce Coville's Magic Shoppe series--especially The Monster's Ring and The Skull of Truth.

Also, send him over to the Cybils awards page--great choices there.

I never see this one talked about, but I loved Gordon Korman's No More Dead Dogs.

How's that for a start?

Rilla said...

Loved The Penderwicks by Birdsall
and anything by Rosemary Sutcliff

Debby G. said...

I second Louis Sachar's HOLES. What a great book!

And how about the Narnia books too?

I also like Lisa Yee's books a lot. Stanford Wong Flunks Bigtime is a male-friendly one.

Becky Levine said...

Okay, now I'm home with my shelves.

Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl

Lionboy and it's sequels (I think the author is Zazou Corder)

The Phantom Tollbooth


Edward Eager's books

Dot said...


zee said...

Hey Robin,

you are talking my language with middle grade fiction

Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins--A boy and his kid sister enter a strange underground land where it is prophecied that two overlanders will come and bring peace to the world. Gregory must help his team to work together (cockroaches, rats, bats, spiders and humans) to fulfill those prohecies and save his father. The different groups on a journey thing is reminescent of LOTR. You will never be able to kill a cockroach again.

A 2nd to Artemis Fowl (perfect combination of scifi/fantasy/fairy tales) and Holes (probably the best middle grade book ever)

Also, Gender Blender by Blake Nelson--A guy and girl accidentally switch bodies and must help each switch back before it's too late. Freaky Friday for guys/gals. Laugh out loud funny.

Christine said...

I just read Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park. Very good. (Lots of silkworm trivia, too!)

Fourth-Grade Rats by Jerry Spinnelli is funny.

cynjay said...

How about Hoot and Flush by Carl Hiaasen? My son loved both and we all know that husbands are nothing more than very tall little boys ;)

Disco Mermaids said...

HOLES. For sure. No doubt.

These are great!!

Now I'M going to have to get back to doing some reading!


Jen Robinson said...

I second, third, or fourth (whatever it is) HOLES. I would also suggest The Giver. And maybe, if he's never read it, A Wrinkle in Time. What fun you both can have with this!

Laurel said...

I've just recently started a little review blog for (mostly) classic middle grades. Stop by and maybe you'll get some ideas...

xoLaurel Snyder

Disco Mermaids said...

Hi, Laurel!

Nice site. THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH is a great idea.



LindaBudz said...

You've got lots of great suggestions here. I'll put in a vote for Debby G's books, if you haven't already given him those!

Anonymous said...

Johnny Tremain.

Why hasn't anyone said Johnny Tremain?


Anonymous said...

You're joking, right? Or is that Miss Dunne out there (my fifth grade teacher) recommending Johnny Tremain??

Seriously, I know it's you, Miss Dunne, because no one else on the planet liked that book. It's been haunting fifth graders for years!

Stick with Holes, Robin!

alvina said...

I liked Johnny Tremain...I think. When I was a kid.

I say HOLES, too. How about HUGO CABRET? Anything Roald Dahl?

laura said...

How about AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS (Gennifer Choldenko) and STORKY: HOW I LOST MY NICKNAME AND WON THE GIRL (Debby Garfinkle). Both great mg novels with male main characters. And I echo the RULES vote. My favorite non-poetry book so far this year, I think. And HOLBROOK: A LIZARD'S TALE. Great puns, humor, and even some scariness.

laura said...

Oops, forgot to say HOLBROOK is by Bonny Becker.

daphne grab said...

another nod to HOLES and also check out THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE by lisa graff- awesome and very boy friendly!

Anonymous said...


my "I don't read-because I hate it" middle schooler, back when he was a middle schooler liked it.. and I did too!


Anonymous said...

When my dad was visiting, he read a copy of JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY which was sitting out and loved it.

I love it too!

David LaRochelle

a. fortis said...

I second (or third, or whatever) The Phantom Tollbooth. I also really enjoyed this year's Newbery winner by Susan Patron, and Jeanne DuPrau's trilogy starting with the The City of Ember.