A Very Middle Grade Summer: 10 Titles Even Adults Will Love!

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I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I love more than letting my imagination run wild while I enjoy glorious summer days and evenings. There are tons of great books out there, but for some reason I still feel like my perfect summer read is an amazing Middle Grade book. Maybe it’s nostalgia for my childhood summers on Lake Champlain, sitting on the dock or the beach and doing nothing but reading. Maybe it’s the way summer always feels magical, like anything can happen. All I know is that there’s something about summer that inevitably draws my attention to the Middle Grade shelf at home, in the store or the library. Here are 10 of my favourite MG reads to help you make your own summer magical!

1. May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson

may bird and the ever afterThis was one of the first Middle Grade books I read in my adulthood and it Blew. Me. Away. May Bird is a 10-year-old girl living somewhere in West Virginia with her mother and her hairless cat, Somber Kitty. She doesn't think her cat is all that great and always tries to send him away when all he wants is to spend time with her. May is a little odd, doesn't fit in with the rest of the kids around, and would much rather be exploring the woods as May Bird Warrior Princess than play with the other kids. Once she falls through a pond in the woods and ends up in the Ever After which is being taken over by Bo Cleevil and his henchmen, I knew this story was a keeper. May Bird, Somber Kitty and the characters of the Ever After will charm any boy or girl and adult. There are two other books that follow and they are as rich, imaginative and adventurous as the first. You will not be disappointed in May Bird.

2.  Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

fablehavenThere are five books in this series about a sister and brother (Kendra & Seth) who are sent to stay with their hardly-known Grandparents while their parents are away. Little do they know their Grandfather is the caretaker of Fablehaven, a sanctuary for mystical creatures. There’s magic, faeries, mystery, adventure, and fantastic story-telling in all five books. Be warned -- you might not like Seth very much in the first two books, but stick it out because he grows up and becomes a strong character in the end. If I had to recommend one Middle Grade series to anyone, this is my choice hands down! (Also a great pick for both girls and boys!)

3.  Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

island of the blue dolphinsI won’t lie. I totally chose the cover art to match the edition I had as a kid. I remember loving this book to pieces and even did a huge poster-board display for it in class. Island of The Blue Dolphins is not only a classic, but a stirring tale of one girl’s bravery and survival after she’s left behind on an island. Based on a true story, this is one Middle Grade book that will capture your heart and soul. It’s a great read and often on summer reading lists (one of the few books that likely won’t make your child roll their eyes and say “Ugh. That looks sooooo boring!”) I rarely liked any of my scholarly summer reading choices and I read a LOT, so this one has always stood out to me!

4.  Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

peter nimble and his fantastic eyesThink about this: all the magic and enchantment of Harry Potter but set the story in a total fantasy world with a 10-year-old blind thief as the main character; toss in some pirates, a tyrannical ruler of a magical land and three sets of magic eyes that Peter uses throughout the story. This 2011 debut novel enchanted me thoroughly and was possibly my most beloved book read that year. Peter Nimble is such an endearing protagonist and his heroic and brave actions will leave your heart full. I have to give a special mention to Sir Tode, Peter’s travelling companion who is a knight trapped in a body that’s a cross between a horse and a cat. Although a little darker than other MG titles, Peter Nimble is sure to enchant readers of all ages!

5. The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

kneebone boyIf you’re not a big fantasy or magic fan but you like a good suspenseful and mysterious story, then The Kneebone Boy is for you! You might think this book is fantastical but it’s not though;  it's actually just plain ol' fiction that makes you think it shall blossom into the fantastic and keeps you page turning to find out more, more, MORE! An unknown narrator tells the story of three siblings: Lucia, Otto, and Max and I had my suspicions throughout as to which of the three was narrating, but half the fun is trying to figure it out. The writing is sharp, clever and fun. The children are great characters and their adventures border on the scary (yet not really), mystical (yet not at all) and silly. There is a castle, a dungeon and a floating bicycle, plus tattooed thugs and a Viking. All of these things make it sound like this is a fanciful tale, but it's amazing how perception and reality can mesh together so well. Bottom line? Fantastic middle grade book full of mystery and humour.

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