Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Reading Guides 2014: MIDDLE READER EDITION

Welcome to the first in a series of three summer reading guides geared for age groups.  Each Literologie Summer Reading Guide contains 5 books that you may or may not have been introduced to before, but are geared for families to be able to read together this summer.  Read: These are books moms and dads will actually enjoy reading along and discussing with their children because middle readers are hard!  They're often advanced readers who are ready for chapter books and more challenging vocabularies, but aren't emotionally mature enough to deal with themes and events found in much of the Young Adult section.  So, I've compiled a list of some books you should immediately get in line for at the library, or click through to purchase straight away.

In no particular order, and several are influenced by listening to authors at Phoenix Comicon talk about their work.

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.
I am intrigued by the concept of course because Alice, a talking cat, and a library?  Sign me up.  Plus, it was delightful talking to Django at the conference.  He isn't the slightest bit haughty and that's always nice when a fantasy writer just looks like he loves what he does.  Plus, he brought plush little members of The Swarm (which he had commissioned by an artisan) to his panels and his booth and that was just great.

Keeper Of The Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…
But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.
But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.
Chica was adorable at the Con.  And I love that she consulted real life pre-teens when writing this book.  She's also a super fun panelist who admitted she doesn't want to grow up, and had the stories of looting the VIP lounge for pillowcases full of toys to prove it.

The Journeys Of John And Julia by Aurelia

Meet Julia Livingston-Banes: Her dad's taken off to start a new family, and now her mom's decided to ruin her summer, too. Instead of cheerleader camp, Julia's packed off to her grandmother's in the nowhere town of Cedarwood Ridge. There she finds that her usual ice-queen act won't cut it with her childhood friend John Freeman, who's a lot cuter than Julia remembers and not half the geek she thought he was. Definitely a romance in the making, if it weren't for the visitations from her grandfather's ghost and John's infuriatingly open response to such phenomena. Plus, a group of magical beings called The Twenty-Two are secretly watching over John and Julia and making big summer plans of their own. Including John and Julia's future role in saving the world from their nemesis to be, a beyond-evil corporate overlord named Niem Vidalgo Oten. Not that Julia would believe any of it. John, however, would find it way cool.
 And though I didn't meet Aurelia at Phoenix Comicon, I have been emailing back and forth with her publicist a bit.  Did you know that Janel Parrish of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars narrates the audiobook?  That's kind of rad.  Plus, I have a copy of it to give away!  Just enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.  Because sometimes in the summertime, reading is more fun with headphones.

Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman

Lots of twins have a special connection, but twelve-year-old Matt and Emily Calder can do way more than finish each other’s sentences. Together, they are able to bring art to life and enter paintings at will. Their extraordinary abilities are highly sought after, particularly by a secret group who want to access the terrors called Hollow Earth. All the demons, devils, and evil creatures ever imagined are trapped for eternity in the world of Hollow Earth—trapped unless special powers release them.
The twins flee from London to a remote island off the west coast of Scotland in hopes of escaping their pursuers and gaining the protection of their grandfather, who has powers of his own. But the villains will stop at nothing to find Hollow Earth and harness the powers within. With so much at stake, nowhere is safe—and survival might be a fantasy.
I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed Carole on a panel at #phxcc, Constructing A Mystery Plot.  She's a teacher, along with John Barrowman (who you'll know from Arrow and Doctor Who and Torchwood), her brother, writes books.  And they're Scottish.  It was really fun to hear hints of her accent when she got excited.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn't . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
One of the biggest, most impactful parts of my Phoenix Comicon was listening to Catherynne say on a Middle Grade writing panel that she was appalled when people would tell her that the book was too advanced for their children... in front of their children. "They can hear you!" She is fierce in her belief that children are not stupid and that literature is one of the best places to learn vocabulary.  Side note: It's interesting that this book's main character is a spin-off character from her adult novels, which are for grown-ups only.  Adult in the adult sense of the word.

We hope you enjoy this reading list, and welcome any feedback you have about these titles!  Read, read, READ!!   And don't forget to enter to win the audiobook read by PLL's Janel Parrish, The Journeys Of John & Julia: Genesis:

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