Middle Grade Review: Ghost Boys

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Genre: Middle Grade
Maturity Level: 4- (on the page violence against Black boys)
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.


“People change, but not enough at the same time. Or, maybe, people change, then forget they’ve changed and keep hurting.”

If you’re looking for a Black Lives Matter book for upper-elementary or middle school students, this book is a must-have. It tackles the subject head-on with a middle grade main character, but gives the topic the complexity it deserves.

Continue reading “Middle Grade Review: Ghost Boys”

Middle Grade Review: Lafayette!

Lafayette! by Nathan Hale

Series: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales
Genres: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Gilbert du Motier became the Marquis de Lafayette at a young age, but he was not satisfied with the comforts of French nobility—he wanted adventure!

A captain at eighteen and a major general by nineteen, he was eager to prove himself in battle. When he heard about the Revolution going on in America, he went overseas and fought alongside Alexander Hamilton and George Washington for America’s independence.


YOU GUYS! If you’re a teacher or librarian and haven’t heard of Nathan Hale, I can only assume you’ve been living under a box. He takes historical figures and events and makes them kid-friendly. They are graphic novels told with a sense of humor and historical accuracy.

Continue reading “Middle Grade Review: Lafayette!”

Review: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Genres: Middle-Grade, Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test — middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?


This is one of those classic middle-grade books that I think appeals to adults more than kids. Don’t get me wrong, I think sixth and seventh graders would probably enjoy this book if they picked it up, but I don’t know that they would unless a teacher assigned it. It isn’t very universally appealing, it’s definitely going to catch the eyes of the outcasts and odd-balls.

Continue reading “Review: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl”

Middle Grade Review – Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton

Series: Narwhal and Jelly
Genres: Graphic Novel, Children’s
Maturity Level: 1
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.


This might be my favorite thing I have ever read. Ever. This book is so funny, and charming, and sweet, and smart, and the drawings are soooooo adorable. I am in love.

Continue reading “Middle Grade Review – Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea”

Review: One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Series: Gaither Sisters
Genres: Historical Fiction, Middle-Grade Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.


I wanted to love this book. Truly, I did. But it just didn’t click for me.

Continue reading “Review: One Crazy Summer”

Review: El Deafo

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Genres: Graphic Novel, Autobiographical Fiction, Middle-Grade
Maturity Level: 1
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?


Do you like middle-grade graphic novels? How about own-voices disability perspectives? What about people conceptualizing themselves as rabbits for no apparent reason other than to make the illustrations fun? THEN THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!

Continue reading “Review: El Deafo”