Monday, March 23, 2015

Must Read Mid-Grade for 2015: March and April Edition by Caroline Starr Rose

There are so many incredible middle-grade titles releasing this year, I decided to dedicate my posts these next months to sharing as many as I can with you. My list is not exclusive and is actually just the tip of the iceberg. I hope these glimpses get you excited enough to ask your library to purchase a copy or buy one yourself. All descriptions are taken from

Happy Reading!

Blue Birds — Caroline Starr Rose (March 10) *

It’s 1587 and twelve-year-old Alis has made the long journey with her parents from England to help settle the New World, the land christened Virginia in honor of the Queen. And Alis couldn’t be happier. While the streets of London were crowded and dirty, this new land, with its trees and birds and sky, calls to Alis. Here she feels free. But the land, the island Roanoke, is also inhabited by the Roanoke tribe and tensions between them and the English are running high, soon turning deadly.

Amid the strife, Alis meets and befriends Kimi, a Roanoke girl about her age. Though the two don’t even speak the same language, these girls form a special bond as close as sisters, willing to risk everything for the other. Finally, Alis must make an impossible choice when her family resolves to leave the island and bloodshed behind.

Pieces and Players — Blue Balliett (March 31)

Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Manet is missing. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be . . . or who might have stolen them.

Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they've been matched with two new sleuths -- Zoomy, a very small boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words . . . and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure.

The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it's not just Mrs. Sharpe who's acting suspiciously -- there's a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up.

Surviving Bear Island — Paul Greci (March 25) **

At the start of the sea kayaking trip, thirteen-year-old Tom Parker had a tent, a sleeping bag, plenty of food, and a traveling companion and guide, his father. But that was all before the accident that left him alone, cold, and soaked, with only the clothes on his back and the small survival kit in his raincoat pocket. It wasn’t much, but it was all he had to make a go of it on the remote, unpopulated Bear Island, in the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Watch the Sky — Kristen Hubbard (April 7)

The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says. Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in an aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them, Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your work boots at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared. 

School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp. With the help of new friends, he begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. Then Caleb notifies the family that the time has come for final preparations: digging in their backyard canyon at night. Every night. As the hole gets deeper, so does Jory's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the real reason for their digging becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following behind Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see.

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk — Liesl Shurtliff (April 14)

All work and no play makes Jack extremely bored. And when Jack gets bored, he makes mischief. It’s not that he’s bad; he just longs for adventure—and there’s nothing adventurous about toiling day and night to grow yucky green stuff.

Adventure finally arrives one day in the form of giants, and soon Jack is chasing them to a land beyond the clouds, with his little sister, Annabella, in tow. The kingdom of giants is full of slugs the size of sheep, venomous pixies as tall as grown men, and a chatty cook with the biggest mouth Jack has ever seen. There’s giant fun to be had, too: puddings to swim in, spoons to use as catapults, monster toads to carry off pesky little sisters. . . . 

But Jack and Annabella are on a mission. The king of the giants has taken something that belongs to them, and they’ll do anything—even dive into a smelly tureen of green bean soup—to get it back.

The Murk — Robert Letterick (April 21) ***

In the Okefenokee Swamp grows a rare and beautiful flower with a power unlike any other. Many have tried to claim it-no one has come out alive. But fourteen-year-old Piper Canfield is desperate, and this flower may be her only chance to keep a promise she made a long time ago.

Accompanied by her little brother, Creeper, her friend Tad, and two local guides, Piper embarks on the quest of a lifetime. But there's a deadly predator lurking unseen in the black water, one nearly as old as the Oke itself. Some say it's a monster. Others say an evil spirit. The truth is far more terrifying. 

Piper's task is simple: find the flower . . . or die trying.

What spring titles are you most looking forward to?

* Project Mayhem author (I must confess I've read it once or twice)

** Another Project Mayhem author

*** One more Project Mayhem author! Are we on fire, or what?


  1. Congratulations to Caroline, Paul, and Robert! And yes, we are on fire!

  2. Nice picks, Caroline

    There's are my picks-

    by Tor Seidler
    Illustrated by Chris Sheban
    Got this one earlier this month

    "Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan"
    by Cynthia Ryland
    Illustrated by Arthur Howard

    "Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures"
    by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

    "Return to Augie Hobble"
    By Lane Smith

    1. Taurean, I read a review of First Born on Shelf Awareness a few days ago. It sounds incredible!

    2. I was so shocked a bookstore I frequent had a copy 2 DAYS before it's pub. date. I had to buy it, but haven't had a chance to dig into it yet.

      I've been a fan Tor Seidler's books for a long time.

      I read some of the early pages and I have feeling it'll be another hit. I hope now that a couple of his older titles (once out of print) reissued last year (Mean Margret and The Wainscott Weasel) his books reach more readers.

  3. I love your "must-read" middle grade lists, Caroline. Keep 'em coming!

    1. Definitely more to come. I'm enjoying this...

  4. Thanks for all the recommendations, I love adding to my middle grade TBR list!

  5. Besides BLUE BIRDS, I am looking forward to reading BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly (coming March 24). Hmm. Sensing a theme here.

    1. :) Hope you enjoy! Must look into Blackbird Fly.

  6. Super congrats Caroline, Paul, and Robert! What a great line up! I have Paul's Surviving Bear Island already and in need of these others - oh, that, and time. A week to hide away and just R-E-A-D. I'm reading The Story Spinner right now by Becky Wallace. A fun fantasy!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!