I read two very short, very quiet middle grade books this last week. The verse novel PEARL VERSES THE WORLD is one of them, which I review over at versenovels.com. The other was THIRD GRADE ANGELS by Jerry Spinelli. (BTW, I have no idea why there are three Ls in Spinelli on this cover)
I simply ADORED Spinelli’s STARGIRL so I was excited to get an ARC of this at ALA this past June. As soon as I brought it home my daughter, who was set to enter third grade in September snatched it up, read it, then promptly lost it, somewhere in the house, but lost nevertheless, until last week, when I found it behind her bookshelf. I read it quickly, in one sitting, before it could get lost again.
THIRD GRADE ANGELS made me think of all the things about STARGIRL that I loved – the simple, realistic setting, the finely drawn characters, the sympathetic adults – and while I don’t think that ANGELS was quite as successful as STARGIRL, I still think it’s a clever and charming book for younger readers.
Here’s the Goodreads blurb:
George, aka “Suds,” has just entered third grade, and he’s heard the rhyme about “first grade babies/second grade cats/third grade angels/fourth grade rats,” but what does this mean for his school year? It means that his teacher, Mrs. Simms, will hold a competition every month to see which student deserves to be awarded “the halo” – which student is best-behaved, kindest to others, and, in short, perfect. Suds is determined to be the first to earn the halo, but he’s finding the challenge of always being good to be more stressful than he had anticipated. Does he have to be good even outside of school? (Does he have to be nice to his annoying little sister?) And if Mrs. Simms doesn’t actually see him doing a good deed, does it even count?
This is an example of a first chapter book that takes a single simple moral concept, and explores it through a delicately rendered narrative. It’s a very gentle book, very grounded, but very real. Suds is a sweetly flawed kid who is living through the discovery that motivations make the difference between genuine goodness and selfish self service.
I don’t think this book will set the world on fire, but it’s a charming book nevertheless. I think kids, librarians and teachers will enjoy adding this to their libraries.
For this weeks I CAN’T WAIT TO READ I’m going with THE METRO DOGS OF MOSCOW by Rachelle Delaney. Rachelle did her MFA with me and I adore this premise, which is based on real life. Watch this space for a review. THE METRO DOGS OF MOSCOW comes out January 15, 2013.
Don’t forget to visit the other MMGM blogs to find more great middle grade reads : Shannon Whitney Messenger (a.k.a. Fearless Leader)-Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe; Jennifer Rumberger-Children’s Author;Joanne Fritz-My Brain on Books;Danika Dinsmore-The Accidental Novelist ;Shannon O’Donnell-Book Dreaming;Natalie Aguirre-Literary Rambles;Brooke Favero-Somewhere in the Middle;Ally Beecher- Kid Lit Frenzy;Barbara Watson-Novel and Nouveau;Anita Laydon Miller-her middle grade blog;Michael G-G-Middle Grade Mafioso;Jessica Lei-her blog ;Pam Torres-So I’m Fifty;Akoss-Nye Louwon – My Spirit | a search for the writer in me;Gina Carey;T.L. Conway