Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade

Cybils Middle Grade At-a-Glance: The Meaning of Maggie & All Four Stars

I’ve been quiet lately, because I’ve been plowing through my Cybils middle grade fiction nominees. Here are some thoughts.

meaning of maggieThe Meaning of Maggie, by Megan Jean Sovern (2014, Chronicle Books) $16.99, ISBN: 978-1452110219

Recommended for ages 9-12

Set in the 1980s, Maggie’s an 11 year-old girl who wants to be president one day. She’s funny, quirky, and seemingly always at odds with her two older sisters. Her family is coping with her father’s increasingly worsening multiple sclerosis, the severity of which they try to shield from Maggie.

I enjoyed this book, in part because one of my childhood friends lost her mom to MS. Reading this book helped me, in a way, understand what my friend went through all those years ago, when we were all far too young to understand it. The author drew upon her own life to write this book, and for that, I’m thankful. Maggie is engaging and quirky, and as frustrating as I found her dad, in his ultimate quest to “be cool”, I saw his struggle to hang on when everything was falling apart around him.

all four stars coverAll Four Stars, by Tara Dairman (2014, Putnam Juvenile), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0399162527

Recommended for ages 9-12

An 11 year-old foodie raised by junk food junkies has to be one of the best story plots I’ve come across in a while!

Gladys LOVES cooking. It’s her passion. She has a cookbook collection, watches cooking shows with a passion her classmates reserve for video games… and her parents just don’t get it. They microwave everything that they don’t bring home in a greasy bag. How can a foodie live like this?

When Gladys enters an essay contest for the New York Standard newspaper, her essay ends up in the hands of the food editor – who thinks it’s a cover letter. Gladys finds herself with a freelance assignment – to test out a new dessert restaurant in Manhattan! How can she visit the restaurant and write her review without her parents catching on?

This book just made me happy. It’s a fun story, with an instantly likable main character. Even her antagonists are likable, if a bit clueless. The plot moves along at a great pace, and I found myself chuckling out loud at some of the situations Gladys found herself in while trying to keep her secret. This is a great book to put into kids’ hands, a welcome lift from the heaviness that seems to permeate middle grade realistic fiction these days. I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Stars of Summer, when it hits shelves this summer.

 

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Author:

I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading (http://whatchareading.com). I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (http://www.onwednesdays.net/), where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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