Once again I am late posting this traditional Saturday morning post. My day was filled with rain which led to reading (nothing better than coffee and a good book on a rainy day) and a lunch visit with a student from last semester to check over her personal essay for a psychology graduate  program application.  Fortunately, she is a good writer, and it was a simple job of proofreading.  Our visit was fun, and this is definitely a young woman I will make an effort to keep in touch with.

Today’s recommendation is for several middle school level fiction choices that I read for the Cybil’s judging that deserve at least a mention of excellent reads for this age group.

The first, How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons is a heart-tugging story of a young girl in the Jm Crow South who pays a visit to  New York to meet family she has never known. The difference between the two environments and the people who live in them is highlighted, and the girl learns answers to family secrets which cause her to learn about herself.

Tina Athaide’s Orange for the Sunsets also deals with family secrets for an Indian girl and an African boy who are best friends. So many books nominated for this award dealt with diversity, the theme for this year, and so many portrayed over-protective parents who do their kids a disservice by assuming they are not mature enough to handle “the truth-”  things in their own pasts which become big “secrets” that change the kids’ lives in massive ways when the truth is finally revealed. Most of the kid-protagonists feel by the ends of the books that, “Honesty is the best policy.”

To Night Owl from Dogfsh by Holly Goldberg is an epistolary tale, one told in the form of letters, or in this case emails. It is cleverly formatted as such, and the opening email is from one boy who contacts another, stating that the two boys fathers are lovers. The boy on the receiving end of this message has no idea his father is gay, much less contemplating moving in with his partner, the boy who initiated the conversation’s father. It is witty, touching and problematic in family relationships, all in one great read.

Paula Chase’s Dough Boys is about boys who like to bake well enough and do so well enough that they decide to open a business. Also funny and warm, the overarching theme is “Friendship Over All.”

These were just a few books  read as a Cybils First Round Reader that deserve at least a mention on Saturday Morning for Kids, middle grades edition.


I am hoping to read at least one non-ficton book a month, and I have  just finished January’s offering. It is a colorful book full of quotes, memes, text and sound advice.

The book’s premise is that there are two paths in life: Should and Must. Every day we arrive at the crossroads of these two and can choose which one we take–the things others expect of us, the should; and the must, as we find and follow our passion. Luna offers her own experiences and offers help in traveling life’s journey.

I copied many of the quotes in my quotes notebook and throughly enjoyed Luna’s message as I rethought and reflected on my own path I have chosen.

MY LFE WITH BOB by Pamela Paul: A Review

This 2017 publication represents my favorite genre, Books about Books. Bob is not tall, dark and handsome; in fact, Bob is not even a man. BOB stands for Book of Books, a “bound record of everything [the author] has read or didn’t quite finish since the summer of 1988, my junior year of high school.” Each chapter revolves around the title of a book that coordinates with a period n the author’s life.  I once read a book that revolved around fashions, which declared that women might forget names and dates of certain events n their lives, but they will always remember what they were wearing. This author catalogs periods and events in her life by what she was reading at the time.

The introduction states, “Bob offers immediate access to where I’ve been psychologically and geographically at any given moment in my life… Each entry conjures a memory that might otherwise have gotten lost or blurred with time.” The first book remembered is  Brave New World, read in high school, and continues from there. Books place the author in Paris, Thailand, and many places around the world, and the reader is given a glimpse of the author’s life through her reactions to the books she reads.

For me, this was a fun read that satisfied my inner book-nerd and allowed me to enjoy a memoir at its most creative form.  I give this one five stars our of five stars.

THE CHRISTIAN ATHEST by Craig Groeschel: A Revew

Yes, the title sounds like an oxymoron, but it is really more of an exercise in finishing sentences. The subtitle is, “Believing in God But Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.” This “life- changing read” includes chapter  titles like:

When You Believe in God, but…

…don’t think He’s fair.

…still worry all the time.

…pursue happiness at any cost.

…trust more in money.

…don’t share your faith.

…not in His church.

This is a convicting read from a self-proclaimed recovering Christian atheist. The book attempts to help the reader move “toward an authentic God-honoring life.” Its relevance to current times and society makes it a very useful read to those hoping to grow their Christian walk.



After doing the Alphabet Soup, (Title Edition) Challenge during 2019, it s just too tempting to follow with the author version in 2020. So, Dollycas, count me in!

My first read of the new year/new decade was a book whose author’s name  started with an “S,” Sanchez, but that was before I started this challenge. I will be reviewing shopping.jpeg Daughter on PWR soon.

My first read of the 2020 Alphabet Soup Author’s Edition is Lara Avery’s YA novel, The Memory Book. Sammie Mc Coy has Niemann-Pick Type C disease, and she is trying to  record her memories before they leave her as she dies. Two love interests are present: Cooper, her neighbor who has “gone wrong” and is no longer a friend at the opening of the novel and Stuart, the dreamboat every girl wants, but for some reason is interested in Sammie.

The novel is Sammie’s journal directed at her future self “so she will never forget the most important parts of her life.” This story definitely appeals to John Green fans, including this blogger.







During my recent stint as a middle grades first round reader for Cybils, I  read many great books for kids in grades 5-8. The thing that impressed me most about them was how helpful they were for kids who were facing today’s world, dealing with issues I never even knew about growing up in the fifties.

Here are a few books that dealt with such issues:

Up for Air by Laurie Morrison depicts problems specific to eighth graders looking forward to high school and all of its changes and challenges. Because of her outstanding swimming abilities, the girl protagonist must face older teens’ problems when she is asked to swim with them on a city team. She has had her own issues with ADHD and focusing, but has been supported by her adoptive parents from the beginning. When her biological father once again enters her life, the problems and confusion she faces are overwhelming. Add to that the tension and excitement of the swimming matches, and you have a fine, page-turner for older middle-schoolers.

For somewhat younger kids, the 12 year old protagonist in Out of My Shell by Jenny Goebel is a sure bet. A common problem, divorcing parents, compound the anxiety of the young girl, who is passionately invested in saving sea turtles and saving her family as well.

For boys, Camp Average by Craig Battle deals with team spirit, competitive urges, and boys’ friendships. The lesson, “Losers can become winners,” is a major theme of this sports-directed, basketball-focused read.

Finally, a favorite of several of the first-round readers was Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen, a historical fiction novel aimed at middle schoolers.  Dealing with the time period when Lithuania was invaded by the Cossacks, we meet Audra, whose name means “storm.” She is a budding author who becomes involved with book smuggling when books are banned and burned. A well-drawn character, a passion for books, and adventure and perilous trips–what’s not to like in this kid’s novel that many parents would enjoy as well?

Until next Saturday, that’s it for kids’ books. Happy reading!