Just like Saturday morning cartoons, today’s post is aimed at kids, specifically those in grades 5-8. The following are kid’s books that your tween might like:

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day features a much neglected population of the U.S., Native Americans. Not only is this novel accurately representative, but it also is crammed full of family secrets.

For younger readers, grades three and four, who like chapter books, check out The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Calfer. This is illustrated by P.J. Lynch and is a must for dog lovers.

Speaking of dogs, Angela Cervantes has written a delightful chapter book, Letty Out Loud for upper elementary grades. Letty works at a local animal shelter as a volunteer and wants to adopt Spike, aka Hunter, who is the “perfect boy” in her opinion. As she works with Spanish ESL, she reads aloud to dogs at the shelter, thus perfecting her English skills. Letty is an “idea person” who gets things done–her way. She is a spunky, caring protagonist kids will identify with.

Switching to books that offer more adventure, Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs is a rollicking read, a spy novel where Charlie, a kid-genius on a secret mission for the government, receives instructions that he must carry out to save the world.

In a quieter, more introspective read, Eric Walters and  Kathy Kacer write a lovely novel for upper elementary and early junior high age readers, Broken Strings. Several life lessons are taught in this novel which deals with friendship, competition among musicians, and familial love against the background of Holocaust memories.

These are just a few of the special books, recommended by librarians for the Cybil award which I had the privilege of reading as a first round Cybils’ judge last year. It was a wonderful experience and one I hope to repeat if I am asked again in 2020.


Because I had books to box, cookies to bake, and candy to make for my “Celebration of Everything Bookish” at the Alvin Library today, I am not getting to my book recommendation or Saturday morning post until now.

The Sunken Tower by Tait Howard, sent to me by Oni Press, is a study in artwork and adventure. I am not sure whether I enjoyed the colorful, exciting artwork of this graphic novel for kids more or the great, life-lesson-filled adventures of its heroes. Digby, its main character, is the least heroic figure one can imagine, but his powers revealed at the end surprise both the reader and himself. The three pages which chronicle in wonderful art the demise of the monster by one of Digby’s spells is only rivaled by the complex relationship of Digby and his fellow dungeon-mates, Iona and Crina, who all become good friends as they escape becoming a sacrifice for the creatures of the blood cult wishing to bring their cult back to its “glory days.”

Even the graphic design of the letters of the title give clues about the Sunken Tower. Oni Press will release this eye-catching, exciting book in March of 2020, and fans of graphic stories and action-packed adventures will enjoy this read.


It wasn’t that long ago, that I discovered graphic novels, becoming a fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. What recently took me back to my eleven-year-old fandom of Wonder Woman, my childhood hero, was some lovely graphic novels for kids sent to me by Oni Press. I had no idea the comic books of my childhood had morphed into the exciting, color-filled, motivating stories bound for today’s children. I immediately thought of reluctant readers I had taught in sixth and seventh grades many years ago. How they would have loved the current, relevant themes of Fights, the cover of which would have tempted any twelve year old boy to dive into its story! And, the hilarious cover of The Sunken Tower even made me want to see who these creatures were endangering the obvious heroes who seemed to represent more than one time period.  Even the earliest of readers would have been attracted to the adorable creatures on the cover of Dewdrop,which gave the promise of a sing-a-long, something many pre Ks would love. Thank you, Oni Press for the next few Saturday Mornings for Kids materials.

The book I want to feature first and strongly recommend is Fun, Fun, Fun World by Yehudi Mercado. The cover alone is so colorful, and yes, Fun, that I can’t imagine any kid not wanting to take it down from the shelf and check it out. Minky, the main character serves a very demanding Queen of an outer-space kingdom, who gives him the assignment of conquering the one planet his hero-Mother was unable to acquire for the kingdom–earth. Minky’s crew and spaceship are a delight to see, and as his nemesis tries to thwart his every move, Minky and the crew encounter many adventures in their quest. The outcome of Minky’s adventure is a satisfactory one for all, and Minky’s motto is embedded in the reader’s brain, “It’s not a dream if you believe it.”

As an an adult, I loved the Fun read. How much more would a kid enjoy it? Buy this one for your kids and grandkids. It comes out in April 2020, and would be a colorful, fun read for any kid ages seven through twelve and would certainly tempt a reluctant reader to appreciate the skill of reading. If I were still teaching kids, I’d definitely want this one in my classroom library.


If R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder recommended a book, would you read it? Well, I did. Roll With It, another story of a unique kid who has a disability,  by Jamie Sumner, tells the story of Ellie, who has Cerebral Palsy, a creative, audacious pre-teen trapped in a wheelchair. Because her grandfather has Alzheimer’s, she and her mom must move from a large city to a trailer  park in a tiny town. She wants to be a professional baker, and is really good at it. Robert, who goes by Bert, an autistic kid who is bullied; and Coralee, who has big dreams of becoming a famous singer and lives below the poverty level, are her best friends. The schemes and plans this trio invents will make the reader laugh out loud. I certainly did.

I highly recommend this book to kids with and without disabilities as a darned good read.


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.


shopping-1.jpegToday’s recommendation is a middle grades (5th-8th) novel that chronicles the life of twelve year old Lyndie. It takes place in 1985 Tennessee when Lyndie’s grandmother is trying to induct her into the necessity of loyalty to family and keeping “family business” private. Lyndie is the family “history buff” and discovers that her depressed and defeated mom used to be an activist against the unjust war in Vietnam, which is ironic because Lyndie’s dad is a Vietnam vet, struggling with alcohol and PTSD.

Neighbors and Lyndie’s friends reach out to her, only to have their efforts rejected by Lyndie’s grandmother, who labels them “nosy neighbors.” Lyndie needs the support of friends her grandmother tries to keep her away from as she deals with her family situation. How she finally acquires this and teaches her extended family the cost of keeping secrets is the theme of this book.

On one hand, I hate to think of middle grade students dealing with depression, alcohol, or the fear of “what will people think” on the part of their family; but on the other, these are current family issues kids are actually dealing with every day. If one child can be taught to reach out and can better their lives by doing so, then I say, this is a helpful book that will convince our students that “they are not the only one…”



After reading all the first round middle grades books for the Cybils awards, I am overwhelmed by the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade books I want to include in my Saturday posts. Here are just a couple of the outstanding recommended books for the first round readers:

Catch Me When I Fall by Bonnie Graves.  This middle grades historical fiction offering describes “circus life in its heyday.” It’s twelve-year-old heroine, Emma is a “gutsy girl,” who doesn’t know who her father is, and her mother refuses to tell her. After finding an old photo of Fillipo, The Flying Wonder, in her mother’s dresser drawer, she disguises herself as a boy and runs off to “join the circus” and find her father. What she finds and discovers about herself in the process is a coming-of-age tale any middle school reader will be enthralled with.

Another twelve-year-old heroine in Extraordinary Birds, a puzzling novel by Sandy Stark McGinnes, is a girl named December who bears strange scars on her back. At the beginning, December feels she is secretly a bird, and the scars are the places that will one day sprout wings.  The true story of the scars is something she has blocked out of her memory.  Confronted by the “mean girls” at her school, and protected by her best friend, Cherylynne, December faces the truth about herself and comes into her true identity. This is a powerful story that will be remembered by its readers for a long time.