When I did interest inventories for the 6th graders, you would not believe how many said that they liked series of books. (And this year, of course, they all like The Hunger Games; a couple of years ago it was Twilight, etc.) As a librarian, I don't like series, because when I get in a new shipment of books and half seem to be continuations of series, it's hard to get them to circulate right away. As a reader, however, I adored them, too. Here are the newest installments in some good middle grade series for girls.
Palmer, Robin. Take My Advice: Yours Truly, Lucy B. Parker #4
10 May 2012
Lucy and her superstar step sister Laurel are back, and this time Lucy is the one thrust into the spotlight when someone suggests that she take over the "agony aunt" column in the school newspaper. The school is all abuzz about the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, which Lucy thinks is a bad idea, mainly because she's scared to ask her crush, Blair. Lucy answers a lot of questions about the dance, but her advice often goes awry, and the whole school is in kind of a mess.
Strengths: Lots of embarrassing things happen to people, there's a little bit of celebrity culture, and Lucy goes on her merry way with the enthusiasm of the last three books. Book #5, For Better of For Worse, which came out 30 August, will most likely address Lucy's father getting married.
Weaknesses: The covers changed mid series. Argh! My students liked the cartoon ones and will be confused by the photo. I didn't like this one as much-- I get tired of Lucy obsessing about getting her period, and there are a large number of advice column middle grade novels, but I don't know of many schools who actually have newspapers any more.
Devillers, Julia and Jennifer Roy. Double Feature (#4)
3 January 2012
Right on the heels of their trip to New York in Times Squared, Payton and Emma are approached to audition for a Teen Sheen shampoo commercial in Hollywood. Their dad takes them out, they get to stay in a fancy hotel and run into several celebrities, but also find out that the dreaded Ashlynn. Despite her comeuppance in New York, Ashlynn is still up to her nastiness and tricks. Payton is dismayed when the part of the twin with the greasy hair in the commercial goes to her, and her embarrassment over this leads to a couple more instances of switching places with Emma. Emma also gets to go on a game show, Brainy Mania, which is right up her alley.
Strengths: Tween fantasy at its finest. It's great that this series is written by actual twins who still somehow seem to know that tweens who aren't twins secretly wish they had them. (I certainly did, and even I had fantasies about starring in a movie version of Anne of Green Gables before the Megan Follows one was ever made.)
Weaknesses: Rather unbelievable, and I wished that more time had elapsed. At this rate, there could be about twenty books before the girls get out of high school, and my limit on a series like this is about ten. (Which is more than my fantasy series limit, which is five.)
Simon, Coco. Mia's Baker Dozen.
7 Feburary 2012
Mia struggles with having her dad in New York City while she lives in the suburbs with her mother and step father, but she feels even worse when she is failing Spanish, a language that both her mother and father speak fluently. She even makes a mistake in Spanish that makes a friend mad at her boyfriend! Cupcakes are one thing-- Mia loves to bake and comes up with a lot of good ideas, but she isn't as good at handling her homework load or asking for help when she needs it. She does have some other talents and is a good friend to a neighbor girl, but has to work up the courage to tell her parents about her grade.
Strengths: I like how the blended family is portrayed realistically, and struggles that commonly go on are shown in a positive way.
Weaknesses: Still not understanding the Popular Girls Club or quite buying that the cupcake business is that good, but this is still a fun series. Still need Emma All Stirred Up and Alexis Cool as a Cupcake.
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader.