Sunday, September 16, 2012

Middle Grade Monday--Series

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.

Double Feature (Trading Faces #4)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.)

Mia's Baker's Dozen (Cupcake Diaries, #6)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.


  1. Hi there Miss Yingling - would you know what separates MG novels from YA novels? I've been wondering about that for the longest time. These are MG titles I haven't heard of nor seen before, thanks for sharing them and your thoughts about each one. :)

  2. I like that all these books are grounded in real experiences. I never thought I'd say this, but I am so sick of my kids reading the Hunger Games and series like that!

  3. I've always had mixed feelings about series. If a book is great I want it to be a series. If it's not a page turner I'm happy for it to end. But I think I liked them better as a kid when I wasn't trying to read so many books by so many authors. As a kid you don't have a book goal. You just read what you like. Ah, those carefree days!

  4. Anonymous4:51 PM EDT

    Thanks for the series ideas. With an 11yo series lover at home it's nice to have some new ideas. I know of Cupcake Diaries, but not the others. Thanks!

  5. I think we had a newspaper when I first moved to the middle school, but switching away from block scheduling killed my paper. I also hate when covers change mid-series! So annoying and you must convince students they are the same!

    I love a good series! It all depends on the writing how far I'll go! My issue with buying them is it tends to EAT my budget!

  6. Thanks for the new titles. My students also love series books. I did too when young, but unless it is excellent, I typically only read the first one nowadays. Not enough time to read a lengthy series with all of the great books out there.

  7. Thanks too for these titles I must take note of them as this is the age group I teach and I always like to get new ones they might enjoy. Yes the Hunger Games has been a big read in my class this year!