January Dive | It’s Reader’s Rec Month! Explore Life as a Middle Grades Kid

New year, new books and time to start it all off right by diving deep into the world of real Middle Grades kids. Deep Blue Readers get a feast of choices from our menu of realistic fiction titles inspired by a rec from Maisie, one of our regular divers. There’s a little something for everyone to meet a variety of interests, so curl up with our main book first and move on to extra choices as you like!

We’ll see you Sunday 1/25, 1:30pm at Mara Mi in Downtown Stillwater. Newcomers are always welcome and January is a great time for kids to investigate the St. Croix Valley’s very own Middle Grades book club. Need a quick view of all five January books? Visit the Dive Log or download our Winter flyer (.pdf).

teruptBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea is our main January title. Each chapter is narrated by one of seven fifth graders as their teacher and a terrible accident turn the kids’ world upside down. Readers will find a part of themselves in at least one of these authentically portrayed characters, with Buyea bringing his own teacher experience to the page:

There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.

Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone. – Random House Books

  • The author sits down with celebrated writer John Irving for a video conversation about their friendship, wrestling, and how both brought Mr. Terupt to life.
  • Rob Buyea reveals the secret behind those amazing dollar words to NPR

Your Choice #1: Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

Project-MulberryPerfect for kids who want an inside look at what it’s like to write a novel, Project Mulberry literally gets you inside the author’s head in a series of conversations between Linda Park and main character, Julia Song. Julia, a Korean-American seventh-grader, is not so sure she likes where the story is going!

That’s because Julia needs a lot of convincing when she and best friend, Patrick, start raising silk worms for their club project — which might go on to compete in the State Fair. How can Julia be true to herself, not let her friends down, and still go through with the difficult choices their project asks her to make? On top of that, how will she deal with an unsettling discovery about her mom?

Project Mulberry earned a 2005 Kirkus starred review and received the Chicago Tribune’s Young Adult Book Prize that same year.

Your Choice #2: Ungifted by Gordon Kormanungifted

[E]ighth-grader Donovan Curtis is a reckless boy with “poor impulse control,” whose classmates have voted him “Most Likely to Wind Up in Jail.” After Donovan’s gift for chaos causes an especially costly accident at school, a paperwork mix-up sees him transferred to his town’s Academy for Scholastic Distinction… – Publisher’s Weekly

Author Gordon Korman is a New York Times best selling author of over 75 books for young readers. Known for his comic touch, Korman “treats both the smart kids and the smart aleck ones with equal respect, and he invites readers to do the same.” Lost in a Great Book and Kirkus provide additional Ungifted reviews.

luckyYour Choice #3: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

This debut novel by Sheila Turnage became a 2012 Newbery honor winner, New York Times bestseller, Edgar Award Finalist, and E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor book. She spins the tale of two rising sixth-graders — Mo LeBeau and Dale Earnheart Johnson III — whose Summer waiting tables at the local cafe quickly turns into a season of detective work and community intrigue when a grumpy neighbor is discovered dead — or was it murder?

Get pulled in by the rich cast of characters, witty dialogue, and vibrant descriptions that bring Tupelo Landing to life. Mo’s shrewd observations about what makes everyone in this small town tick will glue you to the story. They’re a big advantage in the race to solve the mystery … because adults want to keep Mo and Dale away from their secrets and the truth.

  • Three Times Lucky earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.
  • School Library Journal reveals why “a good first page is worth its weight in gold” — and Three Times Lucky hits the jackpot.
  • Anita Silvey at Children’s Book Almanac says Turnage “carries the readers off on a fast-paced, page-turning adventure.”
  • Publisher’s Weekly talks with the author about her recent sequel, The Ghost of Tupelo Landing.

origami-yodaYour Choice #4: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Whether you love Star Wars or you simply love a funny story about everyday kids in crazy situations, it’s the perfect time to pick up this side-splitting series by Tom Angleberger.

Tommy is your guide through the big question facing sixth graders at McQuarrie Middle School: Can they prove Dwight’s Origami Yoda is real — really truly real — or is it just a paper puppet? As Tommy announces on page one:

It’s REALLY important for me to figure out if he’s real. Because I’ve got to decide whether to take his advice or not, and if I make the wrong choice, I’m doomed!’

Full of hilarious side-margin illustrations and laugh-out-loud commentary from Tommy’s classmates, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda makes School Library Journal‘s list of Top 100 Children’s Novels.

Readers who continue the series will discover that the even bigger issue facing McQuarrie Middle School is whether, together, students can defeat the Evil Empire. Stooky Fact: Author Tom Angleberger knows his Star Wars so well, he was asked to write the upcoming youth novelization of Return of the Jedi.