There are tons of authors who love writing those sweet middle grade books full of twelve year old protagonists growing up.
Some Middle Grade books I've read:
- The Companion Quartet by Julia Golding
- The Jack Blank series by Matt Myklutch
- Savvy and Scumble by Ingrid Law
- The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
- The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
- The Princess for Hire trilogy by Lindsey Leavitt
- The Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger
- A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Like all good books they have great plots and wonderful characters. In almost all of the middle grade books I've read the main characters have started off rather innocent and naïve, unsure of the world and where they belong but as the story goes on they discover so much about themselves. Maybe that's why there so appealing. The characters learn and grow so much as the story goes on. I would say more than some teen characters in Young Adult books.
Take Mibs (her full name is Mississippi Beumont) for example from Savvy. She lives in a family where on the their thirteenth birthday they get a power. Little or big. Her big brother Rocket has a thing for electricity while Fish can control the weather. At the start of the book she is so excited for her birthday. That is all she can think about but then her Papa ends up in the hospital and everything goes topsy turvy for her and her family.
As a just-turned-thirteen year old she impulsively goes off to wake her Papa from his slumber at the hospital. During the journal on a Bible bus with some other kids from her church she experiences so many different things for the first time. Isn't that what its like to become a teen? To be thirteen? She starts having feelings that she can't control and she's trying to find her place in the world all while figuring out what power she has. That's just one example of many vibrant and wonderful characters in middle grade books. Like Mibs a lot of the protagonists in this genre are stumbling into being a teenager, feeling things they don't normally feel and doing things they don't normally do.
Middle grade books have unique plotlines that set them apart from other genres. When I think of middle grade and plots the first author that comes to my mind is Shannon Messenger.
Each middle grade book has a coming of age theme in them at least a little bit. Whether the protagonist is just coming into an unknown power or high school they always have a familiar plotline to them. Shannon Messenger's books are long and full of twists and turns that I don't normally see in middle grade books. Her protagonist Sophie Foster goes through more than most being whisked away to a magical elven realm where she has to figure out where her place is there, how to fit in, and not be awkward or weird. She has so many secrets to uncover about herself and through the last three books she has grown and started coming into who she truly is. Sophie has to face her fears and Shannon Messenger crafts her plots so that Sophie is thrown into situations where fear is inevitable.
Like in all other genres voice is essential to crafting a great middle school book. I adore Ingrid Law's unique southern kind of voice but I've already mentioned her characters. My next favorite would likely be Natalie Lloyd's voice in A Snicker of Magic.
Her main character Felicity and her mom and sister are more like gypsies than anything else. They hop from one place to another until the land in Midnight Glutch where her mother grew up and says that magic used to thrive there. Now though there is only a trace and Felicity believes whole heartedly that she can get it back because Felicity has some magic of her own. She can see words floating around and she collects them. But what makes Natalie Lloyd and Felicity's voice so unique is that she uses so many bright descriptive words and her descriptions themselves are rich and full and took my breath away as I read them. The words that Felicity could see took my breath away. Words like "clutzerdoodle," when Felicity was introduced in front of a new class. Or a description like this:
"The word friend looked buggy too, when it wriggled through the air--FRIEND grew six sets of legs and six sets of arms, and all the letters danced together, then kicked, then danced, then kicked again."
I especially loved the word "spindiddly." I found myself thinking the word for weeks after I read this book.
There are so many more amazing middle grade books out there and I hope this post was helpful to you all!
What do you think of the middle grade genre? Have anything else to say?