Middle Grade Books

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The Story Web

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Bloomsbury, 2019
There's no such thing as just a story.

When Alice was little, she found a gigantic spider web deep in the forest. Her dad called it the Story Web and told her how its strands were woven from the stories that hold our world together.

Years later, Alice's dad has gone away for reasons Alice is sure are her fault. Now she won't even talk about her dad and definitely no longer believes his farfetched stories. But when animals in town start acting strangely, she can't ignore them. The Story Web is in danger--and the fabric of our world is breaking. The only way to mend it is to tell honest tales from the heart, even if they are difficult to share.

Reviews of The Story Web:

“The story's essential theme--the importance of trust and connection in the health of a community--is an important one in this divisive time.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“The importance of sharing one's stories is a theme that will resonate with many . . . Recommended for collections where magical realism is popular and stories about PTSD are needed.” ―School Library Journal

“A realistic and honest consideration of the impact of mental illness on families and communities commingles effectively with the fantastical elements in this captivating tale.” ―Horn Book Magazine

“Hopeful. . . . Readers get a lesson in the importance of honesty versus allowing rumors to spread.” ―Booklist

“An accessible rumination on the power of storytelling and its place in the modern world.” ―BCCB

 

The Firefly Code

Bloomsbury, 2016

Mori and her friends live a normal life on Firefly Lane in their utopian community, Old Harmonie. In a world this safe and perfect, they’ve never had to question anything . . . never had to wonder about how their lives came to be. Until a new girl named Ilana moves in. She’s so perfect that Mori and her friends are curious . . . Where exactly did Ilana come from, and why does she act so strange sometimes? When Ilana’s secret is revealed, the kids on Firefly Lane must decide: is it finally time to start questioning the only world they’ve ever known?

In a stunningly imaginative story, critically acclaimed author Megan Frazer Blakemore takes readers on a journey with five friends–new and old–that will have everyone talking about not just what makes people human, but what makes them true friends.

Honors:

  • Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Selection

  • A Bank Street Books Best Book of the Year, 2017 Edition (Ages 9-12)

  • A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2017 (National Council for the Social Studies)

  • Audiobook: Booklist Editor’s Choice: Audio for Youth

Reviews of The Firefly Code:

“In this gripping novel, Blakemore (The Friendship Riddle) creates a disturbingly ordered world in which questions about friendship and family offer courageous and heartwarming testaments to the human spirit.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“The themes are strong, and the depiction of a tightly controlled world at the expense of individuality will surely fascinate fans of Lois Lowry’s The Giver . . . A very good selection for middle grade readers drawn to high-concept science fiction.” –  School Library Journal

“Will have children turning pages and thinking about important questions. An excellent choice for those who love Lois Lowry’s The Giver or Margaret Peterson Haddix’s sci-fi adventures.” –  Booklist

 

“This creepy, memorable novel is a welcome addition to the relative few utopian/ dystopian books for pre-YA readers.” – BCCB

“The Firefly Code has a perfect combination of intriguing science fiction and realistic tween interaction. I enjoyed every page, and look forward to what promises to be at least one more book set in Mori’s world. Highly recommended!” – Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson’s Book Page

A “welcome addition to the dystopic utopia genre” – Kirkus Reviews

 

The Daybreak Bond

Bloomsbury, 2017

The sequel to The Firelfly Code

Mori and her friends Julia, Benji, and Theo have never seen life beyond the walls of their perfect society, Old Harmonie. That changes when their new friend Ilana is threatened by the rules that are supposed to keep them all safe. They escape together, hoping to find help in Boston with Dr. Agatha Varden, one of Old Harmonie’s pioneering founders.

But the outside world is nothing like they anticipated. As they face challenges they never expected and encounter a group of kids from the outside, Mori and the others begin to understand the complicated reality of their supposedly perfect community. With the help of these new friends, they just might be able to save Ilana . . . but at what cost?

Reviews for The Daybreak Bond

"Sci-fi lovers and fans of the first novel (The Firefly Code) will enjoy this fast-paced, complex sequel." - The Horn Book Guide

"Readers with a passion for environmentalism and economic equality will be enthralled by this title that explores the impact of a world whose unrestrained consumption has harsh effects on others . . . A satisfying, thrilling sequel to The Firefly Code." - School Library Journal

"Despite disturbing dystopic details and sophisticated concepts such as the uncanny valley, Mori’s earnestness and hard-won bravery give the story a gentle soul." - Kirkus Reviews

 

The Friendship Riddle

Bloomsbury, 2015

Ruth Mudd-O’Flaherty has been a lone wolf at her new middle school ever since her best friend, Charlotte, ditched her for “cooler” friends. Who needs friends when you have fantasy novels? Roaming the stacks of her town’s library is enough for Ruth. Until she finds a note in an old book…and in that note is a riddle, one that Ruth can’t solve alone. With a tantalizing set of clues before her, Ruth must admit she needs help, the kind that usually comes from friends. Lena and Coco, two kids in her class could be an option, but allowing them in will require courage, and Ruth must decide: Is embarking on this quest worth opening herself up again?

Reviews of The Friendship Riddle

A must-have selection for middle school mystery lovers.” – School Library Journal

“Blakemore addresses the thornier aspects of middle school honestly … Hand this to almost-middle-schoolers who aren’t yet too old for treasure-hunt stories.” – Horn Book Magazine

“Blakemore has created a cast of distinctive and believable sixth-graders … This sprawling novel’s chief strength is its portrayals of middle school dynamics, seen through the eyes of unconventional Ruth, and of contemporary family life.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“It’s a perfect read for slightly geeky, word and puzzle-loving kids.” – Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson’s Book Page

“I admire Blakemore’s cleverness in creating the riddles sprinkled throughout the book. I actually solved a couple of them as I was reading, and was very proud of myself! I also liked Blakemore’s fast-paced and interesting writing style, and the fact that the book didn’t end the way that I expected it to.” – Christine M. at KidsRead

 

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

Bloomsbury, 2014

A Historical Mystery

Hazel Kaplansky is a firm believer in the pursuit of knowledge and truth — and she also happens to love a good mystery. When suspicions begin to swirl that a Russian spy has infiltrated her small town of Maple Hill, Vermont, amidst the fervor of Cold War era McCarthyism, Hazel knows it’s up to her to find a suspect . . . starting with Mr. Jones, the quietly suspicious gravedigger. Plus she’s found the perfect sleuthing partner in Samuel Butler, the new boy in school with a few secrets of his own. As Hazel and Samuel piece together clues from the past and present, the truth suddenly is not what they expected, and what they find reveals more about themselves and the people of their cozy little town than they could ever have imagined.

Honors:

  • Maine Literary Awards: Young People’s Literature Book Award Winner 2015

  • An Amazon Big Spring Children’s Book

  • An Amazon Best Children’s Book of the Month, May 2014

Reviews of The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

The novel is "as much a painting of small-town life during the McCarthy era as it is a tribute to the great girl detectives of children’s literature.” – Chelsey Philpot in The New York Times Sunday Book Review

“Hazel’s inquisitiveness, independence and imperfections are a winning combination.” – Kirkus Reviews

“There’s lots to talk about here, subjects both public and personal, making this a great choice for book clubs or class discussion.”

– Ilene Cooper, Booklist

“Rich in period details, strong on family/friendship dynamics, with a cast of well-drawn secondary characters … the book demonstrates how easy it is to get caught up in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. A light-handed yet thoughtful presentation of a difficult time in U.S. history.” – Publishers Weekly

“Hazel is a wonderfully memorable character, larger-than-life, and so certain of her well-intentioned, but often misguided, ways. Blakemore perfectly captures that fine line between childhood and early adolescence, when tall tales from large imaginations are quickly formed, friendships with boys are still easy, and a young girl sees her place in the world as an unstoppable force.” – School Library Journal

“This is a genuine and often funny portrait of a girl who may be brighter than most of her peers but still has trouble finding perspective on Cold War politics.” – Christian Science Monitor (“25 of the Best New Middle Grade Novels”)

 

The Water Castle

Bloomsbury, 2013

Somewhere near the Water Castle, the Fountain of Youth awaits . . . who will discover it once and for all?

Ephraim Appledore-Smith is an ordinary boy, and up until his father’s stroke, he lived an ordinary life. But all that changes when his family moves to the Water Castle — their ancestral home in the small town of Crystal Springs, Maine.

When Ephraim learns of the Fountain, he’s sure finding it can cure his dad. With the help of two unlikely allies, the trio embarks on a mission that brings them deep into their families’ shared history, through every secret room in the Water Castle, and on a quest that will blur the lines of magic and science, creativity and discovery, leaving readers to wonder: Do you believe in the unbelievable?

Honors:

  • 2013 Lupine Honor Book

  • MWPA Literary Awards Finalist

  • Bank Street College of Education Children’s Book Committee Best Children’s Books of the Year

  • A Kirkus Best Children’s Book of 2013

  • New York Public Library, Titles for Reading and Sharing 2013

  • International Reading Association Children’s and Young Adults Book Awards, Honor book in the Intermediate Category

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection

  • Cybils Finalist, 2013, Speculative Fiction

  • 2013 Nerdy Award Finalist

  • Fuse8: 100 Magnificent Children’s Books

  • Maine Student Book Award List 2014-2015

  • Kentucky Blue Grass Award List 2015

  • Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award List 2014-2015

  • Keystone to Reading Book Awards, Intermediate Level List 2014-2015

  • New Mexico Battle of the Books 2015

Reviews of The Water Castle

“Weaving legacy and myth into science and magic, old into new and enemies into friends, Blakemore creates an exquisite mystery. … This one is special.”

– Kirkus, Starred Review

 

“[W]hat we have here is a smart little bit of middle grade chapter book science fiction, complete with arson, obsession, genetic mutation, and a house any kid would kill to live in. Smarter than your average bear, this is one book that rewards its curious readers. It’s a pleasure through and through.”

– Betsy Bird, School Library Journal Fuse8 

 

“What shines through, however, is Blakemore’s tender understanding of how these children — and all children — feel about their lives and the adults who control them.” – S.S. Taylor in The New York Times

 

“Blakemore skillfully explores the intersection of science and magic in this multifaceted story.” – Publishers Weekly

 

The Water Castle is full of ad­ven­ture and mystery, but mostly it’s about the importance of family, friendship and home.” – Tracy Grant, The Washington Post: Kids Post

 

“An entertaining and thought-provoking fantasy.”— School Library Journal

 

“[A]s compelling as it is mysterious . . . Whether you love history or mystery, you’ll easily get sucked into this story about friendship, loss, and life that spans centuries.”

– Jack and Jill Magazine

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