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Holiday Gift Guide- Our Picks for Middle Readers and Teens

December 1, 2010

This week, we are excited to share our Holiday 2010 Gift Guide with you! Please check out yesterday’s post for our picks for picture books and preschoolers, today’s post for our picks for middle readers and teens, and tomorrow to see our picks for great family gifts! Also, on Thursday’s post, we will share a PDF shopping list of all of the titles we feature this week so that you can easily print it out and take it with you when you do your holiday shopping. Next week we will be blogging about more specifically holiday-themed titles, so be sure not to miss that if you love a great Christmas book!

Middle Readers

Erin’s Picks:

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

I blogged about this book this summer after I had the chance to host a bookseller dinner for the author and I am still just as excited about it as I was then! I loved this exciting adventure/fantasy tale set in a dystopian near future. With strong, clever boy and girl characters, evil enemies, a shifting, mysterious museum and an emphasis on staying true to yourself and fighting for what is right, this is a great choice for young readers ages 8-12. There will be two more books in the series, so more reading adventures to come!


Babymouse by Jennifer and Matt Holm and Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

These are two great graphic novel series for kids ages 6-10 or older reluctant readers. Babymouse is drawn in pink, black and white and features a sassy, imaginative mouse, and Lunch Lady is a crime fighter in disguise as a school lunch lady who investigates assorted school-based comic mysteries. Both are clever and hilarious with vivid, funny art. These would make wonderful gifts for young readers who have read and loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or who are still too young for older manga or graphic novel series.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This was one of our group’s favorite gift suggestions last holiday season, and since it is now the 2010 Newbery Award winner I am recommending it again. The paperback will be out just after the holidays (remember it when you go use those gift cards!), but why not give this beautiful book in hardcover to a family that will read it and re-read it for years to come? This is a coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a perfect complement to A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Deanna’s Picks:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

For a middle grade novel, this is a substantial read- over 350 pages. The plot is dense as well, which makes this a perfect book for kids who read above their level but are not quite ready for young adult. During the Great Depression, 12-year-old Abilene is unexpectedly dumped by her father in the town of Manifest. It’s just been the two of them riding the rails for several years, but her father feels it’s safer for her in the care of his one and only friend, Shady Howard. Abilene knows nothing of her father’s past, but as certain artifacts come to light she decides to do some investigating. While learning the town’s history during WWI through letters and newspaper articles, she ends up learning about her father. Though clearly the details are quite different, upon reading I found that it reminded me of Holes in its detailed and historically based plot. This quiet book has earned several starred reviews including Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist.

 Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald, illustrated by Mary Grandpre

OK, I need to cop to something right off the bat: I didn’t read this book! Why is it on my holiday recommends list then? Well, I have two bookstores featuring this title for the holidays. Over at University Books in Seattle, one of their employees loved this book so much as a kid they had been selling a British import edition before our reissue was published. The nuts (and when I say that I mean competent, wonderful women and man of the kids section) have sold almost 100 copies so far of this shiny new edition and plan to sell 100-200 more just this season.  And then I received Elliott Bay Book Co.’s holiday gazette and they have it featured as well! Written by Betty MacDonald (of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fame), with a holiday theme and wonderful cover and interior illustrations by Mary Grandpre, this promises to be a holiday classic.

Sarah’s Pick:

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Like some of our other favorite books of the year, we’ve already blogged about this one a couple of times but as one of my book buyers said to me after she read it in a single night, it’s a book that must be shared with others.  What a better way to do just that than to give it as a gift this holiday season!   Set in a fifth grade classroom and told in seven alternating voices, Mr. Terupt is the story of how one teacher changes the lives of his students.  It’s perfect for a middle reader or as a family or classroom read-aloud.  Well written and deeply moving, no matter your age you will get something out of this book.

Teen Readers

Erin’s Picks:

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

We have raved about this book several times, and it is well worth it. This book would make a great gift for your sister, your mom, your best friend or a well-read teenager. Revolution is a love story, a mystery, historical fiction, and a heartbreaking depiction of a teenage girl in crisis. Everyone who I have given this to already has loved it so much that they have passed it on to a fellow reader. Rarely have I been so confident in a book’s appeal to everyone!

The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

In all of the hype surrounding The Hunger Games, I think these books got somewhat overlooked. And while I loved Suzanne Collins’ series, I found these books just as thrilling, dark and terrifying in their depiction of kids fighting for survival in a futuristic wasteland. These books are a 6th-12th grade reading level but I can personally vouch for adults enjoying them just as much since my husband and mother-in-law are big fans as well!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Another blog favorite, this book is unlike most of the books dominating the teen market right now (vampires, fallen angels, mean girls and dystopia) which makes it a welcome treat for a teen girl or an adult reader looking for a well-written, darkly funny and sad mystery. Told in present day and flashbacks, Vera Dietz tries to dig deeper into the circumstances surrounding her best friend Charlie’s death, but does she really want to know what happened? Death, drugs, abuse and other mature content makes this a read for older teens, but it is thoughtful, complex and surprising.

Deanna’s Picks:

 Will by Maria Boyd

I loved this title but it has received little attention since we published it in July. This will appeal to boys and possibly to some Glee fans. Will is reluctantly recruited to play guitar for and lead the band for his school musical. The voice is sarcastic, funny and peppered with Australian slang but his emotions feel 100% real.

The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez

This novel about a little known (outside the Cuban community) exodus called Operation Pan Pedro surprised me with both its violence and its sweetness. At the start of the Cuban revolution, parents fearing for the safety of their children sent thousands of them to the United States. It was the largest migration of unaccompanied minors in history. While many of the children had relatives in the US to take care of them until their parents could join them, some, like the brother and sister in the story, were housed with strangers. These particular siblings were sent to a farm in Nebraska – about as far from the Cuban experience as they could imagine. In addition to this incredible upheaval, 14-year-old Lucia is dealing with life as a teenager in the 60’s. Boys, makeup and dances had been the most important things on her mind until the revolution. In addition to having to leave her family, she also has to deal with friends whose loyalties are divided in the new regime and boys who’ve been empowered with too much authority.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 8:14 am

    I don’t have a couple of these in my classroom yet – thanks for the tips!! 🙂

  2. December 1, 2010 10:15 am

    They all look good to me and I’m way passed that age!

  3. December 1, 2010 10:34 am

    All of these look like books my teenagers at home would love, so I am adding a few to the list. I already have three of them, but the others might just find their way into the stockings this year! Thanks so much for posting this!

  4. December 1, 2010 1:35 pm

    Love this list!!! I’ll be checking these out and adding many to my classroom library.

  5. December 1, 2010 8:19 pm

    Wow, what wonderful gift suggestions! I have somehow missed all of these, and they all sound good. I’ve heard great things about Maze Runner – my son would love this one.

    I’ve added several of these titles to my gift idea list for my sons – thanks!



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