Foreword Reviews

The Best of Middle Grade Literature


These books for young readers trade between exploring the breadth and diversity of the world, and encouraging creative existence within it. Learn about Scottish culture or the makeup of the universe, or fold in to a story about magical beings who want to stretch their potential just the slightest bit more. These wide-ranging titles have one thing in common: they’re ready to awaken wonder.

The Understanding Monster

Book Three

Book Cover
Theo Ellsworth
Secret Acres
Hardcover $21.95 (64pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

The Understanding Monster is a surreal, provocative comic book that explores the relationship between reality and creativity. The text is intentionally disjointed, often confusing, and utterly compelling as it explores the awareness of the protagonist Izadore. The illustrations are incredibly detailed, atmospheric, and at times quite disturbing. The combination perfectly captures a dreamscape of the author’s imagination, where anything is possible. This a book that is not just entertaining but thought provoking, and is most appropriate for advanced teen readers and adults.


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Baker’s Magic

Book Cover
Diane Zahler
Capstone Young Readers
Hardcover $12.95 (336pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Bakers Magic is a delightful tale sure to entertain young fantasy enthusiasts. The story centers on Bee, an orphan with an unusual talent for baking; her friend, Will, the blacksmith’s apprentice; and Anika, the princess of the kingdom of Aradyn. The princess is in dire need of assistance, for she must escape the cruel mage who is her guardian. The three friends set off on an adventure to not only save the princess, but also the kingdom and the land itself. Mixing themes of magic, love, friendship, and environmentalism, the story truly has a little something for everyone. It is light hearted, entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable. Ages 9 - 12.


I, Humanity

Book Cover
Jeffrey Bennett
Big Kid Science
Hardcover $15.00 (32pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Written as a first-person narrative in which “I” is all of humanity, I, Humanity explores human understandings of the universe. Jeffrey Bennett brilliantly condenses scientific discoveries throughout the ages into a brief history and presents the information in a manner that is clear, informative, and visually appealing. Written for children ages 7 and up, the book includes a helpful glossary, as well as suggested activities for further learning in specific age groups. It is a must read for those interested in the science of the universe.


On the Road with Mallory

Book Cover
Laurie Friedman
Jennifer Kalis, illustrator
Darby Creek Publishing
Hardcover $15.95 (160pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

On the Road with Mallory is the latest book in a series of twenty-five. In this installment, Mallory is on a vacation to the Grand Canyon and is journaling about her adventures. Much to her annoyance, her cousin Kate has joined her family on this trip. Mallory and Kate must learn to get along if they are going to enjoy their vacation. Amusing illustrations accompany the text, drawn as though Kate is drawing in her journal. The lesson about learning to understand someone else’s perspective comes through clearly and will find its mark with children ages 7 to 11.


A Scottish Year

Book Cover
Tania McCartney
Exisle Pub
Hardcover $17.99 (28pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

The cultural heritage of Scotland is celebrated in A Scottish Year, a book for children ages 4 to 8 that looks at the life of children in Scotland. The book shares information on celebrations, foods, school, free time activities, and the landscape, with simple color illustrations that show children engaging in a variety of activities. This book is part of a series that examines life for children in other countries, and it does a fantastic job of illustrating the differences and the similarities between cultures.


The Golden Winged Fairy

Book Cover
Lala Fae
Laura Siadak, illustrator
Hardcover $19.95 (32pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

The Golden Winged Fairy tells the story of Lorelei, a Silver Moon Fairy who has one wing that glows golden. She tries to disguise her difference, but when it is finally revealed, the other fairies help her to understand how special she is. Lovely illustrations highlighted with gold and silver leaf depict the woodland home of the fairies in lush detail. The book is a joy to look at, and offers children ages 4 and up an opportunity to examine their own differences and learn what makes them special.


The Story of Snowflake and Inkdrop

Book Cover
Pierdomenico Baccalario
** Alessandro Gatti**
Simona Mulazzani
Enchanted Lion Books
Hardcover $22.95 (56pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Snowflake is anxious for the day it can fall to earth and share in the wonders it can see. Inkdrop longs to be a part of the artist’s drawings. When a sudden wind brings them together, they will both discover a new world. The Story of Snowflake and Inkdrop is elegantly told and beautifully designed. Stunning illustrations and creative laser cuts allow the reader to share the perspective of both characters. It is appropriate for all ages, and will be a joy to those who appreciate books as works of art.


Catherine Reed-Thureson

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