If you like historical fiction and humor, you’ll love The Nerviest Girl in the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020) by Melissa Wiley.
When Pearl’s three big brothers get hired to be “real cowboys” in Mr. Corrigan’s moving picture reels, she is fascinated. After hanging on to a runaway horse herself, Pearl is hired, too. But if her mother finds out, her dangerous career as a stunt girl will be over.
I love Pearl’s conversations with the ostriches–yes, they raise those too on their cattle and sheep ranch. I love Pearl’s conflicts with her nemesis. And I love her bravery. It’s great getting a look at what people thought about this new form of entertainment, too.
This book is a Junior Library Guild selection and Brave Writer Arrow book.
Melissa Wiley is also the author of a number of easy readers and the Martha and Charlotte books about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother and grandmother. Read about Melissa here and see her books here.
The Unteachables (Balzer & Bray, 2019) by Gordon Korman is an inspiring upper middle grade novel with big splashes of humor.
Unusually (for a middle grade) it’s told from multiple points of view, including adults. We get a look at the misfits and delinquents who are isolated from the rest of the student body and put in one class together. These are the kids no one knows what to do with. And this year, their teacher is burned out and only hanging in ’til retirement. But something unexpected happens.
Meet Kiana who doesn’t belong, Mr. Kermit who’s sure it is a conspiracy, Parker with his provisional driver’s license, Aldo who definitely has anger issues, Elaine rhymes with pain, and more. Here’s a book trailer.
Don’t miss this book!
Author Gordon Korman has written over 95 books! Click here to his main book page and then choose what category you’d like to see more of his books.
You can “meet” Gordon here as he talks about how he got started and his most recent novel Restart.
Moonpenny Island (Balzer and Bray, 2015) by Tricia Springstubb is a story about change and offers encouragement that we can do more than simply survive.
Eleven-year-olds, Flor and Sylvie, are inseparable, so what is Flor going to do when Sylvie has to leave the island to go to school on the mainland? If that’s not bad enough, Flor’s mother leaves to take care of grandmother and Flor is afraid she might not come back. Her older sister has a secret too that has Flor worried.
I love what the author says on her website in her FAQ in answer to this question: Did you always want to be a writer?
“The first thing I wanted to be was a dog. When I realized the odds of that, I switched to a cowgirl. Then an archeologist. I also wanted to be a mom. (Hooray! That came true.) I didn’t decide to be a writer till I was grown-up.”
Read all about her other books here. Tricia is also a member of the “From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors,” where members talk about books.
The Hop (Disney-Hyperion, 2012) by Sharelle Byars Moranville is a fun adventure story told in two alternating viewpoints: a kid and a TOAD!
Tad, a small toad, lives in Toadville-by-Tumbledown which is in grave danger and he’s been selected to save it by kissing a human girl. Ughh. (Isn’t that an interesting twist?) But not just any girl–it has to be the Queen of the Hop. His trip is quite the adventure as he follows directions and ends up in . . . no, I’m not telling you where.
Taylor’s favorite place is the pond next to her grandmother’s, but the property has been sold and it’s going to be turned into a strip mall. What can she do to save it? And then there’s the complication that her grandmother, Eve, is having chemotherapy and she can’t stay with her all the time anymore, especially this time when her parents go to Reno.
Of course, our two heroes have to meet and kiss, but nothing is as you expect it will be.
There are fun illustrations by Niki Daly to add to the story. (You might want to check out more of his work here.)
Love this book–it makes me smile every time I think about it.
The author in her “questions from readers” tells how she came to name the toads. On the same page, you’ll find out how Sharelle came up with “night-smacky-goo.” You know you want to know…
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Anything But Typical (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010) by Nora Raleigh Baskin has a main character who is “anything but typical.” 12-year-old Jason Blake is autistic kid living in a neurotypical world. “School doesn’t always go very well,” he says. Jason flaps his hands if excited, when he’s going to say something, or if thinking. Others think he is weird. He knows he’s supposed to look people in the eye, but he doesn’t like to. Besides most people look the same to him. “I know no girl will ever like me,” he says. But then PhoenixBird likes his stories on the Storyboard website. Maybe she can be his friend. But when they both get to go to the Storyboard conference, he’s afraid once she sees him she won’t like him anymore.
This story is well-told. It made me more understanding and sympathetic of those who have some strange uncontrollable habit. I think every kid should read this award winning novel. Look here at all the awards!
I love what Nora says on her site: “Most everything I write, whether it is a novel or an essay or a short story is very much a part of my life.. The world as I remember it… In other words..I rarely make anything up..mostly I pick and choose from things I’ve experienced or seen or done..and give them to my characters.” Read about her other books on her website.