Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Middle Grade Recommendations

on July 8, 2020

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been waiting on my developmental edits on my middle grade to be returned from my editor. While I waited, I did a little more reading in current middle grade novels. This helps me with my own story as I study how other authors do things like increase the stakes and develop secondary characters (two of the areas which came back as needing a little work in my own middle grade)

Two of my favorite middle grade books were Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Clean Getaway by Nic Stone.

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone is a perfect middle grade road trip story. After Scoob gets in a little trouble and finds his spring break plans canceled, he ends up on a road trip with his mysterious Grandma. The two travel through the South, tracing a route white Grandma once wanted to take with black Grandpa in the late 60’s with the help of The Green Book. I’m not usually a fan of road trip stories, but when Scoob opens the old treasure box and pulls out the Green Book (which I honestly knew no history about the Green Book so this was really interesting to me) and Grandma steals a license plate from another car, I was hooked wondering: Who is this Grandma? And who is Grandpa who is in jail and Dad has never wanted to talk about with Scoob?

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a middle grade in which twelve-year- old Jerome has been shot by a police officer when holding a toy gun and mistaken for having a real one. He becomes a ghost and watches his parents walk through the grief of losing him and the trial with the police officer. The only person who can see him is the police officer’s daughter, Sarah. When Jerome becomes a ghost he is met by other ghost boys–namely Emmett Till who at first helps him negotiate this new ghost world and then encourages him to interact with Sarah so his story and others who have also been killed due to racism can be told. The story is very well plotted and moves quickly. The story is a great read that weaves historical fiction with our current times.

I would add both of these to any middle school classroom for either classroom libraries or as books to read in a literature circle/book group. (I am not a fan of whole class books as I think it’s hard to reach all readers with one book and encourage the use of literature circles/book groups where readers have a choice of books based on a theme)


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