Middle Grade Monday – That’s Not My Kind of Book
I’m half way through a novel that seemingly has ALL the strikes against it:
- middle grade fiction
- historical fiction
- rural United States setting
- multiple time periods
- muted, sepia toned cover featuring a girl in overalls
It only lacks footnotes for it to reach the pinnacle of ‘not my kind of book.’ Have you guessed what it is yet?
First, let’s talk about why I’m reading it. We only have one copy in our collection. Even though it won the Newbery Award, I had no intention of reading it. I also have no illusions that it will appeal to more than a handful of my students on it’s own. It is, however, on the state’s Battle of the Books list for next year, and it is the book I have been assigned for question writing.
But. But, but, but. It IS really good (obviously.) The characters are colorful and fully realized. The multiple time periods involve flashbacks to engaging stories mysteriously tied the ‘present’. It presents a clear picture of the reality of living in rural America during the Depression that is both vivid and realistic, without being preachy or heartbreaking.
Will it make me seek out more books like it? Let’s be honest, probably not. But maybe I won’t avoid them like they carry the plague. (Although, looking at the condition in which some of our books are returned, maybe they do.)
Are there any books you avoid reading? What difference could it make to your reader’s advisory ability if you tried some of them? I’m actually looking forward to being able to book talk this title next year for my sixth graders. I already have passages I want to read aloud picked out.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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