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Great Kids’ Fiction

The EatReadSleep Ten Year Celebration continues!

The beautiful middle grade years! When children can read on their own and have endless hours to fall into a book, soaking up classics and making memories that last a lifetime. These are the books we all remember from our childhood, from Charlotte’s Web to A Wrinkle in Time. They help to form our interior lives, peopling our minds with characters who speak to our deepest selves. Handing a child a good book at this age will mold adults with integrity and imagination.

Here are some treasures from the last ten years of EatReadSleep, arranged very loosely with the youngest in the beginning. Click on the title in the captions for full reviews.

Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman. A rollicking, nonsensical, cumulative tale.
The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes. A sweet story that is perfect for boys who have just learned to read.
Clementine and the Spring Trip, by Sara Pennypacker. This charming series is along the same lines as Junie B. Jones, but without the sass and with very nice parents.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventure, by Kate DiCamillo. Everything she writes is gold. This one is fun, with a bit of fantasy. The Tale of Despereaux is about the same age, but has more of a classic readaloud vibe.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill. A magical, enthralling story for those who love fairy tales.
Boys of Blur and others by N.D. Wilson. My favorite is the series that starts with 100 Cupboards, which was written before this blog started. Christian kids, especially, should read everything by Nate Wilson.
Counting by 7’s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Grief and loss meet genius and love. A complex, multicultural tale for upper elementary and middle school.
Louisiana’s Way Home and others in the series, by Kate DiCamillo. The queen of middle grade fiction.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. A difficult story that took the world by storm– and a very kind author.
Booked, and others, by Kwame Alexander. I can’t count how many books I have read by this amazing author, but I can see four solo reviews, and I have his next book on order at the library.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, by Kwame Mbalia. I love it when a local author succeeds, and this affable Raleigh man burst into the national spotlight with this very fun read.
The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley. A heartfelt, absorbing World War II story.


Still to come on EatReadSleep’s Tenth Anniversary posts: Children’s Nonfiction and Books for “Tweens.” There are some gems in there!

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Clementine and the Spring Trip, by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Marla Frazee

ImageClementine is the most charming little heroine in chapter books today. In this episode, she and her third grade class are headed to Plimoth Plantation for their spring trip. Clementine’s life is complicated. Her mother is expecting her third child; her fourth-grade friend, Margaret, has convinced her that the fourth graders on the trip will not countenance any eating noises during lunch; and the new girl, Olive, who has a food name like Clementine, has won the hearts of all of her classmates. Furthermore, Olive has taught them all how to speak Olivese, a made-up language that is a delight to everyone but Clementine. Oh, the drama of an eight-year-old existence.

My favorite ingredient of all of the Clementine stories is her thoroughly likeable parents. Her mother is a loving stay-at-home mom and her dad is hilarious. He maintains their apartment building in Boston and includes Clementine in many of his projects. Margaret tells Clementine that her divorced mother is going to marry her boyfriend, and Margaret is glad, since right now they kiss all the time, but she remembers that when her parents were married, they never kissed, so she expects all the kissing to stop when her mom and her boyfriend marry. Clementine thinks that Margaret might be disappointed, since her parents are married and they kiss all the time. Happily married people in a kid’s book! Amazing.

Clementine does blame her parents for not naming her little brother a food name, and so she goes through a succession of vegetables whenever she talks about him—never the same name twice. On one page he is Watercress, on another Snap Pea, and on a third Summer Squash. Pets, on the other hand, are named after items found in the bathroom, so her cat is named Moisturizer. It could be worse.

This is another young chapter book that is mentioned for Newbery nomination. Although I do love Clementine, I just don’t see this competing with the more literary contenders. If it did win, though, I wouldn’t complain. No little girl should grow up without meeting Clementine.

Highly recommended for fluent readers seven and up.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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