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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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Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman

ImageMum is leaving town to give a lecture on lizards, and Dad is in charge of the two kids. Dad’s talents include newspaper reading and tea drinking, but, unfortunately, he uses up all of the milk. In the morning, the kids have no milk for their Toastios, so Dad goes down to the corner shop to buy some. He is gone a very long time, but when he finally returns, what a story he has to tell!

It seems that he walked out of the store, milk in hand, only to be sucked up into a spaceship with green, globby aliens who insist that he sign over the rights to the Earth so that they can redecorate it. He refuses, like a proper Earthling, and heads toward a door with a “Do Not Open” sign. One of the aliens warns him that if he does, he will “let the space-time continuum in.” He opens it anyway, and as a result, he is whisked into a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy– inspired adventure in a time machine balloon, meeting pirates and dinosaurs, cannibals and sparkly ponies. Fortunately, the milk was always at hand, even playing a key role in freeing him from his enemies. In the end, not only does he provide milk for his children, but he also saves us all from inhabiting a planet covered with pink plastic flamingoes and decorative plates.

This delightful little book is too long for a bedtime story, but too short for actual chapters. Every page is filled with Skottie Young’s hilarious, scribbly pen-and-ink drawings, which convey the tone of the text perfectly. Cannibals could really scare a young child, but these cannibals are ridiculous with just an edge of menace. Readers will pore over the brilliant details.

Neil Gaiman is a prolific author and has won the Newbery Medal in the past for his middle-grade novel, The Graveyard Book. The Newbery Committee does not allow pictures to be considered when deciding on the eligibility of the work, but even on its own, the text tells a terrific story. Considered against other offerings, however, it is probably too slight to win the medal this year. That is not to say that your family will not enjoy it immensely! Imaginative kiddos from five to twelve will giggle and roll their eyes right up to the teasing conclusion. Adults, too, will enjoy this tale of a dad who will go through harrowing trials just to bring his children breakfast.

Highly recommended.

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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