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Middle Grade Mondays: 5 Things I Love Right Now, from a Tween

Robin broke her arm, in two places!, so we are punting for this week’s Middle Grade Monday.  So I gave my Tween homework: write a post about the things that you love right now.  I added some notes because she apparently is a minimalist.  But it is always good to know what your patrons are interested in and get their point of view.  So here you go . . .
Flappy Bird

A game where you have to get a bird through pipes without hitting them. It is hard, but fun.  All of my friends are playing it.
Karen’s note: It is hard, I have only gotten a 2 on it. This game is really popular right now among the Tween set.  It is simple in concept, but actually kind of difficult in execution.  And like Minecraft, mentioned below, it has kind of that old school video game feel to it.
You probably have heard of this but it’s a game where you build things and in survival mode try not to get killed.  I like the create mode because you make your own world.
Karen’s note: Minecraft has been around for a while and is of course very popular.  But the tweens around me have just discovered it.  They all come over and sit around playing on their iPads after school.  Here is a cool Pinterest board for Minecraft in the Library.
Wonder Struck
This book is about a boy whose mother is dead and so he goes to the city where his father lived.  It was brilliant and amazing.  I can’t stop talking about it.
Karen’s note: I had a copy of this laying around and she picked it up and started reading it.  She did a marathon read – couldn’t put it down – and read it all in one day.  It is a huge, daunting looking volume but a lot of it is pictures so it’s not as overwhelming as you would think.  She then spent days talking about how much she loved this book and has gotten all of her friends to read it.
The Land of Stories
Okay if you have not heard of this book stop reading this and get it, this book is amazing. So two kids get a story book and get stuck in it and have to stop an evil queen.  It includes a lot of fairy tale characters and twists.
Karen’s note:  For Christmas this year we drove from Texas to Ohio and she read The Land of Stories on the way.  She picked it out and purchased it as a Christmas gift from Christie, who of course got her a bookstore gift card for a gift because she is the best auntie ever.  She seriously loved this book.  And I know she has another friend who read and loved this book.
Dork Diaries
This book is about a girl who is not so popular in school and has a rival who is super mean.  It’s funny, and a quick read.
Karen’s note: These books are still really popular in my library.  I can’t keep them in on the shelves.
These books and games are super amazing so try them now.     

Tween Review: The Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell (reviewed by tween reviewer Ceci)

The Dork Diaries Series is out of this world! If there is a movie, I NEED to get it! Nikki a 13 going on 14 year old girl, transfers to a new school. There is going to be trouble for Nikki Maxwell. There’s a new mean girl Mackenzie Hollister and Jessica Adams and they are cruel. If you call Mackenzie mean, well then you’re bonkers crazy. She is a devil, the wicked witch of the west! Nikki also has a new crush … BRANDON!

The worst part is that Brandon doesn’t know and Mackenzie pretends to like him just to drive Nikki nuts.

Whenever Brandon sits next to Nikki in bio, she gets all blushy because he always brushing his bangs out of his eyes.

Nikki has 2 bffs awesome Chloe and fantastic Zoey and get this sometimes she thinks she doesn’t deserve them. Isn’t that crazy.

There you go hope you like reading DORK DIARIES as much as I did. Peace.

Top 10: Middle Grade Fiction, Graphically Speaking

If your job description is anything close to what I’ve seen, you get to fill in the blanks for the nebulous population known as the “tweens”- that 10-12 year old scary time where they can’t quite fit in with the teenagers because they’re “little” kids but they want to DO everything the teenagers do, from HALO tournaments to lock-ins, and are tired of the “baby” things that the little kids are doing.  Welcome to the “Tween zone” – kinda like the Twilight zone, but with tweens.

To a point, they’re right.  Their development and needs are different than younger kids, but they’re also different than teens, so what works for them won’t work for other groups.  The humor and sarcasm that works with teens won’t work with a lot of tweens, and the smoothing that you do with younger kids won’t work with them either.  Their reading habits differ as well- they need to be pushed into that world of inbetween books (whether you have it as junior high or juvenile or tween or chapter books) before they jump from picture to teen books.  This is the time where a lot of kids will loose that love of reading- often times because they struggle in making the transition from picture book to “grown up”, and don’t have the encouragement.

So what do you do?  I like pulling my hybrid books- those books that still have the graphics and illustrations throughout the book to keep their interest, but have the story and characters that build depth and encourage their thought process and critical thinking.  While they’re a relatively new genre (think Captain Underpants), they’re still mostly found under juvenile fiction, and can get lost between copies of Wonder, The Giver, and Mark of Athena.

I’ve pulled together the TOP TEN books that my “tweens” are DEVOURING that have a twist- they’re books, but are illustrated or graphic novels without delving into the world of manga.  And they can easily be turned into a book program- take leftover notebooks or journals and have them create their own illustrated journals.  Have an origami program and create characters from the books. Draw yourself in the style of the books and see who has the best character!

If you know of titles that fit but didn’t make the list, share in the comments below!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.  I cannot keep these on the shelves, in English or in Spanish.  They are constantly moving, and the request list is always long.  And with the movies continuing to be popular, I don’t think my list is leaving any time soon.

Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke.  Zita is a kick-butt heroine who doesn’t blink when her best friend is abducted by aliens.  So far there are two books in the series, but I’m hopeful more are on the way.

Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell.  My tween girls are IN LOVE with these books- these are Nikki’s diaries as she goes through moving to a new school  fighting for an iPhone with her mom, and other 8th grade struggles.

The Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger.  Tying into the popularity of the Star Wars franchise, Angleberger puts these characters into tweens mindsets and humorous situations, and gives instructions for how to create the origami versions both in the back of the books and on his website.

NERDS series by Michael Buckley.  The unpopular 5th graders aren’t what they seem- they’re actually running a secret spy ring within the school itself.  Transforming themselves into amazing super spy heroes, the outcomes are hilarious  and keep my tweens laughing.


Bone series by Jeff Smith.  First published in 2005, New York Times Bestseller, still extremely popular.  Just fair warning, however, that there may be “inappropriate subjects” (smoking and other issues do appear throughout the books)  

Artemis Fowl:  The Graphic Novel.  This one actually surprised me, because I hadn’t had anyone asking for the books, but they’ve really been asking for the graphic novel.  I think it’s great, and I’ve actually been able to turn some of the graphic novel readers into series readers while waiting for the read of the graphic novels to come out.  And it doesn’t help that I have the author’s page bookmarked where he does all eight books in eight minutes…

Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.  Babymouse can skew young, but my tweens can’t get enough.  The schoolhouse drama between Babymouse and her nemesis Felicia Furrypaws goes on and on and on, and the adventures seem endless!

Lunch Lady series by Jarrell J. Krosoczka.  Taking her Breakfast Brunch through a series of ongoing adventures is the brave Lunch Lady, fighting with weapons like the spatu-copter, the spork phone, GPS gum, ziti microscopes, and carrot thumb drives.  Like Babymouse, this series does skew on the younger side.

Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon.  Danny is unique, the only dragon, and is constantly getting into situations eerily similar to the ones that tweens face (having to watch a younger sibling and things go wrong, being bullied, etc.)  The humor laced throughout the books, as well as the as-is-well endings, gives this series’ off beat humor a home in tweens’ hearts.
What are your tweens reading?