Top 5 Wednesday #19: Middle-Grade Novels

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by GingerReadsLainey and now managed by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. For more information on this meme, visit the Goodreads group.

I know it’s Friday, but I’ve been so busy lately with my new job that it’s hard to post stuff on time.

This week’s topic:

Children’s books

For this, I’ll focus on middle-grade novels. Here are five I’ve read and enjoyed:

Magyk by Angie Sage (illus.)

It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I recall enjoying it. Magyk is the first novel in Sage’s fantasy series Septimus Heap about the eponymous seventh son of a seventh son who was pronounced dead and stolen by a midwife when he was born. Later, Septimus’s father, Silas, found a baby girl in the snow with violet eyes, who he named Jenna and raised as his own. The story is mysterious at the beginning and is quite charming as it unfolds.

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Wine Book Tag

Let’s just act like I posted this in time for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t realize this would be great for V-day celebrations until after I started on it, though I hardly mention romantic reads in the post. Hmm… maybe it is fitting that I post it now. I was tagged by the Organ-utan Librarian back in January. Go check her out! 😀

Box Wine – a book that people will judge you for liking but you like it anyway!

Unteachable

That’s just about 90% of the books I own. I read a lot of middle-grade and young-adult fantasy novels and people judge me for that because I’m in my mid-ish 20s. Apparently, once you pass a certain age you HAVE to start reading certain books because it’s the “adult” thing to do.

But, if I have to choose a book, I’ll go with Unteachable by Leah Raeder. It’s a new-adult novel about a high-school girl who falls in love with her teacher. It’s been on my mind lately. I feel like rereading it.

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“Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch

I love the cover!

Every once in a while I get frustrated with all the middle-grade and young-adult fantasy books I read that have a cast of all White kids. When that happens, I start searching for stories that have a character of color in the lead, especially a Black protagonist. Last year sometime I got lucky and found Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch. Here’s what I thought of it.

Quick summary:

Akata Witch is middle-grade, fantasy novel about an albino Nigerian-American girl, Sunny, who discovers that she is part of a secret, magical world — the Leopard People.

The story is set in Nigeria and is infused with Nigerian culture and bits of its folklore. Magic is referred to as juju and its side-effects can be dire. Sunny is introduced to this secret magic society by her friends Orlu and Chichi. She soon starts taking night classes to improve her magical abilities and meets Sasha, an American boy, there who joins their group. The four are trained together to combat the evil Black Hat Otokoto, who has been kidnapping children for his nefarious means.

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“The High King” by Lloyd Alexander

The High KingHere we are at the end of Taran’s adventures. One would think I would be happy about it or at least sad for having to part with the story, but instead I’m pissed.

Quick summary:

I’m using the Goodreads synopsis here because I read this back in November and have since forgotten some of the details.

When the sword of Dyrnwyn, the most powerful weapon inthe kingdom of Prydain, falls into the hands of Arawn-Death-Lord, Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, and Prince Gwydion raise an army to march against Arawn’s terrible cohorts. After a winter expedition filled with danger, Taran’s army arrives at Mount Dragon, Arawn’s stronghold. There, in a thrilling confrontation with Arawn and the evil enchantress Achren, Taran is forced to make the most crucial decision of his life.

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“Juniper Berry: A Tale of Terror and Temptation” by M.P. Kozlowsky, illus. by Erwin Madrid

Juniper BerryHere’s another book I read for the Bout of Books 14 readathon. Since it was a week-long readathon, I threw this one into the mix because it’s short.

Quick summary:

Juniper Berry and her friend, Giles, are worried about their parents. Their parents changed since acquiring their desires and became cruel and disinterested in their kids. They only care about their careers. Curious about what has happened to their parents, the kids investigate the woods behind their house, where they often see their parents disappear into, for answers.

My thoughts: (minor spoilers)

“The house was a mansion, the lake was a pool, Kitty was a dog, and Juniper Berry was an eleven-year-old girl.”

So starts this middle-grade novel about resisting powerful temptations. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading. I bought this book because I liked the cover and the title. The first sentence, above, drew me in and I felt so sorry for Juniper that I had to keep reading to see what becomes of her and her parents. The more I read, the weirder the story became, which increased my interest.

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“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth

Some people liked the illustrations but I didn’t. 😦

Totally wacky but adorable read. The Phantom Tollbooth took me on a wild ride that I, unfortunately, could not appreciate at the time I read it.

A quick summary:

The Phantom Tollbooth is a middle-grade novel about a boy named Milo who is bored by his everyday life. Nothing appeals to him or surprises him. One day he comes home to find a phantom tollbooth in his room with instructions for getting to the Lands Beyond, a perfect place for Milo to pass the time. He sets off and meets strange people and creatures — a dog with a clock for a body, a boy who grows down instead of up and whose feet doesn’t touch the ground until he’s an adult — and visits even stranger lands — the Doldrums that makes people there listless; the kingdom Dictionopolis, where one can buy words and letters on market day; the island called Conclusions, where people appear on if they’ve jumped to a conclusion.

“This is Dictionopolis, a happy kingdom, advantageously located in the Foothills of Confusion and caressed by the gentle breezes from the Sea of Knowledge.”

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