I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of my favorite middle grade books. That’s right. Not only do I read YA, I read MG. And I love it. Truth is I believe that a good story is a good story, no matter how long it is or the age of the protagonist. Here are some of my favorites that I believe are stories worth reading no matter your age:
1. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin
2. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
3. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (See my post here)
5. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
6. The Giver by Lois Lowry
7. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
8. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (See Julie’s post here)
9. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
10. Blue Heron by Avi
Please let me know what you think or if there are any other MG books on your top ten list!
It had to happen at some point: This week I’m reviewing Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, a very formative book for me. I was a chapter-book reader in elementary school, so that’s probably when I picked up this series.
Craighead George’s Julie series follows a Yupik girl named Miyax/Julie, living in Alaska, who leaves an abusive relationship to try to get to a penpal in San Francisco. She doesn’t make it out of Alaska, but she does find herself in the wilderness developing bonds with a wolf pack. Julie is a survivalist with a knack for communicating with the wolves through body language. They accept her as one of their own, and ultimately she vouches for their safety and survival.
I think this book series helped me decide that I could do anything I set out to do. I would recommend it to any reader, young or old. Craighead George’s writing is nuanced, and she respects the ability of young readers to pick up on subtleties and societal criticism. In the wolf pack and in Julie’s life among humans, she faces obstacles that threaten her life, and the choices she makes effect real change on her path.
When I started reading Julie, I was already a nature appreciator with an interest in animals. These books fully converted me to a wolf lover (I still have some of the drawings on school papers to attest to it). Additionally, the lush descriptions of the tundra were educational and have made me want to visit Alaska (someday!). Craighead George’s deep understanding of wolves and how they communicate also left an impression on me. I may have employed a few of Julie’s communication techniques with the dogs I grew up with. (And who’s to say whether they did or didn’t work?)
If you’re looking for a glimpse of new terrain, a coming-of-age tale, or a quick but deep read, I highly recommend Julie of the Wolves or the entire trilogy.
Ah, March! Spring is almost here and spring/summer travel along with it. With that in mind, I thought I would write about places for the literary-minded traveler. I stuck to US locations for the moment (although there are so many great places to visit around the world) and I’ve broken the destinations down by the authors that inspired them. Enjoy!
1. Ernest Hemingway – Sun Valley, Idaho
Hemingway had a good plan – winter on an island, summer in the mountains. He wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in room 206 at the Sun Valley Lodge and later owned a home in nearby Ketchum (where he ended his life). Today Sun Valley is the go-to celebrity ski resort, but Hemingway loved the area for its summer/fall natural beauty and the hunting. The Hemingways left the care of their home to The Nature Conservancy and at this time it is not open for tours; however, you can visit the Silver Creek Preserve, also under the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy, where you will find more than 850 acres of outdoorsy awesomeness along this high-desert creek. Popular activities include fly fishing, canoeing, hunting, and hiking on the self-guided nature trail in the same area that drew Hemingway back time and again. The preserve is home to 150 species of birds and the kind of light photographers dream of. In downtown Ketchum, you can visit the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum which features an exhibit on Hemingway, and a memorial is dedicated to him on Trail Creek Road one mile east of the Sun Valley Lodge. He is also buried in the Ketchum Cemetery.