Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to welcome author Jemima Pett as a guest contributor with us today. Ms. Pett is here to share her recommendations for some great middle grade series (many of which have been featured right here on Mother Daughter Book Reviews!)
In Praise of Series (another ten for your list)
by Jemima Pett, author of the Princelings of the East series
We’re nearing the end of the holidays now, or you may have already restarted school in your neighbourhood. How many series did your child (or you) start – or finish – this summer?
When I was a kid, my summer holidays were likely to include a feast of old friends. I didn’t have any school-friends in my area, so the ‘local’ girls and boys tolerated my arrival each summer in their midst, and were friendly, but maybe that’s why I became a bit of a loner with a penchant for reading books.
The great thing with series is you don’t have to get to know the characters each time. They are old friends, and I still get that comfortable feeling of being back with old friends when I re-read series from my childhood.
The list of books I couldn’t put down is very different from today’s. Some of my ‘friends’ are still around, although I preferred the kids in Enid Blyton’s Adventure series to the Famous Five. There were lots of school stories and pony books, and very little of what we would now call fantasy, until I was in my mid-teens. Pony books continue to please, and I must catch up with the latest in the genre.
The trouble is, it seems that all publishers want these days is ‘the next Harry Potter’. This means that unless books have magic and/or great potential for a series of high-action, great special effects movies, publishers don’t want to know. Am I wrong in thinking that good quality children’s books which engage minds, entertain and inspire are thin on the ground? Or just thin on lists, including library lists? My bookshop has a stack of books on the 9-12 age group shelves that I wouldn’t put there (the Hunger Games, Divergent, Eragon) as well as others I would, Percy Jackson, Narnia, Redwall, and of course, Harry Potter.
What about excellent adventures that don’t appear on the bookshelves, mainly because they are not considered ‘commercial’ enough? I’m biased, because I work with most of these authors in the BookElves group, but you’ve probably seen these featured on this website before, and hopefully will again.
Ten middle grade series for your consideration
Wendy Leighton-Porter kicks off a fantastic trip through time with Jemima, Joe and Charlie (and Max the Cat), full of accurate historical detail, suspense and excitement. The first trip to the lost city of Atlantis is just the start!
A very different time travelling series from S W Lothian, with JJ and Linc meeting up with Rani, who’s been called from a different time and place altogether, to help solve problems with pharoahs in Ancient Egypt. A great adventure series.
India and the Himalayas are the setting for most of these adventures. Zoe and Zak are very believable modern youngsters who discover a close connection with all manner of Indian legends. Mystery, adventure and suspense in a wonderful setting, by Lars Guignard.
Lionel is the kind of person we hope we’re not, but we all know someone like him. Things just always go wrong for him. Paul R Hewlett has made ineptitude turn brilliant, and gives all of us hope that we can indeed, turn out fine in the end. Easy and fun reading, with plenty more tales in the pipeline.
Julie Grasso‘s fast and furious early chapter books are great reading for kids of most ages. Frankie is the youngest qualified private eye around, and he’s really good at solving cases, with a little help from his friends! (If you prefer scifi check Julie’s wonderful Caramel Cardamom series).
Ben Zackheim‘s Shirley Link is worlds away from Frankie Dupont, because she uses her brain rather than gadgets to help her solve crimes. There are some great puzzles to solve and will keep the problem solvers in your family entertained as they try to second-guess her.
The first in a historical series in the time of King Arthur, Cheryl Carpinello makes the reality of knights in shining armour come to life in an exciting and mysterious way. Plenty of adventure and hardship to overcome in this great book.
This series by Elise Stokes is one for the older MG, with young Cassidy’s accidental encounter with the secret formula in question giving her some very interesting super-powers. It’s an action adventure complicated by Cassidy’s difficulties in handling the changes in her body, and one that will resonate with many boys and girls as they grow up. And it would be so cool to have those powers!
A mystery series by Fiona Ingram for all those who like ferreting around for the clues. The first in set in ancient Egypt, but later ones in the series visit other mythological sites all over the world. The historical detail in these books is terrific, and the excitement is non-stop.
Author S Smith presents us with a world in which food comes in block form from a warehouse, and growing vegetables and fruit is banned. It’s a terrifyingly real scenario, and what happens to Clare, her brother Dante, and their friend Lily is an adventure that many kids could feel part of, sowing seeds in their own back yard or a piece of ground in their city.
Eight of these authors are involved in the BookElves project, a selection of seasonal stories published each year. You can download the BookElves Anthology Volume 1 ebook FREE from Smashwords, B&N, Apple and other online bookstores; Amazon makes a small charge.
‘Like’ the BookElves Facebook page and get news of the BookElves Anthology Volume 2, due out in November.