Thursday, October 29, 2015


I opened Middle Grade Mania's book blog directory in 2012, three years ago. During that time I have had lots of grandiose ideas of what I wanted this blog to become and to offer its readers. But the reality is that I just don't have time to do any of that.

I will not be offering blog tours. I will not be posting regularly with links to other blogs. I will not be comparing book covers. Middle Grade Mania will remain, simply, a directory of book blogs about middle grade books. 

My life is just too filled with other things right now--writing and editing my books, editing Middle Shelf Magazine, homeschooling my kids, volunteering at my church. Soon, hopefully, I will also be teaching at my local city college. There just isn't much time left over for blogging.

But the directory will remain, and I will keep it updated every few months. If you are a new blog or know of a blog that isn't included, feel free to send me the link. It may take a while, but I will do my best to add it to the list.

Thanks so much.

-- Laurisa

Friday, June 19, 2015

CIRCUS MIRANDUS Reviewed by Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books!

The Circus is coming to town under a magical veil of mystery, magic and intrigue. This is a fantastic story that has been picked from the publisher that has wings and will easily soar into the heart of the reader through the emotionally charged energy that it holds. It is sensitively told; tackling some of the challenges of life and the sadness of dealing with hope and death. 

Micah's beloved grandfather is gravely sick and close to death. His elusive past brings a magical world of Circus Mirandus to his grandson (Micah) which is stunning and rich in detail. It will have you engrossed from the first to the very last page. The rights have already been sold to be made into a film, even before publication. This story should easily translate to the big screen in cinematic quality. 

Read the complete post at MR. RIPLEY'S ENCHANTED BOOKS.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


In an attempt to set more time aside for writing, I will be spending more time doing that and less time posting here on Middle Grade Mania.

So instead of posting 3-4 times a week, I will be posting only once a week.

However, Middle Grade Mania is now offering book tour services for middle grade authors. If you are a blogger and would like to be contacted about future book tours or cover reveals, or if you are an author interested in promoting your book, please email me at lwredits at gmail dot com.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

IT HAPPENED ON A TRAIN - Audio Book Review

If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I am a HUGE fan of the Brixton Brothers mystery series. They're funny, they're hip and they have some really good mysteries in them. And good action scenes too. So I was very, very glad to see the library get audiobook copies of them! And I was very, very, very glad to see that the great Arte Johnson was the person reading them!. Now you may or may not know who Arte Johnson is but guys who grew up when I did are very familiar with him and knew how funny he could be. He's the perfect guy for these audiobooks and he did a great job on this one.

Read the complete review on BOYS RULE BOYS READ.

It Happened on a Train (Brixton Brothers Series #3)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015



This week, we are tackling cover that rely almost entirely on text for the cover. This is a common technique used for wordy titles or titles with powerful, self-explanatory words. Today we're looking at two books with wordy titles.

Designers often minimize graphics with long titles because if there are too many graphics or the images are too dominant, they run the risk of people not taking the time to actually read the title. When the title itself is the main graphic, that isn't so much of a problem. However, there is a greater risk of the cover failing to fully convey the theme and/or genre of the book.

Let's take these two for example:


The titles both suggest humor, particularly Stauffacher's book. There are few scattered "fun" images of a fish on a line, a sewing dumming, and an unhappy fork & knife. Fits with the idea of etiquette and the cartoonish illustrations support the humor in the title. The solid blue background helps to unite the otherwise (intentionally) messy colors & fonts of the title.

The first cover for Jen White's book presents a slightly more dramatic effect, while still erring on the side of humorous. Using cut-out maps for the font along with the tracks, car, and seemingly disconnected images strongly suggest a story about a journey of some kind. This may be a funny book, but the white background hints at something a little deeper.

The question is, do these covers succeed at grabbing the reader's attention? Do you want to open the book and read it? Do the images tell you enough about the story to hook you?

Comment below and let us know what you think.

Friday, June 12, 2015


I must admit that I was drawn to this book initially by its lovely purple colour. The more I looked at it the more I wanted to know about the characters depicted on it. The blurb drew me in too, this Cinderella-esque tale was definitely something I wanted to read.

The book is a fairly slim one, and it has plenty of illustrations, done by artist James Brown, dotted throughout. I found that this made it a quick read, I think it will mean that younger readers will find it manageable too - in interest terms it will appeal broadly.

Read the entire review at MIDDLE GRADE STRIKES BACK.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Just a heads up that more than 2 dozen new book blogs have been added to our directory today. Be sure to check them out!


The following blogs have been suspended from Middle Grade Mania due to inactivity or not posting about middle grade books for at least the past three months. If your blog has been removed and you would like it reinstated, please email me a link to a recent post about a middle grade book. Thank you.

Gimme the Scoop Reviews
Our Time in Juvie
Middle Grade Mayhem (visit Project Mayhem instead)

KRISTA VAN DOLZER Interviewed by Michelle I. Mason

Interview with  Krista Van Dozler, author of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING.

1. It’s fantastic how you seamlessly wove in historical tidbits that adults have probably heard somewhere–for example, that the general public didn’t know President Roosevelt was in a wheelchair until after his death. Was it challenging to figure out where these would fit? Did you have a file of historical facts you wanted to include and couldn’t?

I didn’t have a file of historical facts, but now I wish I had!
For the most part, I researched the 1950s in general, then drew on that working knowledge as I drafted individual scenes. For instance, the scene in which I mentioned President Roosevelt has a reference to wheelchairs, so I tried to think of someone in a wheelchair that Ella Mae would have known. President Roosevelt came to mind, and it was only as I was fact-checking myself that I discovered the general public didn’t know the full details of his condition until after his death.

Read the entire interview on MICHELLE I. MASON'S blog.

The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van Dolzer

Sunday, June 7, 2015


You may notice that the two covers below bear no resemblance to each other at all. In fact, they bear no resemblance to any other middle grade book cover published this year. That's because unlike most covers, which are either paintings, or photographs, or some other "usual" form of art, the cover artists for THE WATER AND THE WILD and AOLEON really thought outside the box.

THE WATER AND THE WILD is actually a sculpture made of cut colored paper, designed and assembled piece by piece and then carefully photographed. AOLEON'S cover is a computer graphic design, which gives it a 3-D appearance.

Both these covers really stand out because of their imaginative and creative use of these extraordinary art forms, and I think both have succeeded in their aims for their own genres.

What book covers of the past have marked themselves as unique or different? What set them apart from other covers in their genre? Leave a comment below. I'd love to know what you think.

The Water and the WildScience Fiction Book - Part 1 First Contact - Aoleon The Martian Girl

Friday, June 5, 2015


Every month MIDDLE GRADE MANIA will be hosting a giveaway of a mystery middle grade book pack of 5 new releases. The titles will be revealed when the winner is announced at the end of each giveaway. To enter, you must be 18 or older and a U.S. resident.

A Year of Reading Reviews DRAGONS BEWARE!

Claudette is relentless. She has not given up on becoming a warrior. Her little brother, Gaston, is equally single-minded. He HAS given up his dream of becoming a chef until he can become as good a blacksmith as his father and/or do something that will make his father proud.

When the flying gargoyles attempt to attack their village, Claudette and Gaston's father, Augustine, and his sidekick Zubair set off to get Augustine's sword Breaker from the belly of the dragon Azra so they can defeat the evil Grombach, who is sending the gargoyle army.

Read the entire post at A YEAR OF READING.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dan Gemeinhart's THE HONEST TRUTH on A Book and a Hug

Stock tip:  Whatever your favorite tissue brand is, buy their stock now:)  THE HONEST TRUTH is a profoundly moving and penetrating journey up a mountain and deep into your heart's secret places.

"The mountain was calling me.  I had to run away. I had to."  Mark has thought it through and figured out exactly how he is going to make his getaway.  He has a great family, a dog who is willing to follow him into the darkest places, and a best friend, a girl named Jess, who has shared all the good moments and who understands when for Mark, "all the world is dark." 

They were meant for each other because  Jess is dealing with the empty space inside herself and Mark has been there for her too.  With all of that going for him he is still making a huge choice and deciding to grab on to one major moment in his life and do it his way.

Read the entire post at A BOOK AND A HUG.

The Honest Truth

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Congratulations to DARIA C. for winning Middle Grade Mania's MAY MONTHLY MEGA GIVEAWAY! She will be receiving a box of 5 middle grade books. Here is the reveal:

Class Clown AcademySome Kind of MagicThe Shark Whisperer
The Loch Ness PunsterStormbreaker (Alex Rider Series #1)

The JUNE MONTHLY MEGA GIVEAWAY has already started! The winner will be selected on the last day of June and will receive a box of 5 new middle grade books! The mystery of which titles will be included will be revealed when the winner is announced. You must be 18 years or older and be a U.S. resident to enter.  Thank you!

Sunday, May 31, 2015


I have a thing for book covers. As the editor in chief Middle Shelf Magazine, I get to see pretty much every book cover of every middle grade book. Some fall a little flat. Some completely WOW! me. Today I am sort of in the middle.

When I first saw PAPER THINGS (Candlewick, 2/15) by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, I was moved by the simplicity of this cover. The white paper cutouts of the crescent moon and the house, the unadorned font for the title and author name. It struck me immediately as having an important and heartfelt story to tell.

Then I spotted WATCH THE SKY (Disney, 4/15) by Kirsten Hubbard, and I thought...huh...

Hubbard's book has essentially the same layout as Jacobson's book, down to the "house" image at center bottom and the stars in the background. The font is a bit more unique, with the diminishing size. I like it. I like them both.

What do you think sets these covers apart? Are they too similar for your tastes? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

Watch the SkyPaper Things

Friday, May 29, 2015

ME & MR. BELL - Reviewed on That's Another Story

Even though encounters between Eddie and Mr. Bell were fictional, they seemed very realistic to me. I was rooting for Eddie to start to feel better about himself and recognize his own unique talents. I really liked the way he was determined to overcome his difficulty and tried to find his own solution. 
It was also great that there was no “magic answer” to his reading difficulty (dyslexia) and that he was still struggling and learning from his failures at the end of the story. The details about Alexander Graham Bell's inventions and Helen Keller were intriguing. This is a short book, with a well-paced story that holds the reader’s interest all the way through to the end. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Small Review Doesn't Care for SHADOW SCALE

I wasn't a huge fan of Seraphina, but I liked it enough to want to read the sequel.

Unfortunately, I didn't like the sequel enough to finish it.

I am very much in the minority on this series and I really, really wish I could love it as much as everyone else seems to love it. I think my issues with it are more on the personal side of things and those are usually hard to articulate. But I will try.

Read SMALL REVIEW'S explanation of why this book didn't work for her HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2015


A thrilling and unique middle grade story the presents the reader with delightful inventions and intense magic usage. I really enjoyed learning about the Odditorium and all the creations it contained. In fact, the main draw of the story was trying to figure out what Alistair Grim's secrets were, and how they all fit together. The author deals out the hints slowly, building up tension and presenting the reader with interesting puzzles.

Read the complete review on THE WRITE PATH.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mother Daughter Book Reviews Recommends THE UNDERGROUND PRINCESS

When we last left the inhabitants of the charming underground kingdom, Balderdash, Princess Scarlet had found her true love in the loyal pirate knight Roland, the evil Maleer was defeated, King Hurlock was happily ruling his kingdom alongside the mystical shaman, and Prince Kaylan was welcomed into Balderdash as King Hurlock’s adopted son.  Fast forward three years and we see that Balderdash is burgeoning with “life”.  But despite the prosperity, peace, and happiness spread throughout the kingdom, Kaylan feels like an outsider.
One day, as Kaylan and Scarlet’s pet owl Screech are exploring the caverns surrounding the kingdom, they run across two thugs towering threateningly over a frightened young woman, all human and much too close to Balderdash for comfort. Contemplating rescuing the girl, Kaylan must make an important decision which may place the entire kingdom in danger.  But an even greater danger presents itself when Kaylan goes above ground and encounters a familiar face intent on conquering the underworld.


The Underground Princess by J.W. Zulauf

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Books 4 Your Kids Recommends THE MAINE COON'S HAIKU

I love cats and I love haiku, so it makes sense that I find The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Lee White absolutely charming and fascinating. The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers consists of 20 poems, one each for a different breed of cat, divided into four sections that any cat owner will immediately recognize: Inside, Outside, Inside and Outside. If you are a cat owner and know anything about haiku, then you know that felines are the perfect subject for this style of poetry.

Read the entire review on BOOKS 4 YOUR KIDS

Monday, May 18, 2015


Inventions That Could Have Changed the World...But Didn't! is exactly the kind of book that my ten-year-old self would have devoured in a single sitting. It's sort of a curiosity cabinet of commercially unsuccessful inventions and the people who devised them. Each failed invention is described briefly -- usually in less than half a page -- and accompanied by cartoon illustrations, patent drawings, photos, or some combination of these.

Read the entire review on FOR THOSE ABOUT THE MOCK.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Le Grande Codex Likes ARSENIC FOR TEA

Our joyous pair of school girl detectives Daisy Wells & Hazel Wong are back for another spiffing case. Its the holidays and they (Daisy & Hazel) are at Fallingford, Daisy's home for her birthday. Invited are family, friends and few extras for a birthday tea. And one of the lot doesn't see the light of the next day/ With storm raging and floods setting in, home suddenly feels much more dangerous.

Read the complete review at LE GRANDE CODEX.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Welcome to Battle of the Book Covers, a new feature here at Middle Grade Mania. In keeping with last week's theme of silhouettes, here are four more new releases utilizing the same style.

In Judy Young's Promise, a simple image of a crow appears on a yellow background. Having read Promise (I loved it!) I can tell you that it fits the story very well.

The Trap by Steven Arnston has a night sky background, as does Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu. But Arnston's straigtforward unembellished title is surrounded by images mirrored on either side of the book. While neither the title or the images reveal much of what to expect from the story, the layout is effective and attractive. Haydu's cover is accompanied by a gold star and a clever visual for the title.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan places the silhouettes of children almost inconspicuously at the bottom, while the large sweeping title takes center stage.

What do you think of how these covers succeed or fail to take advantage of silhouettes? Which appeals to you the most? Why?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I’ve been blindly pulling books out of my stash from the Scholastic Warehouse Sale (no peeking to see what’s next!), so I was especially delighted when I came out with Kimberley Griffiths Little’s THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES. You see, most of my warehouse sale finds are books that either look interesting to me or that I’ve heard about through the grapevine. This was one of only two books I picked up this year by an author I’d already read. And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a fan of Kimberley’s books :). Now that I have read it, I’m wondering why I didn’t make it a priority sooner because it quickly became my favorite middle grade of hers so far. But on to the description …

Read the complete review at MICHELLE I. MASON'S website.

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Monday, May 11, 2015


Its charming. Its fun. Its refreshingly young. Its Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson in a rather younger female version. Set in a 1930s boarding school for girls, sees Daisy Wells & Hazel Wong, members of the Detective Society, cunningly battle lessons, Masters & Mistresses, peers and fellow dorm mates, relish some well deserved Bunbreaks, all the while on the lookout for a nice new case to solve and crime to detect ...... Or so says Daisy Wells' detective novels.
But real lie comes knocking when Hazel discovers the dead body of their science mistress Ms. Bell but when she raises the alarm the body mysteriously vanishes ..... warranting the services of the Wells & Wong Detective Society as they go on gathering evidences, eliminating alibis and suspects when nobody knows what actually happened to Ms. Bell.

Read the complete review on LE' GRANDE CODEX.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Hiding Spot Interviews AISHA SAEED, author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS

Writing about Naila’s struggles was not easy. There were some chapters that I wrote and then would need to take a break for a few days because it was emotionally draining to detail what Naila went through. I think it was particularly hard for me because while Naila is a fictional character, the situation she is trapped in is all too real for many women around the world. Despite the difficulties of telling the story I knew it was an important story to tell and that, as a writer, I could not shy away from Naila’s difficult realities because these were realities not only for my fictional character but for real women whose story deserved a voice. 

Read the entire interview on THE HIDING SPOT.

Written in the Stars

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I love book covers -- almost as I love the stories inside the books. Middle Grade book covers are some of the most diverse and creative of any book group out there! Some are created via watercolors or oil paints, while other are designed on the computer or by sculpting cut paper.

To shine the spotlight on some of these amazing covers, I thought it would be fun to present some of these covers to you and debate over what works or doesn't work. Please post your responses and comments below!

Thanks for joining in!

To kick off this new feature, I present to you four 2015 covers utilizing the silhouette. Three feature silhouettes of children, in particular girls apparently from historical eras, and the fourth has a castle. Three of the four integrate leaves and or trees.

Each, as you can see, places the black shapes atop a colored background: green, blue, orange.

The cover for Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy effectively sets her girls against the backdrop of a full moon, suggesting to the reader that they are running away late at night. This arouses our curiosity. What are they running away from?

Cat Hellison's Beastkeeper hints at a possible dungeon, capture, and leans clearly toward fantasy.

The Curious World of Capurnia Tate recaptures the elegant "good old days" feel of the first book in the series, and the vines serve as a nice victorian-style frame.

Arsenic for Tea's images actually do not take front and center as the the other books do. They serve to accentuate the title, giving little clues (as a good mystery should) as to what the readers will discover inside.

All four of these books do an amazing job with silhouettes, but in different ways. Which cover(s) do you prefer and why? If you spotted these on a bookstore shelf which one would you most likely pick up and read?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jean Little Library Visits MS. RAPSCOTT'S GIRLS

The description of this sounded very alluring to me - an eccentric lady takes in daughters of Very Busy Parents and they go on wild adventures. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that the book lived up to the hype, although a lot of other people have liked it, so it may just be me.

Five girls are mailed to Ms. Rapscott's school (their parents are far too busy to actually take them there) and arrive in the middle of an exciting storm. Unfortunately, one girl, Dahlia, gets lost along the way so the girls' first lesson is going to be finding Dahlia. Under Ms. Rapscott's tutelage they get Lost on Purpose and while they may not learn conventional lessons, they do find out things about themselves they never knew, as well as important life lessons.

Read the entire review at JEAN LITTLE'S LIBRARY.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Charlotte's Library is SAVING THE PLANET

I am rather pleased with myself for having read a book off my TBR pile that is a perfect Earth Day book, and for remembering to write about it today!  Saving the Planet & Stuff, by Gail Gauthier.  It is the story of a not-high-achieving teenaged boy, Michael, who finds himself accepting an internship at The Earth's Wife, an environmental magazine.  Michael finds it hard to cope with the green lifestyle of the old couple who run the magazine, and he finds it hard to understand the point of what they are doing.  Gradually, he becomes, though not a true die-hard environmentalist, at least more aware of environmentalism, and (pleasingly for those of us who enjoy career type stories) he learns a lot about what goes in to publishing out a magazine.

Read the complete post at CHARLOTTE'S LIBRARY.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Middle Grade Mania is pleased to announce it's first ever MONTHLY MEGA GIVEAWAY!!! Each month, via rafflecopter, one lucky winner will receive not one--not two--but FIVE mystery middle grade books for FREE!

All you gotta do to be eligible to win is fill out the rafflecopter form below. You do have to be 18 or older and a resident of the United States to enter.

The giveaway will run from the 1st of the month to the last, with the winner & the mystery titles announced at the beginning of next month's giveaway.

TO AUTHORS: If you would like to see your link added to next month's rafflecopter, just click on the giveaway tab above for details.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time Travel Times Two Reviews TREASURE CHEST

When President Garfield was shot by a madman in 1881, the doctors called Alexander Graham Bell. They asked him if he could use his scientific knowledge to hurriedly build a metal detector so they could find the bullet lodged in Garfield’s body, so they would not have to do major exploratory surgery. Bell immediately set to work, and succeeded in making the device.
Unfortunately, when he tried it on Garfield, it didn’t work. It may have failed because there was a mattress made of metal underneath the cloth one, that might/may have created too much interference for the machine. Sadly, many of Bell’s scientific contemporaries  heard of his failure and laughed at him. I learned of this event by reading the endnotes of the time travel story, Master of Sound.

Read the complete review at TIME TRAVEL TIMES TWO.

treasure chest bell

Monday, April 27, 2015


I dare you to read this book and not laugh. I don't remember ever being in my work break room giggling so much. 

This book is filled with ads from the 1800s that Stanley uses to help document his journey. Stanley's original and hilarious voice will stick with you as you cheer him on in his quest to become a man and find his father. 

One thing I liked about this book is how it addressed gender roles. Stan believes that in order to become a man, he must do manly things. Unfortunately, these aren't always good things. His cousin, Geri, who is aspiring to be a woman doctor, tries to set him straight as they battle out to become their own person. 

Read the complete review on TWEEN YOU & ME.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Matt Nadel, age 16, is’s youngest baseball history Pro Blogger. He was appointed a Pro Blogger in 2012 by MLB’s official historian, John Thorn. Matt blogs mainly about baseball history and his favorite era is the 40s and 50s.  His favorite team today is the Yankees.  Matt started blogging about baseball history back in April 2012, because he was finding that many of his friends knew very little about it, and he thought that a blog would be a fun way to teach kids and even some adults about it. He knows a lot about baseball history including every World Series winner (going back to 1903) by heart.

Matt’s has written almost 350 posts, in addition to a book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction To Baseball History. He has appeared in TV and in many newspapers. He hopes to one day be a baseball historian, journalist and broadcaster.

Read the interview and book review at THE KID REVIEWS BOOKS


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mundie Kids Posts an Excerpt of Holly Black & Cassandra Clare's THE COPPER GAUNTLET

Hey miz Clare!!!! I love your books! Seriously, they mean a lot to me. So…I was wondering Since you put out quite a few dark artifices snippets maybe you could put out some copper gauntlet ones??? Maybe. You know if you had some lying around and Miz black doesn’t mind. Just a thought Have a lovely afternoon! Your books are my moon and stars — venus-backpack
Miz Black doesn’t mind! From The Copper Gauntlet:
Call’s head hurt.
"I don’t want anything bad to happen to Aaron," Call said. That was the one thing he was sure about. "I never did."
Aaron looked miserable. “Well, we’re not going to get anywhere tonight,” he said. “It’s late and we’re all tired. Maybe if we sleep for a couple of hours, we can figure something out in the morning.”
Read the entire excerpt at MUNDIE KIDS

Monday, April 20, 2015


The Tapper Twins Go to War (with each other) was my first experience of Geoff Rodkey's writing. Supposedly he's written for Disney and a couple of other things...I just have never watched any of those things, so, his writing was a new experience for me. I'll say this, it was funny and impossible to put down.

It has been quite some time, or at least it feels that way, since I last devoured a book as fast when I read The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each Other). As one with three sisters, I seem to find myself drawn to books with siblings even the ones where they go to war with each other. Claudia and Reese, are a riot in this book. I spent my time flipping between laughing out loud and wondering how the got away with half the things they did. Ah, some good times reading this one.

Read the complete review on THE HAUNTING OF ORCHID FORSYTHIA.