Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

2009: MG Reads


I didn’t read widely in 2009, but I did read well. Here are some of my absolute favorite middle grade reads of the year.


The True Meaning of Smekday When You Reach Me Skullduggery Pleasant Savvy

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
I gushed about this book back in September, and my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s like an Earth-based Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy starring a girl named Gratuity, an alien named J.Lo, and a cat named Pig. It’s laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish. You need to read this book.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Time travel, explicit references to A Wrinkle in Time, and 1978 New York City. What’s not to love? Nothing, I say. This is a great book, and I hope it wins the Newbery this year.

Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure starring 12-year-old Stephanie and a walking, talking skeleton named Skullduggery. I didn’t think you could get away with this much danger in a middle grade book, but happily, you can!

Savvy by Ingrid Law
Oh, the voice in this is wonderful! Mibs is turning 13, and can’t wait to see what “gift” she’ll get. I’m not spoiling anything for you — just read it!

Hoot Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree A Crooked Kind of Perfect The Mysterious Benedict Society

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen I listened to this on my drive to WFC and back, and actually didn’t want to get out of the car when I got home because I wasn’t done with the book yet. Nice mystery tied with a strong ecological message. Save the owls!

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
What a fun read! You’ve never met anyone like Emma Jean Lazarus… or have you? Her logical mind will charm you, even when she uses it for somewhat suspect purposes.

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
A recommendation from Steph, this is a funny, charming story of a girl who wants a piano so she can play at Carnegie Hall. Her quirky voice and humor make this a fast, fun read.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
This book starts with an intelligence test — who doesn’t love that? I really enjoyed this caper/spy/action novel, and not just because Kate is made of awesome.

The Magic Thief: Lost

Also, the fabulous The Magic Thief: Lost by Sarah Prineas came out this year. It’s not officially on my list because I read it last year. (Lucky me!) Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Conn’s adventures grow even more dangerous and entertaining in this book as he ventures away from the wonderful city of Wellmet for the first time. All of his friends — and enemies! — are back, and you might be surprised to see who you’re rooting for by the end.

Phew! Okay, you know the drill. Hit me with your favorite middle grade reads of the year!

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Hm!

    This has not been a good year for MG for me. But I can think of two favorites. One is Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, which I recommend very highly. Great historical with an awesome girl protagonist.

    The other is The Seven Sorcerers by Caro King, which was out from Quercus in the UK and is not available here. Beautiful, rich writing, lots of adventure. I had a quibble about the structure of the ending, but otherwise loved it. My review is here (scroll down):

    Other than that, Megan Whelan Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings is listed as MG, but I don't count it as that. Plus it's not really out until next year…

  • I read a lot of the same books on your list and enjoyed them all. One more I'd add is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. I just finished it the other day – everything from the writing, to the story, to the illustrations was just lovely.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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