Review: Children’s Fiction from Kate DiCamillo, Elise Broach, Kate Beasley & more!

Let’s take a look at some middle grade titles I have recently read and would recommend!

raymienightingale25937866Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Hardcopy courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada/Candlewick Press. Thank you!
Publication: April 12, 2016 by Candlewick Press
Kate DiCamillo is an all-time favourite author of mine- I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating that The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is one of the greatest reads!- so anything new from the award-winning author will be a must-read. As ever, DiCamillo’s writing is gorgeous, insightful and wonderful; where time, place and characters are slightly illusory and unlike anything and anyone you’ve ever come across before in children’s literature. Raymie Nightingale is filled with strong characters, a heartfelt story, surprising notes and reveals, and covers, as with DiCamillo’s previous middle grade reads, some hard-hitting family truths.


amonstercalls28588061A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, story conception by Siobhan Dowd
Hardcopy courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada/Candlewick Press. Thank you!
Publication: August 2, 2016 by Candlewick Press; first published in 2011
Ah, this popular novel has been around for a few years now, and has received some terrific acclaim (and is going to be hitting the big screens in early 2017!). For those readers who haven’t yet read this title, I won’t get into spoilers here, but I have to say this is definitely a read that hits (hard) at the heart and the gut. I was, during my reading of the novel, tremendously moved and full of anxiety; Ness definitely knows how to hook and pull the reader in. One review I read a while back (I cannot recall which one, my apologies) noted that while A Monster Calls is all at once expected (there is ample foreshadowing) and carefully engineers/manipulates the readers’ emotions, that does not take away from the fact that is still indeed a strongly written, deeply affecting and meaningful read. Again, no spoilers, but have some tissues ready.


thewolfkeepers27414417The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach, illus. Alice Ratterree
ARC courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: October 11, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Elise Broach, author of children’s titles such as Masterpiece and Shakespeare’s Secret, has written a thoughtful and intriguing story here revolving around a young girl, a wildlife park, mysteriously ill wolves and a runaway boy. With its strong young female protagonist and a core of the story involving wild animals, The Wolf Keepers would have been the kind of read I would’ve clamored for growing up! At once a tale about careful-to-grow friendship between protagonist Lizzie and a young boy named Tyler, The Wolf Keepers is also a well-paced and plotted adventure/mystery story- one that contains some fascinating history and information about Yosemite National Park and naturalist John Muir. Perfect for readers who have enjoyed animal-centered titles such as Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart.


gertiesleap23208632Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley, illus. Jillian Tamaki
Source: ARC courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: October 4, 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

How many of us recall (and possibly still fervently adore) characters such as Ramona Quimby or Harriet the Spy? Well, if you do (and I do!), then you might absolutely cherish the titular character in Kate Beasley’s robust debut. Young Gertie Reece Foy is, similarly to the characters aforementioned, full of spark, vigor, and (sometimes misplaced) confidence and bluster. The kind of character you might instantly adore, root for and love, and thus feel it very keenly in your heart when things fall apart. As with Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale, there is a crucial element of parental absence and hurt; Beasley similarly approaches the subject with sensitivity and doesn’t shy away from truly difficult moments…but also proffers hope. Gertie’s Leap to Greatness is a heartfelt, funny, and aching read, full of wonderful moments, vivid characters, and clear insight.


I received copies of the titles mentioned above from Candlewick Press and Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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