Monday, October 22, 2012

MEANWHILE ... MIDDLE GRADE: Our Childhood Faves

Of all the books I've ever read, it's the middle-grade books that stick with me. Maybe it was the age, or the fabulous stories, but these books have a way of tunneling into your psyche and becoming a part of who you grow up to be. Here are some of our middle-grade authors' favorites from their childhood. If you haven't read them yet, they're just waiting for you!

ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET by Judy Blume is always the first book I think of when I think of my tween years. Other books might have had more fireworks--everything from poltergeists to magical hobbits--but Margaret had a voice. She could be funny, and serious, and she was going through all the same changes that I was, only in a more public way. I thought of this book so much when writing Genie Wishes.Elisabeth Dahl, Genie Wishes (Amulet Books, April 1, 2013)

It's always hard for me to pick out favorite books from childhood because I pretty much loved everything, but Judy Blume's BLUBBER stands out as one of them, for sure. I remember feeling that Judy Blume really got how hard it was to be eleven (it is!) and make so many mistakes while trying to navigate the fine social line between being accepted and rejected. I still re-read BLUBBER and marvel at how much of it stayed with me. —Kristen Kittscher, The Wig in the Window (Harper Children's, June 18, 2013)

FRIDAY'S TUNNEL by John Verney, a very British mystery thriller, was a great favorite. The narrator, spunky 13-year-old February Callender, was my idol when I was about 10, and everything I wanted to be. The sprawling freedom of the Callender household was also hugely appealing. —Kit Grindstaff, The Flame in the Mist (Delacorte, April 9, 2013)

THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis sent me to Narnia, and I never wanted to come home. I loved the world, and I especially loved that Lucy, the youngest of the four siblings, was the strongest. This book had it all: magic, adventure, love, and forgiveness. Claire M. Caterer, The Key & the Flame (Margaret K. McElderry Books, April 2, 2013)

PIPPI LONGSTOCKING by Astrid Lindgren was among my favorites when I was young, and remains a favorite now. Pippi is an unforgettable character with unique qualities and circumstances, comical behavior that she often gets away with, and she has an underlying loneliness – Pippi was my very good friend. —Tamera Will Wissinger, Gone Fishing (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, March 5, 2013)

RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8 by Beverly Cleary was such an important book to seven-year-old me. Like Ramona, I was always getting myself into trouble: pulling some bratty girl's hair, bickering with my practically perfect older sister, or rubbing honey all over the wall because static electricity just wasn't keeping my balloon stuck up there. I even shared her unfortunate bowl cut. Sigh. Thank goodness at least Ramona understood me! —Melanie Crowder, Parched (Harcourt Children's Books, June 4, 2013)

WAIT TILL HELEN COMES by Mary Downing Hahn never failed to haunt and fascinate me as a child, no matter how many times I read it. The creepiness of living in an old church with a graveyard in the back, and the history of the dead girl Helen and how it so perfectly aligned with Heather's own history, just gave me chills and thrills all the way through. Liesl Shurtliff, RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin (Knopf/Random House, April 9, 2013)

Look for more middle-grade memories from our authors in MMGM weeks to come!

Claire M. Caterer writes for readers of all ages, but her favorite audience are those who love middle-grade novels. Her debut novel is The Key & the Flame, coming in April 2013 from Margaret K. McElderry Books. You can connect with Claire on her website, Facebook, or Twitter pages.


  1. Wow- you totally nailed some of my favorites from childhood.

  2. Yup, me too. Wasvery happy to see RAMONA and PIPPI in there.

  3. I still reread Wait Till Helen Comes...still love it, 20 years later at the age of 34. :)

  4. I still reread Wait Till Helen Comes...still love it, 20 years later at the age of 34. :)