Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Reading Age: 9 – 12 years

Grade Level: 3 – 7

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

In this middle grade novel, an 11 year old boy nicknamed Scoob has his share of school related problems. Additionally, he is mixed heritage and brown skinned with a white or pale skinned grandmother. They adore each other. Grandmother takes Scoob on a roadtrip through southern states and educates him about 1960’s events related to the African American experience. Grandmother relives a trip that could not be completed with Scoob’s grandfather in the 1960s because he was a brown skinned man and society frowned upon mixed relationships. The author unravels a grandmother who would be respected anywhere because of skin color but with a life lived of poverty and continuous criminal activity. Readers learn that she educates her grandson about racism but contributed to it in her past. Scoob’s dad who was reared by only his mother now is rearing Scoob singly. Interesting reading to keep pages turning. Text is appropriate for this targeted age group. Black and white illustrations dispersed throughout give eyes extra facts and details to look at. A good class discussion book. Looking forward to a sequel.

Dork Diaries 14: Tales from a Not-So-Best Friend Forever by Rachel Renee Russell

Reading Age: 9-13 years

Grade Level: 4-8

Publisher: Aladdin; Illustrated edition

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

It is summer and middle grader Nikki Maxwell and her friends plan to be the opening act for a popular music group called Bad Boyz as they tour cities around the country. The story infuses quizzes about the four members of Bad Boyz so that readers understand the personalities and traits of the members. Unfortunately Nikki’s rival, McKenzie, plans to inject herself into this experience any way that she can. Nikki’s histrionic personality is well depicted in text and illustrations which at times will have readers laughing and at other times have readers’ eyes zooming through pages to find out how cliffhangers end. As the story unfolds the audience learns that there is more to Nikki than her dramatic personality. My Book Eyes enjoyed the pedal boat escapade. This middle grade chapter book is a fun read that ends on a happy note.

Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee by Tonya Duncan Ellis

Grade Level: 2 – 6

Reading Age: 8 – 12 years

Publisher: Page Turner Publishing; Illustrated edition 

Publication Date: November 28, 2018

In this middle grade chapter book, 10 year old Sophie from Texas has no desire to be on the school spelling bee until she is challenged by a classmate named Nathan. Her parents encourage Sophie to excel. Sophie shows that focusing on a goal then working to achieve that goal can bring desired results. In addition to the spelling bee, readers learn about Sophie’s life which includes a loving family, a sometimes annoying little brother, and events at her private school but all is not perfect. At times Sophie finds herself having to face uncomfortable situations that she perceives will be horrible however once the event occurs she manages.

The Getaway (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 12) by author/illustrator Jeff Kinney

Reading Level: 8 – 12 years

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

In this chapter book, a middle schooler named Greg Heffley is looking forward to an enjoyable Christmas at home however his parents desire to escape the busy holiday experiences so they book a trip to a tropical island for their family of five. What begins as a stress-free idea turns into a chain of stressful yet hilarious (for the reader) escapades throughout the book. My Book Eyes laughed at adults who sometimes think and act like children and children who sometimes think and act like adults. Anyone who has ever taken an airplane trip will definitely be able to relate to some of the events (flight delays, luggage mix ups, uncomfortable seats etc) encountered by the Heffleys. Once they reach their destination more adventures await this family. Illustrations and text are entertaining and provoke nonstop laughter.