When Molly Was a Harvey Girl by Frances M. Wood. Semicolon review here. Thirteen year old Molly pretend to be eighteen so that she and her old sister Colleen can get jobs together as Harvey girls at the famous restaurant chain in Raton, New Mexico. I liked the vivid portrayal of what it was like to work in the Harvey House restaurant and of the characters in a 1880’s town on the frontier of civilization.
Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay. Semicolon review here. Whatever happened to Sara Crewe and all her friends at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies? Find out in this lovely story by the author of the Casson family books.
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. Semicolon review here. Eleven year old Turtle joins the Diaper Gang when she goes to live with her extended family in Key West, Florida.
The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson. Semicolon review here. I couldn’t resist this Dear America story about the daughter of a Baptist pastor who ministers to Japanese Americans during World War II.
Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker. Semicolon review here. The best Clementine book so far. Fine.
Belly Up! by Stuart Gibbs. Semicolon review here. A cantankerous hippo who is the main attraction at FunJungle dies mysteriously, and Teddy is convinced that Henry the Hippo is the victim of cold-blooded murder. But can he prove it? And will Summer McCracken, the rich daughter of FunJungle’s owner, J.J. McCracken, be a help or a hindrance in the investigation?
Betti on the High Wire by Lisa Railsback. Semicolon review here. Babo lives in an abandoned circus with other abandoned children in a country torn by war and civil unrest. Then, Babo is adopted by Melons (Americans), and she becomes Betti, and the confusion begins. An excellent story about adoption and family and culture shock.
Crunch by Leslie Connor. Semicolon review here.A fuel shortage strands the Marriss parents up north while the kids take care of the Marriss Bike Barn. And bicycles become a hot commodity.
The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. When Moxie goes away to boarding school, she realizes that she can reinvent herself as anyone she wants to be. But can she remember who she’s decided to become?
Wildfire Run by Dee Garretson. Son the president of the United States, Luke and his friends, Callie and Theo, must escape a forest fire and security systems to save their lives when they are accidentally stranded at Camp David.
Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth. Eager to find work after his hungry family arrives in Mumbai, 11-year-old Gopal ends up locked in a one-room “factory” making beaded frames with five other boys so beaten down they don’t even talk to one another. The boys have no names because their boss manipulates them to distrust one another in the interest of keeping them in slavery. Heart-rending, but never preachy, and ultimately hopeful.
The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom: The Body Thief by Stephen M. Giles. Melodrama at its best, in the tradition of Lemony Snicket. Three young people from quite dysfunctional families gather at the home of their evil and dying uncle, Silas Winterbottom, to find out who his heir will be. Will it be Adele, whose mother has threatened to send her to a horrible school if she doesn’t bring home the bacon? Or will Isabella, the beautiful con artist and thief, be able to fool Uncle Silas into choosing her? Or will Silas choose Milo, who’s only there for revenge? Daring, dastardly, and devious.
And that’s my sort of short list. The short list for the Cybils Middle Grade Fiction category will be announced on January 1, 2011. All I can say is that some of the books on my list may be on the official short list, and others will not. There’s some seriously good fiction out there, folks.