Sunday, January 3, 2010

Your Top Ten Middle Grade Books?

Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 is doing a Top 100 Middle Grade books poll to go with last year's Top 100 Picture Books. She's asking people to send in a ranked list of their Top 10 middle grade novels. So, how about it, Inkpotters?

This is the sort of thing I could spend a week on, so I decided to just do it, off the top of my head, no second guessing, no staring at bookshelves. I couldn't decide whether to focus on books I loved as a kid or the ones I've discovered as an adult. Many of the books I adored as a child didn't hold up reading them later--but some of those I loved so much that I decided it didn't matter. So here is my ill-considered, irrational list, privileging largely the books that I adored as a child, with some new ones that made me feel that way again.

1) Anne of Green Gables
2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
3) Betsy Tacy
4) The Phantom Tollbooth
5) From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler
6) Ballet Shoes
7) The Secret Garden
8) The Tale of Despereaux
9) Holes
10) When You Reach Me


  1. Don't know if I'll send a list to Betsy, but, if I did, CRISS CROSS and ALL ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE by Lynne Rae Perkins would be my top-ranked titles. They are genius.

  2. I didn't really start reading until I was 12, so many of my favorite middle grade books were discovered when I was well past the target age. I don't think this list is in any particular order, just off the top of my head:

    1. The Thief
    2. Anne of Green Gables
    3. Away Is a Strange Place To Be
    4. Wizard of Oz
    5. The Indian in the Cupboard
    6. Woman in the Wall
    7. The Root Cellar
    8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    9. Three Lives to live
    10. The Phantom Tollbooth

  3. Hmm,

    Mine's a combo list too, childhood passions that hold up or don't and books discovered as an adult.

    1. Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown.
    2. Emily of Deep Valley
    3. Witch of Blackbird Pond
    4. Holes
    5. The Penderwicks
    6. Maniac Magee
    7. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
    8. Johnny Tremain
    9. Skellig

    I'll stop there because I know I'm missing something.

  4. What IS it about Witch of Blackbird Pond? I read that book over and over. I think it was the romantic tension between Kit and Nat (Nate?). White-hot.

  5. This too is off top of head. I wouldn't be who I am without these books:

    1. Wrinkle in Time
    2. Mistress Masham's repose
    3. The Borrowers
    4. Mary Poppins
    5. "The Water-Ghost of Harrowby Hall" a short story so there
    6. David Copperfield
    7. The pink Motel
    8. Betsy, Tacy and Tib
    9. The Phantom Tollboth
    10. Pollyanna

    There you have it.

  6. Mine, in no order... all from childhood, not filtering much for an adult view.

    1. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
    2. Johnny Tremain
    3. Across Five Aprils
    4. The Changeling
    5. (George)
    6. The Dark Is Rising
    7. The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)
    8. The Mark of the Horse Lord
    9. Harriet the Spy
    10. Out of the Dust

    (Okay, I admit I read Out of the Dust as an adult.)

  7. I am stealing all of these for my post. They are excellent.

  8. It's interesting that our lists are so girly. Don't you feel like the dudes would have entirely different--or mostly different--top tens?

  9. Many of mine are many of everyone's. In no particular order:

    1. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib
    2. The Moffats
    3. Dr. Doolittle
    4. The Phantom Tollbooth
    5. Morning Girl
    6. The Great Gilly Hopkins
    7. The Secret Garden
    8. Skellig
    9. Because of Winne-Dixie
    10.Charlotte's Web

  10. Christine, I noticed mine is decidedly girlie. I'm hoping to solicit a lot of lists at residency, and so maybe we can get some testosterone. Not that Besty-Tacy isn't plenty butch.

  11. I don't have my books by me. . .

    1. Wrinkle in Time
    2. The Harry Potter Series (as an adult, but still a favorite)
    3. Anything by H. M. Hoover
    4. Wizard of Oz (and all of the rest written by Baum)
    5. Alice in Wonderland/Throug the Looking Glass
    6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Matilda
    7. Bridge to Terabithia
    8. Tuck Everlasting
    9. Susan Cooper (Dark is Rising Series)
    10. Alanna by Tamora Pierce (and many of her other books)

  12. I was tickled to see some unexpected ones on here. (Hooray for Away Is a Strange Place to Be, The Thief, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Dark Is Rising, Tamora Pierce's stuff and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm.)

    At the moment, I'd throw in something by Lloyd Alexander, Bruce Brooks, Brian Jacques, Jean Craighead George, Gary Paulsen, Diana Wynne Jones, L'Engle, and Avi and probably The Watsons Go to Birmingham, The Man in the Ceiling, and The Westing Game (among others . . . :).

  13. It's so nice to find your blog! I was one of Ron's students when he was at Vermont. My new website is

    Here is my top ten:

    Little Women
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Johnny Tremain
    Ella Enchanted
    Anne of Green Gables
    The Tale of Despereaux
    Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion

  14. Missed two somehow. Here they are...

    Ballet Shoes
    Princess Academy