Reader Recommendations with Megan Kaeb / by Madeleine Riley

It's the last Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means -- time for some Reader Recommendations! Today I'm happy to welcome Megan Kaeb. You may already know her from Instagram @youngbooklove, or from her blog, Young Book Love. Megan primarily reads historical and contemporary fiction, mystery, and middle grade novels. She's here on Top Shelf Text today to recommend five of her favorite middle grade titles!

P.S. Did you know you can apply to be a guest on my reader recommendations series? Just fill out this form to enter!


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My name is Megan Kaeb. I am a life-long reader and mom to six. One of my goals as a parent is to pass on a love of reading to my kids. I recently started a blog called Young Book Love with the goal of helping parents discover great books their kids will fall for. While I love to read a variety of genres, middle grade fiction holds a special place in my heart. I love a good story and have found so many great ones within this category. So, whether you a looking for a book for yourself, a book for your child, or a book to read with your child, I am excited to share a few of my favorites.


Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign is the story of Rose Howard, a fifth-grade girl with high-functioning autism. Rose loves homonyms and prime numbers. She lives with her dad, a man who is emotionally distant and struggles with his own demons. She goes to school, but does not have any real friends. But, one thing she does have is her dog Rain. That is until her dad lets Rain out in the middle of a hurricane and he doesn’t come back. This is a book filled with heart; it will stick with you long after you have put it down. Rose’s voice is endearing and funny, and her growth and change throughout the book is inspiring. Sad, funny and filled with hope, I loved this story and I loved the character of Rose in this book.

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Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again, is the story of a young girl and her family who flee war torn Vietnam and make their way to America as refugees. It is also a novel in verse, and one of my favorites to date. I am amazed at how every free-verse poem has the ability to stand alone as a work of art, and yet shared together they link to tell a beautiful story. It tackles issues like bullying, change, looking and sounding different from your peers, and loss. It is a beautifully told story with characters that you care about and root for. I loved this book!

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

If you are looking for a book with the potential to make you laugh out loud, cry, and thoroughly enjoy the reading of, let me tell you, The Wednesday Wars is the book for you. Told from the perspective of Holling Hoodhood, the story follows his seventh grade year in Mrs. Baker’s class, a teacher who hates him. Even worse, every Wednesday he is forced to be one-on-one with her because every one else in his class attends religion classes. Because she hates him, Mrs. Baker decides to use the time to study Shakespeare. The humor in this book is so great, the backdrop of the Vietnam War adds a layer of depth, the strong presence of Shakespeare made me want to read one of his plays, and the situations Holling finds himself are extremely entertaining. This is one of my all-time favorite books.

All Rise for the Honorably Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

Perry T. Cook has spent his entire life at Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility; his mom, however, is not the warden, she is an inmate. This arrangement quietly set up by the Warden, works well for everyone, until the District Attorney Thomas VanLeer discovers Perry. VanLeer quickly takes charge and removes Perry from Blue River. Forced to leave the only home he has ever known and faced with the knowledge that the rule-bending that allowed him to live with his mom could keep her in prison even longer, Perry is determined to come up with a plan to keep this from happening. There is a mystery woven into this book that keeps you turning the pages. I loved the stories of the inmates that were told along with their struggle to stay connected with their families. This book illustrates how bad choices can change our lives in big ways, and how forgiveness can do the same. I loved the story, the characters, and the ultimate message that family is important, love makes a difference, and forgiveness heals.

The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

The Detective’s Assistant tells the story of young orphaned Cornelia (Nell) who is brought to live with her aunt, Kate Warren. Her aunt just happens to be the first female detective for the famous Pinkerton’s Detective Agency. Aunt Kate immediately begins to make plans for Nell to live somewhere else, but unforeseen events transpire and soon the two are off solving cases for Pinkerton’s together. I love Nell’s voice throughout this story and I loved the historical aspects of this book. While Nell is a made up character, Kate Warren was a real person and many of the adventures they go on are based on real-life events. This is the story of two strong, bold women and has been one of my favorite reads this year.


Thank you Megan for sharing your recommendations with us!

Four of these are going on my own to-read list, but I have to note here that I absolutely adore Inside Out and Back Again -- it was our middle grade selection for the Diverse Books club in October 2017!

If you love one of Megan's recommendations or have something to recommend to her, leave a comment below!