Browsing Tag

middle grade

Books We Love: The Way to Bea

#bookexcursion, #DiverseKidLit, Books We Love

Huge thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for sharing a copy of The Way to Bea with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of ten educators who read and share new children’s and middle-grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

Sometimes, you pick up a book, and it speaks to those moments that are so universal for kids. The Way to Bea is one of those books. When Beatrix Lee gets back from the best summer of her life, her best friend seems to have moved on without her. When her feelings are too painful to speak about, she writes about them instead. Turning to poetry, she voices her inner thoughts and hides them away in a secret spot in the woods. When someone starts writing back, Bea wonders if she has a new friend – and wonders how she can convince them to stay.

Kat Yeh has created a beautiful main character in Bea, but the book is filled with a loveable, creative, and compassionate cast. Bea’s dad is a clever comic book creator, and her mom is an incredible artist. Mrs. Rodriguez, the school librarian, always has funky sneakers on her feet and the perfect book in her hand. Briggs, the fedora-wearing editor of the school newspaper, is kind, clever, and charming. Will, who is obsessed with labyrinths, helps Bea find a way out of her friendship maze. I fell in love with this amazing crew, and so will middle-grade readers.

With a page-turning plot, an incredible cast, and gorgeous storytelling, middle school readers will love this one!

Classroom Connections: Suggestions for Middle School Classrooms

  • Kat Yeh brilliantly centers moments around songs in this book. Bea will describe the song that’s playing during a certain scene, and at the back of the book, there’s a list of the songs for each scene. As a creative writing exercise, have students listen to a song and write a fictional scene to go along with it.
  • This book touches on the history of labyrinths. Have students read informational texts on the history of labyrinths as they read this fiction text. They will find many connections to the information Bea and Will share!
  • Bea writes gorgeous poetry in both free verse and haiku. Her poetry touches on themes of friendship, belonging, identity, and more. Have students craft their own poems on these themes during a poetry unit.

Books We Love: The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City

#bookexcursion, Books We Love

Huge thanks to Jodi Kendall for sharing a copy of The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of ten educators who read and share new children’s and middle-grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!


When I was a kid, my favorite book in the world was Charlotte’s Web. I remember spending hours flipping through the pages and falling in love with the story of Wilbur, Charlotte, Fern, and all the other amazing characters. It’s clear that author Jodi Kendall appreciates Charlotte’s Web just as much as I do, as her middle-grade debut is a heartwarming tribute to E.B. White’s classic.

When Josie Shilling sits down for Thanksgiving dinner, she expects to be sitting in her small city townhouse with her four siblings and two parents. She doesn’t expect, however, to be joined by a baby piglet. When Josie’s older brother Tom rescues a runt from a farm outside the city, Josie makes it her mission to save the pig’s life. While her life is busy with gymnastics, friendships, and a growth spurt, Josie soon adds one more item to her to-do list: persuading her parents to let her keep Hamlet.

This was such a well-crafted and heartwarming story – two traits that make this middle-grade book a must-have for classroom libraries. Josie, her friends, and her siblings are well-developed as characters. Readers can imagine what it must be like to live in the busy Shilling household! While all the characters are compelling, Josie is a fantastic middle-grade main character: talented and imperfect, empathetic and thoughtful, growing up and still curious. There is so much to love about this book, and I can’t wait to see what author Jodi Kendall does next!