Best Books of 2013

Books For Older Kids

Young Reviewers Pick Their Favorites

Atlanta Parent asked young reviewers to hit the books and get back to us with their recommendations for their peers. Thank you to these educators who helped coordinate book reviews by their students: Ann Evett and Holly Lanford of Henderson Middle School, Laura Kamenitsa of Inman Middle School and Terri Kaplan of Westminster Middle School.

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield by John Bemelmans Marciano; illustrated by Sophie Backall (Viking, ages 10 and older, $16.99)
From the title of this book, you may have thought Alexander Baddenfield was a cat, as cats are normally thought of having nine lives. But in fact, he is the last of the Baddenfield family, known for their cruelty and short-lived lives. Knowing this, Alexander devises a plan to gain eight more lives. He wastes every single one of them being reckless and feisty, and doesn’t break the chain of short-lived lives. You’re sure to chuckle through the humorous story of Alexander Baddenfield’s nine lives. – Emma Bussey, 7th grade, Westminster

Beeholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco (Knopf, ages 9-12, $16.99)
A young orphaned girl named Bee and her caregiver Pauline, are both members of a traveling circus in the 1940’s. As the story unfolds, Bee deals with a diamond-like birthmark on her cheek, the cause of which is unknown and the challenges of life on the road. I enjoyed reading this novel because I was able to see the characters change as the storyline developed, and I particularly liked the setting within a traveling circus. – Lea Lobanov, 8th grade, Westminster

Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan (Dial, ages 12 and older, $16.99)
What are the seven most important things in your life? That is the question Holly Sloan asks in her tale of love, sadness, and belonging. Willow Chance and other funny and unusual characters try to answer this question. All of these characters come together beautifully and bring the story to life, encouraging readers to believe that no matter how hard life gets, there will always be someone who cares. – Isabella Pu, 7th grade, Westminster

Escape from Berlin by Irene N. Watts (Tundra Books, ages 8-12, $19.99)
Two girls become friends when they are evacuated from Germany during WWII through Kindertransport, a secret train that carried mostly Jewish children out of Nazi territory to start new lives with new families in other countries. They never expect to see each other again once they arrive in England, but amazingly find themselves working in the same London hospital. Each girl is reunited with a family member at the end, but it is a mixed happy ending because they have also each lost a parent during the war. It’s a very detailed and realistic book about how people my age survived WWII, and I really cared about these characters, their experiences and their friendship. – Leah Faupel, 6th grade, Elkins Pointe

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (Delacorte Press, ages 8-12, $15.99)
If you love games and reading, you’ll love this story. Luigi Lemoncello, the Willy Wonka-like game-maker and designer of a small town’s new public library, has created a home for books that is incredible, filled with holograms, video ceiling panels, floating book ladders and interactive displays. Twelve lucky 12-year-olds, including Kyle and his friend Akimi, win an essay contest and get to sleep over in the new library before it opens. Mr. Lemoncello asks if they want to play a game to win a huge prize: escape the library without using the front door or emergency exits. They have to use library resources to solve clues and find the secret escape route. It’s a suspenseful book with funny dialogue and puzzles to solve along with the characters. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. – Leah Faupel, 6th grade, Elkins Pointe

The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward (Razorbill, ages 8-12, $16.99)
The Whipple family has broken more world records than any other family on the planet. There’s just one exception: Arthur Whipple. He hasn’t broken a single World Record, not even one. Arthur thinks it’s not exactly his fault. Then suddenly everything seems to go wrong. His whole family seems to be losing their sparkle for breaking world records, and Arthur is the only one who might know who’s causing this. – Eliza Fleming, 6th grade, Westminster

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voight (Knopf, ages 8-12, $16.99)
Do you want to read a book that has mystery, detectives, lying and kidnapping? Read this story about a boy named Max who tries to solve the mystery of his missing parents. He’s really good at solving other people’s mysteries, but he can’t solve his own problem of his missing parents. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait to read the next book to see what happens to Max next. – Joshua Marston, 6th grade, Inman

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail written by Ricahrd Peck, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Dial, ages 8-12, $16.99)
What if you found yourself the size of a mouse, living in England and fearing squirrels the size of Buckingham Palace? The mouse’s nickname is Mouse Minor and if you are looking for a nail-biting, laugh-out-loud and just plain adorable book, this book is perfect for you. Mouse Minor and other amazing characters such as his Aunt Marigold took me on an amazing journey through a mouse community in Buckingham Palace in England. I highly recommend The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail to anyone looking for something fun and adventurous to read. – Addison Dascher, 7th grade, Henderson

The Saturday Boy by David Fleming (Viking, ages 10 and older, $16.99)
Derek writes letters to his father while he is deployed in Afghanistan. I loved the connection between Derek and his father, and I think that is important to understand
the connection that written letters can give us. I enjoyed The Saturday Boy and I recommend it to all. – Grace O’Gara, 7th grade, Westminster

Stick Dog by Tom Watson (HarperCollins, ages 8-12, $12.99)
Stick dog reminds me of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Stick dog is a fun and joyous book with crazy but cute drawings that make you laugh. I liked it because the book had cool names for the dog and each dog was unique in their own way. Poo Poo was my favorite. She was obsessed with squirrels, and she always had something witty to say. – Sidnie Stewart, 7th grade, Henderson

Unlucky Charms by Adam Rex (Balzer + Bray, ages 8-12, $16.99)
An evil sorceress fairy queen, Nimue, has an evil company that makes breakfast cereal that will make you smarter. She wants to take over the world and kidnaps the Queen of England. A ragged group of kids and a librarian work to stop Nimue from taking over. They chase, attack, and pass through a rift in time to try and stop her. I recommend this funny book and you might want to read the first book in the Cold Cereal Saga to fully enjoy this wild adventure. – Alysscia Carlisle, 8th grade, Inman

What I Came to Tell You by Tommy Hays (EgmontUSA, ages 10 and older, $16.99)
Grover Johnston loves to make beautiful art out of bamboo and leaves, but he mostly thinks about the recent loss of his mother. This sad book will lift you up when other people in his town help him deal with the death of his mother. Grover’s sister, Sudie, is my favorite character in the book. She is a brave and adventurous girl who has a great spirit. If you are looking for a great book, then this would be the book for you. It is sad at some points, but that is what keeps it alive. – Cara Kennedy, 7th grade, Henderson

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders (Delacorte, ages 10 and up, $16.99)
Anyone who loves chocolate, magic and mysteries should read this book. A family, with twins Oz and Lily, move into the most magical house in London at 18 Skittle Street, with a boarded up chocolate shop on the ground floor. It turns out the old owners of the chocolate shop invented chocolate with magical powers. I liked this imaginative book because of the adventures that Oz and Lily take and all the magic in the book. – Ani Woodard, 7th grade, Inman

Gingersnap by Patricia Reily Giff (Wendy Lamb Books, Ages 8-12, $15.99)
This book is assuredly special, and I definitely recommend it. It's the story about a girl named Jayna finding family and love in a time of war.  I identified with Jayna and wondered how I would have acted had I been in her shoes. She went through loss, neglect, abandonment, and she kept her head held high, and that certainly took courage. This story captured my heart and took me on a journey that I will long remember. - Avery Lamberson, 7th grade, Henderson Middle School

The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz (Dutton Juvenile, Ages 10 and up, $16.99)
The Grimm Conclusion is an action-filled book of fairy tales. But they're not the kind of fairy tales you'd expect! There are stories of murder, deception, and long unforgiving journeys. Between talking birds, people cutting off body parts one by one, and a mom eating her son in a stew, there is a lot of unusual, and in some cases, frightening action. The phenomenal narrative voice that carried through all the stories made the book even more unique, and it was a very exciting read.  -Ella Guedry, 7 th grade, Henderson Middle School

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (Random House Books for Young Readers, Ages 8-12, $16.99)
I liked the book because it has a perfect mix of action and adventure, plus mystery and foreshadowing. It shows what the world would be like if WWIII broke out and what would be left after it too. Some cool characters in the book are Brock, Hope, and Aarean, and the main characters are my age, so I wanted them to win in their battle. Someone should read this book if they like action and adventure in a long book. It has a very good plot and it unfolds in an exciting way that will keep you guessing until the end. -Gino Zamoscinski, 7th grade, Henderson Middle School

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Ages 8-12, $16.99)
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is about the adventures of a boy named Rump who lives in The Village and is always teased about his name. One day, he finds out he can spin straw into gold!  I liked this book because it was fantasy, it was funny in some places and the gnomes were crazy. My two favorite characters were Rump, who likes to make rhymes, and Red, who is smart. I think that people in elementary school and early middle school would like this, as it is an easy read and is entertaining. -Sylvia Price, Inman Middle School

Smokescreen by Nancy Hartry (Tundra Books, Ages 12 and Up, $17.95)
The main character is a seventeen-year-old girl named Kerry who is a dancer.  She gets her first real job during the summer in a wilderness area, and she's away from home and her strict mother.  Her partner is another girl named Yvette who is the opposite of Kerry, and together they work in the woods and fields.  The girls help put out a forest fire which is dangerous, but when Kerry gets curious about the fire, she begins to uncover a crime that could threaten her life.  The book didn’t have any dull moments, it definitely kept you reading to find out what happened next! - Mateo Tewari, Inman Middle School                

Never Say Die by Will Dobbs (HarperCollins, Ages 8-12, $16.99)
I think Never Say Die is a great book. It's a fascinating look into the life of Inuit people and environmental issues of the Arctic.  One of my favorite characters was Nick.  He provided a point of view of native peoples of the Arctic and the environmental issues they face.  I really enjoyed the first-person narrative. -Miles Pearlstein, Inman Middle School                      

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt (Random House Books for Young Readers, Ages 9-12, $16.99)
This is an amazing book about a kid named Julian who gets into a lot of mischief.  He goes out with his best friend’s crush, kills a pigeon, and eggs an eighth grader! I was caught up in the story, and then I realized it was about a normal kid and his life struggles.  He was a kid just like me.  I like how I could relate myself to this book. Even though Julian got in quite a bit of trouble, he was my favorite character because he was basically a good kid with a good heart. -Leah Salomon, Inman Middle School

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, Ages 12 and up, $17.99)
The Language Inside is about a girl, Emma, who lives in Japan.   She moves to Massachusetts because her mother has breast cancer.  She feels homesick and begins to have major migraines often.  Her mother urges her to join a program that helps disabled people write poetry.  She meets people and makes friends.  It is a very heartwarming story. -Madeline Thorpe, Inman Middle School

Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey (Puffin, Ages 10 and up, $7.99)
Deadweather and Sunrise is a great book for all readers of any genre. It blends mystery, adventure, romance, and survival into one great book. It is about a boy named Egbert who goes on a crazy, action-filled, and hilarious adventure. He lives on a boring, smelly, pirate-inhabited island called Deadweather, and Egbert never thinks of leaving it, but finally he does. My favorite character is Egbert because he is funny and smart at the same time. This book kept me up all night reading, and it will do the same to you. - Cole Seagroves, Westminster Middle School

The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck (Dial, Ages 8-12, $17.99)
The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail is a fantastic book, with many lessons of courage and bravery. This book has the most unexpected turns in the plot with very descriptive (not confusing) language. The Nameless Mouse is an interesting character, because without a name, you can be called many different things. But does he actually have a name, or is his name lost forever? - Sara Sohani, Westminster Middle School