2008 Middle Grade Fiction Finalists

Alvin Ho
written by Lenore Look
Schwartz and Wade Books

Alvin Ho is brave (as long as he has his Personal Disaster Kit), a
gentleman (in training), a good friend (but NOT to girls), and an
interesting kid (who doesn’t talk in public). It’s just that he’s
allergic to everything: girls, substitute teachers, airplanes,
escalators … and anything else that’s even remotely scary (like
leaving the house). However, he loves explosions, his dog Lucy,
Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, Aquaman, King V, and all
the superheroes in the world. The illustrations are unique and
flavorful, and so is the Ho family. A book that everyone — from the
struggling second-grade reader through to the adults who know that
struggling second-grade reader — will fall in love with.
–Melissa Fox, Book Nut

Diamond Willow
written by Helen Frost
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux

Helen Frost tells the story of Willow, a young girl living in a remote
Alaskan town. When Willow gets her first chance to mush the family dogs, everything
changes. Told in a series of diamond-shaped poems, with sporadic prose
every few chapters, Frost has woven a beautiful coming-of-age story
fraught with realism and magic. Braiding the stories of Willow, her
family, the dogs, and her family’s ancestors, the story is simple and
middle-grade students will easily connect with Willow and her family.
The deeper themes of love, respect for nature, and being yourself are
carved into the poems, just like the diamond willow stick can be carved.
–Sarah Mulhern, The Reading Zone

Every Soul a Star
written by Wendy Mass
Little, Brown

Three middle school students are brought together along with thousands
of eclipse-chasers to witness a rare full solar eclipse. Told in the
three voices of Ally, Bree & Jack, the alternating narrations are
beautifully written and increasingly weave
together. Ally (short for Alpha) and her family own the Moon Shadow
campground, and have been preparing for their eclipse-chasing guests
for years. Bree’s parents have bought the Moon Shadow and are dragging
her from city life to try running a campground. Jack is
along for the ride as his science teacher’s assistant in an amateur
astronomy experiment they plan to run during the eclipse. Every Soul a
Star offers three humorous and insightful journeys of self-discovery
mixed with an intriguing dose of astronomy lessons.
Matthew Wigdahl, The Book Club Shelf

Shooting the Moon
written by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Both the characters and the setting are fully fleshed out and
believable in this Vietnam era novel. Born and raised in a career army
family, 12-year-old Jamie explores her changing feelings as her
brother enlists in the army and is sent far away to fight. While
offering no easy answers, this is a thought-provoking page-turner that
will have lots of appeal for kids.
Mary Voors, APCL Mock Newbery

The London Eye Mystery
written by Siobhan Dowd
David Fickling Books

This story has Ted and Kat searching for a cousin who
disappears from the London Eye Ferris wheel. The two siblings must
work together to solve the mystery. What’s unique about this tale is
how Ted’s Asberger’s doesn’t stand in the way of him being active in
solving his cousin’s disappearance. The portrayal of Ted is a
refreshing change from stereotypical characters in some books.
Kim Baccellia 

–Kerry Millar, organizer