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Kid Tested, Librarian Approved: Winter wonderland

Kid Tested, Librarian Approved: Winter wonderland

Time to go outside and play in the cold or go for a hike. If we have snow, go sledding and build snowmen. Then come back in to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies or grilled cheese and soup; get cozy with a wintry book or two or three or four and daydream of a winter wonderland. Read on for some of my favorite winter middle grade books.

Juniper’s Christmas by Eoin Colfer

book coverDear Santa stopped delivering gifts after the death of his, much loved, wife. Now he's hiding out with his reindeer undercover as a woodsman named Niko. He helps the homeless build really cool better shelters in London’s Cedar Park This happens to be the same park 11-year-old Juniper Lane’s late father, Briar Lane, was Park-Keeper and now her mom took over the job. 

Juniper’s dad was such a wonderful person who never stopped believing in Santa. He started what became a new Cedar Park custom, The Santa Vigil that brings joy and holiday spirit to all those in need. People bring holiday food, clothing to give away and caroling. By golly, Juniper and her mom, Jennifer, are going to keep it going! Yes!    

Sooooo, it’s almost time for the Santa Virgil and what happens? Juniper’s mom disappears! What?!? Oh NO! Duchess, their family friend who lives in the park, says she knows Niko and believes he can help find Juniper’s mom. Game on, time to find Niko. Juniper Lane is about to be plopped right down into a magical non-stop Christmas journey! Will she find her mom? Will Santa help her? 

If you ever wondered how Christmas magic works, read this heartwarming, exciting book and see if it feels familiar to that beautiful heart of yours.  

Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson 

book coverEleven-year-old Matt is setting up his own business for a math class project. Not a pretend business but a real one. He needs the extra credit badly and hopes to do a great job so he doesn’t fail class. Matt isn’t comfortable with math and has no idea what kind of business he could start. It will have to be something he really loves. Think, think, think.

The only thing Matt really loves to do is be out and about with his bestest fur friends, his dog sled team. Ta Dah! Matt’s Sled Dog School becomes his fantastic new business. He is going to do great and save his grade! It's going to be easy, right?!? Hmmmm, maybe it takes a little more work than Matt expected. The kids who signed up for the seld dog class have much to learn and so does Matt. 

I enjoyed reading about his two students who are very different from each other, and what it was like for Matt’s fun loving family to live off the grid. At times it gets more than a little crazy on the trail. So hang on to your mittens for a dog sledding adventure filled with fun, humor and some valuable life lessons.   

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson 

book coverMoomins are roundish, hippopotamus looking trolls who sleep in a deep hibernation from November to April. A good dinner of pine needles rests in their stomachs to hold them over until spring. I love that, pine needles of all things. When the sun shines and the snow melts, they shake their sleepy heads, have breakfast and are off to do spring exploring.

This year something unexpected happens. Moomintroll wakes up in winter and can not get back to sleep! His family is still sound asleep. He tries to get Moominmamma to wake up but she does not. Since he can’t wake anyone up, he decides to go south and find Snufin a vagabond, musician and Moomintroll’s best friend. Since Snufin is not a Moomintroll he doesn't hibernate. Outside Moomintroll finds white cold stuff (snow) all over the land, which is interesting. He thinks he's all alone. Then he is amazed to find there are many creatures awake to meet and greet.   

I love this book! There are descriptions and drawings of most of the characters in the first pages of the book (Moomin Gallery), which is great! Everything is so unexpected, detailed and feels new with thoughts and emotions that sound true today, even though the first story was written in 1945. The book teaches many thoughtful values of equality, empathy, acceptance, community and peaceful living in harmony with nature. It is a wonderful book to read aloud and one of my new/old favorites.  Happy reading exploring the land of Moomintrolls! 😊 

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu 

book coverHazel and Jack have been best friends since they were 6 years old. Living through Minneapolis summers and winters, fighting dragons, playing Hogworts, living in the Land of Oz, superheroes, and baseball. Now they are 11 and still best friends and that’s ok.  They fit.  Their likes and dislikes, knowing what your BFF is thinking even before they say a word.  It’s comfortable to have a friend that you are, well, comfortable with.

Then one day Jack just stopped paying attention to Hazel. He would only hang out with the guys. Her mom tried to tell her that is what happens sometimes when you get older. Hazel didn’t believe that. Jack wasn’t acting like Jack.  Something was wrong. Then Jack disappeared. 

Tyler, who always teased her in school, told her he saw something. He told her with a serious look on his face, no teasing. They were suppose to go sledding, but he saw Jack get onto a huge sled with a tall strange white and silver woman made of snow. They went into the woods. It was the Snow Queen. 

Brave, brilliant Hazel is going to rescue her best friend Jack. On her journey through the magical, dangerous forest she encounters many “stories,” giant wolves, a treacherous marketplace, witches and wizards. Some I was relieved to find were friendly. However, there were other characters who appeared friendly but definitely were not. Those surprised me every time! 

I was reading this on my couch at home. It was so quiet with my dogs slightly snoring and six cats sleeping when I came across a surprise moment and shouted “WHAT?!?” All my fur babies skedaddled in the air like a cartoon until they got their footing and “poof” they were gone into temporary hiding. They left me in a cloud of floof.   

I hope you too enjoy going on Hazel’s brave adventure.   

The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan 

book coverI love fur babies. This book is about an Irish Wolfhound named Teddy. He grew up with words after a poet named Sylvan adopted him and took him home.   

Sylvan taught Teddy there were two kinds of people in the world who will hear Teddy when he speaks: poets and children.  Teddy finds this to be true when he rescues two children Nickel and Flora lost in a snowstorm. Teddy says he is going to take them to his home where they can wait out the storm in the cabin. The children understand and are not afraid. It is a lovely story about a poet, and a dog and how they help each other survive loss and recapture love.    



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