Middle Grade Roundup #1

Recently, I read a couple great MG books and really, really enjoyed them.

First up is a set of two short stories by the generally amazing Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass. Two Crafty Criminals cover imageIn this new volume, Two Crafty Criminals!, we venture into the late nineteenth century London to join the New Cut Gang on adventures of detecting and capturing criminals lurking around the South Bank.

The volume contains two adventures, both of which are enjoyable, witty and smart. Are they The Golden Compass? No. But if you’re a fan of Pullman’s other short stories, you won’t be disappointed. And, as usual, he excels at taking random events and merging them into one epic conclusion. This would be an excellent read-aloud book and will be especially timely with all the focus on London this summer.

The second MG reader I picked up recently was Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchers.Peter and the Starcatchers cover image This guy has been sitting on my shelf for AGES. A few weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to the Great White Way to catch some shows and had tickets to see Peter and the Starcatcher, (Singular.) which was based off the book. Wanting to stick to my Read the Book First mantra, I finally picked up and finished this delightful tome.

For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s the origin story of the boy who becomes Peter Pan. There are pirates and fairies and orphans and islands and etc. etc. etc. It’s quite clever in how the characters of the book develop into the characters we all know and love. I was pretty impressed by it, to tell the truth. I did find it a bit slow it parts (it’s a few hundred pages), but was won over by it for the most part. I especially loved Molly and her gumption.

For the record, I ADORED the play version. A. Dored. Holy geez. It is ridiculously imaginative and wonderful and funny. If you have the chance to see it, go now. If you have the chance to see it before Christian Borle (who plays Black Stache, the future Captain Hook) leaves on June 30, DO IT. It’s a fun adaptation that remains true to the heart and imagination of the book. Loved.

I don’t often review MG books on here, but these were both fun reads and would be great for any summer reading program! Check them out!

Two Crafty Criminals was written by Philip Pullman and published by Random House Children’s Books’ Knopf Books for Young Readers imprint. I received a galley copy of the volume for review.

Peter and the Starcatchers was written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. It’s the first book in the series of the same name. Published by Disney, I got this book from my own shelf.


2 responses to “Middle Grade Roundup #1

  1. The Never Fairy

    Although it’s a great adventure story on its own, Starcatchers fails as a Peter Pan prequel. There are SO many mistakes in it as compared to the original story one has to wonder if the authors read Barrie! And it’s not just fact-checking stuff, they’ve changed the very personality of Peter and sucked out all the magic by explaining it away. How can they have such disrespect for a classic?

    There is a sequel based on Barrie’s own notes for more. It’s not only faithful but written in his style. Click!

    Another very cool Pan book is a ‘What if?’ adventure. It steers it all in another direction without losing sight of Barrie’s themes, characterizations and mythos. But this one isn’t for kids. Click!


    • That’s an interesting look at the book/series. I can’t say I’ve ever read the J.M. Barrie version and, honestly, since this book was published by Disney, I expected it to be similar to the Disney movie rather than Barrie’s book. Maybe that’s why some plot/character changes didn’t particularly bug me. I did think it was a great MG adventure story, without a doubt.

      Thanks for your comments!

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