The Mad Hatters Middle Grade Book Club is made up of five kids aged 9 – 12. Every fortnight during the school term we explore both fiction and non-fiction targeted towards kids in upper primary school. We cover a range of genres and writing styles to broaden their variety of reading material as well as take into consideration what they do and do not like to read.
We welcomed a new member to book club this term and decided on a group name based on the staunch rivalry between unicorns and dragons: The Dragon and Unicorn Alliance. New members are now required to state their preference upon joining!
Each fortnight the kids read a new book and rated it on a 3 star scale:
1 star = okay; 2 stars = good; 3 stars = great.
Book #1: Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler
For our first book of the term, we read Everything I’ve Never Said. Book Club members found the book moving and insightful and particularly enjoyed reading from the perspective from Ava. Author Samantha Wheeler also held a short talk in the shop where they heard about how the story was developed, including its true-to-life influence.
Rating: Two ★★★, one ★★½ and two ★★ ratings.
Book #2: Ranger’s Apprentice #1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
For our second book of term three, we departed from popular choice by picking the first book in the high fantasy series, Ranger’s Apprentice. While our fantasy buff of the group loved the book, the others were a mixed bag either disliking the high fantasy setting , or finding the characters irritating and unrelatable.
Rating: One ★★★, two ★★ and two ★ ratings.
Book #3: Move the Mountains by Emily Conolan
Book three of term three was Move the Mountains, third in the Freedom Finders series: a series of choose-your-own-adventure books designed for middle grade readers. Book club members were excited to read a choose-your-own-adventure book appropriate for their age, but were divided on the book’s theme; some liking the multiple narrative choices (one even reading every available story line), others finding it difficult to connect with the historical setting.
Rating: Two ★★½, one ★★, one ★ and one ½ ratings.
Book #4: Shark Caller by Dianne Wolfer
Our last book of the term was Shark Caller, an adventure book with elements of magical folklore. While some members liked the fast-placed plot and learning about diving culture, some thought the book was a bit too mature for them.
Rating: Two ★★★, one ★★½ and two ★ ratings.
This was an interesting term of reading choices as we were able to pin down particular reading interests for some members as well as dislikes for others, including high fantasy (sorry Ranger’s Apprentice), unrelatable characters and confusing plot points.