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Middle Grade Fiction

  • Quarter Finalist

    Superman and Me

    by Mary Bleckwehl

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot: This plotting here is spot on. Readers will be engaged from first page and will identify with Zach's worries and challenges.

    Prose: This middle-grade book has excellent, tight prose. The author peppers the story with sharp images, bringing Zach's challenges to life.

    Originality: The creation of Zach's imaginary brother, Sam, shapes this poignant novel into an original story sure to engage and delight readers.

    Character Development: Zach is a well-developed original character. His honesty is refreshing and captivating. Readers will love him.

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Eye of Zeus

    by Alane Adams

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot: This charming and brilliant novel is superbly plotted and will win over readers.

    Prose: Phoebe’s voice is dead on and authentic, as are those of her friends. The author's masterful prose and style serve the story instead of merely taking center stage.

    Originality: This unique novel manages to breathe fresh life into an orphaned child, New York City, and the Greek pantheon.

    Character Development: Phoebe Katz—orphan, wise ass, and, as we are soon to discover, Greek God—is a fully developed and wonderfully compelling character.

    Blurb: This author and novel are ready for prime time and the big time.
     

  • Quarter Finalist

    Bear of Trees

    by Ketevan Alexander

    Rating: 8.00

    Plot: With hints of Greek mythology and fairy tales, this simplistic but heart-warming and well told story will draw in young readers. The author may want to consider organizing the narrative into short chapters to further appeal to this demographic.

    Prose: Clever, warm, and direct writing makes this narrative a delightfully confectionery that will appeal to readers.

    Originality: Gentle reminders about the importance of open-mindedness and unprejudiced rationale elevate the formulaic narrative, but could be louder. To fully compete with similar middle grade novels, the author must offer readers a more in-depth view of Betrees’s world and her place within it.

    Character Development: Kindhearted, willful, and self-assured, Betrees is a well crafted and compelling character. Secondary characters feel dynamic, though readers only catch brief glimpses of their actions and beliefs.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend

    by Cheryl Carpinello

    Rating: 7.00

    PLOT: The author crafts a exciting fantasy story richly informed by folkloric history. Some underdeveloped plot points and vague elements prevent the story from rising to its full potential.

    PROSE: Other than a few instances of overwriting, Carpinello's prose is solidly constructed and develops a vivid sense of time and place.

    ORIGINALITY: By focusing on the life of Guinevere over King Arthur, Carpinello offers a refreshingly new perspective on Arthurian legend.

    CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Though Guinevere is the titular character, the real star of the story is Guinevere’s best friend, Cedwyn, whose coming-of-age journey and internal conflicts deserve more attention. Guinevere, meanwhile, though brave and compelling, emerges as more of an iconic figure from legend than as a distinctive individual.

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  • Tommy Turner's Tremendous Travels

    by Ali Seegar

    Rating: 6.00

    Plot: The novel is well plotted and paced, if fairly conventional and without too many surprises.

    Prose: The author's prose is the highlight of the book. The writing is exceptional and has a retro feel to it.

    Originality: This is where this novel falls short. Many plot elements and characters will remind readers of other books, e.g. Harry Potter, Sherman and Peabody, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

    Character Development: The characterization here is another of the book's strengths. The protagonist is well rendered and grows and changes over the course of the book.

  • The Tower

    by Lynn Yvonne Moon

    Rating: 3.50

    Plot: The exaggerated plot of this novel is a problem. Its over-the-top nature dilutes the book's message and prevents readers from truly buying into the narrative.

    Prose: The prose is solid, but not memorable. It does little to detract from the book, but also doesn't work to draw readers into the novel.

    Originality: The themes and plot of this novel will be familiar to readers. And while that issue could be dealt with via a new or unique approach, this novel doesn't offer one aside from the exaggerated nature of the plot. And that fails to feel fresh, new, or engaging.

    Character Development: The author needs to focus more on developing her characters. With the focus on the over-the-top plotting, the characterization suffers.

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