I brought home Michael Grant's The Call, book one of The Magnificent 12 because it was a Cybils Finalist for Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade). I'm not actually all that clear on what Middle Grade means; I know the definition but it's hard for me to pick the books out of a line-up. I suspect that's because my oldest is just at the top of the middle grade years, and he has taken his own path through the literary jungle, which skews this a bit. And my fourth grader doesn't read much. Maybe 30 minutes or an hour before bed, but sometimes he just falls asleep without reading anything. I'm not sure where we went wrong with that one.
Anyway, Grant went right somewhere with this book, because both boys loved it. The sixth grader gobbled it up and then sat on the fourth grader to make him read it. Then he made it our Family Book for February to force me to read it as well, which I did on our trip to Disneyland. While my enthusiasm didn't overrun the channels and flood my soul, I liked it. The peeks into ancient history (before hummus, before horse riding was mastered), the mathematical jokes (biggest number ever, or 3000, take your pick) tickled my fancy as they did the boys, and the letters from the golem provided a light counterpart to the scary adventures down under. I think the boys and I had different reactions to the character's use of the credit card issued to our hero, but I'm stuck being a mom sometimes. I would say this books leans more heavily towards the kid appeal side rather than literary merit, but it was a fun read. Of course, by the time our official book club dinner came about we didn't have much to say, but we did talk about publishing schedules and whether Grant really would write 12 more books in the series. B+
(If I did it right, the Amazon link benefits the Cybils committee.)