End of the Year Clean-up

I’ve been busy preparing a list of Middle Grade favorites for 2018. Next Monday I’ll reveal my picks in fifteen different categories.

My other task has been tidying up piles, in particular the many unrequested books that come my way. Most are YA, Chapter, or Picture books—not the best fit for ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. But an unread book doesn’t stay unread for too long around my house so I do read them all. Unfortunately, there is never enough time in my blogging days to feature each one.

On this last Friday of 2018, I’ve pulled three favorites from the pile for a special shout out. The aren’t in the middle, but close enough.


This is the third book in the chapter book series and it’s perfect for those not quite ready for MG. Entertaining with fun characters.91GnDCBDZPL._AC_UL320_SR230,320_.jpg

Chuck Wood is the most popular kid in school, and Louie Ratso can’t believe that Chuck has asked him for help! Chuck likes Louie’s friend Fluffy Rabbitski, and he wants Louie to help him get Fluffy to notice him. As for Ralphie Ratso, he can’t believe that his brother wants to spend all his time with Chuck instead of with him. Meanwhile, despite Louie and Chuck’s attempts to get Fluffy’s attention, she has eyes for only one thing: her garden. But there may be hope. As their father, Big Lou, tells his boys, the best way to get someone to like you is to show that you’re interested in what they like. After all, that’s how Big Lou won over Mama Ratso years ago. Can Louie help Chuck find a way into Fluffy’s heart? And will Ralphie find a way to let his brother know how much he misses him?

For more information visit the book’s AMAZON page.


Inspired by the author’s experience in second grade, the charming story and whimsical pictures won me over.

Penelope’s Poppy always wears khaki pants. When he finds a hole in one pair, he 9781611179279_p0_v1_s550x406asks Penelope to patch it. Penelope likes to sew, but she soon realizes that mending the hole is more complicated than she first thought. Penelope struggles with the challenges and frustrations, but, with a little help from her mama, she finally—and creatively—repairs Poppy’s pants.
Poppy’s Pants is about perseverance and problem-solving. Through Penelope’s example youngsters discover the satisfaction of finding solutions on their own, even if the solution is not the way other people might solve it. Sometimes the best solutions come from being creative—using your head and your hands.

A postscript written by the author’s father, Pat Conroy, best-selling author of The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, gives a personal, behind-the-scenes description of the book’s characters and the author.

To order visit the book’s Barnes & Nobel page.

THE THREE WILD PIGS-A Carolina Folktale

I previously featured another Carolina folktale by Lisa Anne Cullen, LITTLE ORANGE HONEY HOOD. This newest one has three brave pigs and a ferocious hurricane. The pictures and story bring both tension and smiles.

A1QNkkMMEXLThree Wild Pigs: A Carolina Folktale, written and illustrated by Lisa Anne Cullen, is an adaptation of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps’s The Story of the Three Little Pigs. Set on Bird Island along the Carolina Coast, this creative retelling of the timeless tale features three generations of a pig family―Lulu, her father, and her grandfather.

On the island Lulu is known for being wise in the ways of the world. Pop is wise in the ways of the waters. Grandpaw Curly, the oldest and smartest pig of all, is wise in the ways of the winds. While shrimping in the Atlantic Ocean, the pigs experience harsh winds and see ominous clouds. Knowing these are warning signs of impending bad weather, they row home. Before long a whirling, swirling, huffing-and-puffing Hurricane Wolf arrives to wreak havoc on the pigs, their homes, and Bird Island.

Cullen’s colorful illustrations mirror the weather, flora, and fauna of the Carolina coast. Three Wild Pigs features maps of North and South Carolina as well as select state symbols and will educate, entertain, and enlighten early readers and listeners of all ages as Lulu, Pop, and Grandpaw Curly struggle to survive Hurricane Wolf.

For more visit the book’s Amazon page.


I hope to see you on Monday for my 2018 Golden Cup Awards and a big giveaway!


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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5 Responses to End of the Year Clean-up

  1. Danielle Hammelef says:

    Happy New Year! These books are new to me. Love the cover art on The Three Wild Pigs.

  2. I requested review copies from Candlewick they described as middle grade, and they turned out to be chapter books, like the ones you have here. Categorizing books is tough. These look cute, particularly Poppy’s Pants. Thanks for telling me about these.

  3. Hi, Greg ~ As someone who has loved sewing since I was eight years old, I love the premise of ‘Poppy’s Pants’! All three of these covers are colorful and will be appealing to young readers. Thanks for sharing . . .

  4. Infamous Ratsos actually check out well with my ELL students, so they could be middle grade. I have gotten much braver about refusing to read unsolicited books. There are a lot of books out there that are… less than good, and there’s only so much time. My students benefit from this. I give a LOT of books away!

  5. These look really cute! It’s nice to feature unrequested books in some way, even if you can’t give them a full review.

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