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June 2023

There’s something about the magic of roaming through a small town that makes you want to be a child again. Recently I’ve read through a pile of middle grade chapter books, all set in small towns, and all featuring spunky main characters who have any number of independent adventures. If you’re longing for simpler times, or want to share with your child the joy of a summer without cell phones, texting, video games or TV, then these are the books for you.

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

Spend time with J.D. and his older brother Tom, “The Great Brain.” The Great Brain concocts all sorts of schemes to get rich and make his life easier, while J.D. just tries to keep up.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney

Eben longs to see the world and can’t imagine ever finding anything wonderful in his hometown of Sassafras Springs. When his father promises Eben a trip to Colorado if Eben can find seven wonders at home, Eben is certain that it can’t be done. Nevertheless, he begins his search the very next day…

Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren

Ronia will inherit her father’s band of robbers someday, if only they can defend themselves from the king’s soldiers and the competing band of robbers who have moved in next door. But Ronia doesn’t want to be a robber, she doesn’t want to fight soldiers, and her best friend is Birk, son of the rival robber chieftain. Magic, family, friendship and woodland adventures make this a tale that’s hard to put down.

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

Garnet finds a thimble which brings its own magic to her Wisconsin farm. Could a summer be anything but magical when it brings a new brother, a new barn, some new stories to tell, and of course, a blue ribbon at the fair?