UP FOR AIR, by Laurie Morrison: A New Favorite Upper Middle Grade Read!

If you are looking for a fabulous book for middle schoolers, look no further because I have your new favorite right here! UP FOR AIR, written by Laurie Morrison, is the perfect book for this challenging age, and your kids are guaranteed to love it.

Books for Middle School Girls, Up for Air by Laurie Morrison

Great books for middle school girls can be tricky. UP FOR AIR is a new favorite.

There’s a challenging spot in children’s literature that parallels that challenging period of time kids face when they are right on the cusp of becoming teenagers: those awkward, upper middle grade years, when kids are a just a little too young for high school stories, yet a little too old for the standard middle grade book with characters in fifth or sixth grade.

It’s a fine, precarious line, and it is often a struggle to find books for these readers that are both challenging and relevant as well as age appropriate.

Sure, most kids this age would probably jump at the chance to read a meaty young adult novel— but many parents aren’t yet comfortable with that. Topics like partying and drinking and sex and drugs are just a bit too mature for many of our children at this impressionable age.

Thus, I was beyond thrilled to read UP FOR AIR, a fabulous new upper middle grade story by the phenomenal up and coming author, Laurie Morrison.

UP FOR AIR tackles this tender age brilliantly!

In UP FOR AIR, thirteen year old Annabelle finds herself struggling academically at the end of seventh grade. Yet when she dives into the water, her swimming skills earn her an A+. In fact, Annabelle is the fastest girl on her middle school swim team, and due to her speed and talent, she is asked to join the high school team over the summer.

This is when Annabelle’s world changes tremendously.

Annabelle makes new, older friends, and her newly developed body attracts the attention of one very handsome high school boy. She wants to fit in with these older kids desperately, but after a prank she’s a part of goes disastrously wrong, the boy drops her like a hot potato, and an injury sidelines her from the pool. Who is Annabelle without swimming, and how will she figure out where she belongs?

UP FOR AIR hooked me from the very first page.

When I tell you I raced through this novel at lightning speed, I’m not at all exaggerating.

Annabelle’s story felt authentic at every turn, and I absolutely loved the way Morrison handled that precarious time between childhood innocence and the chaos — and turmoil — of teenage years.

In UP FOR AIR, Annabelle was enthralled by the older kids, sometimes shunning her old friends because of the magnetic hold the high schoolers held over her. Her story perfectly illuminated first crushes and those intimate moments you imagine that sometimes feel so real, you kind of forget you are making them up.

Yet, UP FOR AIR also recognizes the trepidation that comes with standing on the precarious cusp between middle school and high school, and it does so brilliantly.

It authentically captures that rush of confusing new feelings, the ones that both excite and scare you, like going to a party that simultaneously thrills and intimidates, and crushes that make you feel alive and terrified all at the same time.

UP FOR AIR is a book I wish i had when I was on the verge of becoming a teenager. It’s one that will speak to so many young people, one that will help them realize they aren’t alone in their feelings.

UP FOR AIR captures innocence and longing, the conflicting notions of discovery and safety, and wanting to be treated like an “adult” but wanting to stay protected as well.

This is a perfect segue for those of you with tweens and early teens, a perfect book for sixth and seventh graders, and even those of you with mature fifth graders at home. Your kids will devour UP FOR AIR, and I can’t wait to get this into the hands of my graduating and former students. A total gem!

Want the book? Click here! UP FOR AIR by Laurie Morrison. HEE received an advanced copy of this book for review, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.


29 Books for Advanced Readers that will Delight Your Second Grader!

Books for advanced readers — especially advanced second graders — are tough to find. But here at Happily Ever Elephants, we’ve curated a list of amazing chapter books that your second grade, high level readers will devour. Check them out!

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Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake

If you are looking for a fabulous book for any child questioning his or her identity, an LGBQT story, or a thought-provoking read about one tween’s journey to understanding and finding herself, you must check out Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake, stat.

Ivy Aberdeens Letter to the World Best Middle Grade Books and Chapter Books for kids and tweens.jpg

My goodness, can these middle grade books get any better? Where were these phenomenal stories when I was a young girl? I remember when I was 12 years old, and my home in Miami was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. It was a pivotal year in my life- I had just become a Bat Mitzvah, I was struggling to figure out if I would ever become a graceful teenager and not just a gawky teen, I longed to know if boys would ever look my way, and I wondered if my community would ever get put back together after suffering from total destruction. So many questions, so much angst— and so few stories to help me feel less alone and less confused.

Though my longings were not quite the same, I wish I’d had a book like Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World! Ivy Aberdeen’s angst hit all the right notes and resonated so very deeply. In this story, Ivy’s home is flattened by a tornado that rages through her town. All she manages to save is her pillow which contains her most precious possessions inside a thin case - fancy markers and a journal filled up with drawings, many of which contain illustrations of her and an unidentifiable girl. While staying in a school gym with other displaced persons after the storm, Ivy’s notebook goes missing. When her pictures start turning up in her locker, together with notes encouraging her to be true to herself and come clean with who she is at her core, Ivy begins to hope that the mysterious letters are coming from a girl on whom she has secretly developed a crush. Will Ivy let go of her fears and embrace who she is meant to be?

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World will be a valuable window book for some and a mirror book for so many others. Ivy fears being unlike those around her- being shunned for wanting something so different than her friends and her big sister. After all, when Ivy’s sister and her best friend stop speaking and Ivy believes it’s because her sister’s friend has come out of the closet, Ivy fears her sister will totally disown her, too. Though the yearnings expressed in Ivy’s story may certainly be different for some tweens, the burning desire to understand who you are at your core, to not just accept those things that make us unique but love them too, is simply universal. We have all experienced, in unique ways and to varying degrees, the unsettling and anxiety-provoking fear that comes hand in hand with feeling so wholly different from those around us.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World gave me chills, and it is a book of incredible importance that has an especially significant place in every library, every classroom, and every child’s bookshelf. I am so grateful to the fabulous kidlit authors that continually place these notable books into children’s hands around the globe. There is nothing like a book to make you feel less alone and more understood.

What did you think about Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World? Let us know on our Facebook page, and make sure to follow us there! If you liked this post, make sure to check out our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018. We think you will also love these books about tweens discovering themselves: Front Desk, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Want the book? Get it here! Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. *This is an affiliate link.

If you have a tween reader at home, Ivy Aberdeens Letter to the World is a fabulous middle grade book about self identity is an absolute must!.jpg

18 of the Best EASY CHAPTER BOOKS Your New Readers Will Love!

When your little one graduates from beginning reader books, it’s time for easy chapter books, of course! And these are some of our favorite easy chapter books for your kiddos. Check it out!

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Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Bethany Hegedus

Here’s another one of our favorite books about strong girls for your kiddos. We adore this one about a very favorite author of ours here at Happily Ever Elephants!

Books About Strong Girls, Alabama Spitfire

Another one to add to our collection of books about strong girls! Picture book biographies are flooding our shelves these days, and each one seems to be better than the next. The women and men I have learned about from these books are both inspiring and courageous, and their legacies - their stories of hope and determination and perseverance -- are ones I love to share with my boys and students. But the one I've been most excited about recently is Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Erin McGuire.  Because, of course, as cliche as it may sound, To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite book (yes, I still have my original version from 9th grade). And this new biography hit a perfect note - here’s to amazing books about strong girls.

Alabama Spitfire tells the story of Harper Lee, born Nelle Harper Lee, on April 28, 1926 in segregated Monroeville, Alabama.  An overall-wearing, tree-climbing tomboy, Nelle would spend afternoons at the courthouse watching her father, an attorney, fight for justice. From him, she learned to fight for what was fair and always took up for the underdog, including her good friend Truman Capote (yes, that Truman Capote!) Nelle and Tru both loved books, and with him, she began to embrace her love for words.  What follows is Nelle's evolution from feisty child to famous writer: her move to New York City, her dream of becoming an author, and the events that inspired her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the seminal books of the twentieth century.  

Alabama Spitfire is such a phenomenal picture book to pair with any child holding To Kill a Mockingbird in their hands for the first time. It is also a wonderful story of being true to yourself and following your dreams.  With famous quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird woven throughout the text, this gem of a book is a testament to the power of words and an ode to the writer whose story become a classic in American literature. Two trunks up! 

Looking for more amazing books about strong girls? Check these out!

Want the link? Get it here! Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Bethany Hegedus. HEE received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. However, all opinions contained herein are entirely our own.