The Aviary: Kathleen O'Dell

     Eleven-year-old Clara Dooley has no friends.  She has never seen past the boundaries of the household she resides in, due to a heart defect she developed as a child.  Her mother is the keeper of the Glendoveer Mansion, where they live in relative quiet.  The aviary outside, however, is usually far from silent.  How much trouble could a pack of old performance birds be?

   Slowly, Clara's well-kept life begins to unravel.  The details surrounding this old mansion are constantly elusive.  Clara  goes in search of answers about the mysterious deaths of the Glendoveer children, and finds out more than she bargained for.

     This novel is extremely well-done.  I would recommend it for middle grade ages, due to some scary content.  This is, after all, a murder mystery.

Grade Level: 4.7

Wuthering Heights: Emily Brontë

      Cathy is a lively, free-spirited young girl who loves her father very much.  She comes from a well-to-do family, yet has little desire to be the 'lady' everyone thinks she will become. After returning home from a long journey, her father brings them back a very unique gift: a boy named Heathcliff.  At first she is unsure what to make of this gypsy child in her home.  Later Cathy begins to love him like her own brother Hindley.  As they grow up, Cathy sends all of her time with Heathcliff, running wildly around the moors and fields. As Cathy grow into an adult, she desperately tries to hold onto the wild side of her youth, and Heathcliff.  
     One night, after being attacked my dogs, Cathy is forced to stay in the home of Edgar Linton, a kind man who is absolutely in love with her.  She tries to push him away, but decides to let her wild side disparate instead, and conforms to the norms of society.  Heathcliff, however, does not change, and despises Cathy for leaving him and turning away from the old life.  

     This one of my All-Time favorites.  I read this novel every so often whenever the weather is properly cloudy and grim.  

Grade Level: 11.3

Coraline-Neil Gaiman

     Coraline has a booooring life.  She doesn't have ANY fun; just sits inside all day imagining what life would be like with a better family.  Then one day, Coraline finds an old door.  Yet when she opens it, there is only a wall!!.  Later that night, she discovers the wall behind the door is gone and has revealed an alternate world.  Her 'other' family' is everything she wants, even though they have buttons for eyes.  Little does she know the horror that awaits her. 
     Gaiman is an excellent writer and has many very prominent novels to his name.  His style is very unique, and draws kids in to the whimsical nature of his stories. 
Grade Level: 5.1

The Last Unicorn- Peter S. Beagle

     Quite a melancholy masterpiece! While the cover may try to fool you into thinking this is a silly  children's book, it is far from that!! This is one of my all-time favorite novels. 
     Lady Amalthea is the last of her kind, and by some strange happenstance, she is turned into a human.  She goes through intense depression after realizing her own mortality (Unicorns are immortal, in case you didn't know) and also learns how vain she was as an immortal.  Slowly, Amalthea learns how to be compassionate, caring, and eventually, how to love.  
     This novel is excellently done, and filled with vivid imagery.  

Grade Level: 6.2

Tuck Everlasting- Natalie Babbit

     The Tuck family has a unique problem: they cannot die.  To some facing death, this would be wonderful. To them...well we simply have to read to find out!! Given eternal life after drinking from a spring in the forest, the Tuck family does their best to stay out of sight.  Yet, when unsuspecting Winnie Foster runs away from home, their secret runs the risk of being exposed.  
     Winnie starts to think living forever seems like a good idea. But when a man shows up who seems to know about them, the Tuck family must protect the well from being sold to others to make money.  

Grade Level: 5.0

Story's End-Marissa Burt

In the thrilling sequel to  novel Storybound, the King is missing, and Una and her friends are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy that is threatening all of the land of Story.  Little do they know, Una has more at stake than anyone else.   In an epic turn of events, the Muses of Story are back. Are they truly evil? Or have the leaders been lying to the people? Truth will out, as the saying goes, and of course, poor Una is caught in the middle.  

Is she willing to risk the lives of her friends to regain a lost childhood? Or will she abandon her family and save Story?

Grade Level: 5.1