The chapter book/middle-grade chasm

Have I mentioned that my daughter and I are Annie Barrows fans? Oh, I have? About six thousand times, you say?

Well, I read The Magic Half this week. (After my daughter finished it, you’ll be pleased to know. Min has taught me that sneaking a book while its reader is asleep, devouring it, and replacing it before morning is considered impolite in some circles.)

The Magic Half was lovely and my daughter liked it even more than the Ivy and Bean books. It took her longer to read, she said, and was just a tiny bit more scary.

And right there, she hit upon a problem when one is transitioning between chapter books and middle grade novels. Some are just too darn scary, and there’s really no way to know which is which in advance. Disappeared mothers, exploding harbours, dying dolphins — all of these lie in wait. Every once in a while, I go to kiss my daughter goodnight and find her sniffly or wide-eyed and not knowing whether to stop reading, and never know the ending, or continue with something too scary.

Really, we need a whole new shelf of in-between books, all stamped with “safe for innocents.” And The Magic Half, while it does have a seriously creepy villain, will fit right in.

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