I just read some great books that would fit in the "middle grade" category. That is to say, kids 8-12 would probably enjoy them. Here are some mini-reviews:
The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary -- Candice FlemingIn the tradition of Louis Sachar's Wayside School, Aesop Elementary is full of crazy characters. Each one has a little bit of a story and each story has a moral. Very enjoyable, very punny. Would be A+ for the classroom!
Chasing Vermeer -- Blue Balliett
Mysterious happenings in Chicago come to the attention of neighbors Calder and Petra. When a priceless painting is stolen the kids have got to help! Loved learning about pentominoes (aka the five-pieces in our fave board game, Blockus) and the coded letters were fun.
Bird Lake Moon -- Kevin Henkes
A short novel by the author of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Julius Baby of the World and Chrysanthemum. You know you love 'em. It's a good one, starring Mitch and Spencer (but Lolly is my favorite). Spencer thinks the house may be haunted, but Mitch knows it's not and why. It's good. If you don't read it, you'll probably have F.M.S. (Camille's List)
Cinderella (as if you didn't already know the story) -- Barbara Ensor
Touted on the cover as "a quick read for smart girls" I had to pick it up. I love being called smart. Smartfoods White Cheddar Popcorn, anyone? (One of my favorite foods.) So, anyway, you know the story. The fun is in the details: the shadow illustrations and Cinderella's letters to her mother, especially.