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Middle-Grade Books to Empower Kids, Starring Boys Who Aren't Superheroes

Lee Littlewood on

Matthew begins to think outside himself when a neighbor toddler goes missing. It turns out Matthew holds the key to finding the boy because of his diligent practice of reporting all the details of his street from his window.

This read has heart-wrenching moments coupled with suspense and the hope that Matthew can save a child. It is unique, adventurous, compelling and sensitive. It should inspire kids, boys and girls who feel different or have special needs, and remind them that they are just as important as other kids.

"Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth" by Frank Cottrell Boyce; Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins; 336 pages; $16.99.

New York Times best-sellng author Frank Cottrell Boyce pens another heart-filled, funny novel with lots of adventure and poignancy for middle graders. It stars Prez, a spunky boy sent out of the country to a foster family when his beloved grandfather can't care for him anymore. (That's too bad, because Granddad is hilarious. He looks in the mirror and shouts: "Who's this old bod in the mirror? What's he doing in my bedroom?")

But all good things sometimes change, and Prez, as he adjusts to life in his new home, encounters a nutty dog named Sputnik that can manipulate the laws of space and time. Turns out he's an alien, but a helpful one who needs Prez's help to save the Earth. How? The pair needs to compile a list of 10 reasons why Earth should be saved.

As Prez and Sputnik set out to research and make the most important list, the ensuing summer is the best ever for Prez, especially since Granddad plays a part in it.

Boyce's fifth novel rocks is truly funny and "out there"; it proves that life is worth living no matter where you are.


To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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