In Praise of Board Games
"It's a lost art," Charlotte said. She sat down too.
Sometimes it's good to put way the electronics, take playing pieces out of the box and go "old school" with a board game.
Featured here are some middle school books that celebrate the joy of sitting across the table from an opponent for some friendly competition. Enjoy these novels for middle-grader featuring a board game component. Along with these books include a selection of new and classic tabletop entertainment in the library collection.
Let the games begin!
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Meet Bob, the small green not-a-zombie creature who lives in Olivia's grandmother's closet with a Lego pirate ship and a dictionary. He has been waiting years for Livy to return to her grandmother's home in Australia.
Long ago, Livy's father taught her the basics of chess. She, in turn, showed Bob to how to play. He has practiced alone in the closet, using only the white chess pieces, as the black pieces are missing. When Livy returns she recovers the black chess pieces. They commence playing this game of thinking and planning strategically.
Together, Bob and Livy assemble collective memories into a meaningful pattern to remember about Livy's promise, made long ago. Using clues and deductive skills, the two friends uncover secrets from the past.
Check out my review of Bob.
"But chess is not about luck," Bob says. "It's about recognizing the strength of the little guy."
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
Charlotte's world seems to be falling apart: her dad suffers a major heart attack and her best friend wants to leave Charlotte and join another group of girls.
Ben's parents just delivered some shocking news: they are getting a divorce. Ben is floored. He has no idea that this was coming and is at a loss on how to cope. He decides that maybe what he should do is run for a student body position. He's a younger student and really doesn't have any close friends. How is this going to work?
The one thing that both Charlotte and Ben have going for them is their virtual friendship. They are serious Scrabble players. They admire each other's playing skills and their online competition develops into a support system. Each helps the other as they work through word puzzles and puzzling events in their lives.
When she was seven years old, he pulled the game board from the closet and set it on the dining room table.
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Eleven-year-old Obe Devlin has always been a loner, spending hours at Devlin Creek, picking up trash. One day he encounters an animal never seen before. He names it Marvin Gardens because his dad is obsessed with the board game Monopoly.
Obe is fascinated and escapes to the creek spending time with this strange creature. To his amazement, he learns that Marvin can consume plastic. While it might be considered a good thing, this also presents a tremendous cost to the environment. What will become of this creature? What will happen to the land that Obe loves?
Monopoly is a game of acquiring and selling real estate. This dovetails with the loss of the Devlin family's 175 acres and the construction of a housing development on the property.
Read my review of Me and Marvin Gardens.
I didn't believe stories about ghosts -- not even the one about spirits who were angry at the developers for growing houses instead of crops.
Sunny by Jason Reynolds
Sunny has lost interest in running. Yes, he is lightning fast. Yes, he has a fistful of medals. But he doesn't want to run any more. Coach suggests that discus might be more to his liking. It's a whole new sport and requires an entirely different sets of skills. It combines his love of dance with his desire to stay connected with the team. Sunny decides to give it a try.
Sunny has his share of conflicts at home. His mother died during childbirth and Sunny blames himself for his mother's death. He lives with his father Darryl, who often seems detached from his son.
One thing that they share is a love for jigsaw puzzles. They are currently working on a complicated puzzle that is an image of Sunny's mother's face. Will putting the puzzle together help to resolve the missing pieces in Sunny's life?
Yes, Diary, we still do puzzles together. It's our way of, I guess, bonding.