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Back in the day when I was a kid (the 1980’s to be exact) my two favorite books were Mandy by Julie Edwards and Ronia, the Robbers Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. 

Mandy is about a ten year old orphan who scales the orphanage wall and finds a deserted cottage in the woods.  She turns the cottage into her own private sanctuary.  One stormy night at the cottage, Mandy gets sick, and no one knows how to find her—except a special friend she didn't know she had.

Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter is about a young girl who lives with her father and his band of robbers in a castle in the woods.  When she befriends the son of a rival robber chieftain, Birk, her father disowns her.  Ronia and Birk run off together to live in the woods.  Their new life is full of adventures and perils. Eventually Ronia and Birk find a way to end the feud between their families with the aid of an old robber’s secret. 

Both of these stories have common themes that appealed to my young self: a feeling of not belonging and the search for independence (and of course Vikings in Ronia).  If you are in the mood for some middle grade, whether young or old(er), I highly recommend these two books.


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