FeaturedMiddle Grade

Beyond the Birch


Loved it! 😍

A well-written tale of folklore and friendship that is accessible to both reluctant and confident middle-grade readers.

Eleven-year-old Macy Jensen lives on a farm with her parents outside the small town of Grimsby. Though they lack the comforts of indoor plumbing, they are generally happy tending their animals and enjoying books from the nearby library. One day, Macy notices something unusual in her mother, Laurel. With the help of her new friend Jay, Macy investigates the local lore of the Fae and discovers secrets long forgotten in her attempt to set her world back to rights.

This middle grade book reads like a short story, drawing readers in from the first pages. A strong initial chapter sets the mood, driving readers to learn both what will happen next and how each piece relates to the other. Engaging writing helps the plot along, and although the story is short enough that only a limited amount of detail can be given, the narrative is nonetheless complete in its execution.

Macy is a prolific reader and has little connection to others her age. When she meets Jay, she is surprised to discover that he has never learned to read; she quickly jumps at the opportunity to introduce him to the world she loves so much. The empathy Macy displays toward Jay is heartwarming and reminds young readers to look deeper than their initial opinion of a new friend. Friendships are complex, but when companions join their individual strengths together, great achievements are possible.

A blend of folklore and an older version of humanity reinforce the power magic once held in the minds of humans. While they may not be as culturally pervasive as they once were, magic and folklore still hold a special place in the hearts of people around the world. Stories like this are fun in the present while simultaneously reminding humans of the tales that make up the past.

This suspenseful story of friendship and magic is accessible to both reluctant and confident middle grade readers. Its clear plot and manageable length make it an excellent diversion from real life, and it is a delightful addition to libraries for children.

Reviewed by

I review books for kids, tweens, and teens and blog about them on my website. To date, I have over 500 published reviews. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at www.maryrlanni.com to get recommendations straight to your inbox! I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews upon request.

Chapter One

About the author

Torina Kingsley has always dreamed of becoming a published writer. It is also important to Kingsley that characters, such as the princess in her chapter book, are diverse characters who can fall in love with anyone, not just those who one might expect. view profile

Published on March 30, 2021

20000 words

Genre: Middle Grade

Reviewed by