Hold the Bulldozers: Middle-Grade Books Take on Developers


Lynn: The theme of kids taking on greedy developers is not new or uncommon in books for kids—remember, Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot (2002) won a Newbery Honor. But this year alone, I’ve already read three books with this central issue. Is this a movement? See for yourself. (And readers, if I’m missing any titles, let me know!)


The Epic Fail of Arturo ZamoraEpic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Pablo Cartaya

Arturo Zamora’s family restaurant has been the center point of their Miami neighborhood since his grandparents founded it 19 years ago. Hoping to expand, the family puts in a bid on the lot next door, only to discover that a developer wants not only the lot, but the entire block. Arturo, his cousins, and friends vow to fight back.






Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig KingMe and Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King

Obie Devlin already knows what it’s like to lose much of his family land to developers, and with Phase 3 about to start, Obie spends as much time as possible on the small patch that still belongs to him. Meanwhile, his former best friend abandons him in favor of the kids who live in the big, new houses who bully and tease Obie. Then Obie discovers a strange animal who seems to live on plastic. Can Obie save the creature he names Marvin Gardens as the bulldozers get ready for more destruction?


York: the Shadow CipherYork- the Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby, by Laura Ruby

The Biedermann twins and their friend Jaime live in the historic Morningstarr building, once home to another, stranger pair of twins. The mysterious Morningstarr twins transformed the city and left a puzzle that no one has yet solved—just before they disappeared. Horrified to learn their building has been purchased by a developer and will be torn down, the three are determined to solve the cipher and use the money to save their home.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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