I laughed. I cried. I read a book.

Let’s be clear about one thing—I am not some blubbering mama’s boy who leaks tears like a 1949 VW Beetle leaks oil. I just happen to really like books that make me cry. Or at least ones that make me feel like I could cry if I wasn’t so busy being a manly man. Got it? Good.

And speaking of me being a manly man. . . . Let the record show that I greatly enjoy books that make me laugh, too. In fact, one of my goals in life is to absolutely, positively not become one of those old guys whose face is a bunch of permanent scowl marks. I’m gunning for a roadmap of laugh-lines.

Call me a goofball. Call me mentally unstable. But don’t call me overly serious.

Still, I do really like books that make me cry.

I guess it comes down to what Kurt Vonnegut once said:

All of fiction is a practical joke—making people care, laugh, cry, or be nauseated or whatever by something which absolutely is not going on at all. It’s like saying, “Hey, your pants are on fire.”

So maybe it’s too simple to say I like books that make me cry. I like books that make me feel. I want to be so wrapped up in the lie fiction created by the author that I care deeply about what happens to the characters. Unlike Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, I want to give a d**n.

So now, in no particular order, I offer five of my all-time-favorite-middle-grade novels. They all made me laugh. They all made me cry. And a couple even made me do both on the same page.

                                                                  Umbrella Summer        

Umbrella Summer

by Lisa Graff

Okay for Now

by Gary D. Schmidt

     Okay for Now

Walk Two Moons    

Walk Two Moons

by Sharon Creech

Every Soul a Star

by Wendy Mass

     Every Soul a Star

One for the Murphys    

One for the Murphys

by Lynda Mullaly Hunt


So what do you look for in a book? Got any laugh-and-cry titles I should add to my to-read shelf on Goodreads? Feel free to post below.

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T. P. Jagger
Along with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade classrooms. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.
  1. I happened to be reading Bridge to Terabithia while sandwiched between two people on a plane once. I didn’t know what it was about so I was very surprised and upset when I got to a sad part. I started crying and had to go to the bathroom to pull myself together!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, Greg. Runaway Twin looks like a good one. I added it to my to-read shelf! 🙂
    -T. P.

  3. I’m about half way through RUNAWAY TWIN by Peg Kehret. It’s shaping up as a real Kleenex chaser.