October's pick for the Classic Middle Grade Read along with the Midnight Garden was the first three books in the Animorphs series. You can follow along or join in the discussion at http://www.themidnightgarden.net or #tmgreadalong on Twitter.
So book One begins with The Invasion in which we are introduced to Rachel, Jake, Marco, Tobias and Cassie, with Jake providing the narration to the story (Book Two is told from Rachel's POV, but I am only going to summarize the first book). The five friends like to hangout after school and on the particular day the story begins they are getting ready to walk home. To save time, they decide to cut through a construction site where they see lights in the sky and a spaceship lands with an alien inside. The alien communicates with them telepathically saying he is an Andalite and is here to warn them that Earth is being invaded. He is dying, but gives them powers to use in fighting back the invaders. These powers allow them to touch any animal, absorb its DNA and transform/"morph" into that animal. They unfortunately are not the only ones who can morph, the leader of the aliens invading, Visser Three also has this ability. However, Visser Three's abilities are much stronger, because he has been canvasing the universe and can morph into creatures far more dangerous.
I picked up the first two Scholastic versions of these books and each one has its own flipbook at the bottom of the page showing one of the characters morphing into an animal. The stories are a fairly quick read averaging under 200 pages, but don't let the length fool you. There is a lot going on within the pages and the pacing is very well done. I like Jake's description of Cassie from book one.."Cassie is quieter than Rachel, more peaceful, like she always understands everything on some different, more mystical level." This is a very well thought out science fiction series. With everything from how they morph, even down to what happens to their clothing when they morph. I also liked the detailed descriptions of the process of moving from human to animal and then the transformation back. I enjoyed seeing what kind of animals they chose to morph into and how they used that animals abilities to help them. The morph into a lizard was very entertaining and I also enjoyed when Rachel morphed into a cat. There was lots of humor interjected, but also lots of danger. When Rachel tries to morph into a mouse, I really got a sense of her fear. Plus when they start fighting the creatures and Vesser Three, it comes off very realistic. I have to admit that I really didn't like the idea of these squirmy things that crawl into your ear and take control of your mind, it's the thing of nightmares or the Wrath of Kahn movie. Yet, a very very appropriate read for Halloween.