HOW TO ACE THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BEE

The official study guide is now in its fifth edition and 2017’s version brings the first update since 2012. You don’t have to be a Bee participant to enjoy this book. The middle section includes over 40 pages of sample questions. Use them in the classroom during those few spare moments  at the end or beginning of a class. You could even have a mini-competition at home. Here’s a sample question from the State Final Round:

The tropical island of Negros [NAY-grohs] borders the Sulu Sea and is part of which Asian island country? (Answer is below)

If you are participating in the National Geographic Bee then this guide is a must. It begins with an explanation of Geography and its importance. Next comes a description of how the contest works followed by ten study tips. These tips are the key to a successful run in the contest and many could be helpful in other curriculum areas.

Still a bit anxious? The next chapter has tips from past Bee champions and a list of other sources you can go to increase your chances of becoming a master of geography. But wait—the best is yet to come. The book ends with a full index for countries of the world. Each country is listed along with its Area, Capital, Population, Growth rate, Percentage of Urban Population, Official Language (an estimated 7,100 are spoken world wide!), and Religion. A valuable resource.

Did you guess correctly to the question above? The answer is—the Philippines.

Whether right or wrong with your answer, you’ll want to get this guide for causal fun at home or for more serious National Geographic Bee preparation.

For more information visit the National Geographic web site.

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Coming up next Monday is:

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com

 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and for spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

 

 

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MMGM LINKS—11/20/17

MMGM LINKS for November 20, 2017

(Click on a star to take you to their site)

Sue Kooky from Kitty Cat at the Library returns with a review of Nightfall by Shannon Messenger.
Dorine White is back with a Picture Book Palooza.
Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff has a review of Not on Fifth Street.
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin features Andy and Lucy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age at Middle Grade Mafioso.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal is reviewing Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind by Darlene Foster.
Zoie at Whisked Away By Words celebrates the release of Shannon Messenger’s novel, Nightfall, with a love letter to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.
The Reading Nook Reviews gives you a first row review of Olive and the Backstage Ghost.
Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers features a review of Spy School Secret Service by Stuart Gibbs.
Karen Yingling always has some awesome MMGM Picks.
And… Check out my review below of CROSSING THE LINE by Bibi Belford (Also linked via the blue star).
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own star on the walkway, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com
 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE!
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

CROSSING THE LINE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

On July 27, 1919 Eugene Williams, an African American teenager, was stoned to death by white men when his raft crossed the line to the whites only beach. It set off what is known as the Chicago race riots. This new book by Bibi Belford leads us up to that fateful day with the story of two boys and their friendship.

After reading this engrossing tale it made me sad to think of what little progress we’ve made in 98 years. All you have to do is listen or read the breaking news reports from 2017 on racial tension. There’s no easy way to solve the problem but a start might be to require every fifth grader to read this book. It’s that powerful.

Billy and his new friend Foster can only be friends in hiding for fear of what might happen to themselves or their family. The tidbits on life in 1919 surround the story and put you into that world. Billy narrates in first person perfection. It’s surprising and heartfelt. I’m racing out right now to give my copy to a neighborhood school.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 304

FULL PLOT (From AMAZON)

Billy’s family has fallen on hard times, what with his da hospitalized after the Great War and his ma barely scraping by. But it’s no hardship for him when there’s not enough money to pay the tuition for Nativity of Our Lord, the private Catholic school everyone in his neighborhood attends. Billy’s not big on education.

When he transfers to James Ward, a Chicago public school, he finds out there’s a big difference at public school: the kids aren’t all Irish—in fact, they aren’t even all white. It isn’t long before Billy’s found a new best friend in Foster, another fifth grader who also doesn’t have any money, loves baseball, and just happens to be black.

Billy is pretty sure skin color doesn’t matter. Not when he and Foster are just horsing around, playing baseball, working on the docks of the canal, and building a raft at their secret hideout near Bridgeport’s Bubbly Creek. But in the Red Summer of 1919, it does matter.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: CROSSING THE LINE

  1. Historical Fiction can be a tough sell to kids. When done right like this one it won’t be so difficult to convince them to read.
  2. Tension builds throughout to the surprising end. I stayed up late to finish then couldn’t get to sleep thinking about it.
  3. Billy is an Irish kid with a big heart and a lot of confusion in his head. He’s the kind of character you’d like to see what the next chapter in his life brings.
  4. I didn’t know much about this time period and have done some additional reading since finishing CROSSING THE LINE. Ms. Belford got everything right and hit the high note on each page.
  5. This would make a rich source for discussion or as a starting point in a unit on racism.

FAVORITE LINES:

If I was Foster I would be mad, too.

I feel embarrassed. Guilty. I wish were all born one color. A dark color that don’t sunburn. Being friends with Foster makes me sit up and take notice, like a dog that hears a noise. I’m ashamed I didn’t notice before that. I’m ashamed it’s come to this, when every day in school we stand up and pledge liberty and justice for all.

FROM an INTERVIEW in the Chicago Tribune

While “Crossing the Line” deals with a heavy topic for middle-grade readers, it attempts to do so while keeping certain sensitivities in mind, said Rachel Stark, the book’s editor at Sky Pony, an imprint of Skyhorse.

“We took some considerations with readers’ ages,” she said. “But kids today are grappling with this stuff. They’re as scared and concerned as we are, and it’s our responsibility to give them tools to teach them.”

Exposing young people to these tools is part of a healing educational process, Belford said.

“It’s important for me as a white writer to say I want healing, I want there to be peace in our world and for people to be tolerant of each other,” she said. “My goal is for readers to see that character and say to themselves, ‘That’s like me and I can make a difference in my school, my community, my world. It’s my life, who I open the door for, who I help on the street. I can learn, I can grow, I can be a better person tomorrow.’”

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Have a super Thanksgiving!

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ADVENTURE AGAINST THE ENDERMAN

Jump into the world of Minecraft, the wildly popular computer game that both kids and adults can play. In its basic form you create towers and full cities with virtual blocks. Beyond that there’s trial and error, problem solving, and each player becomes their own engineer for the world they create.

What better way to tap into the of 100 million users than a fiction series that puts the characters in their own adventure story. The first six book series began with ESCAPE FROM THE OVERWORLD in 2015. Here’s what you missed:

Stevie is in for a big surprise while building his treehouse: he’s first attacked by a creeper, and then must take on a group of zombies! The near miss has him feeling like the worst mob fighter in Minecraft, so when he finds a portal into a brand-new world, he’s willing to take his chances.

He steps out of a computer screen and into the room of a sixth- grade girl Maison, who’s a talented builder. Stevie is shocked by how different this world is, and Maison takes him under her wing. But soon the two friends learn zombies have also made their way out of the portal!

Stevie and friends are back in the new ADVENTURE AGAINST THE ENDERMAN. It has short chapters and just 112 pages. The appeal is a fast moving plot—action packed into every page as the creepy Enderman are up to no good like destroying villages and turning villagers into more Enderman. Here’s an excerpt:

In the tunnel, everything felt more brutal. It was darker; it was closer together. The hisses of the Enderman were so close now that they rose up in a single, terrible roar. It was the kind of noise to fill your nightmares.

Book 1 ends with promise for more excitement in future installments. It’s the perfect remedy for those that can’t get enough of Minecraft. It’s also a sneaky way to get kids to read when they’re favorite game becomes a thrilling adventure.

Here’s what to expect:

The Overworld is in danger once again, this time from vicious Endermen! Mayor Alexandra summons Stevie, Alex, Maison, Yancy, and Destiny to try and stop the attacks. When the friends investigate, they quickly realize that the Endermen are looking for something. Could it be Stevie’s Ender crystal?

Soon the group of friends—now an Overworld task force—are caught up in a battle larger than any they could have imagined. Can they protect the world of Minecraft from Endermen—and the larger threat of the crystal?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danica Davidson has written for MTV, The Onion, the Los Angeles Times, and about fifty other publications. She is also the author of the Unofficial Overworld Adventure series, as well as Manga Art for Beginners from Skyhorse Publishing.

 

 

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Coming up next Monday is:

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com

 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and for spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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MMGM LINKS—11/13/17

MMGM LINKS FOR November 13, 2017

(Click on a star to take you to their site)

Zoie at Whisked Away By Words joins the MMGM walkway with a feature on a graphic novel by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez called Little White Duck: A Childhood in China
Suzanne Warr at Tales From The Raven is spotlighting Persephone the Phony and Athena the Wise, both from the Goddess Girl series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.
Sydne Gernaat joins the MMGM walkway with a review of HYACINTH AND THE SECRETS BENEATH by Jacob Sager Weinstein
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal is reviewing Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Justin Talks Books features the classic Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Dorine White has a review of The Werewolf of Davenport by DT Vaughn
Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff has a review and giveaway of Ashes to Asheville
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin, the Middle Grade Mafioso, has a review of  EDDIE RED UNDERCOVER
Karen Yingling always has some awesome MMGM Picks
And… Check out my review below of RESTART (Also linked via the white star)
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own star on the walkway, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com
 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE!
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in MMGM Links | Tagged | 5 Comments

RESTART for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I’m not a big fan of multiple viewpoints in books. I don’t mind two alternating narratives, but beyond that it breaks up the flow of the story for me. Gordon Korman though is the master of this technique in writing. His new novel includes seven first person viewpoints scattered among thirty chapters.

Here’s the real truth—I loved this story. It is a perfectly constructed plot. What if the most feared bully in a middle school accidentally falls off the roof of his house? The result might bring quiet redemption for his victims. But Chase Ambrose wakes up in the hospital with a severe case of amnesia. He can’t remember the total jerk he was before the fall.

This sets up the plot as Chase has to navigate learning about his past and decide if he wants to be the old Chase or the new more understanding one. The hardest part is becoming friendly again with the boy he tormented. His bullying caused the boy to switch schools.

It’s an honest look at how a few kids can make life miserable for others. Read it, discuss it, and savor in its healing powers.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 256

FULL PLOT (From SCHOLASTIC PRESS)

A boy who’s been a bully and hanging out with the wrong friends gets a new start after a memory-loss-inducing accident. But can someone really change who he is, or will the old him merely come back over time? #1 New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman harkens back to his No More Dead Dogs days in this stand-alone that takes a tone more serious than you’ve ever seen from him before.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: RESTART

  1. The thoughts and feelings of the bullied characters and how they come to grips with the new nicer Chase Ambrose.
  2. Mr. Solway, the nursing home war veteran. He’s not given his own chapters for reflection, but his voice comes out through the eyes and ears of others.
  3. Yes, there is even humor scattered across the pages—mostly form Brendan (a former victim of the bullying) who is always chasing after the set-up for his next You Tube video.
  4. Chase the bully is the star on the football team pre-accident and the star of the video club after the accident. Such delicious irony.
  5. This is one of Korman’s most beautifully written stories… Period.

FAVORITE LINES: 

I can’t help asking. “What did you do? To earn the medal, I mean.”

I can still only see one eye, but it’s impossible to miss the flash of impatience. “I stood on my head and spit nickles. Listen, smart guy, when you get to be my age, you don’t always remember the details of every single event in your life. But I don’t expect a young punk like you to understand that.” He closes the door.

Old people are supposed to have wisdom, but Mr. Solway is definitely wrong about me.

I’ve already forgotten more than he’ll ever know.

AUTHOR QUOTE:

When I was two years old, I wanted to be a dog when I grew up. I don’t actually remember this, but my parents tell me that I used to eat dinner under the table in preparation for this career. Good thing I wound up a writer. I never could have gotten into the union. (See more at Gordon Korman’s website.)

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Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

MMGM2

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A MYSTERY FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

The fascinating history of this man-powered submarine is told in just enough detail to peak the interest of  middle grade kids.

The Hunley was designed to attack Union ships during the Civil War. It’s history was short with many missions ending in defeat and death.  This includes the original financier of the sub, Horace Lawson Hunley, who road along on one of its fateful journeys.

If there was ever a image to go with “If at once you fail, try, try again” this story would be it.

The vessel was propelled by seven men who hand cranked the device. An eighth man served as the navigator. On the night of February 17, 1864 the Hunley had its first and last success by sinking the USS Housatonic. The Hunley never resurfaced until efforts to find and recover it more than 130 years later brought the vessel back. When the conservation and stabilization work is complete, the submarine will be on display at the former Navy Base in North Charleston, South Carolina

The engrossing story is accompanied with color illustrations vividly depicting the submarine or fish boat as it was called. Modern day photographs show the Hunley as it looks today, along with many of the dedicated workers bringing it back to life. The last part of the book is a nice feature on one of the conservators and archaeologists  and what their job entails. A great teaser for kids who may have interest in this line of work as a career.

Easy to read and a sure winner for anyone’s historical library.

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WORD FROM THE PUBLISHERS

The story of the H. L. Hunley submarine is about American ingenuity and real people who were inventive, loyal, brave, resilient, persistent, and adventurous. The Hunley, built by the Confederate Army during the Civil War, was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship during wartime. After that historic feat, the Hunley disappeared.

For more than a century, the fate and location of the Confederate submarine remained unknown. In The H. L. Hunley Submarine, Fran Hawk tells the exciting and compelling tale of how the “fish boat” was invented, how it underwent trials and tribulations in war, and how it got from the bottom of the ocean to its current resting place in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Who invented the H. L. Hunley? How did it operate without an engine? How and why did it sink? What did researchers find when they investigated the submarine? Archaeologists and conservationists from all over the world have studied the historic vessel in search of answers. Which mysteries have they solved,and which mysteries remain for future generations to answers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR

Fran Hawk is the author of The Story of the H. L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin, Ten Tips for Raising Readers, and Countdown to Fall. She worked as a school librarian for ten years while writing a weekly children’s book-review column for the Charleston Post & Courier. Hawk later served as a librarian at a small alternative school for at-risk children. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Randolph College and a master’s of library science from Vanderbilt University. She lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, not far from where the Hunley crew lived and worked.

Monica Wyrick has a fine arts degree from the University of Dayton and has worked in advertising, as a muralist, and as an art instructor. Wyrick and her husband live in South Carolina and have three grown children.

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Coming up next Monday is:

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com

 (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and for spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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If you have a few minutes this weekend, check out my Middle Grade Historical Fiction entry in the 2017 Pitch Wars contest. It was one of 41 MG finalists and it garnered some interest from a wonderful batch of agents.

That’s all for now. See you next week for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Posted in New Release, non fiction, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment