MMGM for AUGUST 8, 2022

It’s back to school this week for many of us!

Below are some suggestions to get your school year off on the right foot.

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Click on a school bus to reach a blogger’s post.

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of GOLDEN TICKET by Kate Egan.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing and Stitch-Metic has a blog tour stop for a Christian picture book entitled, ‘Guess How Much God Loves You.’ The post includes an excerpt and a giveaway.

Max @ COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF is back with us this week and recommends Long Distance by Whitney Gardner.

Maria Antonia @ of books, photography, and tea also returns this week with a review of ONCE UPON A TIM by Stuart Gibbs.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews She Persisted: Sally Ride by Atia Abwai, one of 20 books in the series by Chelsea Clinton.

Valinora Troy features a review of THE GREEN EMBER by S.D. Smith.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of ATLAS OF EXTINCT ANIMALS. Rosi also shares 3 links of interest for her writing friends and quite the list of lexophiles.

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with last Saturday’s review of INVISIBLE.

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(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)
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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
Posted in Book Lists, Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

GOLDEN TICKET

Eleven-year-old Ash McNulty is one of the “gifted and talented” kids at her school, spending most of her day in a special class with a few other advanced students. As the end of fifth grade rolls around, she should be on top of the world. According to everyone, she’s going to rock junior high!

But Ash has a secret: She can’t keep up with her advanced classmates anymore. The minute she asks for help though, everyone will know she’s not who they think she is. She’s not so smart. She might not even be that special. And her parents will be crushed to discover the truth.

If Ash can win the Quiz Bowl, though, that will show everyone that she is still on top. If she gets a lucky break ahead of time, all the better.

Except that “lucky break” backfires . . .

And Ash is left to question everything she thought she knew about school, friends, and success.

(FROM Macmillan Publishers)

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PAGE COUNT: 240 BOOK BIRTHDAY: June 21, 2022

This title grabbed my attention right away since I taught in a gifted classroom of 24 students for several years. It was more than challenging meeting the needs of each child. Yes, they had taken a test to determine intellectual potential and all came out high on their results. But their abilities and interests were far ranging. Some were ready for high school math and others just beginning to master the material in my 6th grade classroom. The same held true for skill levels in writing, oral communication, science, and I was faced with an even wider range of social emotional needs.

Despite the challenges I had a great time teaching these kids—although my work week went from about 50 hours to over 60 planning and teaching to this group.. The time spent with them inspired me to further study the gifted label and how it effects students, parents, and teachers. I pursued my own research on the gifted label and at the ripe young age of 34 finished a dissertation followed by a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. What did I conclude about this often misunderstood label? I’ll let you know after I tell you more about GOLDEN TICKET.

The third person narration moves the story along at a nice pace with some great end of chapter teasers. Ash’s parents immigrated to the states from Ireland and manage their own restaurant. A younger sister is also in the family but her giftedness is more in playing soccer than with academics. The first half of the novel leads up to the decision Ash makes to be on top for the Quiz Bowl competition. She cheats and and the new girl catches her in the act.

The intriguing second half of this story has many surprising outcomes for Ash. She gains an unlikely new friend and begins to question everything about her future and self. Is she really “Gifted”?

Ash’s plight would be a great discussion in any 5th or 6th grade classroom. I liked the conclusions Ash finally made and would love to see how it plays out for her in middle school. Overall, my label for Kate Egan’s Golden Ticket is a solid A.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT GOLDEN TICKET by Kate Egan

  1. You learn a bit of the Irish slang used by the parents and also about the stereotypes often attached to someone from Ireland.
  2. The fifth graders sounded like fifth graders and not ones being written through an adult’s eyes.
  3. The school handled Ash’s mistake in a perfect way. It wasn’t easy but the end result shined.
  4. Friendship can happen in the most unexpected ways. The lesson that someone who doesn’t look or act like you may indeed become a BFF was a wonderful twist.
  5. The gifted label was given an honest and realistic view from inside Quigley Elementary. Also accurate was how the school year often ends for students in fifth grade who are headed to Middle School the next year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Egan’s gifts and talents all involve words. She is the author of a picture book, Kate and Nate Are Running Late!, and a chapter book series, The Magic Shop, both published by Feiwel and Friends. Her work has been named to many state reading lists, selected by the Junior Library Guild, and recognized as “Best of the Year” by Amazon. She is also a freelance editor, a prolific ghostwriter, and an occasional book reviewer. Kate lives with her family on the coast of Maine.

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THE GIFTED LABEL: MY RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS

A detailed questionnaire and interviews led me to conclude parents and their identified student both had positive reactions to the label, even higher for males. Regular classroom teachers had the most negative reactions expressing it was an elitist concept. They also thought “gifted” kids were losing their regular classroom friendships.

The main conclusion coming from the study was reaffirming my belief that every child has potential to do great things no matter their ability level. Each deserve a year’s worth of growth during a school year. Teachers should begin finding out what students know and understand. From their they can be challenged to extend and learn more. I recommended that separate opportunities for gifted students continue, but also integrate the learning into the regular classroom.

Certainly not easy to obtain. The problem we have in schools is the lack of teacher preparation and support to differentiate for all abilities rather than the traditional one size fits all model. Continued training is essential. Class size also needs to be lowered so that teachers can provide levels of learning for what I called “The don’t have it yet.”; ” Sort of have it.”; and ” I already know that.” ability levels you find in any classroom. Not sure that will ever happen with school budgets, but it would be a great start.

The gifted label is here to stay and differentiated programming options are the key to success for all.

(Comments are welcome below and be sure to stop by again this Friday for a delicious GIVEAWAY opportunity!)

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

BIG NATE DESTINED FOR AWESOMENESS

Big Nate is an often misguided 6th grader who readers have gotten to know the past 31 years via the syndicated daily 4-panel cartoon. This year introduced a TV series which has been renewed for another season on Paramount+. And now there is the first book based on the television show:

The graphic novel includes 3 stories:

THE LEGEND OF THE GUNTING

GO NATE! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY.

CATastrophe!

Nate is full of spirit and rebellion and it’s all in good fun. He has several friends at school and lives with his single dad and older sister. Trouble is not far away whenever Nate is around like maxing out his Dad’s credit card to the tune of $6,000! Equally bad: Having to avoid one more detention to keep him from disappearing for good.

Nate knows he is awesome but trying to convince everyone else is the tough part. You can see much of the real Nate through the cartoons he creates. They are interspersed throughout the hilarious action filled scenes and each story ends with a peek at the original Lincoln Pierce cartoon many of us have seen in the newspaper.

BIG NATE DESTINED FOR AWESOMENESS is coming out this month. A second book in the series, BIG NATE PRANK YOU VERY MUCH will be released later this year.

Perfect for reluctant readers and any of us needing a break from the more than typical 300-page middle grade novels. Nate will win you over along with providing a shelf full of laughs.

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Coming up next week is another edition of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY! It’s here I share highlights from other individuals blogging about middle grade books. Many of the posts will have reviews, interviews, and tips on writing. Take a look at PAST MMGM POSTS.

It’s easy to join the lineup. All you have to do is email me the title of the book or feature 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 don’t forget to say what 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.

*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 Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , | 2 Comments

MMGM for AUGUST 1, 2022

It’s another new month!

Find a book to get your August off to a great start!

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Click on a sun to reach a blogger’s post.

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of FENRIS & MOTT by Greg van Eekhout.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing and Stitch-Metic has Part 2 of her focus on George Washington Carver with a spotlight and review of a picture book biography entitled, ‘The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver.’

Carol Baldwin welcomes the return of teen reviewer, Elliott Kurta. This time Elliott reviews BEYOND THE STARS and interviews the author, Dorreen D, Berger. Plus a GIVEAWAY!

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews Kid Confident #1: How to Manage Your Social Power in Middle School by Bonnie Zucker, PsyD and How to Manage Your Mood in Middle School #2 by Lenka Glassman, PsyD.

Valinora Troy features a review of THE MONSTER IN THE LAKE by Louie Stowell.

Rosi Hollinbeck gives readers a review and GIVEAWAY of I, COSMO by Carlie Sorosiak. Rosi also shares 3 links of interest for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with yesterday’s review of THE SKY WE SHARED.

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(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)
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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
Posted in Book Lists, Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Fenris & Mott

Mott lives with her mom in a Culver City, California apartment. They moved there from Pennsylvania, but Mott misses her best friend and the Root Beet review internet show they did together. The plot takes off in a hurry as Mott finds an abandoned puppy in a recycling bin. She does the right thing and takes the cute little guy to animal shelter as her apartment doesn’t allow dogs.

The next surprise comes when the shelter informs her Fenris is actually a wolf. But that’s not all—later we discover Fenris is a legend from Norse Mythology and is destined to end the world by eating the moon. He escapes from the shelter and Mott keeps her vow to protect him even though lamposts, cars, and people are on his diet. The Norse gods are determined to see the future of Fenris play out as written although Mott will do anything to rescue Fenris and save the world from ending.

Sounds like a 400 page plot, but you get the full story in a tidy 208. That number alone along with the cover will for sure recruit new readers.

This is a fun adventure fantasy with of course a few serious environmental undertones. The pace is fast and you’ll be smiling or laughing at a few of the amusing lines. The third person narration let’s the action unfold for you to enjoy. Great for new fantasy readers and those interested in Norse Mythology.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: August 2, 2022

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT FENRIS & MOTT by Greg van Eekhout

  1. By the way this ended, I can see a sequel as a next step. You’d certainly want to spend more time with Fenris & Mott, especially with this plot twisting climatic end and a new direction the story would take.
  2. Sidekick Thrudi who they meet in a park, knows all about the problems that lie ahead for our present world. She’s a sword carrying arrival from Norse mythology and is a strong addition to the tale.
  3. A perfect introduction for those of us who didn’t know a lot about the mythology of Scandinavia.
  4. I was taken back a little when Fenris devours a human in one bite. Not to worry. The intended audience will have no nightmares after finding out what eventually happens to these humans including a typecast Hollywood actor.
  5. The bond between animals and companion is a strong thread and animal lovers will understand immediately.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg van Eekhout is the author of several novels for young readers, including Weird Kid (“A heartfelt, pitch-perfect middle grade novel”—Publishers Weekly, starred review); Cog; and Voyage of the Dogs. He lives in San Diego, California, with his astronomy/physics professor wife and two dogs. He’s worked as an educational software developer, ice-cream scooper, part-time college instructor, and telemarketer. Being a writer is the only job he’s ever actually liked. You can find more about Greg at his website: www.writingandsnacks.com.

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Thanks for stopping by for my post in this week’s edition of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Comments are welcome below.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

MMGM Turns 12

Back in 2010 author Shannon Messenger realized YA books were getting most of the blogging space leaving Middle Grade as an afterthought. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday became the launching pad to give books for 8-13 year olds more exposure.

I took over the hosting duties in late 2017 and each Monday you can view what is being shared about middle grade books. A typical week is filled with reviews, giveaways, author and agent interviews, and even posts on writing for the middle grade audience. Basically, anything having to do with middle grade books.

(CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)

It’s easy to join the lineup. All you have to do is email me the title of the book or feature 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 don’t forget to say what 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.

*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.

HAPPY 12th Birthday MMGM and many more!

Posted in MMGM Links | Tagged , | 7 Comments

MMGM for July 25, 2022

July is disappearing fast!

Time to get in a few more reads.

Click on a star to reach a blogger’s post.

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of ETTA INVINCIBLE by Reese Eschmann.

Jennifer Bohnhoff is back with us again. Check out her reviews of books set during gold rushes, both California and Klondike. Included are Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine, by Caroline Starr Rose and I Escaped The Gold Rush Fever: A California Gold Rush Survival Story by Scott Peters, plus she shares 4 older titles on the same subject. 

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing and Stitch-Metic has another intriguing entry with a feature on a biography of George Washington Carver—part 1 of two consecutive posts on this interesting scientist and teacher.

Carol Baldwin has found another young reviewer. This week you can read 10-year-old Josie Murdock’s review of Stella by McCall Hoyle. Included is a giveaway.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL has posted her thoughts on The Way I Say It by Nancy Tandon.

Valinora Troy reviews Misfit’s Magic by Fred Gracely.

Rosi Hollinbeck also returns this week. Be sure to welcome Rosi back and read her review of ILLUSTRATED TALES OF DWARFS, GNOMES, AND FAIRY FOLK. Rosi also shares 3 links of interest for her writing friends.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles interviews debut author Derrick Chow about his MG contemporary fantasy Ravenous Things.

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with last week’s review of THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS.

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(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)
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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
Posted in Book Lists, Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

ETTA INVINCIBLE

An unpredictable, fantasy-filled mystery with some memorable characters and quite a few twists. Front and center on the cover is Etta Johnson. Her passion is writing a comic book about Invincible Girl, a brave and daring hero—a trait Etta would like a little more of in her life. She’s also dealing with the possibility of having Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that causes hearing loss, Tinnitus, and vertigo. Etta often uses her phone to interpret what others are saying.

Eleazar, pictured left, is a new friend who has an adorable goldendoodle he calls Louisa May Alcott. The mystery begins when Eleazar and Etta discover a magical train at the local station. When Louisa runs onto the train and is gone, the kids’ quest to find the lost dog begins.

The train is like none other. Onboard they find challenges in each car they must pass in order to save the pup. But the magic on the train is malfunctioning and emitting a purple smoke causing “The Fear” to grip the city of Chicago. It’s up to Etta and her new friend to save not only the dog but also their town and themselves.

Etta narrates the story and is a strong protagonist. She has bouts of sadness, confusion, and bravery. Readers will embrace her plight and cheer for Etta to the final pages. Etta Invincible is perfect for fantasy lovers. An impressive debut.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT ETTA INVINCIBLE by Reese Eischmann

  1. Having never heard of this inner ear disease, the plot filled me in with each passing scene as to how one lives with the many complications Ménière’s disease brings.
  2. The friendship between Etta and Eleazar is hesitant and first but grows as the story unfolds. Great character arcs for each.
  3. Doses of humor add to the tale, like a roller skating conductor who appears to be a minor character but by the last page plays a major part.
  4. The way Invincible Girl’s comic book story is woven into the pages. You get to see some of Etta’s comic panels at the beginning and end. In between is a traditional text based story, but Invincible Girl would be nice to find in a future full blown graphic novel.
  5. Such supportive parents! They both deal with Etta’s hearing loss in their own unique way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reese Eschmann holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois-Chicago and worked in schools for six years. When she’s not writing or taking naps, Reese enjoys rock climbing, baking, and making movies with her family. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their hound dog. Etta Invincible is her debut novel.

(For more visit Reese’s author web site)

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Comments are welcome below!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

ULTIMATE BOOK OF THE FUTURE

The year 2050 is only 28 years from now, but by then we could be living in a world much different than now. This fantastic and honest look at the inventions that are on the horizon will affect us in areas of medicine, transportation, space travel, and how we have fun. Eight colorful and eye opening chapters are part speculation, part reality.

  1. THE FUTURE OF YOU
  2. GETTING AROUND
  3. GOING TO SPACE
  4. SAVING THE WORLD
  5. OUT AND ABOUT
  6. INSPIRED BY ANIMALS
  7. BUILDING BETTER BODIES
  8. FUTURE FUN

Based on what is coming, the world could truly be a better place to live and work in the future. All that is needed are brilliant minds to pursue those dreams—like the young readers of this book.

Many enticing features well get you excited by the possibilities. Scattered throughout are two-page spreads about the Jobs of Tomorrow. Maybe you will apply to become a Robot-Human Communicator or a Conservation Technologist. Another fun and engaging feature is about future ideas that have failed like Instant Healing or a Mission to Alpha Centauri.

ULTIMATE BOOK OF THE FUTURE is perfect for at home or in school. It will surely get readers talking about what they want to have happen in their own future. Let’s pull this one out every few years to see just how close we are getting to the predictions laid out here.

Inspiring and thought provoking, Don’t miss this one! A thrilling and eye opening ride all the way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Warren Drimmer is an award-winning author of nonfiction children’s books for National Geographic Kids, Scholastic, Britannica, and other publishers. Her work has appeared in videos for TED-ed and her TV appearances include the History Channel’s show Modern Marvels. Stephanie is a regular contributor to the Scholastic magazines SuperScience and Science World, as well as National Geographic Kids magazine.

Stephanie likes science the same way she likes pastries: she enjoys consuming the results of other people’s labor but isn’t so keen on doing the work herself. Mainly because of those goofy goggles.

(FOR MORE VISIT THE AUTHOR’S WEB PAGE)

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Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration.

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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

MMGM for July 18, 2022

The Dog Days of Summer is the best time to>>>>

(Click on each blogger’s light switch to see their post)

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At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of A PERFECT MISTAKE by Melanie Conklin.

Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews the debut MG novel Under the Tangerine Tree by Esther M. Brandy.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has a guest post by debut author M.T. Khan and her agent Melanie Figueroa with a giveaway of M.T.’s portal fantasy Nura and the Immortal Palace and a query critique giveaway.

Stephanie Robinson at Fairday’s Blog features the book Rescue by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with Friday’s review of LUMBER-JACKULA.

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(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)
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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
Posted in Book Lists, Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 1 Comment