MMGM for 6/18/18

 Click on a check mark to read each blogger’s post.

I have a review of POSITIVELY izzy. Check it out via the happy green check mark.
Author June McCrary Jacobs has an historical fiction feature on ‘Paper Wishes’ by Author Loise Sepahban.
Scribbles of an Aspiring Author, Kara Armstrong, reviews a classic—Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
Completely Full Bookshelf recommends Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven spotlights Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil, and she’s also announcing the winner for Where the Watermelons Grow.
Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers returns this week with a review of The Missing Map of Pirate’s Haven by Sigmund Brouwer.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar.
Author, Dorine White, at The Write Path has a review of The Un-Friendship Bracelet.
Karen Yingling always has great MMGM picks. Be sure to read her review today along with the many other choices she posted the past week.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot 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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*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 Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , | Leave a comment

POSITIVELY izzy

I don’t read an enormous amount of graphic novels but for some young readers this is the only type of book they’ll pick up. It’s nice to be able to recommend a new one. Told in alternating viewpoints from two very different girls, you know up front their lives will converge in an unexpected way. You’ll have to guess because it is not revealed until the final page. It had me saying “I didn’t see that one coming!”

Brianna starts the story. She is a brain and always gets superb grades. Next comes Izzy who is the middle child of three girls and school is not her thing. She does love to perform and is looking forward to showing off her ability at the talent show. There is already a hefty amount of drama going on in the school halls. It is accurately portrayed through each girl’s friendships—current, past, and just forming.

The colorful illustrations by the author are fun, depicting the body language and facial expressions often seen on middle grade kids. Brianna’s are in cartoon style panels while Izzy’s look more like a journal. This quick read will have you smiling and agreeing that these years are the toughest for anyone to get through. A great read in the summer or any other time of the year.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 224

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

POSITIVELY IZZY

  1. Alternating viewpoints was the perfect way to tell the story. These two girls are so different but in many ways alike.
  2. The gotcha at the end had me thumbing through the pages looking for what I missed. It gave me a whole different view of the story. I’m not sure everyone will get it, but I’d enjoy a discussion with young readers as to what they thought.
  3. The lesson of putting yourself out there rather than avoiding what you think you don’t like.
  4. That first crush and talking to boys is shown here in all its cringe worthy glory.
  5. Not only does the plot have to be good but also the pictures must shine in a graphic novel. Both are successful here and will be a hard one to keep on the shelves.

FAVORITE LINES:

From Brianna:

But it’d be nice to be seen past my brains for once. ‘Cause there’s way more to me!

I mean there is…

right?

From Izzy:

My grades aren’t so great, which bugs my mom. She wishes I’d pay more attention in school. I wish I would, too, but there are so many more interesting things that run through my head than come out of my teachers mouths.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR—Terry Libenson:

Terri Libenson is the cartoonist of the internationally syndicated daily comic strip, The Pajama Diaries. She was also a long-time humorous card writer for American Greetings. She won numerous awards for her greeting cards and was the creator of a top-selling card line, “Skitch.” Terri has also written for AmericanGreetings.com, Egreetings.com, and BlueMountainArts.com.

For more visit Terry’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.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

DO DOODLEBUGS DOODLE?

Try saying the title three times fast! No, I couldn’t either. This fun book of amazing facts about eleven different insects begins with a silly question. Turn the page and you can read a clearly stated answer. The facts will have you saying more than once “I didn’t know that!”

Full color illustrations fill the pages. Their whimsical nature are meant to accompany the fun format of the book. Actual pictures of each insect and a more in-depth background are presented in the final pages.

Perfect as a read aloud or to be explored alone, this quick read would make a great addition to any library. Here’s the official description from Persnickity Press:

Explore the fun and fascinating world of insects through this lively question and answer book. Do dragonflies breathe fire? Do stink bugs take baths? Do bed bugs wear pajamas? The silly questions—the kind kids often ask—are followed by informative answers, sure to make every reader eager to learn more about insects. Kids will delight in this engaging, interactive read-aloud, and educators, parents, and budding naturalists will enjoy the detailed illustrations. With an extensive authors’ note, this book provides an exciting introduction to insects, suitable for any science lesson. Additional back matter on each of the insect species will inspire further study.

Learn more about the talented mother/daughter writing team from their bios below:

Corinne Demas is the award-winning author of thirty-three books for kids and adults.  Her picture books include The Disappearing Island, illustrated by Ted Lewin, (a Massachusetts Book Award Honor Book), Saying Goodbye to Lulu, illustrated by Ard Hoyt (winner of the ASPCA Henry Berg  Children’s Book Award), and The Littlest Matryoshka, illustrated by Kathryn Brown.

Corinne Demas is a professor at Mount Holyoke College and a fiction editor of The Massachusetts Review. She divides her time between western Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

Artemis Roehrig received her master’s degree from the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology program at the University of Massachusetts. Do Doodlebugs Doodle? was inspired by her work in an entomology lab, where she does research on both endangered and invasive insects. In addition to writing books for kids, she has been published in the scientific journal Environmental Entomology.  Does a Fiddler Crab Fiddle? and the upcoming Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter? were both shaped by her work as an educator at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.   She lives in western Massachusetts and loves to explore nature with her two young children.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Ellen Shi grew up in the great state of New Jersey and recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in Illustration. She loves color, simple shapes and texture. Ellen is also an avid fan of nature, film, and books. When not drawing or painting, you will probably find her with her nose in a book.

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Coming up next week is another MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY.
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.

 

Posted in non fiction, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 6/14/18

Here are several news and special feature articles I’ve enjoyed the past week (If you missed any of the previous posts click here to see them all):

  1. I’m not even done with last Fall’s middle grade books selections but here’s a preview of what is coming out this Fall. Some very interesting ones I must say!
  2. This writer has come up with a list of 7 Books Every Kid Should Read Before High School. I still have two on the list that I haven’t read.
  3. An interesting story how Scientist Erin Teagan became the author of AMERICAN GIRL’S LUCIANA Series. Don’t ever let your dreams die!

I’ll be back on Friday with a review of DO DOODLEBUGS DOODLE?

Posted in Middle Grade News | 2 Comments

MMGM for 6/11/18

It’s National Corn on the Cob Day! Click an ear to reach a blogger’s post.

I have a review of ARGOS.  Click my ear to read all about it.
Author June McCrary Jacobs has a non-fiction feature on a sewing/craft book  entitled, ‘Stitch Camp‘. The post includes a print copy giveaway for one lucky US winner sponsored by Storey Publishing.
Completely Full Bookshelf recommends  Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan.
Scribbles of an Aspiring Author, Kara Armstrong, reviews Story Thieves, by James Riley.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal gives us her view of  Abduction (Book 4)  by Michelle Isenhoff, in the Recompense series.
Author Dorine White returns to the MMGM lineup with a a review of Aru Shah and the End of Time.
The B.O.B. reviews The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.
Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and giveaway of Hank Zipzer: The Cow Poop Treasure Hunt.
Karen Yingling always has great MMGM picks. Be sure to read her review today along with the many other choices she posted the past week.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot 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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*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 Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged | Leave a comment

ARGOS

I was first introduced to The Odyssey in the eighth grade, or at least to a translation of the Greek poem. Basically, Odysseus leaves his beloved island Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War. Staying behind are a wife and an only son. She spends most of her time fending off hundreds of suitors who assume Odysseus didn’t survive the war. Meanwhile her husband not only survived, but was a hero in winning the war. Problem is it took ten years and another ten for him to find his way back to the island and slay all the suitors.

This version tells the same story, but from the POV of Odysseus’s loyal dog, Argos. He stays on Ithaca to protect his master’s wife and son along with keeping an eye on their livestock. He is loyal and believes his master will return some day.

The choice to tell Homer’s original tale away from the action through the eyes and ears of Argos is a bold one. Argos learns of Odysseus’s journey through conversations he has with birds and a sea turtle. They are his only way to keep his hopes up and discover the fate of his master. The author could have had Argos going off with his master and experience first hand the horrors that await, but perhaps having him stay behind is more like a family waiting for a soldier to return from overseas.

Released in hardback two years ago, the paperback version is new this year. The length and complex language may be a bit much for most middle grade kids, but Percy Jackson fans will migrate here with their love of Greek mythology.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2016   PAGE COUNT: 405

THE PLOT (from AMAZON):  

For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to Ithaka. After ten years beneath the walls of Troy, he begins the long journey back home. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He does whatever it takes to reunite with his family.

And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure whether they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master. Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s voyage—and what a voyage it is!

These tales bring hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king. This rousing story of devotion and determination is an original take on one of the most beloved myths of all time.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: ARGOS by Ralph Hardy

  1. Argos’s courtship and starting his own family is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
  2. This would be a good introduction for a young person who knows nothing about The Odyssey. It would make their eventual reading of the original all that more compelling.
  3. The cover is often what gravitates readers to a book and this one is superb.
  4. Argos and his interactions with the son, Telemachos, are what make this story. Friendship, loyalty, and trust are the keys.
  5. There are touches of humor as Argos copes with understanding the ways of other animals and humans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ralph Hardy graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in English and received his MFA from Columbia College, Chicago. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife and children and a dog named Harvey, who is nothing like Argos. He is the author of The Cheetah Diaries, Lefty, and a number of short stories.
For more Ralph Hardy’s author website.

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

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

THE FREEDOM SHIP OF ROBERT SMALLS

The town of Beaufort, South Carolina is the starting point for this true story of a daring escape by an African American slave. It’s a beautiful seaside town and I’d fully recommend a visit. The text in this new edition was originally written by Louise Meriwether and published in 1971. Its re-release this year comes with colorful paintings throughout by renowned Southern artist Jonathan Green.

The tale is shared in just 32 pages, perfect for emerging readers and for out loud reading. Older readers will be spurred on to researching more about this time period. It’s a brave story of a man who wanted freedom for his family and decided the odds were best via the sea. I knew going in there was going to be a happy ending for our hero as Robert Smalls served for five terms in the U.S. Congress. I didn’t know if the journey was successful for his wife, two children and the rest of the slaves who hopped on board with their families. That answer is found within the story.

Here’s the official background:

Robert Smalls, born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, gained fame as an African American hero of the American Civil War. The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls tells the inspirational story of Small’s life as a slave, his boyhood dream of freedom, and his bold and daring plan as a young man to commandeer a Confederate gunboat from Charleston Harbor and escape with fifteen fellow slaves and family members. Smalls joined the Union Navy and rose to the rank of captain and became the first African American to command a U.S. service ship. After the war Smalls returned to Beaufort, bought the home of his former master, and began a long career in state and national politics.

History comes alive with books like THE FREEDOM SHIP OF ROBERT SMALLS. A great addition to any school or home library.

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Coming up next week is another…
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book 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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*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 Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments