MMGM for July 4, 2022

TIME TO CELEBRATE!!

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

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At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of LIES I TELL MYSELF by Beth Vrabel.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitchmetic has a spotlight and review of What is the Declaration of Independence?

Carol Baldwin passes off the reviewing baton to Elliott and his review of GIRL ON FIRE by Alicia Keys.

Maria Antonia has a post about REAL PIGEONS FIGHT CRIME by Andrew McDonald.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews Realistic Animals in Colored Pencils. Rosi also shares three links of interest for her writing friends.

Valinora Troy reviews Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi.

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 TREASURE TRACKS and MANATEE SUMMER.

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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)
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LIES I TELL MYSELF

One of my favorite plots to experience is a middle grade contemporary first person narration. More than once though I feel a bit let down by the voice coming from the character. It can sound like an adult speaking or an older teen.

The first lines of Beth Vrabel’s LIES I TOLD MYSELF set my apprehension aside. Soon to be fifth grader Raymond’s voice had me anxious to read more right from the opening paragraph:

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I’m fine.

Except for the chicken on my head.

I was pretty sure she hated me.

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The 28 chapters aren’t labeled as chapters but instead take the form of lies (First Lie, Second Lie, etc.) They aren’t lies so much as they are misconceptions about life and the people you care about. The first lie is I’M FINE and you soon discover the emotional weight he carries.

Raymond’s musician father has sent him to stay with the mother’s grandparents in Maine. His older sister Sara stays behind. His last memory of his Mom is when she left when he was in Kindergarten—never bothering to contact him again.

So now Raymond is stuck in a place he doesn’t want to be with grandparents who don’t understand him. Despite not wanting to be there, he vows to do three things during his stay: Learn to ride a bike, learn how to swim, and make friends. None of these pursuits go well.

He first meets Clementine, a girl whose blunt approach sets him back. Their potential friendship takes quite a few detours. But through each chapter, Raymond sees his own path to growing up woven ever so perfectly from others, including reading his great grandfather’s journal.

Raymond is a great narrator and his often humorous take on what he believes will have you connecting to him more with each passing page. LIES I TELL MYSELF is a companion to last year’s TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, but this is a separate tale that you can read without experiencing the first.

Heartwarming and always a strong voice. I’ll always remember Raymond.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: LIES I TELL MYSELF by Beth Vrabel

  1. The character arc for the grandparents was a strong companion to the one experienced by Raymond. Well done in all aspects.
  2. The chicken also played a big role in the healing process for the family. Who knew a chicken could have so much drive and personality!
  3. I’ll never understand the mom . The way she was portrayed had her on my worst list of adult characters in literature. Maybe we need to see her own title for adults centered around the bad choices she made and why.
  4. The emotion coming out of each chapter had me flipping the pages for more.
  5. Loved the ending which seemed more like a new beginning for the cast of characters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth Vrabel is an award-winning author of books for middle grade readers.

But she can’t clap to the beat nor be trusted near Nutella. Beth lives in New England with her family and spoiled-rotten puppies, Jasper and Jupiter.

(For more visit Beth’s Author site)

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

SHARK STUFF

The first title in the new “Can’t Get enough” series from National Geographic Kids is sure to enthrall and entertain middle grade readers and even us adults. Perfect for summer reading or any other time of the year.

This is no boring repetition of what you already know about the shark world. The large size paperback is packed with colorful images and jaw dropping facts.

Across the more than 125 pages you will find multiple sections of:

  • FUN FACTS
  • SILLY JOKES
  • VIEWS FROM EXPERTS IN THE FIELD
  • FUN AND GAMES
  • TRY IT OUT AT HOME EXPERIMENTS
  • QUIZZES—One halfway through and another at the end. Plus more quizzes to find out where you might fit into the shark world.

Even a shark enthusiast like myself found a new understanding of these magnificent creatures:

  • Shark can see 10 times better than humans in dim light
  • The Viper Dogfish shark has the scariest and creepiest look of all the sharks
  • The Whale Shark is as long as an RV
  • Sharks often don’t feel pain
  • A Whale Shark’s mouth is five feet wide

An index and bibliography wrap things up and even if you are not a shark lover, you may become one after spending time with them on the pages of SHARK STUFF. A great escape for all!

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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)
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MMGM for June 27, 2022

ONE MORE GOOD READ BEFORE JUNE ENDS!

Pick out one for yourself from the links below:

(Click on a happy red book to reach a blogger’s post)

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of WRETCHED WATERPARK by Kiersten White.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitchmetic presents links to resources for parents, teachers, librarians, and caregivers to use when encouraging their children to read during the summer of 2022.

Carol Baldwin has another great post on making revisions.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat.

Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers returns to the MMGM lineup this week with a review of Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra by Stuart Gibbs.

Maria Antonia has a post about DREAM, ANNIE, DREAM by  Waka T. Brown.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading is also back this week with a review of The Night Bus Hero by Qnjali Q. Raúf.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews and has a GIVEAWAY of THE TURTLE OF MICHIGAN by Naomi Shihab Nye. Rosi also shares three links of interest for her writing friends.

Valinora Troy reviews EPIC ZERO by R.L. Ullman. She also shares news about the publication of the second book in her fantasy series, Revenge of Queen Rose at Book Launch: Revenge of Queen Rose – Valinora Troy

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with Sunday’s review of COMING UP SHORT.

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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

WRETCHED WATERPARK

There’s nothing like a trip to the waterpark to make a young person scream with delight. Yes, you will get wet but also have tons of fun—unless you’re spending the day at Fathoms of Fun Waterpark. Run the other way instead as our three main characters quickly discover.

Alexander and Theo Sinister-Winterbottom are 12-year old twins. Along with their older sister Wil, they’ve been sent off in the middle of the night by their parents to live with Aunt Saffronia, a supposed relative they never knew existed. Child care is not her best trait. The only thing she cares about is making sure they use the week long passes she got for them at the local waterpark. Sounds fun until their visit turns into quite the mystery with people disappearing, terrible food choices, and some pretty wild rides.

Alexander is the cautious, rule following twin who also hates water slides. The more adventurous Theo makes a great pairing as these two try and figure out who is in the watch tower and why this place seems more intent on making sure guests never want to come back. Wil frequently disappears on her own, being more interested in her phone and Edgar, a boy she meets at the park.

The third person narration in WRETCHED WATERPARK is filled with humor and the mystery unfolds in a fast paced fashion. I’m not giving away any spoilers to keep the story fresh in case you decide to give this one a go.. The first tale in this enticing series will be followed by Vampiric Vacation in September. The summer is off to a great start!

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT WRETCHED WATERPARK

  1. The sibling relationship. Alexander and Theo are very different but they support each other no matter what.
  2. Although the main plot points were answered there are still enough loose ends to entice readers back for more in Book 2.
  3. I’m always a bit wary when an adult/YA author switches course to take a shot at Middle Grade. Thankfully, the author has hit the mark in this mystery that will surely appeal to 8-12 year olds.
  4. The creepiness factor is not enough to cause nightmares. It will though cause young readers to read more.
  5. Reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which is pretty good company to have in a story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning, and critically acclaimed author of many books, including the And I Darken trilogy, the Sinister Summer series, the Camelot Rising trilogy, and her adult debut, Hide. Her books have been published in over twenty territories, and her novel The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is currently in development with Sony Pictures Television.

Kiersten lives with her family in San Diego, where she can regularly be found pressing her hands against the glass of her back door, furtively whispering I love you to her deeply ambivalent tortoise, Kimberly.

(For more visit Kiersten’s author website)

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I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Comments are welcome below.

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

CRITTER CHAT

Okay, what if Animals used Social Media? Humans have had both success and failures with the various platforms. Critter Chat from National Geographic KIDS tells you what to expect when animals have their own social media accounts.

  • A Black Bear gives a wooden hand held back-scratcher (available on AMAZON) a one star review since a tree does a better job plus the bear can leave his scent on the tree.
  • The Dolphinstagram page will have a variety of animals posting pictures of themselves.
  • Animals like the Spotted Salamander (screen name: Soft Spot), Arctic Tern (screen name: TernAround), or even the Red Kangaroo (screen name: Rusty Roo) will start chatting with other animals in their very own Critter Chat Rooms.
  • And watch out when a Male House Mouse posts a profile on a dating app.

It’s all in good fun. The colorful guide is loaded with pictures and animal facts along the way. The slightly more that 6 inch by 6 inch size is perfect for traveling or tucking under the pillow to keep the next hilarious post close by. It’s the type of book that will get passed around as you share the imaginative results when social media invades the animal world.

Critter Chat is sure to please browsers both young and old. The smiles on my face prove that point!

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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 , , , | 3 Comments

ULTIMATE BOOK OF THE FUTURE Blog Tour

Welcome to the Ultimate Book of the Future Blog Tour!

Ultimate Book of the Future by Stephanie Warren Drimmer Is the perfect book for fans of sci-fi, budding engineers and scientists, lovers of futuristic movies and pop culture, and anyone who has ever dreamed about what tomorrow might look like. To celebrate its release, 5 blogs across the web are featuring posts from the book as well as 5 chances to win. Ready to sneak a peek at your life in the future? Read on!

THE FUTURE OF SAVING THE WORLD: FIGHTING FIRES WITH SOUND

Every year, more than 100,000 wildfires rage in the United States alone, burning up between four and five million acres (1.6 to 2 million ha). Raging wildfires can move at speeds of up to 14 miles an hour (23 km/h), swallowing up trees, brush, homes, and everything else in their path. Battling these fires is hot, dirty, dangerous work. But what if firefighters could use something as simple as sound to put out the flames?

In 2017, two engineering students named Seth Robertson and Viet Tran invented what might be the fire extinguisher of the future. Traditionally, firefighters either douse fires with water or spray them with chemical retardants to stop the burning. But the new device uses neither. Instead, it emits sound to put out fires. Sound moves in waves that vibrate what they’re passing through. That vibration can be enough to separate the flames from the oxygen they need to burn, putting rigged up an amplifier and a cardboard tube to focus the sound. When they blasted low-frequency tones through their “sonic extinguisher,” flames went out.

Now, Robertson and Tran are working on turning their prototype into a real-life product. They think the technology could be ideal for putting out small fires in the home: a sonic extinguisher could be installed over a stove top to extinguish kitchen fires, fore xample. Someday, drones equipped with sonic extinguishers could fight forest fires without needing to refill water or retardant and without putting human lives in danger. And a sound-based device could be extremely useful in space, where zero gravity makes it impossible to spray a traditional fire extinguisher.  Now that’s a sound idea.

FUN FACT: Earth is the only known planet where there is enough oxygen for a fire to burn.


Buy

Robot dogs! Jet packs! Cyborgs! Super-sleek space suits! It’s not science fiction, it’s science reality. And soon, it may be part of everyday life. This book is a jam-packed collection of the coolest tech and wildest ideas that are shaping the world of tomorrow.

Blast off for an unbelievably fascinating journey through time, space, and even a holographic pop concert (or two)! With chapters on future cities, space travel, high-tech entertainment, and even saving the world, Future World is a thorough, fun compendium of high-tech gadgets being built today and the coolest stuff tomorrow has to offer, plus the amazing dreamers making it all happen.

Special “Could It Happen?” features tackle kids” burning hypothetical questions, like whether Jurassic Park could really exist, or whether a robot could become president. Each chapter also includes a “Future Fail!” that profiles one thing we thought we’d have by now, but don’t (like everything from The Jetsons.) And kids will see where they might fit into the picture through the “Jobs of Tomorrow” profiled in each chapter. (Job titles include mind reader, space pilot, and robot-human communicator. Seriously!)

Website

Stephanie Warren Drimmer is a science writer based in Los Angeles, California. She writes books and magazine features for kids about everything from the strangest places in space, to the chemistry of cookies, to the mysteries of the human brain. She has a degree in science journalism from New York University…but she thinks she likes writing for kids because she’s secretly still one herself.


GIVEAWAY

  • One (1) winner will receive a hardcover of Ultimate Book of the Future
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 7/5 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour Schedule:

June 20th YA Book Nerd

June 21st The Mommy Island

June 22nd Always in the Middle

June 23rd Susie’s Reviews and Giveaways

June 24th Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

MMGM for June 20, 2022

SUMMER OFFICIALLY BEGINS TOMORROW!

Let’s get started on a new season full of good reads.

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

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE by Tracy Badua.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles is doing a review of Jennifer Nielsen’s MG historical fiction Lines of Courage with an ARC Giveaway.

Sue Heavenrich at Archimedes Notebook reviews The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews Over and Out by Jenni Walsh, a Cold War story about a girl who wants to escape over the East Berlin Wall to freedom. 

Valinora Troy reviews Kiki Kallira Conquers A Curse by Sangu Mandanna,

Maria Antonia has a post about FALLING SHORT by Ernesto Cisneros.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews Treasure in the Lake. Rosi also shares three 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 Sunday’s review of Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II.

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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

FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE

Freddie Ruiz is cursed.

While other people may have bad days, Freddie and his family have had bad generations: from bird poop splatting on him during picture day to the many tumbles and trips that earned him the nickname Faceplant Freddie. He’s learned to lay low and keep himself out of trouble—which means no fun, no friends, and definitely no risks.

But when he discovers a family heirloom, a century-old amulet from the Philippines that’s supposed to bring good fortune, Freddie thinks his luck is finally about to change.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Because the spirit of Freddie’s cranky great-granduncle Ramon is trapped in the heirloom, and the evil spirits responsible for his death have returned with a vengeance. Now, Freddie and his cousin, Sharkey, have thirteen days to break the curse, or Freddie will join Ramon for an untimely afterlife in the amulet.

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A fun magical mystery with a unique story line is bound to capture the interest of readers both young and old. Freddie is the perfect character to handle the first person narration in this tale of a curse gone awry.

The fast pace of the story line is evident in each of the 30 chapters. Social issues, Filipino culture and traditions, self acceptance, and a road trip to Las Vegas are packed into the 256 pages. None of them overwhelm the story and are nicely intertwined to make this a winning title. The typical pressures of middle school are there along with the full blown embarrassment Freddie endures as the curse waits to strike at the worst moments.

Freddie vs the Family Curse will have you rooting for Freddie so that he can begin 7th grade as a normal adolescent. It will be time well spent.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE

  1. A little bit of World War II history was included in the story. The relationship of the Philippines and the U.S. during that time is something often forgotten or never heard about.
  2. Even though death would be the outcome if Freddie fails, it never gets to be a depressing ride given the narration in this rich fantasy tale.
  3. So many memorable scenes! Freddie learning how to breakdance, and the visit to a nursing home with cousin Sharkey were my favorites.
  4. Even though life isn’t easy at times, be the best you can be is a lesson sure to resonate with many.
  5. Countdown stories are always well received by the middle grade audience. The stakes are high here (13 days to get rid of a curse or die) provides even more interest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracy Badua is a Filipino-American author of books full of humor, magic, and young people with sunny hearts in a sometimes stormy world. By day, she is an attorney who works in national housing policy and programs, and by night, she squeezes in writing, family time, pup pets, and bites of her secret stash of candy. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, chatty toddler, and photogenic Maltese.

(I received an ARC from Harper Collins in exchange for my honest review.)

COMMENTS ARE WELCOME BELOW!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

My Very Very…Silly Book of Games

There’s nothing like summer vacation to set the mood soaring for any middle grader. They can’t wait for days of sleeping in, maybe swimming, bike riding, fishing, or getting to see friends and relatives more.

The excitement can lessen and eventually there will be a day or two where the ugly “B” word surfaces: Boredom.

Thanks to this new title from the award winning British actor and comedian, Matt Lucas, you have a quick remedy. He has assembled a plethora of easy to learn games in several categories:

  • GAMES TO PLAY WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE
  • THE SILLIEST GAMES IN THE WORLD
  • GAMES TO PLAY ON YOUR OWN
  • GAMES TO PLAY AT HOME
  • GAMES TO PLAY IN THE CAR OR BUS OR TRAIN
  • GAMES TO WEAR YOU OUT

A chapter is also included with suggested games from readers ranging from age 7 to 11 plus some background on games that have gone wrong in our history of having fun.

Fanciful black and White illustrations accompany the description of the games. Many are familiar but a few were new to me like ZIP, ZAP, BOING and THE FLOOR IS LAVA. Easy to learn and laughable to play, My Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Silly Book of games is available at AMAZON.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Lucas is an actor, writer and comedian, and co-host of The Great British Bake Off. He came to prominence in Shooting Stars with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Together with David Walliams, he created the smash-hit series Little Britain, winner of three BAFTAs. Matt has since starred in a string of UK and US shows, including Little Britain USA and Come Fly With Me, plus several blockbuster films including Alice in Wonderland and Bridesmaids. He featured as Nardole in series ten of Doctor Who and fulfilled a lifetime ambition to appear in Les Miserables.

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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, New Release, non fiction | Tagged , | 5 Comments