MMGM for 7/23/18

It’s NATIONAL VANILLA ICE CREAM DAY!
Click a cone to reach each blogger’s post.

Leading the MMGM parade today is writer Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal. She’s features a picture book on Fridays and of course is here each Monday with a MG review. Click on the large vanilla cone to read her newest— A review of Lost! Survivor Diaries by Terry Lynn Johnson.  
Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a few thoughts on THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS by Avi. Read all about this second book in my series on the nurturing of MG Books.
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has an interview with debut author K.A. Reynolds and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAND OF YESTERDAY.
Author June McRary Jacobs at Reading, Writing and Stitch-Metic has a contemporary fiction feature on a very moving book, ‘From You to Me’, by Author K.A. Holt.
Suzanne Warr and Tales from the Raven spotlights The Very Little Princess, by Marion Dane Bauer.
Scribbles of an Aspiring Author, Kara Armstrong, reviews The Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson.
Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books returns this week with a review of THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART by Laura Geringer Bass.
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 in the parade, 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 by 11 PM Eastern Time.
(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.
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THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS

Welcome to another Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Today I present the second book in my quest to provide support to past titles. I call it The Nurturing of Middle Grade Books.

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I have a confession to make (head down; eyes covered)… I’ve never read an Avi book. They are always on my TBR list, but somehow never reach the top. One time I even had a copy of CRISPIN-THE CROSS OF LEAD, a Newbery Medal winner from 2003 in my hands. Before I could open up the book a boy who hated to read asked me if he could borrow it. I said of course and never saw the book again.

So last month I happened to come across a copy of THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS. I tucked myself away on a back porch, away from prying eyes, and read my first Avi book. It was a great experience.

Twelve year old Oliver narrates this historical fiction tale set in 18th century England. He does so in the past tense making you feel like Oliver is sitting next to you recounting all that has happened in his short life. In fact his life has indeed become the pits. Left alone and accused of wrong doings, he flees to find his father and sister in London. It’s a gripping journey told in 60 short chapters, making it a perfect read aloud.

About two thirds of the way through, I panicked because there were so many plot details left to close. I feared this would surely end in a cliffhanger. Sure enough, we must wait until book two to find out what happens to this family. Irritating, but I’ll be first in line for the sequel. My Avi journey is just beginning.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 313

THE PLOT:  

In the seaside town of Melcombe Regis, England, 1724, Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes to find his father missing and his house flooded by a recent storm. He’s alone in his ruined home with no money and no food. Oliver’s father has left behind a barely legible waterlogged note: he’s gone to London, where Oliver’s sister, Charity, is in trouble. Exploring damage to the town in the storm’s aftermath, Oliver discovers a shipwreck on the beach. Removing anything from a wrecked ship is a hanging offense, but Oliver finds money that could save him, and he can’t resist the temptation to take it. When his crime is discovered, Oliver flees, following the trail of his father and sister. The journey is full of thieves, adventurers, and treachery–and London might be the most dangerous place of all.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS by Avi

  1. The chapters almost always end in a way to that make you turn the page. Here’s an example from chapter three: I waited for Charity’s summons to join her in London. It did not come. I was sure she had forgotten me. Then, three months after she departed, the terrible storm struck Melcombe Regis and I found myself facing death by drowning in the parlor of our home.
  2. Historical fiction is a tough sell in my middle grade world. It’s books like this one with action and adventure that should attract reluctant historical readers.
  3. I was glad to live in the present after learning about the less than fair justice system at the time. Also, the details about life in London were fascinating.
  4. Oliver makes a great character—one you hope strongly for his success—and the affection for his sister was heartwarming.
  5. One of the characters is based on a real person. The distasteful Jonathan Wild was one of Great Britain’s worst criminals.

ADVICE FROM AVI FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO WRITE:

I believe reading is the key to writing. The more you read, the better your writing can be.

Listen and watch the world around you. Try to understand why things happen. Don’t be satisfied with answers others give you. Don’t assume that because everyone believes a thing it is right or wrong. Reason things out for yourself. Work to get answers on your own. Understand why you believe things. Finally, write what you honestly feel, then learn from the criticism that will always come your way. (For more see Avi’s author web site)

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

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THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SHARKS

Just in time for Shark Week is this stunning achievement from photojournalist, Brian Skerry. The Ultimate Book Of Sharks goes far beyond anything you’ve seen in movies or read about in middle grade books.

Beautiful photographs intermix with text covering eight chapters. They each are a WOW experience.

  1. SPECTACULAR SHARKS: Your journey begins here with a look at the eight orders that classify approximately 500 species. The Frilled Shark was one of my favorites.
  2. EXPLORING SHARK ANATOMY: Learn about shark senses and their unique abilities. You’ll marvel at their extra sense known as electroreception.
  3. THE SECRET LIVES OF SHARKS:  Find out how sharks spend their time roaming the oceans and their battle for survival.
  4. THE FINTASTIC TEN: Featured are ten sharks that stand out due to their size, smarts, and special skills. Pictures of the Great White and the Basking Shark are two that will have you mesmerized.
  5. SHARK MYTHS BUSTED!: Sharks have small brains, attack humans on sight, and the oceans would be better without them…or maybe not. What is fact or fiction is explored with definitive answers.
  6. COLOSSAL FOSSILS: Sharks have called the ocean their home for some 450 million years—take that dinosaurs! You might even find a tooth fossil if you live near one of the worldwide cities pictures on the map.
  7. SUPER SHARKS: And the winner is… Twelve different categories provide the answer. From most acrobatic to the spookiest looking, you’ll be returning to this chapter more than once.
  8. BE A SHARK DEFENDER: Find out what you can do to be a friend of sharks. Even a group who had their lives changed by a shark bite have joined the cause.

Each chapter includes two special features sure to impress. The first is called SKERRY ENCOUNTER as the author shares his experiences learning about various sharks. The second is a two page spread known as MOMENT OF AHHH!?!! These pictures are priceless. Check out samples of Brian’s photos of sharks and other sea animals on his Instagram page.

This book is a not to be missed addition for your child’s room, school library, or tucked away for those long car trips this summer. Adults will also love this fantastic resource. It would make a great gift for shark enthusiasts and anyone who has a passion for making sure our oceans have a long productive future.

Spend a few minutes with the author in the video below. He gives you a peek at his life as a photojournalist with pictures from the book.

Here’s the complete overview from National Geographic:

Dive into the wild world of sharks! Get up close to learn the truth behind these fantastic, ferocious fish with famed National Geographic photographer and explorer Brian Skerry.

Join this amazing underwater adventure to track the sharks of the world, from the teeniest dogfish to the everfeared great white. This ultimate book features every species of shark on the planet, with awesome photos, fascinating facts, the latest science, and firsthand stories of real-life encounters with these incredible creatures. Learn how sharks live, how they eat, the challenges they face, and whether or not you are actually on the menu!

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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 Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 7/19/18

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

  1. For dog lovers out there here are some dog-inspired books to ease those ruff days of summer.
  2. I’ve heard authors lament the time it takes to have a book sold to a publisher. Here’s an exception with the upcoming ORPHAN’S OF THE TIDE, snapped up in under 24 hours.
  3. There seems to be a new Marvel Comic book movie coming out every year. Now they’re going to reel in young readers with a new middle grade comic series featuring all of your superheroes.

I’ll be back on Friday with the most fantastic non-fiction title this year: THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SHARKS.

Posted in Middle Grade News | Tagged | 3 Comments

MMGM for 7/16/18

Click on a hot but cool July sun to reach each blogger’s post.

I’m turning over this top spot to one of our all-star bloggers. Each Monday a different reviewer will take the baton. Leading the MMGM parade today is Rosi Hollinbeck. She’s  an author and every week features a review and a giveaway. Click on the sun to read her newest—BEHIND THESE HANDS by Linda Vigen Phillips—and comment for a chance to win a copy!
I’ve moved down a notch but I’m still here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE with a review of CLUTCH by Heather Camlot. Read all about this first book in my series on the nurturing of MG Books.
Author June McCrary Jacobs is featuring a recently-released piece of historical fiction by award-winning author Kirby Larson entitled ‘Code Word Courage‘.
Iron Guy Carl is back at a new web site! The World Cup has just wrapped up and he has a few soccer books to recommend beginning with WHAT IS THE WORLD CUP?
Kara Armstrong at Scribbles of an Aspiring Author has a review of The Book Jumper, by Mechthild Gläser. 
Completely Full Bookshelf recommends Brave by Svetlana Chmakova (the sequel to AWKWARD, the book reviewed last week).
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal is reviewing a MG fantasy, Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron.
Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers heads back in time  for this week’s MMGM with a review of Encyclopedia Brown Carries On by Donald J. Sobol.
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.
Author Dorine White has a review and GIVEAWAY of The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
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 , | 2 Comments

CLUTCH

WELCOME TO MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

This is the first book in my quest to provide support to past MG titles. I call it The Nurturing of Middle Grade Books. They take time to grow and I’m adding a little fertilizer to four titles you may have missed. First up is CLUTCH.

Life’s struggles are enormous for Joey Grosser in 1946 Montreal. His father recently died and he’s having to take over the responsibilities of being the man in the house much too early. This includes working at the family store and caring for his younger brother, David.  Joey’s heartfelt narration is emotional and honest as he nears the day of his bar mitzvah.

It’s not so much a book about baseball, but about the parallels of Joey’s real life situation to young Jackie Robinson who plays for the local minor league Montreal Royals. It’s one of those stories that urge you to read one more chapter, and I sailed through it in just two days. It was a much easier choice than the many facing Joey. He’s a brave boy you’ll cheer for, and his story will stay with you for a long time.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 240

THE PLOT

Something incredible is happening in Montreal. Jackie Robinson is playing for the Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Triple-A team. As the first black man to sign a contract in modern organized baseball, Jackie’s going to change the world. Just a short distance away, 12-year-old Joey Grosser has big plans, too. He’s going to break out of the Plateau, his poor Jewish dump of a neighborhood, and make a better life for his mother and little brother on the other side of Park Avenue, where the rich people live. All he needs is money, and he’s got plenty of ideas on how to get it. But every step forward is two steps back, and he turns to the wrong man for help.

One decision will determine Joey’s fate-and whether he’ll live long enough to see Jackie Robinson make baseball history.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

CLUTCH by Heather Camlot

  1. Each chapter begins with a quote about Jackie Robinson from a sports journalist at the time. It mirrors the problems in Joey’s life, not one of color but of trying to rise above being poor.
  2. Ben, his best friend, is a integral part of the story. He’s the kind of friend everyone should have. Younger brother, David, is also a needed side character—always searching for that next newspaper article about his baseball hero.
  3. Kudos to the author for creating such a distasteful antagonist in Mr. Wolfe. I cringed in every scene he appeared.
  4. While some books proclaim to be a coming of age story and then never deliver, CLUTCH gives readers a grand slam.
  5. Images of the Montreal from long ago become the perfect setting for this story of a boy learning about life and growing up.

FAVORITE LINES:

We’re not going to be trapped here much longer. My bar mitzvah may not be until October, but I became a man the minute Pa dropped dead. It was living in this dump that killed him, I know it. But it’s not going to get us, too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Heather Camlot:

I grew up in Montreal and was raised on Expos baseball and Canadians hockey. Oddly, I was never a sporty child. I preferred reading, drawing and dreaming.

I graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and from New York University with a Master of Arts in Journalism. My work has appeared in various publications, including Quill & Quire, Style at Home, Canadian Living, The Globe and Mail, Homemakers and TV Guide Canada

After fifteen years in journalism as a writer, editor and translator, I longed to get back to fiction, something I used to write as a teenager. My short story, The Boys of Summer, won the 17th Annual Writing for Children Competition held by CANSCAIP and The Writers’ Union of Canada. Clutch is my first novel. I live in Toronto with my husband, Marc, and my kids, Alexandre and Juliana, but still call Montreal home.  (For more see Heather’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 Middle Grade Book Reviews, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Nurturing of Middle Grade Books

A pile of MG books is nearby, waiting for me to read. The mini-tower sometimes reaches two feet, although now it’s down to about four books. Each one is a promise for a review and I’ll do exactly that before the agreed upon date.

Unless you are publishing a book about a certain wimpy kid, middle grade books don’t make a huge splash when they’re released. For sure there are blog tours, online reviews, and author interviews, but MG books often float around for a year or two before finding their audience. It comes by word of mouth from bloggers, librarians, teachers, and parents.

Instead of the middle grade book launch being called a book birthday, I liken it more to a just planted seedling, waiting for the needed water and fertilizer. Sites like mine and the many others out there (See MMGM links) provide the nutrients for growth. Each mention allows the book to sprout and get noticed in the world.

Which brings me to my second source for books, one many of us call our To Be Read (TBR) list. For me its a notebook with titles I want to read when time allows. Some have been on there too long. The titles come from other bloggers, internet buzz, and social media. I hit this list with renewed passion when the month of June rolls around. It’s the time of the year to take a big breath and read… a lot. Seedlings now, but soon they’ll grow and be noticed by a wider audience.

Since June 1st, I’ve read eight on my list and over the remaining weeks of summer I’d like to provide a little fertilizer to four of those titles. The first review will come Monday and I’ll scatter the other three around in between promised reviews and most certainly by the time school begins in late August. Here are my favorites I’ll be sharing:

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 Book Lists, Middle Grade Book Reviews, Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments