MMGM for 10-14-2019

        

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

CLICK ON A MARBLE TO REACH A BLOGGER’S POST

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing WEIRD LITTLE ROBOTS by Carolyn Crimi.

Natalie Aguirre has a guest post by debut author Jennifer Camaccia and agent Stacey Glick; a giveaway of her contemporary THE MEMORY KEEPER; and a query critique by Stacey.

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf reviews The Jumbie God’s Revenge, by Tracey Baptiste.

June McCrary Jacobs  at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, features some middle-grade historical fiction book lists.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea gives a look at Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord.

Joanne Fritz has a Giveaway of a hardcover copy of A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY by Nicole Valentine, along with photos from her book launch in Pennsylvania.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews Small Spaces by Katherine Arden.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL features Mia Mayham Breaks Down Walls by Kara West, a spunky superhero chapter book.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading gives us her take on The Battle by Karuna Riazi.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of Free Lunch by Rex Ogle. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS features her review of The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including THE OTHER, BETTER ME.

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
(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

WEIRD LITTLE ROBOTS

It’s another edition of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY with a new middle grade book on the shelves this Fall.

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THE PLOT (From Penguin Random House) Nine-year-old Penny Rose has just moved to a new town, and so far the robots she builds herself are her only company. But with just a bit of magic, everything changes: she becomes best friends with Lark, has the chance to join a secret science club, and discovers that her robots are alive. Penny Rose hardly remembers how lonely she used to feel. But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she’s always hoped for and the club she’s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price.

MY THOUGHTS Twenty years ago I would have picked up a book like this to find it was about two science loving boys. Thank goodness we’ve progressed with a story about two girls and their unique science-focused interests. Penny Rose makes intricate robots from discarded parts while Lark is a bird watcher who builds and decorates bird houses.

Numerous full page illustrations appear throughout, each a welcome addition to the nicely paced plot. At its core, Weird Little Robots is a story about friendship. Not only what that means, but the elements needed to make it last. The third person narration stays close to Penny Rose, new to all this friend business. Her choices aren’t always the right ones, but she learns from her mistakes.

There’s never an explanation why the robots are alive, but it doesn’t really matter. We’ll leave it as magic. Each of the robots has a unique personality they only share with the two girls. But when the stereotypical boy bully gets involved their friendship is tested.

The positive messages put forth and the read-aloud potential with the mostly short 32 chapters are the main reasons to give this one a go. Readers will also find messing around with science stuff is hard to resist.

PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 240

laugh2FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:laugh2

WEIRD LITTLE ROBOTS by Carolyn Crimi

  1. The author has written picture books in the past and her switch to middle grade is pulled off in seamless fashion.
  2. The names of the robots: iPam, Clunk, Sharpie, Data, and Fraction.
  3. Girls can do anything is the theme proudly portrayed.
  4. The girls create roboTown for their family of robots. It’s full of lights and reused items the robots enjoy. Kids might be building their own after reading about this one.
  5. A Secret Science Club with its roots going back to 1969 was a great connection as to why it existed in the first place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Crimi was born and raised on Long Island, New York, and now lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband Alfonso, and their two cats, Oscar and Mama. Carolyn received her B.A. from Lake Forest College. The author of several previous children’s books, a travel guide, and numerous magazine articles and stories, she also teaches adult education courses in writing for children.

(For more visit Carolyn’s web site and don’t miss her pointed view on celebrities who write children’s books).

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I received an ARC from the publisher for my honest review. If you have time, please comment below.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Polly AND Buster: The Wayward Witch & the Feelings Monster

61iyNG8NXlLThis first book in the series comes to America from Australia’s best selling female author, Sally Rippin. The third person narration stays close to our young witch, Polly, as she hides her friendship with Buster. In the witching world monsters are disgusting creatures one should never get near. Polly can’t understand that thinking since Buster is the most faithful companion anyone could have.

Themes of family, peer pressure, being a good friend, and acceptance of others weave their way through the fast paced story. Illustrations scattered throughout add a whimsical touch.  Here’s a sample. The book is a perfect addition to an emerging reader’s shelf, especially those who enjoy fantasy.

THE OFFICIAL PLOT (From Kane Miller):

If Polly and Buster walk past each other in the street, they never say hello. After all, who ever heard of a witch being friends with a monster? But every day after school, Polly climbs to the top of their tree and calls out, “Awroooooo!” And Buster always comes. Yet one day, Polly and Buster’s schools go on a field trip to the same museum on the same day, and things go horribly awry. When their secret friendship is exposed, Polly must make the hardest decision of her life.

All she’s ever wanted is to fit in and be a great witch … but is she willing to lose her best friend for it?

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With read-aloud potential, Polly and Buster are great characters and you’ll find parallels to some of us human creatures. Although the title fits in well with Halloween just around the corner, it’s not a Halloween story. The book can be enjoyed anytime of the year. In our own world filled with hate in the headlines every day, a story like this proves kindness always wins out.

A Little Bit About the Author

Sally Rippin was born in Darwin, but grew up mainly in South-East Asia. As a young adult she lived in China for three years, studying traditional Chinese painting. Sally has over seventy books published, many of them award-winning, including two novels for young adults. Her work includes the highly acclaimed Polly and Buster trilogy and the popular Billie B Brown and Hey Jack! books, which became the highest selling series for 6-8 year olds in Australia within the first year of their release. Sally is Australia’s highest selling female author and her books have sold more than 4.5 million copies in 14 languages. (For more visit Sally’s author web site)

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Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join the MMGM parade, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). 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 please don’t forget to say what book or author 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 | Tagged , | 2 Comments

CAT SCIENCE UNLEASHED

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Last year I featured a review of DOG SCIENCE UNLEASHED, using my own dog for the series of fun and revealing experiments. This new companion title is devoted to our feline friends. I currently don’t have a cat, but the fascinating series of experiments made me want to reconsider. Here’s the background from National Geographic KIDS:

Cat Science UnleashedFun Activities to Do With Your Feline FriendCat Science Unleashedcontains 22 safe and cat-friendly activities that let you work alongside your cat to discover how your amazing feline friend thinks, moves, drinks, stays warm, gets clean, cools off, and more.   Step-by-step instructions, clear and interesting scientific explanations, and cool photographs shot specifically for this book reveal how catnip affects your kitty, how she can see so well in the dark, why she always lands on all fours and techniques for testing her vitals and tracking her fitness.  Also includes a behind-the-scenes look at current feline research. 

The experiments are conducted by a panel of 11 kid testers and their own cats. Arranged in four themed chapters. it made for interesting reading despite not doing the experiments myself.

Chapter One, FIT FELINES, covers the amazing agility of cats and all things for their health.. There are tests of balance, a check of vital signs, and tracking your cat’s fitness routine.

Chapter Two, SENSATIONAL SENSES, explores hearing, sight, taste, and smell. You even get to make a terrific toy for your kitty.

Chapter Three, PURRFECT PREDATORS, looks at their territorial instincts and memory.  There’s also a fascinating experiment as to how hunger affects play.

Chapter Four wraps the study up with CLEVER KITTIES, a look at inside the minds of cats. Teach your cat a secret code, discover their unique traits, and check if they are right or left pawed.

Each chapter ends with an “in the LAB” feature. My favorite was on Vincent, a cat fitted with prosthetic legs, made possible through the dedication of Mary Sarah Bergh of the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine.

A Glossary and a page of resources round out the impressive effort.

If you have a cat or are about to get one, get to know your friend on a whole different level with your own copy of CAT SCIENCE UNLEASHED.

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MMGM for 10/7/2019

       

IT’S ANOTHER MONTH OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAYS!

CLICK ON A LINK TO REACH A BLOGGER’S POST

ALWAYS in the MIDDLE (that’s me) reviews STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS by Charles Suddeth.

June McCrary Jacobs (Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic) features  additional background on STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS. Included is an author interview and a GIVEAWAY.

Natalie Aguirre (Literary Rambles) is interviewing debut author Sharon Mayhew and giving away her MG historical fiction, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN.

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf hasa  hard to put down book: The Dark Lord Clementine, by Sarah Jean Horwitz.

Susan Uhlig shares two reviews. Click this link for her take on the mysterious ORPHAN ISLAND.

Susan’s second link leads you to JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR. I hope she enjoyed this one as much as I did.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea shares a few thoughts on Lucky Luna by Diana Lopez.

Suzanne Warr at Tales From The Raven puts the spotlight on Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier.

Dorine White at The Write Path reviews Awesome Achievers by Alan Katz.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews  Dream Within a Dream, by Patricia MacLachlan, a heartwarming story about multi-generational families

Ben Langhinrichs is back! At My Comfy Chair he has Amy Makechnie’s The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS features The Math Kids: An Unusual Pattern by David Cole (The Math Kids #3).

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of SMACK DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF MAYBE by Jo Watson Hackl. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including ROLL WITH IT.

Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers reviews Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs.

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
(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 Uncategorized | 1 Comment

STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS

IT’S ANOTHER EDITION OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Stone Man by Charles Suddeth

Driven to Stone Man’s trail…

After U.S. soldiers attack twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s Cherokee village, his family flees to the Smokey Mountains. Facing storms, flood, and hunger, they’re forced to go where Stone Man, a monstrous giant, is rumored to live.

His family seeks shelter in an abandoned village, but soldiers hunt them down. Tsatsi and his sister Sali escape, but Sali falls ill and is kidnapped by Stone Man. Tsatsi gives chase and confronts the giant, only to learn this monster isn’t what he seems.

Their journey is a dangerous one. Will Tsatsi find the strength to become a Cherokee warrior? And will they ever find their family?

A fast paced story sure to please historical fiction fans.

It’s a dangerous journey for Tsatsi and his sister. At the young age of twelve he has to become the leader and find safety, even though the rest of his family is gone. The two are almost always wet, cold, and hungry.

First person narration is the perfect point of view for the story. Each chapter ends with an enticing surprise or cliffhanger, which in turn keep the pages turning. Renegades, the Calvary, or sickness will for sure spell their doom, unless they can put their trust with the Stone Man.

The fourteen chapters are further divided into titled subsections, making this a good selection for a read aloud. Historical notes about the Trail of Tears are included in the back along with a glossary of words—both ones used in English and Cherokee.

An important story to tell and yes, good people do make life worthwhile.

PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 162

laugh2FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:laugh2

STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS by Charles Suddeth

  1. The story starts off at a frantic pace and doesn’t let up, sure to pull in readers who normally don’t read historical fiction.
  2. Tsatsi is a great character. He wants to take charge but his childlike size keeps him from doing so at times. Still though, he would rather die himself than have his sister hurt.
  3. The Stone Man was a welcome presence. You’ll be changing you mind about him right along with the two main characters.
  4. The Trail of Tears is not a well remembered part of our history. This story will help fill you in and erase any misconceptions.
  5. The ending. Perfectly executed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Charles Suddeth

Although I was born in Indiana and I grew up in Michigan, I have spent most of my life in Kentucky. I live in Louisville with my two cats, Binks and Wendy (Wendy says it should be Wendy and Binks). I am a graduate of Michigan State University. I have also done graduate work at MSU, Spalding University, and the University of Louisville. I am a member of Green River Writers, SCBWI (society of children’s books writers and illustrators, Midsouth), and International Thriller Writers.

(For more about Charles and his books visit his author website, Twitter, and Facebook page)

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I received an arc from the publisher for my honest review.

If you have time, please comment below.

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

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?

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Last March I featured the first book in this new edition of the crime fighting thief, WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? Since then there have been even more releases to keep both old and new fans up to date with their favorite globe trotting heroine who steals from the bad guys.

Here’s a brief rundown: The second season of Carmen Sandiego launched this week on NETFLIX with 10 new episodes. There’s a board game available at Walmart and Houghton Mifflin has a wide variety of books for every kind of reader with a new selection of graphic novels, stories, and the interactive guidebook pictured above.

Here’s the official scoop on this fun paperback:

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? She’s traveling by air and by sea, over land and on foot. Just when you think you’ve found her, she slips away again! Lucky for you, she’s on your side. Grab your passport and explore the geography and unique cultures across the globe, from Rio to New York and Morocco to Milan, while searching for items of all sorts in this seek-and find-book featuring full-color illustrations and photography.

Each of the 10 destinations feature a little background with information about currency, food, and demographics. Next comes facts and photos of specific locations where the spies might be hiding. For instance, in France there’s a look at Mont Saint-Michel, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, River Seine, and Notre Dame de Paris.

Wrapping things up in the final two pages of every destination is a two page colorful spread. It’s an illustration of a crowd like you’re spying on them through a security cam. You have to find people and items hidden within the image. Great fun and entertaining, especially for those of us more visual.

The book will appeal to Carmen fans or anyone else who likes a quick, eye opening look at the world.

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Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join the MMGM parade, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). 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 please don’t forget to say what book or author 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, Middle Grade News, New Release | Tagged | 3 Comments