INNOVATORS and THE OREGON TRAIL

Here are two titles in Nomad’s Press BUILD IT YOURSELF series that are unique in their approach and presentation.

INNOVATORS: THE STORIES BEHIND THE PEOPLE WHO SHAPED THE WORLD is about the products, processes, and improvements people created and implemented. This is not a tired recap of all the male inventors. Many famous men do find their way to the pages, but you will also marvel at the unheard of women and the job they did to make our world function the way it does today.

Organized into six chapters, each begins with an important essential question that challenges young readers to become innovators themselves. The chapter titles give a good hint at what to expect:

  1. The Medical World
  2. Solving Problems With Science
  3. Happiest at Home
  4. Engineering New Solutions
  5. Hands-on Technology
  6. Innovative Accidents

Within the pages you will learn fascinating stories of innovators like Dr. Virginia Apgar who developed a system to evaluate a baby’s health at birth, America’s first female astronomer—Maria Mitchell, and naturalist Rachel Carson. Not all is serious though as you also meet Mary Anderson (windshield wipers), Marion Donovan (disposable diapers), and Ruth Graves Wakefield (Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies) among others.

Also included are QR codes that will take you off to the World Wide Web to learn more. Each chapter ends with a series of projects that are sure to peak the interest and challenge budding engineers and scientists.

This title is the perfect book for tweens who are already wondering what they’ll do with their careers. Innovation is within reach for anyone with a creative idea… and INNOVATORS demonstrates that the journey is doable.

####

THE OREGON TRAIL is an in-depth account of the iconic wagon wheel emigration trail that stretched for 2,170 miles from Missouri to Oregon. A two-page timeline sets up what is to come and the last entry even includes the popular Oregon Trail video game from the 1970s.

The chapters begin with a look at the land deal, opening up the western half of the United States that was originally British, French, and Spanish Territory. France sold the Louisiana territory to the United States for just three cents an acre!

Next the explorers are covered with an emphasis on Lewis and Clark and how they enlisted the help of Sacagawea. Two and a half years and 7,680 miles later they returned to Missouri as heroes.

Traveling west was now in the sights of many and the emigration push began. You’ll find fascinating stories of life on the trail and the people who made it a reality. It was a tough journey by wagon train as there were dangerous encounters with rivers and Native Americans. Even babies were born on the trail.

The Oregon Trail doesn’t stop at the journey but delves into chapters on what kind of life was at the end of the trail for families. You also get a look at how the transcontinental railroad was built, making travel much easier to the west (Unless you ran into Butch Cassidy along the way!).

Fun and immersive projects are presented at the end of each of the six chapters. They are great extensions in the classroom or for the independent explorer at home. As with every BUILD IT YOURSELF title in this Nomad Press series, you’ll find a glossary in the final pages with a summary of the important words. And I love those QR codes to extend understanding beyond the pages.

THE OREGON TRAIL is a superb addition to anyone’s historical non-fiction library shelf. Never boring and always fascinating, jump on board the next wagon and enjoy the ride.

*********************************

Coming up next Monday is another:
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 , , , | 1 Comment

MMGM for 2/19/18

The #MMGM LINKS for February 19, 2018

(Click on a PRESIDENT’S DAY button to visit their site)

I’m reviewing INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS. You can scroll down to read (Also linked via the President’s Day button).
Carl at Boys Read Boys Rule! discusses the books in the Cybil’s non-fiction category and his experience as a judge.
Ashlyn Avery at What Shall We Read Next is back with a review of The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.
Author June McCrary Jacobs is featuring a non-fiction middle grade read by Author Sarah Wassner Flynn entitled, ‘1,000 Facts About the White House’. Check out her giveaways, too!
Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven spotlights The Sweetest Thing, by Sherri Winston.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal is reviewing The Theory of Hummingbirds by Michelle Kadarusman.
Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers returns with a review of The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner.
BOOKS 4 LEARNING has a feature on the classic A WRINKLE IN TIME.
Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story has a review of the newest Newbery, HELLO, UNIVERSE.
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!
*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 MMGM Links | 2 Comments

INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

It’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Take an armless girl, a boy with Tourette’s who barks a lot, and another boy who is overweight and you have a story that is both funny and memorable. Aven, Connor, and Zion are the kids everyone stares at (and sometimes makes fun of), so this trio ends up eating lunch anywhere but the cafeteria.

Aven is adopted and has just moved with her parents to Arizona who are taking over the job of running an old Western theme park. Her spot on and often hilarious narration bring the story to a surprising conclusion. Along the way there is a mystery she and her new friends try to solve concerning tarantulas and the never seen person who owns the park.

With her two supportive parents, Aven learns more about herself and how to cope with the feelings of others. The times she spends with Connor and Zion are heartfelt and realistic.  I liked this one a lot and can see why it became a Cybil’s finalist.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 272

FULL PLOT (From Amazon)

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

  1. Aven blogs. She never realizes until later the impact her words have on others.
  2. Approaching your problems with a positive outlook is something we should all do more of, especially MG kids.
  3. Stagecoach Pass, the less than spectacular theme park, is the perfect setting for the story. I wanted to explore this place more.
  4. Each of the three characters has unique personalities and different home situations. It was not only acceptance of disabilities but acceptance of where you live.
  5. The themes here are rich for discussion, especially since Tourette’s Syndrome is rarely covered in literature in such an understanding way. You will also marvel how Aven is able to use her feet in situations normally needing arms.

FAVORITE LINES

The boy looked from my face down to my non-arm area and exclaimed. “Whoa! You don’t have any arms,” in a Were you aware of this fact? sort of way.

His response to my missing arms was so direct, I had to smile. I glanced down and shrieked, causing him to jump a little. “Oh my gosh! I knew I was forgetting something today.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her web site):  

DUSTI BOWLING grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. But it wasn’t until after starting down a couple of different career paths that Dusti realized her true passion was writing. She currently lives in Carefree, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, one bobcat, a pack of coyotes, a couple of chuckwallas, several rattlesnakes, and a few herds of javelina.

EXTRAS

Discussion guide for INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

See Dusti’s YA Books

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

GREETINGS FROM WITNESS PROTECTION!

Today’s bonus review is a cover that grabbed be from the get go:

The book jacket blurb had me anxious to immerse myself in the story:

The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.

The story moves along at a nice pace as 13-year-old Charlotte (the former Nicki) moves in and spends a school year with the displaced family. She’s been in foster care ever since her grandmother died so she’s well versed in adjusting to a new family. She likes the parents, but their son (her fake new brother) is not nearly as likeable. Jackson is obviously upset with the whole situation and has an attitude throughout.

Told in first person through Charlotte’s eyes, there are several chapter endings giving us an update on the bad guys pursuit of the Trevors. The school scenes ring true with the different types of kids you find in a middle school. Charlotte is far from perfect with some rather interesting skills she’s picked up.

My only negative was the tidy climatic scene that had me saying “Come on. Really?” It brought the side plots together in too convenient a fashion. Regardless, it didn’t ruin the story for me. An entertaining read that has a hint of a sequel on the final page.

With some light language and a few violent scenes, I’d recommend this one to the higher end of Middle Grade (grades six and seven).

***********************************************

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 Reviews | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A CYBIL’S WINNER

Congratulations to this years Cybil’s Middle Grade Fiction winner:

You can view all the winners at the Cybil’s site.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

MMGM for 2/12/18

LOVE IS IN THE AIR FOR THIS WEEK’S #MMGM

The LINKS for February 12, 2018

(Click on a VALENTINE HEART to give their site some love)

I’m featuring AMINA’S VOICE. You can scroll down to read (Also linked via my Valentine heart).
June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic has a non-fiction STEAM feature— ‘MAKE: Fabric and Fiber Inventions’ by Kathy Ceceri. The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one print copy to a fortunate US winner!
Carl at Boys Read Boys Rule! has either the best or the worst for you Dave Barry fans.
Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has a guest post by debut author Linda Williams Jackson and her agent Elizabeth Bewley with a giveaway of Linda’s MG historical fiction MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal has a perfect book to enjoy when not watching the Winter Olympics: Avalanche! (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson.
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso is featuring Sophie Kinsella’s madcap romp Fairy Mom and Me.
Author Melissa Roske has an interview with MG author Elly Swartz.
Linda Williams Jackson at Project Mayhem has a review of Train I Ride by Paul Mosier.
Books 4 Learning is reviewing All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson.
Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff is reviewing and giving away THE PLAYER KING.
It was a pleasure to meet Karen Yingling, in town for the ALA Midwinter Conference. She always has great MMGM picks. 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!
*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 MMGM Links | 1 Comment

AMINA’S VOICE

Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

In just two days the Cybil’s awards will be announced. I was honored to be on the five member judging panel for Middle Grade Fiction. I’ve now read all seven nominees. Last year I reviewed five of the seven (Armstrong & Charlie, Restart, Refugee, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, and Caleb & Kit). Next week I’ll post a review of INSIGNIFICANT EVENT IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS and today is the other selection I recently finished—AMINA’S VOICE.

Be sure to stay tuned for Wednesday’s big announcement.

Amina’s Voice is a rather quiet story that makes a big noise. It will have you thinking about other cultures/traditions and how they differ from your own. Most of all it weaves a tale of acceptance for everyone no matter  their beliefs or religion choice.

Amina (Ah min Ah) is a Pakistani-American girl who tells her story of life as a sixth grader in a middle school and the life she has at home in a Milwaukee Muslim community. Her best friend is Korean and their friendship is tested when another girl becomes a part of their group. Amina likes to stay in the background, especially when in front of an audience. She’s been in the states for most of her life so she shares many of the likes kids her age have. The Voice is her favorite TV program and although she herself has a beautiful voice, she has never felt confident enough to sing out on stage.

When her uncle comes for a visit, Amina struggles with the American she has become and the Muslim traditions her family surrounds her with. She tries to balance both. The result is a story that won’t have you laughing, but it does give you a deep sense of what life is like in middle school and a much bigger appreciation for other cultures.

Overall, it’s a celebration of diversity and togetherness.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 208

FULL PLOT (From AMAZON)

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: AMINA’S VOICE

  1. The spot on relationship between Amina and her older brother. She can’t understand how this kid she used to know can be changing so quick.
  2. Being a twelve year old is not easy these days. It’s often a time of constant worry. We need stories like this one that will ring familiar and support this age group.
  3. Togetherness and community—exactly what is celebrated on the pages.
  4. Oh man! The food is everywhere in this story. It had my stomach hungry again after I’d just finished a meal. I do hope to try some of these delicious sounding dishes in my culinary future.
  5. The destructive act of Islamophobia serves to bring together a stronger community. Hurray!

FAVORITE LINES

Uh-Oh! I turn my head back toward Mama to see if she is paying attention, but she is still looking at the Quran. I think back to my moment of panic when my voice left me stranded during the second-grade play. If I couldn’t manage to speak English, which I’m fluent in, on a stage, how would I possibly make our Arabic words in my pathetic accent?

A FINAL THOUGHT FROM THE AUTHOR, HENA KHAN (For the full essay, visit her author web site) :  

…I’m still hopeful that a book like mine will help to start important conversations when we need them more than ever. I hope reading about Amina, and seeing her as a friend, will help foster compassion and tolerance among children of all backgrounds and faiths. And I hope that stories like hers, will help create a generation of kids that will vaguely remember the events of today in the future and wonder how it was ever possible. Please consider reading Amina’s Voice and sharing it with the children in your life. Thank you.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments