MMGM for February 22, 2021

                    december-clipart-holiday-5

It may be cold outside, but you’ll feel a lot warmer reading these reviews and features. Click on a sun to reach a blogger’s post.

carlitos-Mr.-SunAt ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of UNICORN ISLAND by Donna Galanti.

carlitos-Mr.-SunJune McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic has a Fun’ feature: 101 Kids Activities That are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!, plus a link for more resources with activities the authors suggest for indoor games, etc.

carlitos-Mr.-SunPatricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles, a novel about Black youth using their voices to save their neighborhood from gentrification.

carlitos-Mr.-SunRosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of THE SECRET STARLING by Judith Eagle. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

carlitos-Mr.-SunOf Maria Antonia tells us about this year’s Newbery winner, When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller.

carlitos-Mr.-SunKaren Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has a great MMGM review. Check it out along with her other features this past week including a review of I AM DEFIANCE.

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 MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

UNICORN ISLAND

I’m always on the lookout for a great book that won’t discourage young readers from moving up to middle grade novels. Often they choose something too challenging with 400 pages and a typeset sure to make their eyes wander. Well, look no further because I found the perfect one to begin their wondrous time with MG: Unicorn Island. Here’s the official synopsis:

When Sam arrives in Foggy Harbor, population 3,230, all she can see is a small, boring town that’s way too far from home. And knowing that she’s stuck there all summer with her grumpy Uncle Mitch only makes things worse.

But when Sam discovers a hidden trapdoor leading to a room full of strange artifacts, she realizes Foggy Harbor isn’t as sleepy as it seems. With the help of a new friend, Sam discovers an extraordinary secret beyond the fog: an island of unicorns whose fates are intertwined with hers.

Sam is a character you will surely enjoy. She’s curious, not such a great cook, and with her musician mom always getting a new job—she rarely stays in one place very long. Now with Mom over in Europe, Sam is sent to live with Uncle Mitch in South Carolina. Things get off to a rather rocky start. Fortunately she meets a Tuck, an animal loving boy and a friendship begins. Together they uncover the mystery surrounding Unicorn Island, a fog shrouded place beyond the shores, but not too far off in the distant ocean.

Ten chapters and an epilogue have the story moving along at a steady pace. Read-alone or read aloud, Unicorn Island will for sure capture your imagination.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: February 9, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 224

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: UNICORN ISLAND by DONNA GALANTI

  1. Colorful illustrations are a welcome addition throughout the pages. They add to the mood and are beautifully done my Bethany Stancliffe (I’ve included her bio below).
  2. You’ll be satisfied with the story and character arc but will want more. You won’t have to wait long as Book 2 in the series comes out this May.
  3. It was heartwarming to have Sam possibly finding her forever home and a possible father figure.
  4. The Unicorns. They’re sparkling white and the most magical creatures you’ll find anywhere. The author gives us a nice introduction to their world.
  5. The bonus content in the final pages gives background on The History of Unicorns, All About Wyverns, What Does a Veterinarian Do?, Pirates of the Carolinas, and Islands of Wild Horses. They each are informative and even this big adult learned a few new things.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Galanti is the author of the middle grade adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road, which the Midwest Book Review called, “A heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish”. She’s also the author of the follow up, Joshua and the Arrow Realm, and writes the popular Unicorn Island series for Epic, the leading digital platform for kids 12 and under. Donna is a writing contest judge at nycmidnight.com, a member of From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog, and regularly presents as a guest author at schools. She also loves teaching at writing conferences on marketing and craft. When she’s not writing you can find her on Twitter or Facebook where she loves to share all things about her outdoor adventures and children’s books. Donna has lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer, and has had a long career in corporate marketing. Visit her at donnagalanti.com.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Bethany Stancliffe is a Central-Washington-based artist who grew up in the Rockies, where she spent her time building tree forts, reading fairy tales, and filling up sketchbooks. Having had a spectrum of creative interests since childhood, she has found a home in illustration, where design and storytelling meet. Following in the footsteps of her parents, Bethany studied art and illustration at BYU-Idaho. She draws most of her inspiration from nature, films, and childhood adventures and has a love for interesting textures and patterns. When she’s not painting, she enjoys exploring outside with her son, Max, and creating original stories with her husband.

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

I received a copy of the book in return for my honest review. Comments are welcome below!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

THE TIGER’S NEST

On an island nation in the Indian Ocean, the explorers venture through a vast underwater world and take part in a friendly robotics competition. But the tides of good fortune change quickly. Suddenly, Team Cousteau jumps into action to rescue a faculty member from the brink of death. Meanwhile, the team follows the Cruz”s mother”s clues to a magnificent tomb and center of spirituality precariously perched on the side of a cliff. There, Cruz is confronted by a familiar foe who”s determined to stop him from completing his most important mission of all: Retrieving the final pieces of his mother”s cipher. In this life-or-death showdown, Cruz witnesses the ultimate sacrifice and uncovers a hidden message that makes him question his own mortality.

Hard to believe this is Book 5 in the Explorer Academy series. It was September of 2018 when I reviewed THE NEBULA SECRET, the initial story. There’s even a Book 6 due out in October of this year.

In THE TIGER’S NEST Cruz continues his studies on board the explorer ship Orion. He’s a likeable MC who is surrounded by a diverse cast of students and faculty, one of which will meet their death. The pace is a bit slower than previous books, but the climatic ending scenes more than make up for it. There’s also a huge reveal in the final chapter that will send the story off in a new direction.

The strength of the series as always is the connection with science and geography. Also at it’s core is an emphasis on environmental themes. The illustrations throughout (some even full page) are stunning and add to the story’s intrigue.

We’re getting closer to the end and it looks like this next book might wrap things up. Until then, my suggestion is to start from the beginning. You’ll appreciate the character interactions more and understand all the plot nuances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trudi Trueit imagined a career as a novelist ever since writing her first play in the fourth grade. A former TV news reporter and weather forecaster, Trudi has published more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for young readers.

Trudi’s middle grade fiction books include the top selling Explorer Academy series for National Geographic (2018to present), as well as My Top Secret Dares & Don’ts, The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular, and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series (Aladdin). Trudi’s numerous nonfiction titles cover such diverse topics as history, weather, wildlife, earth science, writing, education, and health. Recent releases include Detecting Avalanches & Detecting Volcanic Eruptions (FOCUS Readers); Giant Pandas, Grizzly Bears, and Polar Bears from the Wild Bears series (Amicus).

Born and raised in the Seattle area, Trudi has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She currently lives in Everett, WA with her husband, Bill, a high school teacher. She loves photography, art, and serving the whims of her cats.

Trudi’s Links:

Website: www.truditrueit.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/truditrueit

Twitter:@truditrueit

National Geographic: www.exploreracademy.com

Simon & Schuster: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Trudi-Trueit/46458015

http://pages.simonandschuster.com/aladdinmix

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

Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration:

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 Uncategorized | 4 Comments

MMGM for February 15, 2021

                 presidents day

Click on the little patriot to reach a blogger’s post.

25755At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m  reviewing  National Geographic’s OUR COUNTRY’S PRESIDENTS…

25755And to honor Black History Month I have a bonus review at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE of KINGSTON AND THE MAGICIAN’S LOST AND FOUND.

25755Susan Uhlig is back with us this week and recommends the page-turning fantasy, STORY MAGIC.

25755June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic has a S.T.E.A.M. feature on Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects.

25755Completely Full Bookshelf hits a triple with reviews of Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Witch Boy, The Hidden Witch, and The Midwinter Witch

25755Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers features Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox by Michael Buckley.

25755Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Daily Bread by Antoinette Truglio Martin, a well-written piece of historical fiction loosely based on her family’s immigration from Sicily in 1911.

25755Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of ONE TIME by Sharon Creech. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

25755Maria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA has a featured post on Class Act by Jerry Craft.

25755Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has a great MMGM review. Check it out along with her other features this past week including ENSNARED IN THE WOLF’S LAIR.

25755Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story gives us a look at WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU MANGOS by Kereen Getten.

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 MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

OUR COUNTRY’S PRESIDENTS

Every four years National Geographic does an amazing job getting the newest volume of this iconic series out for readers. The proof comes toward the end with full coverage of the 2020 election and Inauguration that brought Joseph R. Biden to the White House. He’s the 46th President and there is much to love about this massive book. Here are my …

10 REASONS WHY I LIKED:

OUR COUNTRY’S PRESIDENTS

  1. The cover. It’s bold and inviting.
  2. The full page reproduction of each presidents’ official portrait.
  3. It’s organized into six historical periods with an informative timeline.
  4. On the page adjacent to each portrait is an essay on their background, childhood, important events while in office, and what they did after leaving the job.
  5. The Fact Box for each president where you’ll find their signature and an engaging set of facts. Some are rather surprising: Grover Cleveland’s nick name was Uncle Jumbo.
  6. The pages go further than just presenting the Presidents. Almost two dozen two-page spreads scattered throughout give information regarding U.S. History and the operation of the federal government. KIDS IN THE WHITE HOUSE and a look at the lasting influence of FORMER PRESIDENTS were my favorites. Clear, concise, and engaging.
  7. The four page chart with election results for every presidential race.
  8. More than 400 illustrations ranging from period artwork to modern photographs. They each are framed with color and a text description.
  9. The FIND OUT MORE page where you can extend your knowledge through the list of books, Videos/Television programs, Websites, and Place to Visit.
  10. At almost 2 and half pounds the book begs to be displayed. It will also serve as the go to resource for everything presidential.

My vote is in. Our Country’s Presidents is a special book and one that can be enjoyed longer than the next four years.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

KINGSTON and the Magician’s Lost and Found

The greatest Black magicians of the 19th and 20th centuries are likely ones you’ve never heard of before. One of the most prominent was Benjamin Rucker, better known in the day as Black Herman. He along with a few other magicians from the past make an appearance in this engaging new title for middle grade readers.

Twelve year old Kingston and his mom have returned to Echo City, a fictional part of Brooklyn. It’s been more than four years since Kingston watched his magician dad, King Preston, perform a final trick on stage at the famed Mercury Theater. Pop vanished in a mirror and never came back.

Curiosity wins over young Kingston. Along with his cousin, Veronica, and friend, Too Tall, he begins to find clues as to how his dad might be able to reappear. Things don’t go as planned. He loses more than his dad from the get go.

There are tense moments throughout. The writing is crisp and always moving the plot forward. The first person narration spreads out over 39 chapters and an epilogue where it is certain there is more story to tell. That’s what a good series does in keeping you anxious for what might happen next.

I’m glad the release date for KINGSTON and the Magician’s Lost and Found comes during February’s Black History Month. A perfect title with a strong cast of characters and a mystery sure to please. You won’t want to put the book down. If you do it may magically disappear into another reader’s hands.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: February 16, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 288

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: KINGSTON AND THE MAGICIAN”S LOST AND FOUND

  1. Kingston’s story was conceived by best friends and creative business partners Harold Hayes, Jr. and Craig S. Phillips. They chose the pen name Rucker Moses in tribute to one of the greatest real-life Black magicians—Benjamin Rucker. A very cool tie-in to the series.
  2. There are many stories of kids trying to find a missing parent but none have the magic and intrigue of this title.
  3. The adults mostly stay in the background as the mystery unfolds. The kids are the focus and that’s the way it should be.
  4. What is real and what is magic is a line drawn to perfection. You’ll see other worlds and be drawn in with Kingston and the mystery at hand (Slight spoiler there you won’t understand unless your read the story).
  5. Middle grade books are meant for ages 8-12, but this is one of those titles that teens and adults would enjoy.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr. both hail from Atlanta and started telling stories together at the University of Georgia. Together, they’ve been nominated for three Emmys for writing in a children’s program and have written for TV shows based on books by R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike.

They also make virtual reality experiences and own a production company named SunnyBoy Entertainment. In no particular order, their favorite things to write about are ninjas, magic, space, and abandoned amusement parks. When not doing all that, they are hanging with their wonderful families at home in Los Angeles. (WebSite)

*****

Theo Gangi is the author of A New Day in America and the breakout crime thriller Bang Bang. His stories have been anthologized in First Thrills, edited by Lee Child, The Greensboro Review, The Columbia Spectator and the Kratz Sampler. His articles and reviews have appeared in Buzzfeed.com, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mystery Scene Magazine, Inked Magazine and Crimespree Magazine.  A graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts, he has taught writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is the Director of the Writing Program at St. Francis College and lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. (WebSite)

______________________________________

Comments can be left below and I read them all!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

REBEL GIRLS LEAD—25 TALES OF POWERFUL WOMEN

Reach for new heights with Vice President Kamala Harris. Organize voter registration with Stacey Abrams. Spread messages of kindness with Lady Gaga. And captain a team of Olympic gymnasts with Aly Raisman.

This collection of 25 stories includes the most beloved stories of leadership from the first three volumes of the New York Times best-selling series, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. And also features 11 brand new tales of women’s activism, bravery, and vision.

Rebel Girls Lead celebrates the leadership of women from Michelle Obama to Malala Yousafzai. It is illustrated by female artists from around the world.

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

My Thoughts: An inspiring read geared toward girls, but even boys would benefit from the stories presented here. Each Rebel Girl is given a two-page spread. On one side is a detailed background with their birth date. Opposite is an accompanying illustration and quote. The artists are also extraordinary females from all over the world.

I was struck by how many of their careers or causes were sparked by an event that happened in their middle grade years.

*Sonia Sotomayor loved to watch Perry Mason TV shows growing up. It planted the idea to become a lawyer. Despite obstacles thrown in her path she achieved her goal and eventually became a Supreme Court Justice.

*Pat Summitt played hard as a child, always shooting baskets in the hayloft of her family’s dairy farm. Her skills led to becoming a head coach at age 21.

“Michelle Obama’s mother told her “If it can be done, you can do it.” She followed that advice and today she is known as First Lady, a lawyer, and author.

*Kamala Harris ventured out on the streets of Oakland, California in her youth and decided she wanted to help others in times of trouble. Our new vice president has done exactly that in her career.

Each of the 25 stories prove that believing in yourself goes a long way toward achieving life’s goals. Although the stories are short, they will certainly motivate readers to research more. What brings the book full circle are exercises in the back pages. There is a set of questions that ask WHAT KIND OF LEADER ARE YOU? A LEADERSHIP TRAINING section follows to steer you in the right path.

Overall, a terrific addition to the Rebel Girls series. Order your copy here and be sure to check out more great titles on their web site.

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

MMGM for February 8, 2021

                 teddy-bear-clipart-2018-22

Happy early Valentine’s Day to our great MMGM family of bloggers and dedicated readers. Click on a bear to reach a blogger’s post.

bearAt ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of IDA AND THE UNFINISHED CITY by Carolyn Cohagan

bearJune McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic has a historical fiction feature on Author Linda Sue Park’s book, ‘Prairie Lotus’.

bearCompletely Full Bookshelf is recommending Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne.

bearJenni Enzor is featuring Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green.

bearLook who’s back! It’s Kim Aippersbach. She reviews JINXED by Amy McCullough.

bearStephanie Robinson at Fairday’s Blog returns with a review of UNICORN ISLAND by Donna Galanti.

bearPatricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews The Space We’re In by Katya Balin, about a boy who has to learn to deal with the challenges of living with a younger autistic brother.

bearMaria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA has a featured post about Three Keys by Kelly Yang.

bearRosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of BECAUSE OF THAT CROW by Beverley Brenna. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

bearKaren Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has a great MMGM review. Check it out along with her other features this past week including a celebration of her 15 year Blogiversary.

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 MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ida and the Unfinished City

It has been over ten years since the first book in this series was released. THE LOST CHILDREN was about three kids who join together to take on a terrifying villain in another world known as Gulm.

Set four years later, this newest adventure rests on the shoulders of just one of the original children, the tough minded and endearing Ida.

Her shadow pictured on the front cover hints at her dilemma. She’s should be 16 but an evil curse has kept her at age 12. Ida journeys to the Unfinished City where a treatment can supposedly be found. If it works she will return to Gulm and free up the other children trapped in their youth.

Could you dive right in and read this second book before the first? Yes, although by the time you get to the epilogue the pull will be strong to return to where it all began.

Ida is hilariously deceitful. She’s a strong heroine you will cheer for throughout her adventure. In fact the book begins with her winning a card game in a tavern against a gruff looking group of men. The third person narration is crisp and fast-paced and you’ll be guessing as to which of the other characters truly want to help or harm Ida.

The Unfinished City is always rebuilding since it gets wiped out by a yearly flood. An unusual place for sure. Ida meets many new people of all ages and eventually must decide her own fate.

Ida and the Unfinished City is a bold, beautiful, and welcome story for our times.

THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: In this long-awaited sequel to “The Lost Children” (Simon & Schuster 2010), con-artist and tough-girl Ida journeys to the Unfinished City to find a cure for her inability to age. Stuck in the body of a twelve-year-old, Ida longs to look and feel her true age of sixteen. The Unfinished City is the weirdest place Ida has ever visited—on the same day, every year, a flood destroys the whole town, and odder still, the citizens look forward to it! To Ida’s dismay, no one in the Unfinished City wants to explain the mysterious Treatment that could be Ida’s remedy.
Ida begs, borrows, and steals to get what she wants. Will she be able to set her age right and return to her friends Fargus and Josephine before her scheming and lies catch up with her?

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT IDA AND THE UNFINISHED CITY by Carolyn Cohagan

  1. Escapism at it’s finest, and time seemed to take a back seat to the world I was immersed in.
  2. Love the cover. Creative and beautiful.
  3. A serious book but one that made me laugh out loud many times at the character’s spoken lines.
  4. Ida’s feelings wrap themselves around you with understanding and compassion for her dilemma. Strong writing is the only way to pull this off.
  5. The cast of characters are memorable with each bringing their own personalities in their dealings with Ida. Likeable Dunkin was my favorite.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (From Carolyn’s web site)

Carolyn Cohagan

Carolyn Cohagan began her writing career as a stand-up comic, performing in comedy clubs all over the world, including New York, Chicago, London, and Amsterdam. After studying physical theater at the Ecole International de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, she began to write and perform one-woman shows, traveling to theater festivals from Edinburgh to Adelaide. In Los Angeles, Carolyn wrote and directed short films, worked for Slamdance and the LA Film Festival, and was a red carpet host for the Independent Spirit Awards.

    Carolyn’s first novel, The Lost Children, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010, became part of the Scholastic Book Club in 2011, and was nominated for a Massachusetts Children’s Book Award in 2014.

    Her young adult dystopian novel Time Zero (She Writes Press, 2016) won eight literary honors, including the 2017 Readers Favorite Award and the 2017 International Book Award. 

    The sequel, Time Next, was released in 2018 and the final book in the series, Time’s Up, is forthcoming in 2020.

    Carolyn has a BA in Art History from Barnard and an MA in Writing from USC. She is the founder of Girls With Pens, a creative writing organization in Austin for girls ages 8-14. While pop culture and peer pressure are telling tweens and teenagers to be like everyone else, Girls With Pens celebrates individual voices and offbeat imaginations.

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

Comments are always welcome!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

THE STARDUST MYSTERY

The Stardust Mystery illustrated book is a companion to the MissionKT and Building the Universe video games, the STARDUST MYSTERY YouTube channel and the StardustMystery.com/kids/ web page. It follows the lives of cousins Lizzy, Milo, VC, and Neddy as they unravel the Stardust Mystery. Their adventures take them across time during the evolution of the Universe and the history of Planet Earth in the Cosmic Egg time, space and size-change travel ship. They must figure out how everyone alive is made of Stardust that was once in the body of Albert Einstein and the Last T-Rex. They must find out what Stardust is, and how, when, and where it was created.
As the Cosmic Kids team, the cousins enter The Science and The Future Contest, held by the mysterious Dr. Q. The winners will be taken on a trip around the moon! What could be a better gift for the grandfather they love, a former NASA astronaut?
Along the way, they visit Einstein, dinosaurs, and even the Big Bang. To win, they’ll have to use their brains to answer the many science questions, but they’ll also have to use their hearts to come together to solve the problems of family.

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

MY TAKE

Science loving kids and teachers will enjoy this wide encompassing effort. Even those who aren’t will find the exploratory nature and the variety of support materials to their liking. There is much to learn and the fun aspect of the book bring the topics to life in a memorable way.

Told in rotating viewpoints by a group of young cousins, they each bring their own strengths. Readers are alongside throughout the 46 chapters and will be motivated to research even more by going to the Stardust Mystery Kid page, Main Page, or YouTube Channel. Here’s a sample video introducing the book:

There are so many resources (even video games) that the authors made a handy PDF page listing every resource. Teachers and students alike will love the interactive nature of the task in discovering just where did stardust originate and how is it made our world today. Grandpa is a big part of the pursuit and he adds a nice set of resources in the back pages of the book.

THE STARDUST MYSTERY is a unique way to learn about science. Perfect for grades 5 and up, even us more seasoned adults will be learning and saying more than once, “I didn’t know that!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Solomon is a scientist, author and entrepreneur who is devoted to passing on his love for the many wonderful science stories to the younger generation through the media they like best. He believes that integrating science concepts into exciting stories is the best way for children to learn. The birth of his twelfth grandchild was the inspiration for The STARDUST MYSTERY book. The child characters in the story explore the creation of their atoms through time and space travel adventures in the Beamer Virtual World. Solomon was asked by his young book reviewers to create a virtual world that they could use. This inspired a National Science Foundation project to create video games and the Stardust Mystery YouTube channel for science videos to accompany the book. The characters in the story, games and videos were inspired by his grandchildren.

He lives in Connecticut with his wife Sally Moshein Solomon. Sally and two of their children, Jeff Solomon, and Joanne Solomon, took part in inspiring and creating the book. Solomon is working on a second book called The Race to the Big Bang.

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

Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration.

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 , , | 1 Comment