The Book of Queens & The Book of Kings

You’ll find royalty here and not just the kind wearing a crown. Famous leaders from history, scientists, entertainers, and many more are included in two separate colorful hardbacks. First up is THE BOOK OF QUEENS.

Here’s the official proclamation from National Geographic Kids:

51Ia0qn7aSL._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_Empire builders, legendary leaders, revolutionary rebels, powerful pioneers, and more … discover more than 100 wonder women who prove that girls totally rule.

They’re queens wielding scepters and sitting on thrones, they’re revolutionaries on the front lines of change, they’re presidents and prime ministers leading their nation, or they’re CEOs, scientists, sports legends, and artists who are have risen to the top of their fields. Welcome to The Book of Queens, where being a mighty monarch doesn’t just mean wearing a crown. Leaders like these come from all over the globe and have different talents. But most of all? They rule!

Are you ready to be inspired by the most powerful women in history? Some wielded their might for good while others let their power go to their heads. Yet all were powerful people who changed the course of history. From Elizabeth I to Cleopatra to Beyonce, every regal ruler in this book showcases the kind of guts, smarts, and strength it takes to lead. And while there are some wonder women you might recognize, others may leave you wondering why so many brave, smart, and hardworking ladies have gone unnoticed … until now. Whether real-life royals or average Janes who rose to rule, get ready to be inspired by their stories.

MY TAKE: The queens are organized into 8 chapters: EMPIRE BUILDERS; WOMEN OF ACTION; REVOLUTIONARY LEADERS; CULTURAL SHAPERS; MONARCH OF THE ARTS; LEGENDARY LEADERS; QUEENS OF KNOWLEDGE; AND QUEENS OF ADVENTURE.

Many of the women will be familiar but many more will be ones that are overdue in getting praise. I was amazed I’d never heard of Virginia Apgar (Medical Marvel), Bessie Coleman (Flying Queen), or astronomer Jill Tarter (Alien Hunter) as a few examples.

Colorful layouts, pictures, and inspiring text help make this a book a hard one to put down. It ends with a two page spread for young readers as to how they can wear the crown. Five queenly qualities are laid out for them to learn from and each is a lesson in becoming a strong adult.

THE BOOK OF QUEENS would be a great gift for the upcoming holidays.

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The subtitle for THE BOOK OF KINGS made me smile: Magnificent MONARCHS, Notorious NOBLES , and DISTINGUISHED DUDES who ruled THE WORLD. Future distinguished dudes won’t want to waste anytime jumping into this one. Here’s another proclamation from National Geographic Kids:

Mighty monarchs, powerful presidents, legendary leaders … discover more than 100 true 51y77fzktCL._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_stories of magnifcent men who changed the world.

They’re kings wielding scepters and sitting on thrones, they’re revolutionaries on the front lines of change, they’re presidents and prime ministers leading their nations, or they’re CEOs, scientists, sports legends, and artists who rose to the top of their fields. Welcome to The Book of Kings, where being a mighty monarch doesn’t just mean wearing a crown. Leaders like these come from all over the globe and have different talents. But most of all? They rule!

Kids are sure to enjoy meeting these mighty men. Some wielded their might for good while others let their power go to their heads. Yet all are (or were) powerful people who changed the course of history. From Henry VIII to Steve Jobs to Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more, every regal ruler in this book showcases the kind of guts, smarts, and strength it takes to lead. And while there are some kings who you might recognize, others may leave you wondering why so many brave, smart, and hardworking people have gone unnoticed … until now. Whether real-life royals or average Joes who rose to rule, get ready to be inspired by their stories.

MY TAKE TWO: THE BOOK OF KINGS follows the queens with a similar layout, but in different captioned chapters. Find your favorite in EMPIRE BUILDERS, MILITARY MASTERMINDS, RULERS IN REVOLUTION, LORDS OF LEGEND, KINGS Of CREATIVITY, ARISTOCRATS OF ACTION, KINGS OF CHANGE, or KINGS OF KNOWLEDGE.

What a great collection to encourage boys to seek out their own greatness. The information is given in two page spreads or in smaller boxed panels. I enjoyed learning about King Kamehameha, Henry VIII, and Genghis Khan along with more recent outstanding men like Jimmy Chin (Adventure Photographer), Usain Bolt, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Perfect as a source for schoolwork or to use for your own inspiration, history continues to be made with the groundwork laid out by these outstanding Kings. Order a copy today so it will be ready to put under the holiday tree.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

MMGM for 11-18-19

                    

IT’S ANOTHER  MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Click the to reach a blogger’s post

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan.

Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books has a post many of us will relate to with all about her agent journey.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, features The Hero Next Door, three short stories from a collection by We Need Diverse Books.

Faith Hough at Life’s an Art! highlights a lovely out-of-print book: Berries in the Scoop, by Lois Lenski.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea has two graphic novels: Awkward and Crush by Svetlana Chmakova.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of THE DISASTER DAYS by Rebecca Behrens. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL is back with a review of The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer. 

Dorine White at The Write Stuff has an interview with  Jennifer Voigt Kaplan, author of Crushing The Red Flowers (The book I reviewed today).

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS has an audio book review called Nightbooks by J.A. White.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out all of her reviews the past week including SAUERKRAUT.

Mark Baker has THE LAST DRAGON.

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 , , | 1 Comment

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS

A compelling new story about a time rarely exposed to middle grade readers: Germany in 1938. What to expect (From Barnes & Noble):

9781632460950_p0_v2_s550x406.jpgEmil Rosen and Friedrich Weber couldn’t have less in common, but in the summer of 1938, they must both deal with the changes steamrolling through Germany. Friedrich struggles with an uncle in jail and a cruel Hitler Youth leader, while Emil does his best to avoid the blistering anti-Semitism that’s threatening his family. As the rules of yesterday no longer make sense, both boys find comfort at a private spot along the Leine River. Then in the late hours of November 9th, their world explodes, and the two boys are forced together in a race against time that requires Friedrich to risk his life in order to save Emil and his family.

 

PUBLISHED: 2019  PAGE COUNT: 248

MY THOUGHTS: The gripping story unfolds in 28 chapters and the third person viewpoint alternates back and forth from Friedrich to Emil. It’s the perfect way to relay their fears. Other characters interact with the boys in different ways and doing so provides a powerful building of their inner conflict.

The events of the time drive the story, but Emil and Friedrich make it come alive. The many thematic layers grab hold, and you won’t want to put the book down. These include hateful bullying tactics, loyalty to family, governmental rights, and the meaning of friendship.

Hate among Nazis, Jews, and Communists in 1938 led to terrible results. It’s sad to think 81 years has passed, and our ability to get along has progressed very little. Here’s hoping our young people will grasp the ideas put forth here and lead a life without hate.

di48R8RLTFIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUTdi48R8RLT

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan

  1. The tension and inner turmoil for each boy and their families are a continuous thread. You’ll feel each emotion as they do what’s best for the ones they love.
  2. Friedrich, under the guidance of a hateful youth leader, has to make the toughest decisions. His eyebrow twitch was a marvelous foreboding that he’s not happy with the choice of hurting others.
  3. Emil is rather immature but has a sweet disposition. It takes time for him to grip they whys of his world. His tears said it all that their is often no easy answer.
  4. Many questions will surface from young readers and provide opportunity for discussion. A thorough discussion guide is included in the back pages.
  5. The author did extensive research and her Author’s Note detailing the journey to publication is a must read.

FAVORITE LINES:

It’s over! Friedrich thought. Service hours are finally over! He stood to leave.

“And for the last item,” Günter began, but stopped when he spotted Friedrich. Every eye in the room burned into him, the only one standing. His skin prickled. Dread and shame mashed up in his gut. The room swayed. His private demons had betrayed him after all.

Muddy Hell! Friedrich thought. I am next!

About Jennifer Voigt Kaplan (From Jennifer’s Author Web site):

Jennifer Voigt Kaplan is an award-winning author of children’s fiction. Her debut children’s novel, Crushing the Red Flowers, was recognized in six literary contests before its publication, including earning a Letter of Merit for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant and winning the middle-grade category of Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize for Fiction. Jennifer was born in Germany, raised in Philadelphia, and now resides in the New York City area. She holds degrees from the Wharton School of Business in marketing and from the London School of Economics in social psychology.

Outside of writing, Jennifer founded The Public Arts Council, her town’s first organization dedicated to public arts. When she’s not inventing people in her head, she’s painting murals on underpasses, wishing she had more time to watch sci-fi movies, and arguing that there should be no limit on the number of garden gnomes that are considered socially acceptable. She lives with her husband, three children, and a cheeky beta-fish named Bubbles, who thinks it’s hilarious to play dead.

 

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I received a copy of the book for my honest review.

Comment below if you have time!

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If you missed my post this past Wednesday I’m doing a Giveaway of a new National Geographic title: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN. All the details are here as to how to win a hardback copy of this beautiful new book.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

CODE THIS!

Just last week an excited group of kids asked me what was the best way to learn computer programming. I had once taught classes in BASIC and HTML/JAVASCRIPT, but technology has gotten more complex making our devices all that smarter. Anyone can play around with coding concepts, but to become proficient you need to know the backbone of what makes them work.

Ente51xhK2j3r+L._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgr NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS and their perfect timing with CODE THIS!

Here’s the official background on this new engaging title:

Programming concepts come to life in this kid-friendly intro to the basics of computer science and coding, with puzzles, games, and quirky characters.  As part of the Coder Crew and with the help of Cody the Robot, readers are “on a mission” to write algorithms to find hidden treasures, decode ciphers to read secret messages, create loops to program an expedition, and dive into concepts like constraints, debugging and binary code. 

First off, you don’t need a computer while using this title. All the learning takes place through four chapters with paper and pencil coding practice. Using bright, never boring text and layouts, even the novice will soon be writing their own algorithms. Fun challenges put users to task and not only will they be learning how to code, but some of the concepts might help them approach daily problems in a different way.

Optimize, Trial and Error, and Debug.

Solutions to all of the challenges are provided in the AFTERWORD. Then A GO FURTHER section takes programming interest to a more advanced level.  HTML and PYTHON scripts are broken down making each language understandable.

CODE THIS! would be the perfect gift for the coding enthusiast in your life. Computers wouldn’t be that smart without humans writing the code to make them work. This title might be the launching pad for our next generation of coders.

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If you missed my post this past Wednesday I’m doing a Giveaway of another new National Geographic title: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN. All the details are here as to how to win a hardback copy of this beautiful new book.

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Coming up next 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 New Release, non fiction | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY & CULTURE (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

A stunning achievement sure to please middle graders, teachers, and librarians. Here’s the official background from National Geographic:
51RW9Z2V4DL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgMore than 160 tribes are featured presenting a comprehensive overview of the history of North America’s Native peoples. From the Apache to the Zuni, readers will learn about each tribe’s history, traditions, and culture, including the impact of European expansion across the land and how tribes live today. Features include maps of ancestral lands; timelines of important dates and events; fact boxes for each tribe; bios of influential American Indians such as Sitting Bull; sidebars on daily life, homes, food, clothing, jewelry, and games;   To help give kids the lay of the land, this reference is arranged by region, and all federally recognized tribes are included. Tribal members representing each region and experts at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution were involved in its creation.

PUBLISHED: 2019   PAGE COUNT: 304

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WHAT I LOVED ABOUT: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY & CULTURE

bullet4The colorful and amazing photos, many in two page spreads. You’ll immediately feel the history and traditions of indigenous people.

bullet4How the author organized the massive amount of material. Arranged in eight color-coded geographic areas. You can read it in any order.

bullet4Each section includes a detailed time-line with up to 20 key dates in the region’s tribal history. Appealing layout as photos blend in well with the text.

bullet4A DID YOU KNOW? feature which are eye opening and revealing. My favorite? The Nez Perce once owned the largest herd of horses in North America.

bullet4Each chapter ends with a traditional story from one of the tribes. THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY, HOW COYOTE CAME BY HIS POWERS, and THE RABBIT AND THE FROG were three you don’t want to miss.

A book like this could not be called authoritative without the impressive list of consults including members of Native American communities, a social studies curriculum specialist, and Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Indian.

The encyclopedia would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or a young person’s library. There’s something new to learn on each page. I spent literally hours enjoying the stories and facts associated with each tribe. You can do the same by entering the GIVEAWAY of a hardback edition. All you have to do is enter a brief comment below. U.S. addresses only. The winner will be chosen Thanksgiving Eve! Good luck!

Posted in Giveaways, Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

MMGM for 11-11-19

                

HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY!

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON by Gabrielle K. Byrne

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, honors Veterans Day. 2019 with a biography, The Poppy Lady:  Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans.

Suzanne Warr at Tales From The Raven spotlights Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews Homerooms and Hall Passes by Tom O’Donnell.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of WILDFIRE by Rodman Philbrick.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea reviews The Frightful First World War by Terry Deary and Martin Brown.

Jennifer at Readingteacherwrites.org introduces readers to the graphic novel, STARGAZING by Jen Wang.

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 SIDE OF THE WALL.

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

RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON

The road to this review began in 2017 when the author, Gabrielle Byrne, was my mentor in PITCH WARS. Her mentoring advice not only helped make my entry shine, but her advice and words of encouragement have stayed with me in writing other manuscripts.

At that time she was also working on her own story, RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON. I told her I’d love to do a review when it came out. And then last summer, there it was along with an interview on LITERARY RAMBLES. I commented with 42 other people for a chance to win a copy. My name was chosen in the random giveaway.

Our connection complete.

My only thought was, “Uh-oh, I hope I like her story.” Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Here’s the publisher synopsis:

dragon moon.jpgPrincess Toli may be heir to the throne, but she longs to be a fierce hunter and warrior. Alone in a frozen world, her queendom is at the mercy of the dragons that killed her father, and Toli is certain it’s only a matter of time before they come back to destroy what’s left of her family.

When the dragons rise and seize her mother, Toli will do anything to save her―even trust a young dragon who may be the only key to the Queen’s release.

With her sister and best friend at her side, Toli makes the treacherous journey across the vast ice barrens to Dragon Mountain, where long-held secrets await. Bear-cats are on their trail, and dragons stalk them, but the greatest danger might be a mystery buried in Toli’s past.

MY THOUGHTS: The mystical land of Gall unfolds with it’s eerily beautiful skies and its people living mostly in fear of the dragons. The world building shines and the character arcs take flight with the likes of Toli, next in line to be queen; her best friend Wix; and spunky little sister, Petal. The Queendom of Gall is a harsh, worrisome place. The residents are seemingly the only humans left in the world.

Toli’s relationship with Wix and Petal are a shining example of making other characters just as important as the MC. Wix and his youthful wish to become a strong hunter and Petal wanting her sister to trust her more and not treat her like a child were wonderful ties that stayed throughout the story. The dragon personalities were fierce but a few had a sympathetic eye toward the bone bags, a term they use to describe humans.

The set-up for the trip to hopefully save her mother takes up the first half of the book. Every part is necessary as Toli finds a baby dragon, abandoned and alone. There’s also much to do as the trip is treacherous and she knows to trust no one—not even Spar, her mentor. The terrors that await on the trail provide page turning surprises, sure to please  fantasy loving readers.

There’s no mention of a sequel, but the closing scene begs to have one.

laugh2FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUTlaugh2

RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON by Gabrielle K. Byrne

  1. Dragon lovers have another source to feed their passion and they’re in for a surprise. The dragons here are unique and unlike any I’ve ever come across in the many books I’ve read with dragon characters. They do more than just fly. Their personalities and interactions are equally intense to their human counterparts.
  2. The relationship Toli has with her younger sister Petal. It’s real and fraught with emotional intensity. Those with siblings will be nodding at the familiarity in their own lives—minus the dragons of course!
  3. Strong female characters. Toli has the courage to take on heroic tasks and little princess Petal is like a firecracker, never afraid to offer her opinion.
  4. Quick moving, especially during the mountain trek. Scary creatures and death lurking around every turn had me hanging on for the ride.
  5. As I closed the final page, one last thought popped into my head: This would make a great movie!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GABRIELLE KIROUAC BYRNE lives in the rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where she writes fantasy for kids of all ages. Gabby studied opera in Philadelphia, medieval studies in New York, literature in Scotland, and marine biology in the Pacific Northwest, but stories are the common thread that tie all her interests together.

(For more visit Gabrielle’s author web page)

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Make a comment below. They are always enjoyable to read!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments