JOURNEY TO JO’BURG

Apartheid took hold of South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s. Racial segregation was the law and non-whites were treated as a lower class—one that restricted their rights. This re-release of the award winning JOURNEY TO JO’BURG comes as at a perfect time as we continue to witness hatred in our present world.

Although the story is less than 100 pages, you’ll discover the hurt apartheid caused for so many. Author Beverly Naidoo made a great choice in unfolding the story through the eyes of two children, both of whom learn the difficult truth of growing up black in South Africa at the time.

THE OFFICIAL WORD ON THE PLOT

Jo-burg.jpg

Separated from their mother by the harsh social and economic conditions prevalent among blacks in South Africa, thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother make a journey over 300 kilometers to find her in Johannesburg. Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village Naledi and Tiro call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn’t until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.

The new cover shines, depicting the love of a family and the journey they must make to ensure it’s survival. Fifteen short chapters along with several enriching illustrations by Eric Velasquez would serve well as a read aloud and lead to much discussion.

Also added to this new edition are bonus materials including the author relating her life experiences that contributed to writing the story along with a copy of the letter detailing the banning of the story when it was first released. A concise and helpful History of Apartheid closes out the book and will help students understand how this act came about.

The book would make a nice addition to a school or home library. The story will encourage new generations to make sure this awful time is never repeated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beverley Naidoo is the award-winning author of several children’s books, including The Other Side of Truth, No Turning Back, and Chain of Fire. Her books center on political corruption, struggle, and injustices that occur in South Africa. After being exiled, Naidoo moved to England where she married and had children with another South African exile. 

Get to know more about  illustrator Eric Velasquez from his website.

Posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

MMGM for 12/9/19

             

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

 In case you’re planning ahead, I’ll be posting the MMGM lineup every Monday this month.

Today at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing MAX EINSTEIN REBELS WITH A CAUSE by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles interviews Kim Long and is giving away her MG adventure LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, has a S.T.E.A.M. feature on Read, Learn & Create–The Ocean Craft Book.

COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF recommends Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading features Malamander by Thomas Taylor.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of McTavish Goes Wild by Meg Rosoff. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea reviews Broken Strings by  Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends gives us her take on Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews a lively adventure story with a good mystery to solve, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action by Darlene Foster.

Stephanie Robinson at Fairday’s Blog is back with us this week and has a review of WISHTREE by Katherine Applegate.

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 STARGAZING.

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

MAX EINSTEIN—REBELS WITH A CAUSE

IT”S MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Be sure to check out all the other MMGM bloggers today.

maxeinstein.jpgI was a little apprehensive starting with the second book in the series (Max Einstein The Genius Experiment began it all), but this turned out to be a brand new adventure. The plot is unbelievable, but if it gets kids to read like James Patterson promises in his short I’m not running for President speech then I’d say he has succeeded.

Max is smarter than your average university student and she’s only 12. Her richer than rich boss is 14.  She’s banded together with other geniuses to help the world with whatever problem they need solved. The globe trotting adventure starts in the United States then moves to Ireland and India where Max and her friends attempt to solve a city’s water problem.

Chasing after her is a robot boy along with the leader of The Corp, an evil group out to make money and stop these kids from trying to make a difference. What they really want is for Max to come work with them. They promise in exchange for her loyalty that they can reveal where Max came from and why she shares the famous scientist’s last name.

The fifty seven chapters flew by and I completed it in a few days. Emerging readers will enjoy the short chapters and the occasional detailed black and white illustrations. A few plot point are left dangling so be prepared for a book three likely next year.

Here’s the official background (From Barnes & Noble):

Max Einstein’s typical day is not your average 12-year-old’s. She…- TEACHES classes at a New York college- Dodges KIDNAPPING attempts with her best friends- Goes on SECRET MISSIONS for her billionaire boss- Has a MYSTERIOUS CONNECTION to Albert Einstein. Just a day in the life of the Change Makers Institute’s top agent! What does an Irish town and a village in India have in common? A water crisis that only a group of kid geniuses can fix! Max and her CMI friends attempt to use their smarts to find solutions, but it’s hard to save the world when you’re trying not to be kidnapped! A greedy corporation with an eye on capturing Max seems to know their every move. It’s almost like the bad guys have a spy inside the Change Makers…

bullet4FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUTbullet4

MAX EINSTEIN REBELS WITH A CAUSE

by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

  1. Max likes to talk with Albert Einstein in her head. The exchanges both there and in dialog with her friends will bring about many facts you many not have known about the more famous genius.
  2. Science, math, and ecological concepts are incorporated into the plot rather than being a side show.
  3. After reading several books prior to this one with heartbreaking story lines, it was a relief to actually smile rather than reach for the Kleenex box.
  4. Lenard, The Robot Boy, had the most surprising character arc and he didn’t even cause it to happen.
  5. 18 pages of extras are included after the story wraps up. They include fun activities and experiments like Where in the World is Max Einstein and directions on how to make a carbon dioxide blast. My New Year’s Eve party just got a lot more exciting.

FAVORITE LINES

The battalion chief, whose badge ID’d him as Morkal, stared at her

Max held his gaze.

“You heard the girl,” Chief Morkal barked. “Make me a hot air balloon out of a garbage bag! Stat!”

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author and most trusted storyteller. He has created many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, and I Funny. Among his notable literary collaborations are The President Is Missing, with President Bill Clinton, and the Max Einstein series, produced in partnership with the Albert Einstein Estate. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over three million books to schoolkids and the military, donated more than seventy million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. The National Book Foundation recently presented Patterson with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, and he is also the recipient of an Edgar Award and six Emmy Awards. He lives in Florida with his family.

And Co-Author Chris Grabenstien:

Winner of all sorts of awards, Chris writes fast-paced and fun page-turners. He’s also a playwright and screenwriter not to mention a former advertising executive and improvisational comedian. Sometimes he sleeps.
Chris started writing a long time ago. He and his four brothers used to put on skits and puppet shows in the basement of their home in Buffalo, New York. Their mom and dad were the only paying customers. Admission was a nickel. They usually earned ten cents a show. (For much more about Chris Grabenstein visit his web site)

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You are welcome to make a comment below.

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

NERD A to Z

The holiday time is near and you may be wondering what to give to the middle grader in your life. Why not a non-fiction book? They can provide hours of reading and visual delights. I have five new favorites to present over the next two weeks. First up—NERD A TO Z.

This superstuffed alphabetical 41EmRmpdBcL._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgcompendium of must-know facts from science, pop culture, history, and more is perfect for kids who already know the names of every single dinosaur or want to understand exactly how the Millennium Falcon works. It’s a book for grammar gurus, science snobs, music geeks, and history buffs. In short, it’s a book for nerds. Inside, you’ll find browsable, info-packed blurbs that’ll give you the lowdown on everything from augmented reality to zydeco, with larger features that dive deep into fascinating topics like UFOs, pirates, artificial intelligence, and daring circus acts. And you’ll hear from the world’s most notable (and quotable) Nerds of Note from history and today.

MY TAKE: You don’t have to think of yourself as a nerd to enjoy this volume of fantastic facts. Arranged like an encyclopedia, each letter is hosted by a famous nerd whose first name starts with the particular letter. They give a brief insight to their nerdiness.

I started out with the letter G, but you can go in any order. There I found George Carlin’s take on individuality. A variety of “G” topics follow with background on each. How about this for variety: Galapagos Islands, Garden Gnomes, Genghis Khan, Geoglyphs, Gilgamesh, Gladiators, Glider Record, Glowworm Caves, Gothic, Grafting, and Griffin.  Also included is a two-page spread on a topic needing more depth. For the G’s it’s Genetic Engineering.

I also enjoyed the flowchart personality quizzes interspersed among the 26 letters. They are quick to take and claim to identify your inner nerd. Here’s the lineup:

WHAT KIND OF…

  • NERD ARE YOU?
  • SCIENCE SCHOLAR ARE YOU?
  • CULTURE CONNOISSEUR ARE YOU?
  • GEOGRAPHY GENIUS ARE YOU?
  • OF HISTORY HERO ARE YOU?
  • TECH TITAN ARE YOU?
  • DESIGN DEVOTEE ARE YOU?

Mmmm… My results showed I’m more of a nerd than I thought.

Filled with colorful photos, Nerd A to Z’s fun layout only adds to the hours of enjoyment you’ll get. Put this one high on your holiday gift list!

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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, non fiction | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

MMGM for 12-2-2019

                    

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Happy December! In case you’re planning ahead, I’ll be posting the  MMGM lineup every Monday this month.

Today at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing DOG DRIVEN by Terry Lynn Johnson plus a GIVEAWAY!!

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, features a beautiful new picture book, Dasher, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS has a review of  A Most Slanticulis Christmas by Beaufort Smedley,  a finalist in the 2019 Indie Book Awards.

COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF recommends Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and is holding a 2019 Holiday Book Giveaway!

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review a review of The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea has some mini-reviews for the November Middle-Grade reading bingo challenge.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva, about a girl growing up in the Philippines.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of THE MIRACULOUS by Jess Redman. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Michelle at from Tacos to Teaching shares a book she’s reading to her class, MASCOT by Antony John.

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 BECKET LIST.

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 , , | 3 Comments

DOG DRIVEN (With a Giveaway)

IT”S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Stargardt disease causes progressive damage to the center of the retina, the area responsible for sharp straight-ahead vision. Usually discovered during childhood or adolescence, the disease has no cure.

Driving a dog sled doesn’t sound like such a great idea for someone who has the disease. Just don’t tell McKenna that. With her eyesight getting worse, she’s been challenged to compete in a sled dog race.

Mushers on the ready. We’re off.

Publisher Background for DOG DRIVEN:Dog Driven hi res.jpg

McKenna Barney is trying to hide her worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. But at the request of her little sister, she signs up for a commemorative mail run race in the Canadian wilderness—a race she doesn’t know if she can even see to run.

Winning would mean getting her disease—and her sister’s—national media coverage, but it would also pit McKenna and her team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe for three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, snow squalls, and bitterly cold nights.

A page-turning adventure about living with disability and surviving the wilderness, Dog Driven is the story of one girl’s self-determination and the courage it takes to trust in others.

Page Count: 240         Publish Date: December 3, 2019

My Take: The first person narration covers 35 chapters. Perfect for those teachers who keep asking me for books with short chapters, ones they can read aloud with five minutes left before the bell. DOG DRIVEN not only fills that request, but it’s also exciting, revealing, and heartwarming.

Stargardt is not an eye disease I was familiar with and was glad to learn about it through each challenge McKenna must face. The scenes depicting the journey and how the musher must become one with her dogs were beautifully portrayed. The journey is an endeavor like none other filled with icy dangers and chaotic stopping points. McKenna’s plight and the personality of each dog draw the story to a satisfying close—although one you might not expect.

You can’t go wrong on a cold winter day by grabbing a copy of DOG DRIVEN and immersing yourself in the world of dog sledding. It will be a hard one to put down. But we’re not to the finish line yet, because here’s…

happy-face-clipart-y4T9gyjiEFIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUThappy-face-clipart-y4T9gyjiE

DOG DRIVEN by Terry Lynn Johnson

  1. The secondary characters and their dog teams played a major role in the plot. Guy, with four generations of running dogs and Harper who has the best set of sled dogs. They help McKenna in ways only she can see.
  2. Letters from the present and past appear between many of the chapters. Those from the late 1800s were especially revealing to the difficult nature of delivering mail via dog sled.
  3. McKenna’s internal struggle is realistically portrayed along with how she chooses a course of action.
  4. An adventure story like this could get bogged down with details about the disease. Instead, Stargardts maintains a nice balance with friendships, family, the huge three day trip, and all the preparation needed for a dog sledding competition.
  5. The conflict her parents have over the way to handle their daughters’ future added to the suspense and tension throughout.

GIVEAWAY!!! Win your own copy of this amazing story by making a comment below (Even an I’m in! is okay). One lucky winner will receive a copy of Dog Driven, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers (U.S. addresses).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Lynn Johnson, author of Ice Dogs, Sled Dog School, and the Survivor Diaries series, lives in Whitefish Falls, Ontario where for ten years she owned a team of eighteen Alaskan Huskies. Learn more at terrylynnjohnson.com.  Twitter: @TerryLynnJ

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The winner of my previous giveaway to win a copy of the stunning new ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE is Antoinette Truglio Martin. She blogs over at Stories Served Around the Table. Congratulations Antoinette!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

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This new series from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS is the perfect size (6.5 inches by 6.5 inches) to be enjoyed on the road, school, or at home. It’s a fun reveal for many things we take for granted. Here’s the official scoop:

Who invented pizza? Why do people shake hands? Why do we wear underwear? Ever wonder how basketball got started? Why we have birthday cakes? And why some people use forks and some use chopsticks? From familiar foods to common clothing items to bizarre beauty regimens, this book covers all the surprising backstories behind the things you use everyday, including:  who thought of that, where did that come from and why is that a thing?

It’s one of those books kids will be reading to you out loud, sharing all the wacky and weird components.Topics are arranged in ten chapters, each filled with memorable backstories and facts (After each chapter title I’ve included a few of my favorites out of the more than 90 offered):

  1. Toys and Games (Frisbee, Slinky, Pinball)
  2. Food (Hot Dogs, Sushi, Pie)
  3. Fashion (Blue Jeans, Sneakers, Neckties)
  4. Tools (Spatula, Cell Phone, Velcro)
  5. Symbols and Manners (Applause, Handshake, Daylight Saving Time)
  6. Around the House (Refrigerators, Beds, Bathrooms)
  7. Sports & Entertainment (Goalie Masks, Mascots, Skateboards)
  8. Beauty, Hygiene, & Medicine (Lipstick, Nail Polish, Deodorant)
  9. Holidays & Traditions (Fireworks, Christmas, Baby Names)
  10. Odds & Ends (Liquid Paper, Neon Lights, Tupperware)

Colorful layouts abound and you can begin with any chapter. This perfect stocking stuffer will have young readers enthralled for hours. They also will never look at these items in real life the same way, Order your copy today!

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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 Uncategorized | 1 Comment