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*ALWAYS in the MIDDLE* is your home for…
I’M CURRENTLY READING:
DRAGON RIDER—THE GRIFFIN’S FEATHER by Cornelia Funke
I don’t read an enormous amount of graphic novels but for some young readers this is the only type of book they’ll pick up. It’s nice to be able to recommend a new one. Told in alternating viewpoints from two very different girls, you know up front their lives will converge in an unexpected way. You’ll have to guess because it is not revealed until the final page. It had me saying “I didn’t see that one coming!”
Brianna starts the story. She is a brain and always gets superb grades. Next comes Izzy who is the middle child of three girls and school is not her thing. She does love to perform and is looking forward to showing off her ability at the talent show. There is already a hefty amount of drama going on in the school halls. It is accurately portrayed through each girl’s friendships—current, past, and just forming.
The colorful illustrations by the author are fun, depicting the body language and facial expressions often seen on middle grade kids. Brianna’s are in cartoon style panels while Izzy’s look more like a journal. This quick read will have you smiling and agreeing that these years are the toughest for anyone to get through. A great read in the summer or any other time of the year.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2018 PAGE COUNT: 224
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:
But it’d be nice to be seen past my brains for once. ‘Cause there’s way more to me!
I mean there is…
My grades aren’t so great, which bugs my mom. She wishes I’d pay more attention in school. I wish I would, too, but there are so many more interesting things that run through my head than come out of my teachers mouths.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR—Terry Libenson:
Terri Libenson is the cartoonist of the internationally syndicated daily comic strip, The Pajama Diaries. She was also a long-time humorous card writer for American Greetings. She won numerous awards for her greeting cards and was the creator of a top-selling card line, “Skitch.” Terri has also written for AmericanGreetings.com, Egreetings.com, and BlueMountainArts.com.
For more visit Terry’s website.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Try saying the title three times fast! No, I couldn’t either. This fun book of amazing facts about eleven different insects begins with a silly question. Turn the page and you can read a clearly stated answer. The facts will have you saying more than once “I didn’t know that!”
Full color illustrations fill the pages. Their whimsical nature are meant to accompany the fun format of the book. Actual pictures of each insect and a more in-depth background are presented in the final pages.
Perfect as a read aloud or to be explored alone, this quick read would make a great addition to any library. Here’s the official description from Persnickity Press:
Learn more about the talented mother/daughter writing team from their bios below:
Corinne Demas is the award-winning author of thirty-three books for kids and adults. Her picture books include The Disappearing Island, illustrated by Ted Lewin, (a Massachusetts Book Award Honor Book), Saying Goodbye to Lulu, illustrated by Ard Hoyt (winner of the ASPCA Henry Berg Children’s Book Award), and The Littlest Matryoshka, illustrated by Kathryn Brown.
Corinne Demas is a professor at Mount Holyoke College and a fiction editor of The Massachusetts Review. She divides her time between western Massachusetts and Cape Cod.
Artemis Roehrig received her master’s degree from the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology program at the University of Massachusetts. Do Doodlebugs Doodle? was inspired by her work in an entomology lab, where she does research on both endangered and invasive insects. In addition to writing books for kids, she has been published in the scientific journal Environmental Entomology. Does a Fiddler Crab Fiddle? and the upcoming Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter? were both shaped by her work as an educator at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. She lives in western Massachusetts and loves to explore nature with her two young children.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Ellen Shi grew up in the great state of New Jersey and recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in Illustration. She loves color, simple shapes and texture. Ellen is also an avid fan of nature, film, and books. When not drawing or painting, you will probably find her with her nose in a book.
Here are several news and special feature articles I’ve enjoyed the past week (If you missed any of the previous posts click here to see them all):
I’ll be back on Friday with a review of DO DOODLEBUGS DOODLE?
I was first introduced to The Odyssey in the eighth grade, or at least to a translation of the Greek poem. Basically, Odysseus leaves his beloved island Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War. Staying behind are a wife and an only son. She spends most of her time fending off hundreds of suitors who assume Odysseus didn’t survive the war. Meanwhile her husband not only survived, but was a hero in winning the war. Problem is it took ten years and another ten for him to find his way back to the island and slay all the suitors.
This version tells the same story, but from the POV of Odysseus’s loyal dog, Argos. He stays on Ithaca to protect his master’s wife and son along with keeping an eye on their livestock. He is loyal and believes his master will return some day.
The choice to tell Homer’s original tale away from the action through the eyes and ears of Argos is a bold one. Argos learns of Odysseus’s journey through conversations he has with birds and a sea turtle. They are his only way to keep his hopes up and discover the fate of his master. The author could have had Argos going off with his master and experience first hand the horrors that await, but perhaps having him stay behind is more like a family waiting for a soldier to return from overseas.
Released in hardback two years ago, the paperback version is new this year. The length and complex language may be a bit much for most middle grade kids, but Percy Jackson fans will migrate here with their love of Greek mythology.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016 PAGE COUNT: 405
THE PLOT (from AMAZON):
For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to Ithaka. After ten years beneath the walls of Troy, he begins the long journey back home. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He does whatever it takes to reunite with his family.
And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure whether they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master. Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s voyage—and what a voyage it is!
These tales bring hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king. This rousing story of devotion and determination is an original take on one of the most beloved myths of all time.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: ARGOS by Ralph Hardy
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ralph Hardy graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in English and received his MFA from Columbia College, Chicago. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife and children and a dog named Harvey, who is nothing like Argos. He is the author of The Cheetah Diaries, Lefty, and a number of short stories.
For more Ralph Hardy’s author website.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
The town of Beaufort, South Carolina is the starting point for this true story of a daring escape by an African American slave. It’s a beautiful seaside town and I’d fully recommend a visit. The text in this new edition was originally written by Louise Meriwether and published in 1971. Its re-release this year comes with colorful paintings throughout by renowned Southern artist Jonathan Green.
The tale is shared in just 32 pages, perfect for emerging readers and for out loud reading. Older readers will be spurred on to researching more about this time period. It’s a brave story of a man who wanted freedom for his family and decided the odds were best via the sea. I knew going in there was going to be a happy ending for our hero as Robert Smalls served for five terms in the U.S. Congress. I didn’t know if the journey was successful for his wife, two children and the rest of the slaves who hopped on board with their families. That answer is found within the story.
Here’s the official background:
Robert Smalls, born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, gained fame as an African American hero of the American Civil War. The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls tells the inspirational story of Small’s life as a slave, his boyhood dream of freedom, and his bold and daring plan as a young man to commandeer a Confederate gunboat from Charleston Harbor and escape with fifteen fellow slaves and family members. Smalls joined the Union Navy and rose to the rank of captain and became the first African American to command a U.S. service ship. After the war Smalls returned to Beaufort, bought the home of his former master, and began a long career in state and national politics.
History comes alive with books like THE FREEDOM SHIP OF ROBERT SMALLS. A great addition to any school or home library.