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.
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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.

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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!

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HOW TO ROB A BANK

9780008276508I handed my copy of HOW TO ROB A BANK to a twelve, almost thirteen, year old neighbor boy. His mom snatched it away and gave me a look like “Are you crazy?”

I assured her the first person narration was not by a Federal Prison inmate doing 40 years to life for choosing bank robbery as a career path. Instead the narration is from a 15-year-old British teen named Dylan. He has the same malady most teen boys have when their brain says, “This would be a good idea.” Their parents are more along the lines of “What were you thinking?”

What Dylan’s is thinking: He has to make things right for a house fire he may have caused. You see, the girl he idolizes happened to live there with her parents, at least until Dylan came for a visit.

You might be wondering why I’m featuring this book on ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. Isn’t this more of a YA type of book?

The MC’s age does fit into the YA mold, but this is one of the those stories appropriate down to about age 11 or 12. There’s no heavy language and only the lightest of innocent romance often seen in MG books. It also fills the need for those MG readers wanting to read about older characters without the loaded tendencies of YA.

Here’s the official synopsis:

When fifteen-year-old Dylan accidentally burns down the house of the girl he’s trying to impress, he feels that only a bold gesture can make it up to her. A gesture like robbing a bank to pay for her new home.

Only an unwanted Saturday job, a tyrannical bank manager, and his unfinished history homework lie between Dylan and the heist of century. And really, what’s the worst that could happen?

A funny, cinematic, ill-advised comedy-crime adventure perfect for gamers, heist movie fans, and anyone who loves a laugh.

The 45 chapters are short and keep the action moving. I found myself laughing out loud several times. Dylan references a handful of famous movies, copying what Eastwood, Clooney, and Pacino would do, but most of those titles probably wouldn’t be familiar to the average 12 year old (along with some of the British terms).

Dylan’s family include a Mom and Dad who are not divorced and an older sister who lends assistance to the robbery plan (Yea! The past three MG books I read all had families split up through death and divorce). The voice of a male teen is spot on here and his actions so misguided. But in the end Dylan will win you over.

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Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 , | 3 Comments

MMGM for 11-4-2019

    

IT’S ANOTHER MONTH OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAYS!

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD–THE EDGE OF THE WORD by Drew Callander and Alan Harrison.

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf was delighted with Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, has a S.T.E.A.M. feature on The United Tastes of America, a cookbook with cultural history about the 50 states and some U.S. territories.

Fleur Bradley at YA SLEUTH reviews SHINE! by JJ and Chris Grabenstein.

COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF returns with a recommendation for Diary by Svetlana Chmakova.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review of Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

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

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading features one of her favorite authors with More to the Story by Hena Khan.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of BIRDIE by Eileen Spinelli. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL features a review of On Snowden Mountain by Jeri Watts.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS also has a review of Mightier Than the Sword:  The Edge of the Word by Drew Callandar and Alana Harrison.

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 SHAKE IT OFF.

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.
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MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD—THE EDGE OF THE WORD

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

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I saved the world once but now I have to do it again. Such is the premise for the sequel, MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD—THE EDGE OF THE WORD. I previously reviewed the first book last August. This is a series like none other and my review today just had to take the same path.

As I began this piece for MMGM, a mysterious force crept into my fingers. Three seconds later the template appeared below. The design is similar to ones used at crucial times in the book to keep the story moving from your own perspective. All I had to do was fill in the blanks to complete my review (feel free to use after reading the story yourself).

templateMY COMPLETED FILL IN THE BLANKS REVIEW:

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I seem to be back to normal again and can tell you both books in the series are available from Penguin Random House or your favorite children’s book store. Here’s their official teaser on the story:

The second book set in Astorya places you back in the driver’s seat. You’re a real human being (we assume), and in this fictional world, that makes you a superhero. Armed with your trusty pencil, you have the power to create. What you write, draw, or scribble in the book becomes part of the story!

With Queen Rulette gone, and Astorya returning to normal, you decide to journey to Astorya’s Other Side, a place of monsters and mayhem, to hide the original Original forever. Surely nothing bad could happen to Astorya’s precious document there, right? But when the plan goes awry and digital doppelgangers are unleashed on the world, once again only you can save the day.

Write, draw, and puzzle your way through a hilarious adventure story that is unique to every reader! And, most importantly, prove that the pencil is mightier than the sword.

“Probably the most talented writer of all time.”
-Drew’s Mom
Drew was born in Ohio to two people from Ohio. Since then, he has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Ireland, and (currently) the Netherlands. He did this out of wanderlust, not to avoid paying taxes. He also managed to marry the woman of his dreams/writing partner, have a baby, and adopt a street cat who can do tricks like a dog.
Drew taught creative writing to kids in NYC and LA for over 10 years. During that time, he got to experience the wonderful absurdity of kids’ stories. One day, he and Alana talked about how funny it would be if there were a place where all those stories came to life. MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD is the story of that place.
Alana found her mind about ten years ago. It had gotten lost in a very hard to reach, dangerous place. But that’s another story altogether. The important thing is that shortly thereafter, she met Drew and they have entirely too much fun together. They love creating characters together, writing, reading aloud, being loud aloud, doing voices and making faces. If you’re curious, none of those faces have stuck. Not even the really weird ones.
Alana’s terrible at moving, but just to make sure of that, she’s schlepped herself (as well as her baby, cat, husband, and luggage) to three different countries in the last two years. But she’s still not as adventurous as her father, who managed to live in the real Amazon (not this website) for several years with only a canteen, a machete, and a treasure map. (But that’s also another story altogether). Alana hopes to get to Ecuador some day and live in the jungle (in spite of being really terrible at moving).
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Comments can be entered below and are much appreciated!
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EXPLORER ACADEMY—THE DOUBLE HELIX

Book three in National Geographic’s Middle grade fiction series continues the story of twelve year old Cruz Coronado as a student at Explorer Academy. If you missed the first two installments, take a peek at my review of THE NEBULA SECRET (Book 1) and THE FALCON’S FEATHER (Book 2).

Here’s the official background from National Geographic: double helix

The adventure continues for Cruz, Emmett, Sailor, and Bryndis as they continue their studies at sea and travel to exotic locations around the world. A mysterious person alerts Cruz to impending danger while he and a few trusted pals explore ancient ruins in Petra, Jordan, and search for another piece of the puzzle his mother left behind. Worst of all, now his father has gone missing, which prompts Aunt Marisol, his number one protector, to leave the ship in search of him. Who is the new professor who takes her place? How does the new technology he introduces help or hurt Cruz’s quest? Why is Nebula determined to stop Cruz before he turns 13? The clock is ticking as his first teen birthday draws near … a milestone that will change his life forever, one way or another.

MY THOUGHTS: Although this is a separate adventure from the first two, you’ll want to experience the entire series to get the full effect of everything going on. The quest to unravel his mother’s third puzzling clue takes center stage in this one.

Orion, the ship the group travels on, is a scientific wonderland. The classes alone will make any young reader wish they were enrolled. Frequent illustrations and maps accompany the story, fitting in well with the action put forth in the text.

There are some nifty fictional pieces of technology like the PANDA unit used for revealing DNA, but there’s also plenty of real science going on. Space archaeology is an example where satellite imagery is used to find ancient civilizations and ruins.

Cruz and his classmates are more fully realized characters in this adventure. Their personalities come full circle with both their positive and negative traits. And don’t miss the final post story pages detailing real life explorers and their work

Of course no series is complete without a cliffhanger ending. The final full page image of Cruz will have fans anxious to read what happens in book four, THE STAR DUNES, due out next March.

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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 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Middle Grade in the News—10-30-19

Below are a few articles and features I’ve enjoyed recently with a middle grade theme:INTHE NEWS

  1. Publisher’s Weekly is first out of the gate with their 2019 BEST BOOKS FOR MIDDLE GRADE .
  2. BRIGHTLY has BANNED AND CHALLENGED BOOKS EVERY TWEEN AND TEEN SHOULD READ.
  3. Need a subscription for Middle Grade books? Here’s the 5 Best from BOOK RIOT.

That’s all for now.

I’ll be back Friday with another review.

Posted in Middle Grade News | 1 Comment