Weird But True Know-it-All: Rocks and Minerals

The Weird But True series packs another winning title. Previous selections have focused on a wide variety of interests like animals, the ocean, food, and the human body. Now we get a in depth look at Rocks and Minerals. A topic you can’t take for granite (sorry about the pun, but the book is loaded with them.

The emphasis though is on rocks and minerals. Each page is packed with not only the facts about different rock types but also where you can find them. All in their colorful splendor.

Here’s a sample:

*The average small car has 44 pounds of copper in it.

*Geologists have found more than 100 impact craters on Earth.

*There’s a nail polish available that has black diamonds mixed in.

*Marble is used in fine art from phone cases to the Taj Mahal and Lincoln Memorial.

The fun facts and detailed information on Rocks and minerals goes even further. You’ll find a fascinating look at rock experts in paleontology, archaeology, and geology. Young readers just might find a future career within the pages.

You can read this enticing title in any order. Start your journey in the detailed 8-page index to find your interest. Then you can dive into the rest and become a real expert, a true rock star.

Weird But True Know-it-All: Rocks and Minerals is available now. A perfect selection for your summer reading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Burgan studied history at the University of Connecticut before embarking on his career of writing about history, current events, geography, science, and more for children. He worked at Weekly Reader for six years before becoming a freelance author. He is a member of Biographers International Organization and edits its monthly newsletter, The Biographer’s Craft. A produced playwright, he is also a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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

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)
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MMGM for MAY 16, 2022

It’s the third Monday of May and time to plan your summer reading with these great MG reviews and features.

Click on each blogger’s book to get started.

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of Jennifer Chan is Not Alone by Tae Keller.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has a guest post by Donna Gallanti and a giveaway of Unicorn Island: Secret Beneath the Sand.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic features a a book spotlight and review of the ‘Audubon Birdhouse Book’ by Margaret A. Barker. 

Carol Baldwin shares her author’s journey with “You’re Almost in Labor!” A Celebration of Stages.

Maria Antonia has a post about THE SHATTERED CASTLE by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Valinora Troy reviews A Wilder Magic by Juliana Brandt with TOTP and his half sister doing the honors!

Rosi Hollinbeck presents I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau. Rosi also shares three links of interest for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with her other reviews from last week including Saturday’s look at CAMP FAMOUS.

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(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)
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)
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JENNIFER CHAN is NOT ALONE

IT’S MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

“Treat others how you want to be treated.”

I first heard that phrase from my dad after I’m sure I had done something stupid. The importance of that learning for me and others often takes a back seat in middle school where bullying behavior makes one act before thinking about their actions.

Mallory Moss has a popular friend and is finally fitting into the school culture at Gibbons Academy. But now that Jennifer Chan has moved into the neighborhood things get a bit confusing. Jennifer is obsessed with aliens and their existence. She even has journals filled with her findings.

At first Mallory hangs out with the new girl away from the staring eyes at school. The popular crowd sees Jennifer as someone who doesn’t do what is expected in middle school: wear the right clothes, control your image, and know your place. What becomes known as “the Incident” has Mallory and her school friends taking bullying to the worst extremes. Jennifer must be knocked down and put in her place for acting so weird and above all.

The result is one they don’t expect: Jennifer disappears. The police think she has run away but no one is sure why. Deep down Mallory believes the incident was the cause but maybe the real answer is Jennifer has been abducted by aliens. She uses clues from the journals and whether you believe in aliens or not the evidence that it really happened grows. Mallory tries to find Jennifer and the climatic ending reveals all

It’s a tough lesson about friendship, family, and the power often sought after for success. Finding your true identity has never had such a heartfelt look. The first person narration alternates between “THEN” and “NOW” JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE is the most honest view of bullying I’ve ever read and perhaps one that should be experienced by every new 6th grader.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: April 26, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 288

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE by Tae Keller

  1. The author note in the back pages is not to be missed even if you don’t read the book. It’s an honest, heartbreaking look as to why she wrote this story.
  2. It’s wonderfully played out as to the mystery of what really caused Jennifer to disappear—abducted by aliens or some awful human, the so called “Incident” that triggered hateful emotions, or a reason no one has thought of yet.
  3. The actions of others can impact a life forever. A lesson worth it’s time in gold.
  4. A realistic portrayal of a typical middle school social structure. It’s about status and thinking about yourself first. Helpful discussions and reflections will for sure be the result for those diving into this story.
  5. How do you follow up a Newbery award winning title, When you Trap a Tiger? You write something equally as good of course!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Saavedra Photography

Tae Keller is the Newbery award winning and New York Times bestselling author of When You Trap a Tiger and The Science of Breakable Things. She grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she subsisted on kimchi, purple rice, and stories. Now, she writes about biracial girls trying to find their voices, and lives in Seattle with her husband and a multitude of books.

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Please comment below if you have the time. It is much appreciated.

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HOPE WINS

Twenty-two authors of children’s books share a personal story about an event in their life. One that changed who they would become and gave them the strength to take on what they loved. Most happened when they were a child or young adult.

Middle grade readers will recognize many of the names as they often seem like old friends. Here’s a sampling of my favorites:

Gordon Korman who wrote his first published novel in 7th grade. It all came about because of a teacher.

Hena Kahn took a roundabout way to become passionate about her heritage.

Stuart Gibbs relates the touching story dealing with adversity when the person he was closest to passes away.

James Ponti shares his growing up story. It’s about about family and how he became James Ponti.

Janae Marks talks about how goals often face road blocks. But with determination she turned it into an opportunity and finally sold her first middle grade novel—From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

The stories are perfect for both middle graders and adults. Each will read it differently based on their own experiences, but will come away with a hopeful feeling. Even though I began with familiar authors, I was also captivated by the other stories.

HOPE WINS is the perfect title. When one has hope they also pursue growth in their lives. These personal stories would also be a god fit as a read-aloud in literature classes. The collection is a great addition to the library shelf.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Rose Brock, Ph.D, is a veteran educator and specialist in literature for young people who spent twenty years as a public school educator working as a language arts teacher and a school librarian. She now works as an associate professor in the Department of Library Science and Technology at Sam Houston State University. (For more visit her website)

I received a copy of the book for this review.

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

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)
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MMGM for MAY 9, 2022

It’s another Monday and time to spotlight some great MG reviews and features.

Click on each blogger’s light switch to get started.

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of THE NATURAL GENIUS OF ANTS by Betty Culley.

Carol Baldwin talks about what it means for a writer to find inspiration in her/his “own backyard.” A giveaway is also offered.

Maria Antonia has a post about THE CAPTIVE KINGDOM by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Valinora Troy reviews UNICORN ISLAND by Donna Galanti. As always she has a cute picture of the featured book and a best friend.

Rosi Hollinbeck takes a look at THE BOOK OF AMAZING TREES. Rosi also shares three links of interest for her writing friends.

Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal features THE VIEW FROM THE VERY BEST HOUSE IN TOWN by Meera Trehan.

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with her other reviews from last week including Saturday’s look at SMALLER SISTER.

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(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)
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)
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THE NATURAL GENIUS OF ANTS

Ten-year-old Harvard narrates this gentle, engaging story. His medical doctor dad made a huge mistake at work which cost the life of a baby. Dad quits being a doctor to try and recover from the tragedy.

He takes Harvard and younger brother Roger to spend the summer at Kettle Hole, Maine where he grew up. Mom stays home for her work and the boys miss her a lot.

It helps to have a summer project like making an ant farm. Harvard with the help of his maybe new friend, Nevaeh, do most of the work to get it started. Questions about ants are posted on a white board and they use a non-fiction book called THE NATURAL GENIUS OF ANTS to help with their research.

Answers are found not only about the ants, but about each other and forgiveness.

Harvard has a fun sense of humor that often plays off words and their meaning. His emotions are all over the place worrying about if Dad is getting better and taking care of the ants. He also has to be the big brother to the very talkative Roger.

The 38 chapters are short and always have you turning the page for more. In our current world it’s nice to have a story where you just feel good after being with this family. They are kind and respectful and I already miss them. A great read aloud full of heart and hope.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: May 10, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 240

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT THE NATURAL GENIUS OF ANTS By Betty Culley

  1. Who knew ants were so interesting? I learned a lot about their body structure and habits The next time I see an ant I’ll observe this tiny insect filled with my new knowledge.
  2. Nevaeh, heaven spelled backwards, is the only daughter of a boyhood friend of Harvard’s dad. She loves to write poetry and her special way makes Harvard happy. Together their bond grows in a short time and doing so they help each other. A memorable pair of characters.
  3. Five-year-old Roger is the kind of little brother you want. He’s funny in his own way and his child like way of seeing the world will make you laugh.
  4. Harvard’s middle of the night talks with his mom lead to special insights about the family. She’s a strong presence even when far away.
  5. I’ve never been to Maine. As Harvard points out, their license plate has the word vacationland across the bottom. A vacation in Maine sounds perfect after reading THE NATURAL GENIUS OF ANTS.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Betty Culley is the acclaimed author of the middle-grade novel Down to Earth, which received a starred review from Booklist, calling it “captivating,” and the YA novel in verse Three Things I Know Are True, which was a Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick and an ALA- YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. When writing The Natural Genius of Ants, Betty kept an ant farm and cared for a carpenter ant queen. She’s worked as a pediatric nurse and lives in a small town in central Maine. You can find her online at bettyculley.com.

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I received access to a digital arc for my honest review.

COMMENT ARE WELCOME BELOW!

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APPLE CRUSH

Jen is just getting used to her life on Peapod Farm with her new stepsisters, Andy and Reese. But when the school year starts, there are more changes in store for her. Jen has to navigate new friends and new challenges—at least she’ll have Andy with her, right?

Nonetheless, as she starts sixth grade, she finds that her stepsister seems way more interested in crushes and boys than hanging out with her, while Jen wants to know when the world decided boys and girls couldn’t be “just friends” anymore.

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The second novel in this graphic series follows STEPPING STONES, but the engaging APPLE CRUSH works fine on its own. The colorful images bursting with emotion tell a story many middle graders will find familiar. Divorce impacts everyone, especially 6th grader, Jen (pictured left in her normal tom-boy attire).

Jen gains a new friend at school (who is a boy), but in typical middle school culture everyone assumes they have to be more than friends. The assumptions are more than frustrating.

Jen has to deal with the misconceptions along with being pulled in different directions. Her dad on the weekends and Mom and boy friend during the week at Peapod Farms. It’s there that she and her step sister get jobs helping a neighboring farm run its annual pumpkin patch and popular haunted hayride.

Many new fans of the series will be attracted to the fun setting along with the effects of being at a new school—an honest portrayal indeed. Yes, librarians come to the rescue more than most realize.

Heartfelt and fast paced, you’ll smile and want a sip of apple cider after spending time with APPLE CRUSH.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucy Knisley is the critically acclaimed, award-winning, New York Times bestselling comics creator of Relish and Kid Gloves. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. She specializes in personal, confessional graphic novels and travelogues. The Peapod Farms books are Lucy’s first graphic novels for kids.

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

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)
Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

MMGM for MAY 2, 2022

IT”S A NEW MONTH WITH FIVE MONDAYS OF MMGM. To get the party started click on a to see a blogger’s post.

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At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of GLASS SLIPPERS by Leah Cypess.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic has a historical fiction feature spotlighting Author Cynthia Rylant’s addition to the Little House series, Old Town in the Green Groves’. Included is an author bio and a review.

Sue Heavenrich is over at Archimedes Notebook and is featuring the non-fiction book, Be the Change, by Rob Greenfield and Antonia Banyard

Carol Baldwin has THE CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTERS- PART II: An Interview by Guest Blogger Elliott Kurta with Author Doreen Berger.

Maria Antonia shares a few thoughts on OVER THE TOP by Alison Hughes.

Rosi Hollinbeck features a review of MEANT TO BE by Jo Knowles.. Rosi also shares three links of interest for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Mrs. Yingling Reads always has a fantastic MMGM book to share. Be sure to check it out along with her other reviews from last week including Friday’s THE FINAL CUT.

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(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)
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)
Posted in Book Lists, Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

GLASS SLIPPERS

It’s another month of Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays!

The name Cinderella brings many fond memories of her tale from both young and old. She lived happily ever after…or maybe not as we find out in this imaginative and suspenseful new extension of the original classic.

Come to find out there was another step sister. Tirza (pictured front and center on the cover). Tirza has lived in the castle with Cinderella since her sisters were banished to a far away place. She’s still ashamed at what her family did to Cinderella, now known as Queen Ella. The queen has tried to convince the populace that Tirza is not like the rest of her family.

No one has believed her, especially the King. The situation worsens when those iconic glass slippers are stolen and the number one suspect is Tirza. Despite trying them on Tirza insists she did not steal them. As the tension mounts Tirza seeks out the real thief, but does she believe her sisters or the Queen about the facts they put forth?

The surprising answer is found toward the end of this fast moving story. The first person narration by Tirza is wonderfully engaging. I didn’t begin my reading with much anticipation, but the plot won me over and will appeal to young and old.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: April 5, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 272

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT GLASS SLIPPERS BY Leah Cypress

  1. I discovered this is the second in the SISTERS EVER AFTER series following the original THORNWOOD—about Sleeping Beauty’s younger sister. What a great way to capture new readers when they are already familiar with the original character. I hope to see more.
  2. There is one boy character, Aiden, who may or may not be Tirza’s friend. Having a male secondary character will add to the appeal for those young readers who always ask me when they see a cover like this—Are there any guy characters in this book? Aiden adds even more mystery to the story.
  3. Yes, there are mice but thankfully they aren’t singing in this tale. GLASS SLIPPERS is a mystery and one you’ll constantly be re-guessing who is the real guilty party.
  4. Be aware there is blood but not in a way that will scare the intended audience. Its true effect is one of the many twists you will discover.
  5. A fairy tale for those who don’t normally read these type of stories. (I’m talking to myself here)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Cypess

I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).

After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at  Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I sold my first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins).

I live in Silver Spring, Maryland (right outside of Washington, D.C.) with my husband and four children.

(For more about Leah visit her author web site)

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Comments are welcome below.

Posted in MG Fantasy, Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

REBEL GIRLS—AWESOME ENTREPRENEURS

This series returns with another winning entry. Twenty-five women are profiled who have had success launching new products, building their own businesses, and investing. It’s truly inspiring.

Each successful woman gets her own two-page spread. On one side of the page you’ll find a colorful illustration of the successful person and a quote. Here’s a sample from engineer and entrepreneur. Kathy Hannun. She’s the co-founder of Dandelion Energy, the largest geothermal heating and cooling company in the U.S.

“You practice. you persist, you gain skills, and you become better.”

Great advice for sure. On the opposite side of the page is the individual’s amazing story of success. A perfect dose of motivation for young girls who are beginning to have their own dream of being a positive force in the world.

Most names you won’t recognize, but after reading their story you’ll never forget them. There’s Julie Chen who launched her own eco-friendly paper company and when the pandemic hit her sales of toilet paper quadrupled. Or how about Maria Theresa Kumar, co-founder of a nonprofit organization that helps get Latinx people excited about voting and making change. My favorite though is Melanie Perkins who despite setbacks has become the leader of the world’s most valuable company with a female founder, CANVA.

Another plus is the chance to hear more by getting the Rebel Girls app. There are numerous links to extras featured there.

After the featured portrayals readers have a chance to write their own story and draw a portrait. No problem if you don’t know anything about the business world or building your own business as each are detailed and explored in the closing pages.

This title will be available on May 10th but you can get information how to order along with a view of the entire series here.

An important resource for any girl.

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

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)
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged | 1 Comment