MMGM for 12/10/18

                   

IMPORTANT DECEMBER MMGM REMINDER: MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY will have one more set of links on December 17. December 24th is devoted to my holiday wish to all the bloggers who have participated in MMGM the past year. On December 31st, I’ll reveal my picks for MG’s best in 2018 with a big GIVEAWAY!

MMGM will return to its regular schedule on January 7, 2019 and my second year of hosting. As for today, enjoy a great set of links…

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE, I have a review of ZACK DELACRUZ UPSTAGED by Jeff Anderson. Click the ornament to read all the details and then keep clicking below for more reviews and features.
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has an interview with debut author Rebecca Caprara and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD.
June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic shares an  article she wrote for the golden anniversary of the television premiere of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ back on December 9th, 1965.
Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven spotlights Everlasting Nora, by Marie Miranda Cruz–and in case anyone else is peckish, link to a Filipino banana que recipe included!
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal recommends a touching holiday chapter book, The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan. The paperback was printed in 2013.
Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review of Class Action by Steven B. Frank
Rosi Hollinbeck has a review of The Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid. Don’t miss her links for writers as they’re always helpful.
Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has an informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her other reviews the past week.
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 , | Leave a comment

ZACK DELACRUZ UPSTAGED

Zack Delacruz returns in this series set in San Antonio. It began with ME AND MY BIG MOUTH in 2015 and JUST MY LUCK the following year. This time around sixth grade continues to be a challenge for Zack and even more so with his participation in the school play—A Christmas Carol.upstaged.jpg

He never intended to try out except for two beautiful creations that changed his mind: Extra credit and the girl he secretly adores. All of his friends from the first books return and although you’ll find an ethnically diverse cast, its never brought up as anything but normal, which is quite refreshing.

Zack’s nervousness and hesitation about performing (a panicked Zack center stage on the cover hints at his predicament), and the relationship with his divorced parents are the main focus. He has to remember his lines and remember which bus to get on each Friday depending on whether he is with Dad or Mom.

A fun read and the perfect start to this holiday season. No worries either if you haven’t read the first two Zack Delacruz books as this does find on its own. And that’s no Bah Humbug!

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 192

FULL PLOT

Zack Delacruz wants to win the role of Scrooge in his school’s production of A Christmas Carol—and the lovely Abhi’s admiration, too. But he’s not the only one trying out for the play. So are José (aka El Pollo Loco), Marquis, and Janie – bah, humbug!  Bowling balls, gurgling stomachs, complete chaos, and quick detective work turn this year’s drama into a spectacular scene that will have actors rising to new heights—literally—and leave readers rolling in the aisles.

What role will Zack end up playing on stage . . . and in his life?  Just in time for the holidays, and with a diverse and funny cast of characters, ZACK DELACRUZ: UPSTAGED (Sterling Children’s Books) is sure to please even the most reluctant readers!

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: ZACK DELACRUZ: UPSTAGED by Jeff Anderson

  1. You’ll never look at coffee the same way after Zack’s unfortunate encounter with caffeine.
  2. His Mom is what you hope all moms to be: A consistent sounding board, listener, and advice giver for the son she loves.
  3. The effective art work on the cover is continued with images on many of the chapter headings. The best though are the yearbook style renderings of Zack, his classmates and teachers inside the front and back covers.
  4. I observed an eleven-year-old boy laughing uncontrollably at the potty humor coming into play in several chapters… although I doubt older readers will feel the same way.
  5. An accurate portrayal of life on the bottom rung of a three grade middle school.

FAVORITE LINES:

The seat next to her was empty.

I gulped. It was go time. My pits trickled a little stream down the inside of my red uniform shirt. I wondered if anyone could see it. Boy, was I glad Mom convinced me to start wearing deodorant.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Jeff Anderson is the author of Zack Delacruz: Me And My Big Mouth (2015), and Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck (2016) – a middle-grade series that has sold over 30,000 copies!  He’s also the author of Mechanically InclinedEveryday Editing10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know, and Patterns of Power. A former elementary and middle school teacher, Jeff travels to schools across the country working with teachers and students to discover joy and power in the writing process.

To learn more visit Jeff’s web site on writing and publishing  at WRITE GUY.

#########

Congratulations to Deb from Michigan. Her name was chosen from four schools and eleven individuals entered in the drawing for THE RENAISSANCE series.

I’ll have a new giveaway later this month so stay tuned!

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

I AM A WONDER WOMAN

A great idea becomes reality with the release of this new non-fiction title. Sixty outstanding women i-am-a-wonder-woman-9781684125487_hr.jpgfrom the present and past are each featured in their own two-page spreads. They’re presented alphabetically by first name beginning with Ada Lovelace and ending with Zaha Hadid. Read in order or use the handy Contents or Index section to find your favorite.

No matter who you start with, every page is unique in its presentation, which adds to the attraction for readers. The left half features their life accomplishments. It’s not a typical biographical layout. You’ll find straightforward blocked text on some while others are splashed across the page in colorful boxes. Common though is an illustration accompanied by dates they lived (or year of birth for those in the present) and a description of their life’s focus.

The right half of the two pages let readers dig deep with a look at themselves and the world they live in. The activity is a writing or hands-on exercise related to the person they’ve read about. Definitely fun and revealing.

The end of the book is where you create your own two page spread entitled I Am A Wonder Woman. A perfect way to summarize the Aha moments girls will get reading the stories and have it make a difference in their own futures.

There are many familiar names (like Michelle Obama, Cleopatra, and Rosa Parks) but also ones I’d never heard about (Turia Pitt or Niki de Saint Phalle to name a few). Wow! Girls can do anything and often better than their male counterparts. This is the inspiration needed for any Wonder Woman in the making.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellen Bailey grew up in Cambridge and spent her childhood making up games, putting on plays, and writing a magazine for the other children living in her street.  After studying English literature, she worked as a children’s book editor for a few years before moving into the charity sector. She lives with her husband and daughters, and is the author of a variety of bestselling activity books and annuals, including All About Me.

************************

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 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, non fiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments

MMGM for 12/3/18

                   

IMPORTANT DECEMBER MMGM REMINDER: MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY will be here the next two Mondays— December 10 and 17. On December 24th I’ll have a holiday wish with links to all the bloggers who have participated in MMGM this past year. On December 31st, I’ll reveal my picks for MG’s best in 2018 with a big GIVEAWAY!

MMGM will return to its regular schedule on January 7, 2019 and my second year of hosting. As for today, enjoy a great set of links…

HAPPY DECEMBER!  Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE, I have a review of THE TURNAWAY GIRLS by Hayley Chewins. Click the snowflake to read all the details and then keep clicking below for more reviews and features.
June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic has a multi-cultural picture book entitled ‘A World of Cookies for Santa‘. The book includes ‘delicious cookie recipes’.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Blended by Sharon M. Draper a book that addresses what it feels like to be a biracial child.
Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review of Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages.
Sue Heavenrich at Archimedes Notebook joins us this week with her look at a very cool book—Path to the Stars, My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo.
Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden. Also… Don’t miss Rosi’s links for writers as they’re always helpful.
Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story has the poetic Missing Mike by Shari Green.
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso features Jenna Gavigan’s sweet theatrical story, LULU–THE BROADWAY MOUSE.
Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has an informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her other reviews the past week.
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

THE TURNAWAY GIRLS

WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

The Turnaway Girls is set in Blightsend where singing is not allowed. The Masters — men and boys — make music with instruments. Women and girls trapped underground turn the music into gold. Twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea hates her life, especially Mother Nine, the abusive caretaker.  Despiturnaway girls.jpgte the dangers, Delphernia sings in secret. Then one day a Master claims her and takes the young girl above ground where mysteries abound.

This elegantly told fantasy is like a poem stretched to bring meaning to your true self through music. Delphernia take center stage as the first-person narrator and like her, readers will at times be thoroughly confused by what is happening. Thankfully, all is explained by the climatic end. The final sixty pages gave the plot a needed push and saved the story.

Like myself, I’m sure many teachers and librarians will gush over the lyrical qualities of the book. The problem is the targeted MG age group may have a hard time wrapping themselves up in this fantastical tale. Regardless, I look forward to what comes next for this debut author.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From AMAZON)

Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

THE TURNAWAY GIRLS

  1. The cover does its job providing intrigue to what lies ahead for readers. Delphernia sings and in turn it raises your curiosity.
  2. Stereotyped gender roles and believing everything you hear are two of the powerful themes waiting for a discussion.
  3. The two antagonists, one above and one below ground,  give you the chills at their nastiness. Well done villains are hard to create, but these two were fantastic foils.
  4. The prince was an interesting character I wanted to know more about. Bly’s presence was always welcome and his upbringing brought a satisfied surprise.
  5. Beautifully written and many of the pages will have you rereading to take in the mastery of the written word.

FAVORITE LINE

The wind catches the door again and flings it shut over the boy’s head. He jumps, but he keeps climbing down. And then we are held, the three of us, in the cloister’s quiet: me, and Mother Nine, and a boy who could have killed me.

A QUOTE FROM THE AUTHOR, HAYLEY CHEWINS

One polished draft and two rough drafts.

I’ve never done this before. I’ve always thought of myself as a one-project-at-a-time sort of writer. But if there’s anything I’ve learnt about writing (and life) it’s this: never assume anything you know about yourself is unchangeable. You can change anything if you really want to.

(For more about how Hayley writes three books at the same time, visit her blog).

********************************************************************

I received a copy of the book for my honest review.  Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.

If you missed Friday’s post, I’m giving a away a four book series on The Renaissance. Click here to read all about it with details on how to enter.

renaissancebooks

 

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

THE RENAISSANCE GIVEAWAY

renaissancebooks.jpgEuropean history comes alive with this new four book set from Nomad Press. Learn all about the Thinkers, Inventors, Artists, and Explorers from the 14th to 17th century. These would be great for a school or for those home schoolers studying this time period.

Get started by entering a GIVEAWAY of all four books courtesy of Nomad Press! To enter either make a comment below or if you’d prefer to stay incognito, email your name to (gpcolo at gmaildotcom). I’ll keep the entries open through December 7th.  You can enter once for yourself and once for your favorite school.

The Renaissance series is absolutely fantastic. Each paperback volume has five chapters focusing on a different woman or man leading the way in their specialty. Click on an image below to take a look inside and get access to free teacher resources.

REN-Thinkers_COVER                                 REN-Inventors_COVER

REN-Explorers_COVER                                  REN-Artists_COVER

GOOD LUCK IN THE DRAWING!

#######################

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 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 Giveaways, non fiction | Tagged | 9 Comments

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 11/29/18

Here are a few news and special feature articles I’ve enjoyed recently:INTHE NEWS

  1. I haven’t started my holiday shopping yet so this list of BOOKS FOR EVERY YOUNGSTER ON YOUR GIFT LIST was a big help.

  2. Here is an enlightening and informative interview with author Darby Karchut. She’s committed to giving Dad’s a better voice in MG books.
  3. Last but not least are four recent sequels sure to keep youngsters reading.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back Friday with a four book giveaway.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments