AWESOME ACHIEVERS in SCIENCE

scienceBACKGROUND (From Hachette Book Group)

Everyone has heard the names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but what about Michael Collins–the third brave Apollo 11 astronaut who didn’t get to walk on the moon? Many of the most relevant figures in scientific history have remained in the shadows, but not any longer! From Alan Katz’s new Awesome Achievers series, Awesome Achievers in Science gives kids a look behind the scenes at 12 lesser-known scientists whose contributions are personally relevant to their lives today. Each figure is given a traditional biography but is also subject to Katz’s unique brand of silliness, with humorous elements such as imagined poems, song lyrics, and diary entries by or about the not-so-famous figure accompanying each bio.

Spot illustrations throughout add to the lighthearted and appreciative humor each figure receives. Reluctant readers and budding scientists alike will delight in this imaginative and engaging continuation of a new series of laugh-out-loud biographies.

MY TAKE: I previously featured AWESOME ACHIEVERS IN TECHNOLOGY, and the series continues with this look at achievers in science. The same fun format begins with 2-3 pages about the person. The astronaut names might be familiar to middle grade readers but not so much for the other scientists.

I found their stories of invention even more compelling. Here’s a lineup of their impressive creations: The Heimlich Maneuver, the Laserphaco Probe (for cataract removal), Velcro, CPR, Anti-Reflective Glass, Polaroid Land Camera (Surprise—they still sell these cameras!), Kevlar, Sticky Notes, and Bionic Robotic Limbs.

Following each write-up is a lighthearted few pages courtesy of author Alan Katz’s trademark humor. Silly poems, reminisces, and cartoon style panels adds a few laughs for the targeted audience (along with some of us older readers).

Put this one on the nightstand or tuck into a child’s backpack. Each person’s section can be read in five minutes or so, making it a perfect companion.

About the Author: Alan Katz is the author of many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs, Don’t Say That Word! OOPS!, Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking, and The Day the Mustache Took Over and its sequel, The Day the Mustache Came Back. Alan is also a six-time Emmy-nominated writer for TV series including The Rosie O’Donnell Show, animated series Taz-Mania, Disney’s Raw Toonage and Goof Troop, the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards, and many network specials and game shows. he has also created comic books, trading card sets, web videos, TV commercials and hundreds of other special projects for kids and parents. He lives with his family in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Alan can also be found at www.alankatzbooks.com.

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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 , , , | 1 Comment

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 8/14/19

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

  1. Publisher’s Weekly is out with their Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Fall 2019. There are seven  middle grade titles on the list and I can’t wait to read them all.
  2. School begins today in my part of the world. Just in time is a list of Books to ease the transition to Middle School.
  3. This Librarian says we are in the golden age of books for middle grade readers. Find out why here.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back Friday with a mini review of a non-fiction title.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

MMGM for August 12, 2019

CLICK the HAPPY KID NEXT TO EACH DESCRIPTION and YOU WILL ARRIVE AT THE BLOGGER”S POST!

I’ve always been in the middle as a son, educator, and writer. I’m glad there’s a day to celebrate. Happy Middle Child Day! At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of SOLVING FOR M by Jennifer Swender.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading features a review of The Boy At the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúl.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina.

Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin, about a family traveling to China to adopt a baby.

Completely Full Bookshelf recommends Just Jaime by Terri Libenson.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS by Gail Shepherd. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature.

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

SOLVING FOR M

IT”S ANOTHER EDITION OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY AND MY FEATURED REVIEW OF SOLVING FOR M by Jennifer Swender.

Math, Mika, Mom, Melanoma.

Those four ‘M’ words wrap themselves around an intriguing and heartfelt plot.

solvingforMWhen Mika starts fifth grade at the middle school, her neat life gets messy. Separated from old friends and starting new classes, Mika is far from her comfort zone. And math class is the most confusing of all, especially when her teacher Mr. Vann assigns math journals. Art in math? Who’s ever heard of such a thing?

But when challenges arise at home, Mika realizes there are no easy answers. Maybe, with some help from friends, family, and one unique teacher, a math journal can help her work out problems, and not just the math ones. (from Penguin Random House)

PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 256

MY THOUGHTS: The idea of having fifth grade a part of middle school hasn’t caught on in my part of the country, but that’s how it’s done in Mika’s school district: K-4; 5-8; 9-12.

Most of the story takes place at home or in her math classroom, although there’s a quick side trip to Orlando to visit her dad. He’s remarried but still tries to connect with Mika. The world gets even more confusing when Mika’s mother finds a spot on the back of her leg and has it removed. It’s cancerous. With treatments and a lack of information, Mika isn’t sure what is going on.

Math comes to the rescue. Mika has never liked Math, but Mr. Vann has the class conceptualizing the subject in some unconventional ways.  The personal journal he has them create help Mika through this difficult time in her life more than anything else.

The first person narration through Mika’s eyes is the spot on way to tell the story.  There aren’t many middle grade books with cancer as a focus so this is a welcome addition to the shelves.

laugh2FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:laugh2

SOLVING FOR M by Jennifer Swender

  1. Mika’s 25 journal entries with illustrations balance the text nicely. They’re often funny, insightful, and heartfelt.
  2. I had a math teacher in High School who taught the class like Mr. Vann. I learn by actively doing and interacting, rather than listening to a long lecture. It’s no surprise the teachers you remember are the ones who stepped out of the box and made you do the same.
  3. Grandma is the grandmother Mika is lucky to have.  She’s there to support her daughter and granddaughter, doing so with no complaints. A great character.
  4. Mika’s new friends are also a treat: Dee Dee, a science geek (I have to find where I can get one of her hilarious science related t-shirts). And Chelsea who loves to cook.
  5. Readers might see Math and cancer treatment in a whole different light.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Jennifer Swender  (from the website she and her author husband share)

Before turning to writing full-time, Jennifer taught elementary school and preschool in Houston and New York City. Her debut middle grade novel Solving For M is available now! She is currently hard at work on her second novel which still needs a better title than… Book #2. Jennifer also develops curriculum materials for students and teachers. Check out her current project Girls4Tech.

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Comments can be made below. I’ll be responding to each one this week!

Last week’s winner of SWEET HOME ALASKA is June McCrary Jacobs, an MMGM regular  with her fun reviews at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic. Congratulations, June!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

AWESOME ACHIEVERS in TECHNOLOGY

51dQRAhpr7L._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_BACKGROUND (From RUNNING PRESS) Everyone has heard the name Steve Jobs, but what about Nolan Bushnell–Jobs’s boss before the invention of Apple, and the founder of the first major video game, Pong? Many of the most relevant figures in tech history have remained in the shadows, but not any longer! From Alan Katz’s new Awesome Achievers series, Awesome Achievers in Technology gives kids a look behind the scenes at 12 lesser-known inventors whose contributions to tech are personally relevant to their lives today. Each figure is given a traditional biography but is also subject to Katz’s unique brand of silliness, with humorous elements such as imagined poems, song lyrics, and diary entries by and about the not-so-famous figure accompanying each bio.

MY TAKE: The short volume is not meant to be an exhaustive bio on each of the inventors. Instead, you’ll find several pages on each of the talented people detailing what inspired them to create something that benefits many of us today.

The names aren’t familiar ones, but the products you will surely recognize: Atari Video Games, Siri, the modern day seatbelt. wireless remote, windshield wipers, cell phones, security cameras, World Wide Web, fiber optic cable, microwave oven, and Scotchgard.

Author Alan Katz follows each bio with his often laugh out loud antidotes. Most are silly but perfect for the intended audience. Many of the poems, jokes, and stories even had me giggling.

The only thing missing for me were further resources or a bibliography. I have the feeling Mr. Katz would say type the name or product in a search engine and read to your heart’s content.

Overall, AWESOME ACHIEVERS IN TECHNOLOGY is a fascinating and lighthearted look at some almost famous history makers. A great starting point for initial research.

About the Author: Alan Katz is the author of many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs, Don’t Say That Word! OOPS!, Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking, and The Day the Mustache Took Over and its sequel, The Day the Mustache Came Back. Alan is also a six-time Emmy-nominated writer for TV series including The Rosie O’Donnell Show, animated series Taz-Mania, Disney’s Raw Toonage and Goof Troop, the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards, and many network specials and game shows. he has also created comic books, trading card sets, web videos, TV commercials and hundreds of other special projects for kids and parents. He lives with his family in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Alan can also be found at www.alankatzbooks.com.

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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 , , | 1 Comment

WRITING DAY WORKSHOPS

Longtime Writer’s Digest Editor, Chuck Sambuchino manages these one day learning experiences. I went to a recent event in Colorado but many are scheduled throughout the United States and occasionally Canada through 2020. I often don’t have 3-5 days to devote to some of the bigger conferences so this fits my schedule.

Here are three highlights from my day:

1. Pitch Sessions: Agents are available for 10-minutes pitch sessions. You sign up in advance ($29 fee for each) and the top agent slots go quick. I opted for two pitches with two different stories. I detailed my preparation here. I did get requests for pages from both agents so I must have been doing something right. Now it’s sit back and wait.

2. Kristin Nelson Query Presentation : Here I thought I knew everything about the topic of querying, but Ms. Nelson provided a fast paced look at the ins and outs of how to query and why rejections are made. The agency blog, PUB RANTS, is an excellent source for articles on writing and the publishing process. Search the boxes to the right on her page and you will find Kristin’s complete Query presentation.

3. Page One Readings: This hour and a half session gives participants a chance to hear their first page read out loud to a panel of 6-8 agents. They raise their hand when they’ve heard enough and if three hands go up the reading stops. A few never made it past the first paragraph (i.e., I was dreaming of better times…). Thankfully, you don’t put your name on the page so no one knows why you are squirming in the audience. The panel then discusses what was heard. My first page was plucked out of the pile and no hands went up! They read the entire page.  They liked the voice although one agent said her hand almost went up after one line that seemed to be more telling than showing.

That’s all for now. I have a new critique group reading another story so I’m anxious to hear their comments later this month. Baby steps…

Posted in Critiques, Literary Agents, Publishing, Resources, Writing | 4 Comments

MMGM for August 5, 2019

           

Click the cool sun to reach a blogger’s post!

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review and GIVEAWAY  of SWEET HOME ALASKA by Carole Estby Dagg.

June McCrary Jacobs has a special feature on the 75th Birthday Celebration for Smokey Bear!

Sue Heavenrich at Archimedes Notebook has a book for future Space Cadets: The Apollo Missions for Kids: The People and Engineering Behind the Race to the Moon, with 21 Activities.

A GARDEN OF BOOKS has a new release this week, Cardslinger by M.G. Velasco.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea is all about elephants today with her review of Elephant Secret by Eric Walters.

Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story features a review of a “delicious” read in SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES by Margaret Dilloway.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review of Spark by Sarah Beth Durst.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of THE DOLLAR KIDS by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Mrs. Day’s Summer Reading Blog has a review of a book that may have missed your reading list, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

Susan Uhlig fell in love with the illustrated novel, A WOLF CALLED WANDER by Rosanne Parry.

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 her take on NOT IF I CAN HELP IT.

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 Uncategorized | 1 Comment