Escape From A Video Game—The Secret of Phantom Island

Cooper Hawke and the Secret of Phantom Island is the greatest video game nobody has ever played. The treasure-hunting adventure was supposed to set a new standard for gaming. Then, just one month before its release date, it fell off the face of the earth. 

Now, for the first time, you get a chance to play the mysterious game – from the inside. As you outsmart enemies, solve puzzles, and explore the island’s hidden areas, you’ll discover that there’s more to this game than the world realized. (From Andrews McMeels Publishing)

MY TAKE

The first reviews I ever published were for an educational magazine and focused on video games and computer software for kids. Fast forward to present day and what fun it was to dive into this choose your plot adventure. I was even able to beat the video game within the book. It happened too quick, but thankfully there was more. Readers are encouraged to seek out a special added bonus and find every possible ending. Doing so reveals a code you enter online that unlocks a secret story.

Author, Dustin Brady, writes books for kids who hate reading. This new series will have them jumping forward and back through the pages, sometimes having to turn the book upside down or solving the many mind boggling and eyeball moving puzzles. You are encouraged to write in the book unless it’s a library copy. No worries if it is. Go to the book’s webpage and download the puzzling worksheets.

It’s all in good fun and the winners are kids who hate the traditional reading experience. Perfect for the third or fourth grader in your life, or anyone else who loves a good game. Power up and read on.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: September 1, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 176

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (From Dustin’s web site)

Dustin Brady writes funny, action-packed books for kids. Although he regularly gets locked out of his own accounts for forgetting passwords, Dustin still remembers the Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Genie code for infinite lives. It’s SLXPLOVS. Dustin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, kids, and a small dog named Nugget.

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I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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

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 October 5, 2020

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Click  a pumpkintop to reach a blogger’s site

pumpkintopAt ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing OF SALT AND SHORE by Annet Schaap.

pumpkintopNatalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has an interview with Jennifer Nielsen and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Captive Kingdom.

pumpkintopJune McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic features a middle-grade picture book entitled, ‘The Quiltmaker’s Journey‘, as her series on quilting and sewing books continues.

pumpkintopSue Heavenrich is at Sally’s Bookshelf with a review of Stink and the Hairy Scary Spider, by Megan McDonald.

pumpkintopMaria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA tells us what she likes about High and Dry by Eric Walters.

pumpkintopPatricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixeley about a girl and her family touched by mental illness.

pumpkintopFaith Hough at Blythe & Bold returns with a review of Alone in the Woods, by Rebecca Behrens.

pumpkintopAlex Baugh at Randomly Reading has a graphic novel getting a lot of attention – Class Act by Jerry Craft.

pumpkintopRosi Hollinbeck has a review of THE BOY WITH THE BUTTERFLY MIND by Victoria Willimason. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

pumpkintopStephanie Robinson at Fairday’s Blog will be featuring  Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure by Sherry Ellis

pumpkintopKaren Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has a great MMGM review. Check it out along with her other features this past week including a look at CLOSER TO NOWHERE.

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 MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

OF SALT AND SHORE

Lampie has always been a responsible kid. With a vanished mother, an alcoholic father, and a lighthouse to run, she has no choice. But one night, disaster strikes: the lighthouse lamp goes out and a ship is wrecked. Lampie is packed off in disgrace to work off the debt at the Admiral’s ominously nicknamed Black House. 

When the stories of the Black House monster turn out to conceal a marvelous secret, Lampie discovers a world of wonder. This spellbinding what-if sequel to The Little Mermaid stars pirates, mermaids, carnival curiosities, and one girl’s fight for friendship, freedom, and the right to be different. (From Charlesbridge)

This story by Dutch illustrator and writer, Annet Schaap, was first released in 2017. The English translation, to be released this month, will make it available to a wider audience. You’re in for a dark tale that keeps you reading in hopes of a happy ending for our young heroine, Lampie.

She can’t read or write, has no real friends, but still pushes on through all the twists and turns of her life. When Lampie arrives at the Black House things don’t get any better until she discovers the so called monster in the tower room. Their relationship gets off to a rough start when “Fish” as she calls him bites her and draws blood. It’s a slow go to BFF territory from there, but what Lampie does for both of them will effect each of their lives in profound ways.

The third person narration stays with Lampie most of the way, but there are also moments with the father, Fish the monster, and a few other secondary characters. If you like fairy tales and dark plots, you have the perfect one here.

English Version Release: October 13, 2020 Page Count: 352

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT OF SALT AND SHORE

  1. The story has six parts and the art work that starts each section off is amazing.
  2. I’m happy to say this is not a Little Mermaid rehash. It’s a fantasy that sits nicely on its own.
  3. Lampie has such an innocent personality that you instantly want to help her as she does for others. A strong lovable character you won’t forget.
  4. The monster’s character arc will make you smile.
  5. I think kids will like this one more than adults. I guess that makes me a kid at heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annet was born in Ochten and grew up in the village of Maartensdijk, near Utrecht. She studied illustration at the Kunstacademie in Kampen and at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

She has been working as an illustrator for thirty years and has illustrated over 200 books, including the How Do I Survive series, the Superjuffie series, and the work of Jacques Vriens. Annet spent two and a half years traveling across North America in a motorhome named “Molly” with her husband and son.

Her debut novel, Lampje, was first published in her home country of the Netherlands, where she now lives with her family. Lampje has won four prizes, including the best Dutch children’s book of the year for 2018; it has been released in the UK as Lampie and the Children of the Sea and is now available in the United States as Of Salt & Shore.

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I received an ARC to complete this review. Comments are welcome below.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Mr. Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise

SYNOPSIS: Mr. Penguin and his Adventuring gang board a luxury cruise ship for some much-needed rest and a little entertainment. With Colin, his kung fu spider sidekick, preparing to perform with the Ladies Choir and fish finger sandwiches available twenty-four hours a day, Mr. Penguin isn’t even bothered that he can’t swim and is deeply afraid of water.

But when a series of odd events infiltrates a façade of glamorous parties filled with a who’s who of film stars and politicians, Mr. Penguin can’t help but feel that something shifty is happening on board. And when he befriends a young stowaway with a mystery of her own to solve, he soon finds that Adventures are lying in wait after all.

MY TAKE: Mr. Penguin is back for a third adventure and this one might be the most entertaining of them all. Previously I reviewed MR. PENGUIN AND THE LOST TREASURE and MR. PENGUIN AND THE FORTRESS OF SECRETS.

There couldn’t be a better setting than a luxury cruise ship on its inaugural voyage for this new tale. The fun, whimsical cartoon like drawings are spaced nicely within the text and readers will smile at many of the caricatures. The story is a huge mystery that unravels in quick fashion. There are no slow parts to be had here as surprises along with what Mr. Penguin is going to eat next keep the story light and fun.

No worries if you haven’t had the opportunity to read the first two before jumping overboard to this one—it holds up fine on its own. Perfect for reluctant readers and the rest of us who need a break from the more serious tone of MG books these days.

All Aboard!

Latch onto a free series activity kit

Read an Excerpt here

The book is out this week and you can order your copy here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR

After briefly considering careers in space travel, cookery and being a rabbit, Alex T. Smith finally decided to become an illustrator. He graduated from Coventry University with a degree in Illustration and won second place in the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Illustration. Alex lives in England. You can visit his website here.

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

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

ODDS and ENDS for a new month

Happy October! Many things are going on this month that may have gotten buried in your inbox or desktop. Let me unclutter them for you.

Nominations open today and close in just two weeks on October 15th. If you are a blogger be sure to nominate your favorite book from the past year. There are categories from picture books to YA.

Check out the CYBILS site for all the details.

If you have a completed MG, YA, or Adult story you’ve written, this opportunity might be a path to publication. If mentors choose your book, they work with you to get it ready for the agent round. But hurry, You must submit your work by 10 pm EDT tonight (October 1). Find the details here.

Finally, my blog is called ALWAYS in the MIDDLE for many reasons. The main one is I read and review Middle Grade books. Occasionally I get a book sent my way not in this category. Last month I received a picture book that I couldn’t resist sharing.

I just loved the the whimsical pictures and the letters home from astronaut Clayton Anderson. He details life on the space station and lets you in on a few space secrets kids will love (e.g. Just how long can you wear underwear in space?). This would also appeal to older readers, especially the PS section where more in depth details of space life are given. Click on the book’s image to order your own copy of the book.

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That’s all for now. Hurry back tomorrow for my review of Mr. Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise.

Posted in Awards, Middle Grade News, New Release, Resources | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

MMGM for September 28, 2020

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Click  a green checkmark to reach a blogger’s site

green checkmarkAt ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of 1 FOR ALL by Sean McCollum plus an interview with the author.

green checkmarkJune McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic features a historical fiction picture book for young middle-graders, Under the Quilt of Night, about the Underground Railroad.

green checkmarkAustralian author S.W. Lothian makes a rare but welcome appearance to our MMGM list. He reviews JIM MORGAN AND THE PIRATES OF THE BLACK SKULL BY JAMES MATLACK RANEY.

green checkmarkCompletely Full Bookshelf returns this week with a review of All Together Now by Hope Larson.

green checkmarkAlex Baugh at Randomly Reading has Barbara Dee’s My Life in the Fish Tank.

green checkmarkRosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of SKUNK AND BADGER by Amy Timberlake. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

green checkmarkPatricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk, a beautiful story about a girl finding her gifts during the Great Depression.

green checkmarkMaria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA features The Day I was Erased by Lisa Thompson.

green checkmarkKaren Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has a great MMGM review. Check it out along with her other features this past week including a look at the AMERICAN DOG series.

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 MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

1 FOR ALL (plus an Interview with the author!)

J.J. thinks this year he will lead his eighth-grade team to the conference title. But bad breaks, a new coach, and a long-standing grudge sabotage J.J.’s hopes and leave him struggling on and off the court. Can J.J. and his teammates salvage a lost season?

Whether you are basketball lover or just mildly follow the sport, author Sean McCollum delivers a sweet tale about perseverance, team work, and digging deep to find the person you want to be. The story truly is 1 for all.

The first person narration stays close to star J.J. Picket, captain of the eighth-grade Traverse Middle School Musketeers. He lives with his parents and younger sister. When problems at home and on his team bring new challenges, he’s not ready to deal with what it takes to be a respected leader and teammate.

There’s a whole season of basketball here as J.J. looks to his friends, coach, and his dad for advice. The interactions are honest and authentic. No, the Musketeers won’t be winning any championship this year, but what they get instead will last them a lifetime.

An enjoyable and often heartfelt look at being a teen athlete.

Published: 2020 Page Count: 142

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT 1 FOR ALL by Sean McCollum

  1. Help is here for those who don’t know the difference between a roll post and a box out. All the basketball terms are explained in the back pages and plays are diagrammed within the story.
  2. The analogy Dad uses of hornets attacking from inside when things don’t go right is a special moment he shares with his son. The conversation lasts less than one page but any teen who is struggling would benefit from the words.
  3. Sport fans will enjoy the strategizing it takes to compete with a team better than your own.
  4. Urges readers to dig deeper about people they don’t respect and find their true story. Every one has an untold tale.
  5. Sequel please. The ninth grade year would sure be fun to follow.

About the Author

Sean McCollum was raised in Wisconsin, graduated from Lawrence University, and left the United States soon after to backpack around the world. During his travels, he worked on scientific projects in Australia and the South Pacific, taught English in East Asia, and traveled overland 5,000 miles across Africa. Drawing on his adventures, McCollum began a career in writing in New York City in 1992. Today, Sean is a digital nomad, writing stories and articles from all around the world. Together with his partner of 30 years, Sean has lived in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, Oceania and the South Pacific, and has traveled in some 65 countries. He is the author of more than 60 titles and hundreds of magazine articles for such publications as National Geographic Kids, Junior Scholastic, and Teaching Tolerance. Sean also develops online educational content for the Kennedy Center. 1 For All is his first book with Brattle Trade, a Division of Brattle Publishing Group®.

I searched the globe for Sean and finally found him in Arizona of all places. He agreed to answer a few of my questions this morning. Welcome Sean to ALWAYS in the MIDDLE…

Where did the idea come from to write 1 FOR ALL?

Hi Greg! This novel was apparently bubbling in me for decades. I have been a big sports fan since the time I could double dribble, and the story has roots in my own time as a third-string guard in 8th grade oh so long ago. Like the Musketeers in the story, our squad was shortish but our coach really emphasized stamina, speed, and quickness. We ended up being a pretty good team.

At the heart of the story for me, though, was the question of how we deal with adversity. If the team is at the bottom of the standings, why should we keep showing up to play? If you know you’re not going to be a starter, should you even go out for the team? I think nurturing a love of the game and teamwork is more important than winning, especially in youth sports. Winning streaks end. Love lasts.

Well said! How long was the journey to get your story published? Anything you would do differently?

Great question. This book is more than ten years in the actual writing, editing, and publishing. I had been working on other projects with Richard Lena and Carol Karton at Brattle, and the opportunity arose to share this story that had disappeared into a drawer somewhere. After some very helpful guidance and criticism from Rich and Carol, the novel took on a fuller shape. It became a collaboration and that made all the difference.

What would I do differently? Read more and more constantly the works of Chris Crutcher, Mike Lupica, Kwame Alexander, Bill Konigsberg, Jason Reynolds, and Sue Macy—among others.

How did your main character, J.J. Pickett, come about? Did he evolve as you wrote the initial drafts, or did you already have his traits and character arc set before forming the plot?

J.J. definitely evolved. At first, he was too likable. He was the hero, after all. But in novels, especially MG novels, the protagonist has to face and engage with events that change her or him in significant ways. So I had to rewrite J.J. multiple times to add some rougher edges to start with so he could show more growth and development. It’s a balancing act to create characters who are likable enough that we want to cheer for them on their journey, but also with enough flaws that changes are noticeable.

In my fiction writing, the character usually leads the way into the plot. After that, the plot and characters influence and shape each other. I constantly asked the question: “How will J.J. respond to this situation in a way that’s true to his character?” At the same time, I want readers to be surprised by twists in both characterization and plot. I have this internal guide when I’m reading a story or watching a movie or show: If I can predict EXACTLY what the character says or does next, then the writers did not do their job. To create something understandable and coherent but still surprising—that’s the sweet spot.

What appeals to you about writing for middle grade?

I have so many different genres that come out to play in my imagination—nonfiction, fiction, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, YA, etc. Very quickly a story tells me who the audience is, and I go with that. But there’s also this middle-school age kid who still lives in me who remembers the feelings associated with winning, losing, saying something stupid or mean, failure, and first kisses.

Middle grade holds a special place for me, because it’s that threshold that connects childhood to adolescence to adulthood. To make that transition requires a boatload of mistakes, and sailing that boat takes courage and fortitude—all great themes for stories. I don’t think it’s enough, though, to tell tweens and teens, “Go ahead and make mistakes!” We adults need to be willing to reveal the mistakes WE make and have made and model healthy ways we’ve developed to deal with them. (Or unhealthy, let’s be honest.) Only then can young people get a real sense of how to own up to them, cope with them, and have some faith or confidence that the world does not end every time we mess up.

What is your writing routine? Every day at a specific time or just whenever you find the inspiration?

On a perfect day, I wake up very early, make coffee, meditate, then sit down to write. But I try not to let perfection get in the way of progress. So I write when I can, but mornings are when the words come more easily. Distractions are my biggest hurdles these days. I currently find current events way too interesting!

Me too. What projects you are working on now?

Besides work work as a freelance writer, I’ve got a picture book We CAN’T Go Outside! that I’m trying to sell, and am in the middle of revising a chapter book, Daisy and May, about a prairie dog and the girl who rescues her. I’m also in the planning stages of a YA novel called Lucky Boots about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which I did a few years ago. I’ve got notebooks full of more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write, but as long as new ones keep dropping into the old gumball machine, I’ll keep writing them down.

Thanks for joining us today. You can keep up with Sean via his website. And order your own copy of 1 FOR ALL right here.

Thanks, Greg!

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I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Please comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

A Double Header: POUNCE! & FETCH!

It’s National Dog Week and next month on October 29th we celebrate National Cat Day. If your family has recently added a new feline or canine member to the family you must have these books. Intended for ages 8-12, renowned vet Dr. Gary Weitzman takes readers on a journey to train their new pet.

Here’s what to expect:

Fetch! A How to Speak Dog Training Guide – Whether teaching a puppy the basics — such as “sit,” “stand,” and “stay” — correcting behavioral problems, or training your pooch to perform more advanced tricks, this comprehensive guide will take you through all the steps to have your canine answering your call in no time. Kids will bond with their pups through structured lessons that showcase easy-to-follow instructions and commands. Additional content introduces readers to Hollywood hounds, dogs on the job, how to make your own dog toys and famous canines through history. 

Learn fun ways to solve these training conundrums:·       

  • How do I decode my dog’s behavior so I know when it’s good (or bad) timing to train them?
  • How do I keep my dog calm?
  • When is it a good idea to give my dog a treat? What kinds of treats would you recommend
  • What kind of leashes do you recommend
  • Why is there no such thing as a bad dog? Should I punish my dog for bad behavior
  • What should I do about: Leash pulling, jumping on guests, and “accidents” in the house?

Pounce! A How To Speak Cat Training Guide –  Whether you want to train your kitty to walk on a leash or are trying to teach your cat to use a scratching post instead of the couch, Pounce! will take you through all the steps you need to know to get started. Kids and their parents will learn basic training, corrective training, and tricks they can do with their cats. Fun special features introduce readers to famous trained cats, felines in ancient Egypt, and so much more. 

Get easy-to understand answers and solutions to these feline training questions:·       

  • Can you really train a cat
  • How do I get my cat into their cat carrier
  • What does it mean when my cat’s tail swishes a lot
  • How do I solve my cat’s: chewing, urinating outside the kitty litter box, going crazy at night etc…?
  • What are hunting games? Why are they important for cats?

The organization of each book couldn’t have been better. They begin with necessary information about the specie with insights as to how the animal thinks. Then it’s time to try out some tricks beginning with the basic and continuing on up to the harder ones.

Adorable color pictures accompany each section and there’s even a problem solving chapter. Here you get detailed information when you need to change an undesirable pet behavior. From not utilizing the litter box for cats to excessive barking in dogs.

At the end is a quiz to see if you have mastered the essential techniques along with a handy resource section for further learning and growth. Even I learned a new things along the way and I’ve been a lifelong pet lover.

Order your copy today. You and your pet will surely be the winners. If you need more convincing, my adopted best friend gives her own hearty recommendation.

ABOUT THE VET

Gary Weitzman joined San Diego Humane Society as its President and CEO in 2012. A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator, he has served as Chair of the Board of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and is currently a board member of Shelter Animals Count, and Mama’s Kitchen, a San Diego nonprofit committed to providing food for people with chronic illnesses. An Air Force veteran, he earned a double BA in Biology and English from Colby College, a Master’s in International Public Health from Boston University and his DVM from Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Weitzman was the former co-host of the nationally distributed public radio program The Animal House which ran for 7 years, and is the author of eight books published by National Geographic: Everything Dogs, How to Speak Dog, How to Speak Cat, The Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness and from National Geographic Kids are Dog Breed Guide, and Cat Breed Guide.

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

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 , , , , , | 2 Comments

MMGM for September 21, 2020

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Click on a fall-leaves-clip-art-15 to reach a blogger’s site

fall-leaves-clip-art-15At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of ROOSEVELT BANKS—GOOD KID IN TRAINING by Laurie Calkhoven.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has an interview with debut author Laura Stegman and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Summer of L.U.C.K. 

fall-leaves-clip-art-15June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic hosts a blog tour stop for Trouble Blows West. Included is an excerpt, guest post, and giveaway sponsored by the author.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Sue Heavenrich is over at Sally’s Bookshelf today with a review of Ways to Make Sunshine, by Renée Watson.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Matt Sweeney at Woodpecker Books features the second book in the Train to Impossible Places series- The Great Brain Robbery. 

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Jenni Enzor takes us to the animal world of Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading has a review of Not Your All-American Girl by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Maria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA shares some thoughts about Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews The Case of the Bad Apples by Robin Newman, the third chapter book in the Griswold and Wilcox Mystery series.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Rosi Hollinbeck reviews A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

fall-leaves-clip-art-15Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has a great MMGM review. Check it out along with her other features last week including a look at THREE KEYS.

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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Roosevelt Banks—Good-Kid-in-Training

I’ve spent the majority of my free time during this strange year reading MG books with heartbreaking themes: Opioid abuse, Divorce, Parental Neglect, Kids in Comas, and I could go on. They were all great stories, but they pulled me down even lower than the nightly newscast.

But then, appearing at the top of my review pile was this happy looking cover:

I’d only read a few pages when this line appeared and a smile returned to my MG loving face:

Mom took a deep breath. Parents and teachers do that—a lot. I guess when you’re old you need extra air.

The narrator is ten year old Roosevelt Banks. He has loving parents, a younger sister named Kennedy, and Millard Fillmore the dog (Yes, his parents have a thing for Presidential names).

Roosevelt has a kid size problem. His two best friends are leaving him out of an upcoming bike ride and camping trip. How could they? It was his bike that got destroyed helping one of them out with a science experiment. A deal with his parents could make everything right. They’ll get him a new bike if he can be good for two weeks. A big challenge for Roosevelt.

Filled with humorous insights and fast moving scenes through 120 pages, you just know this is going to have a happy ending. Getting there will for sure bring a smile to your face and little break from the world around you. A perfect starter for any new MG reader, especially those in 3rd and 4th grade.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT ROOSEVELT BANKS—GOOD-KID IN-TRAINING

  1. Excellent illustrations throughout. The one with four kids in the principal’s office should be hanging on every principal’s wall.
  2. No children, pets, or neighbors were harmed in the plot of this story.
  3. What? No sequel? We need more Roosevelt Banks please.
  4. A diverse cast of friends. There’s Asian-American Josh and African-American Tommy.
  5. I appreciated the short doses of presidential trivia thrown in.

FROM THE AUTHOR

I always loved books and reading, and I guess I always wanted to be a writer.  But I didn’t know you could be such a thing.  So the first thing I thought I wanted to be was a librarian. 

I remember walking into the library for the first time and being totally amazed and awed — shelf after shelf of books, all waiting to be read. I can’t remember the title of the first book I read through all by myself, but I remember closing it and then starting all over again at the beginning.  I read as much as I could.

For more about Laurie Calkhoven visit her author web site.

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I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Please comment below.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , | 10 Comments