MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD—THE EDGE OF THE WORD

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

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

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

templateMY COMPLETED FILL IN THE BLANKS REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

“Probably the most talented writer of all time.”
-Drew’s Mom
Drew was born in Ohio to two people from Ohio. Since then, he has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Ireland, and (currently) the Netherlands. He did this out of wanderlust, not to avoid paying taxes. He also managed to marry the woman of his dreams/writing partner, have a baby, and adopt a street cat who can do tricks like a dog.
Drew taught creative writing to kids in NYC and LA for over 10 years. During that time, he got to experience the wonderful absurdity of kids’ stories. One day, he and Alana talked about how funny it would be if there were a place where all those stories came to life. MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD is the story of that place.
Alana found her mind about ten years ago. It had gotten lost in a very hard to reach, dangerous place. But that’s another story altogether. The important thing is that shortly thereafter, she met Drew and they have entirely too much fun together. They love creating characters together, writing, reading aloud, being loud aloud, doing voices and making faces. If you’re curious, none of those faces have stuck. Not even the really weird ones.
Alana’s terrible at moving, but just to make sure of that, she’s schlepped herself (as well as her baby, cat, husband, and luggage) to three different countries in the last two years. But she’s still not as adventurous as her father, who managed to live in the real Amazon (not this website) for several years with only a canteen, a machete, and a treasure map. (But that’s also another story altogether). Alana hopes to get to Ecuador some day and live in the jungle (in spite of being really terrible at moving).
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Comments can be entered below and are much appreciated!
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

EXPLORER ACADEMY—THE DOUBLE HELIX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join the MMGM parade, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). Email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com

Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book or author you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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

Middle Grade in the News—10-30-19

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

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

That’s all for now.

I’ll be back Friday with another review.

Posted in Middle Grade News | 1 Comment

MMGM for 10-28-2019

                     

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

I’m flipping the switch back to graphic icon mode.

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE by Christine Day.

Dorine White at The Write Path features a review of Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, has a S.T.E.A.M. book, Weaving With Little Handmade Looms:  Make Your Own Mini Looms & Weave 25 Exquisite Projects.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea reviews Nothing Up My Sleeve by Diana Lopez

Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books announces the winner of the giveaway for A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY by Nicole Valentine.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has the perfect title for review this Halloween week with Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL features a review of Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS gives us her take on a 2014 Newberry Honor winner—Doll Bones by Holly Black.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including THE YEAR WE FELL FROM SPACE.

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 , , | 1 Comment

I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE

A welcome trend in plot lines among contemporary middle grade novels focuses on kids unsure about their family tree, especially in understanding those family members that came before them. I recently featured Some Places More Than Others, set mostly in Harlem. Today I’m switching over to the west coast of Washington State and this new offering—its roots in the treatment of Native American children prior to some much needed legislation.

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Here’s a brief synopsis from HarperCollins:

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.

Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?

MY THOUGHTS: Twelve-year-old Edie is a great character who loves to draw. Concerns about her native roots are real and understandable. The story moves at a gentle pace with many moments of quiet introspection. The relationship she has with her two best friends is changing and an old nemesis reemerges. It’s hard to deal with all of this when she can’t get answers from her parents about her name. Who exactly was she named after? Edith isn’t very common name for kids these days.

The pace and lack of a boy character (other than two brief appearances by Roger) might keep away some readers. What they’ll miss is a renewed perspective on how many Native American children were never given a fair beginning in their own country. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was something I’d never heard of and I’m glad I know about it now.

The reveal of the secret surrounding Edie’s grandmother is saved for the end and is handled in a beautiful way. Honest and heartfelt, Edie Green’s first person narration will stay with you for a long time.

I hope we’ll continue seeing more books where a child discovers their own heritage through eye opening stories like I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE.

FAVORITE LINES:

They ask me what tribe I’m from. They ask me if I know what buffalo tastes like. They ask me about my spiritual beliefs. They ask me about the percentages and ratios of my blood.

My answer remains the same: “I don’t really know . My mom was adopted.”

About CHRISTINE DAY: Christine Day (Upper Skagit) grew up in Seattle, nestled between the sea, the mountains, and the pages of her favorite books. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington, where she created a thesis on Coast Salish weaving traditions.  I Can Make This Promise is her first novel. Christine lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. (For more visit Christine’s web site).

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

Comment below if you have time!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

NINA SONI, FORMER BEST FRIEND

This first book in the series introduces readers to a curious Indian-American girl who thrives on making lists and loves numbers. Here’s what to expect from Peachtree Publishing:

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Nina tried as hard as she could, but still somehow she forgot about her school project. Fortunately, a class lesson about Alexander Fleming suggests how she might make a great discovery―and thus a great project! But with little sister Kavita’s birthday party right around the corner, and her longtime friendship with Jay on the rocks, Nina has a lot to keep track of.

Published: October, 2019

Pages: 152

The short length and straightforward plot makes for a quick read, especially for those  young readers new to the world of middle grade books. There are touches of science throughout, and a challenge many kids are familiar with—a younger sibling who likes doing things her way.

You’ll become familiar with Indian cuisine (It sure sounded delicious! I’m open for dinner invites) and Hindi Phrases. Nina is an endearing character who enjoys learning. Her unfortunate break-up with best friend Jay comes early in the story, and it’s not until the end that you find out if they reignite their friendship.

The other concern facing Nina is her father. He travels during the week so she only gets to see him on weekends. Another reality for many middle graders.

Geared toward ages 7-10, if you have a child emerging out of  chapter books or need a charming contemporary tale for an established reader, look no further.

I READ AN ARC OF THIS BOOK BEFORE WRITING THE REVIEW.

COMMENTS ARE WELCOME BELOW!

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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, New Release | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

MMGM for 10-21-2019

               

Several months ago I received a note from a blogger asking for a more streamlined MMGM list. Your wish has been granted. On future MMGM posts I can either continue doing my graphic version or use the new format below. Let me know if you have a preference.

  • Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing THE RUBICUS PROPHECY by Alane Adams.
  • Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles interviews Katie Zhao and is giving away a copy of her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR.
  • June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic, reviews a new middle-grade action and adventure novel by Author JJ Johnson, IGGY & OZ — THE PLASTICS OF DOOM.
  • Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea features a review of BIRDIE by Eileen Spinelli.
  • Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL has a review of  LEADING THE WAY by Senator Janet Howell and Theresa Howell.
  • Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews WE’RE NOT FROM HERE by Geoff Rodkey.
  • Dorine White at THE WRITE PATH interviews Charles Suddeth, author of the MG book, STONEMAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS.
  • Suzanne Warr at Tales From The Raven spotlights THE MAYPOP KIDNAPPINGS, by CM Surrisi. There’s also a GIVEAWAY.
  • Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS reviews MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD by Drew Callander and Alana Harrison.
  • Rosi Hollinbeck has a double review. First up is BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN. Then she presents DREAM WITHIN A DREAM. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.
  • Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has a new MMGM post today. After you read her newest, scroll down to see all of her featured books this past week including JUNIOR HIGH DRAMA.
  • Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story takes up the final spot in our list with THE DOUGHNUT KING by Jessie Janowitz.
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 , , | 4 Comments