SOCCER TROPHY MYSTERY + Book Blast w/GIVEAWAY

Fred Bowen is back with the newest addition to the popular middle grade Fred Bowen Sports Story Series. SOCCER TROPHY MYSTERY comes in at 25th in the series. He’s covered football, basketball, baseball, and now four titles in the soccer realm.

This newest will appeal to kids who would rather be playing sports than reading about them. It’s short length (144 pages) and appealing text layout will convince even the most reluctant reader to give this a go. There’s plenty of on the field action but the missing trophy mystery is the main focus.

Thirteen-year-old twins Aiden and Ava and their good friend Daniel, all avid soccer players, have just learned their county league soccer trophy mysteriously disappeared forty years ago from the town library. It was never recovered. So between games and practices for the town’s soccer championships, the three friends try to solve the case. But will these amateur detectives be able to unravel the mystery and find someone who had both motive and opportunity to commit the crime? And will their teams make it all the way to the championships?

The change to a mystery format works well for young readers, especially those who have never picked up a middle grade book. SOCCER TROPHY MYSTERY also looks at girls in sports and the inequities when compared to boys in past sport’s history. The characters work well together to eventually solve the mystery and it caught me by surprise as to the guilty party.

A bonus in the final pages is a look at “The Real Story” about the disappearance of the original World Cup trophy that was never recovered. If soccer isn’t your sport then choose another Fred Bowen book and dive right in as each title stands alone.

Congratulations on 25 years of Fred Bowen Sports Story Series. That alone is trophy worthy. Keep reading to find out how to enter the 3-book Giveaway.

Buy: https://peachtree-online.com/portfolio-items/soccer-trophy-mystery/

Excerpt: https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/SoccerTrophyMysteryExcerpt.pdf

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FRED BOWEN is the author of Peachtree’s popular Fred Bowen Sports Story Series for middle grade readers. A lifelong sports fanatic, he has coached youth league baseball, basketball, and soccer. His kids’ sports column “The Score” appears each week in the KidsPost section of the Washington Post. Bowen lives in Maryland. Visit his website at www.fredbowen.com.

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This new book is a part of the GIVEAWAY along with these two past titles:

Hardcourt Comeback (2010)

Part of Fred Bowen Sports Story Series

by Fred Bowen

Calling all basketball fans! Return to the court in this action-packed Sports Story Series book from Washington Post KidsPost columnist and author Fred Bowen – perfect for fans of Mike Lupica and Tim Green.

“Reads like a successful drive to the hoop—quick, purposeful, and effective.” ―Booklist

Brett Carter, the Wildcats’ star forward, is a hotshot on his basketball team—or at least he was. After missing an easy layup shot at the buzzer in one of the most important games of the season, he feels like a total loser. And things only get worse from there…

At his best friend’s birthday party at a rock-climbing center, Brett freezes on the wall. Then he blows an easy question in the American history bee at school. And when he gets back on the court, he can’t get rid of this terrible pounding in his chest. Brett is losing his confidence fast. With the championship game is coming up, can he overcome his fears and play like a “winner” again?

In the afterword, author Fred Bowen shares real stories of well-known players and their hard-fought comebacks.

Buy: https://peachtree-online.com/portfolio-items/hardcourt-comeback/

Excerpt: https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/HardcourtComebackexcerpt.pdf

Discussion Guide: https://peachtree-online.com/pdfs/DiscussionGuides/HardcourtComebackDG.pdf

The Golden Glove (2009)

Part of Fred Bowen Sports Story Series

by Fred Bowen

Ready to hit the baseball diamond? Check out this action-packed Sports Story Series book from Washington Post KidsPost columnist and author Fred Bowen – perfect for fans of Mike Lupica and Tim Green.

Jamie’s lucky glove is the most precious thing in the world to him. He’s spent all winter oiling it while readying his skills for the upcoming season. But what happens when he loses the glove?

After an unsuccessful search and a disappointing first game, Jamie realizes he’s lost much more than his glove. He’s lost confidence. So when he seeks help from the owner of a local sporting goods shop—a former minor league player—the old-timer shares the history of baseball gloves along with a few fielding tips to help improve Jamie’s game. But will it be enough to rebuild his confidence and replace the “luck” his beloved glove gave him?

Author Fred Bowen engages baseball lovers in this relatable story of self-doubt, luck, and facing your fears. In the afterword, readers can learn more about the history of baseball gloves.

Buy: https://peachtree-online.com/portfolio-items/the-golden-glove/

Excerpt: https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/GoldenGloveexcerpt.pdf

Discussion Guide: https://peachtree-online.com/pdfs/DiscussionGuides/GoldenGloveDG.pdf

REVIEWS

“The books in the Fred Bowen Sports Story series are fast-paced, and at just over 100 pages, they’re perfect for reluctant readers…. Young readers will devour these stories, along with their painless lessons, and still have time to join their friends for games.”

School Library Journal

Hardcourt Comeback: “This entry in the Fred Bowen Sports Story series is flush with life lessons about perseverance, dedication, and picking oneself up after a hard knock, not to mention loads of on-court action. It reads like a successful drive to the hoop—quick, purposeful, and effective.”

Booklist

“Fred Bowen never disappoints. His many action-packed novels speak to the hearts and minds of young sports lovers, and he demonstrates know-how and grace in writing about baseball, basketball, soccer and football.”

Washington Parent Magazine

GIVEAWAY

  • 5 winners will receive a 3-book set from the Fred Bowen Sports Story SeriesSoccer Trophy Mystery, Hardcourt Comeback, and The Golden Glove.
  • US/CA/PR
  • Giveaway ends 9/19 at 11:59pm ET

Enter here where you will be taken to the RAFFLECOPTER entry form.

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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 , , | 2 Comments

MMGM for August 30, 2021

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 Click on each “READ” to open up some great Middle Grade reviews and features.

clipart15031At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing LINKED by Gordon Korman, the third in my series of MG book reviews with boy protagonists.

clipart15031June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing & Stitch-metic has a Retro Feature on her paperback copy of ‘Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins’ first published January 1, 1964.

clipart15031Kim Aippersbach is featuring a review of Sayantana DasGupta’s The Serpent’s Secret.

clipart15031Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews the MG fantasy, The World Between Blinks by Amie Kaufman and Ryan Graudin. A fun end-of-the-summer read.

clipart15031Maria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA gives us insights to WAR AND MILLIE McGONIGLE by Karen Cushman.

clipart15031Welcome Back to Susan Olson at Times Travel Times Two. She has a review of JUKEBOX, by NIDHI CHANANI.

clipart15031Rosi Hollinbeck features a review of THE BEST WORST SUMMER by Elizabeth Eulberg. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

clipart15031Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads fills her blog with great reviews all week and today for MMGM she features: HISTORY IS DELICIOUS and ONE KID’S TRASH.

 THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!
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

LINKED

Week 3 of my book reviews featuring male protagonists is quite different from the first two—the endearing AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY and the intriguing plot of THE DOUBLE LIFE OF DANNY DAY. Both featured single first person narratives whereas LINKED has 7 different viewpoints stretched over 33 chapters. Seventh grader Lincoln Rowley takes 9 of those chapters and is the main focus of the story line.

Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. But it’s woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into school and vandalizes it with a swastika.

Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing?

Because Michael was the first person to see it, he’s the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone’s looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana’s the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone’s treating her more like an outsider than ever.

The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past.

Author, Grodon Korman continues to amaze readers with another winning plot. It’s a who-dunnit that will have you trying to figure out who is painting this hurtful symbol on school property. For Link it becomes personal after finding out his grandmother as a child and her immediate family were personally traumatized by the Holocaust.

The students come up with a plan to make a linked chain of 6 million paper circles, each commemorating a Jewish life lost. A very difficult task to undertake. When a popular online video star arrives in Chokecherry, Colorado to broadcast the efforts, he drums up a lot of hurtful past the town has tried to forget.

Racism and personal identity are not new issues but are covered in a thought provoking way in LINKED. I was surprised who was behind the graffiti after accusing many different suspects. But beyond the mystery is an understanding that will illicit rich discussion and a coming of age story that will stay with you for a long time.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: July 20, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 256

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: LINKED by Gordan Korman

  1. There’s also a light touch when needed with Korman’s trademark humor. He has assembled a realistic cast of characters here—especially the students.
  2. Is it possible to forgive someone for a hateful act? This aspect of the story was well plotted out.
  3. This is a rare book that various generations can enjoy. If you’ve never read middle grade this is the perfect one to begin your journey.
  4. The motivation to write the story came from The Paper Clips Project at Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennesee.
  5. The use of a TIKTOK video star will bring you up to date as to what tweens and teens are viewing online these days. It’s a whole different world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Gordon Korman

I’ve been writing for more than three-quarters of my life. My books have been translated into 32 languages and have sold over 30 million copies worldwide. I have a BFA degree from New York University with a major in Dramatic Writing and a minor in Film and TV.

I now live on Long Island, outside New York City, with my wife and family. When I’m not writing, you can usually find me driving one of my three kids to some practice or rehearsal or game. Either that, or I’m on the road, appearing at schools, libraries, and bookstores, meeting my readers.

For his complete, fascinating biography visit the author’s web site

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Comments are welcome below! Be sure to visit the other MMGM bloggers.

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

HOUSE OF HEROES

This funny and engaging series comes to America with two books featuring a smart female hero named Henrie. Her first person narrative speaks to the readers like she’s sitting across the table from you. From her first words “I KNOW I have to tell you right away…” Henrie will have you hooked on her story. Here’s the background from Kane Miller Publishing:

Twelve-year-old Henrie is the first girl heir of the Melchior family in 200 years. For the House of Melchior (HoMe), in the business of heroes for hire – boy heroes, that is – this is terrible news…

Book one, HAPLESS HERO HENRIE

When Henrie receives a mysterious note, it sets off a chain of events including a kidnapping, a fancy skateboard maneuver, a private jet and the discovery of something rotten at the heart of HoMe. As past, present, and future collide, HoMe is poised to come tumbling down… unless a new kind of hero can emerge from the rubble.

The pacing is excellent and there are many surprising twists along the way. Henrie lives with her Aunt Ellie and has always been curious about the fate of her parents. She was whisked away at birth when she was supposed to be a boy and doesn’t even know what mom and dad look like.

The story is accompanied by the occasional illustration and side notes from Henrie. She sneaks on a private jet with new friend Alex and the mystery unfolds. She meets her grandfather who is at least civil towards her—compared to the hateful and undermining reception she gets from an uncle and two boy cousins. No, she doesn’t find her parents but does find answers to the many questions she has about the Melchior family.

A page-turning good time for middle grade readers!

Book two, HENRIE’S HERO HUNT

After Marley Hart calls on the Hero Hotline, Henrie, Marley, and Alex Fischer are in a race against time to find Henrie’s missing parents, a missing gold statue, and the answers to questions piling up… Will Henrie solve the Hunt? Will she find her parents? Or will the House of Melchior shadow her forever?

The hunt is on…

Henrie answers the phone at HoMe and suddenly is in the middle of her first hero case. It delays the search for her parents but the case actually brings them closer.

This second books is more of a sleuthing mystery. Henrie has the help of Alex and his father, Aunt Ellie, and Marley, who has enlisted their help to find the truth about her Great Aunt Agnes.

It all comes to a satisfying end, and there’s a bonus 2-page Hero Passport readers will enjoy filling out on themselves—all in secret of course.

Intriguing puzzles for solving the mystery are scattered throughout. Henrie Melchior is a heroine that keeps you turning the pages. A fun mystery for middle grade readers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Petra James was born in a small town in the South Island of New Zealand, and came to Australia via London. She has written several fiction and nonfiction titles for children and, most recently, is the author of the seven books in the Arkie Sparkle series. Like Arkie, she wanted to be an archaeologist when she grew up (she had planned to work her way through the career alphabet but didn’t get past ”A”), but instead sold chocolate chip cookies and eventually found her way into publishing. When she is not sending fictional characters (often named after streets) on adventures, she works in children’s publishing in Sydney.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

MMGM for August 23, 2021

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 Click on a green book to open up some great Middle Grade reviews and features.

BiaA9G4i8At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing THE DOUBLE LIFE OF DANNY DAY by Mike Thayer, the second in my series of MG book reviews with boy protagonists.

BiaA9G4i8COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF is recommending Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter.

BiaA9G4i8Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers is back with us again this week with a review of Short Cuts by Sigmund Brouwer.

BiaA9G4i8Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson, a perfect story for readers interested in wildlife rehabilitation.

BiaA9G4i8Maria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA shares several thoughts on BLACKBIRD GIRLS by Anne Blankman.

BiaA9G4i8Stephanie Robinson at Fairday’s Blog is featuring Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler. 

BiaA9G4i8Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading has an old favorite this week, Three Keys by Kelly Yang. 

BiaA9G4i8Rosi Hollinbeck features a double review and GIVEAWAY of THE GENIUS UNDER THE TABLE and PICTURING A NATION. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

BiaA9G4i8Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads fills her blog with great reviews all week and today for MMGM she features: EYES OF THE FOREST.

 THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!
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

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF DANNY DAY

Welcome to the second of three recent MG books with male protagonists. Last week I shared my thoughts on AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY and today is a different kind of plot featuring young Danny and his unusual life.

The intriguing opening will have you turning the page for more:

My name is Danny Day. I’ve ditched school 346 times and I still have perfect attendance. I broke my leg last week, but I don’t have a cast. I never study for a test or quiz until I’ve seen what’s on it. I’ve played more than four thousand hours of video games in the past three years, and yet my parents have hardly seen me play. How is this possible, you ask? Well, the answer is pretty simple: I live every day twice.

Each of the 31 chapters lets you know the date and whether it’s a Discard Day where anything goes since all will be forgotten by the next day; or a Sticky Day where all is remembered just like it normally would happen. Danny can take what he learned the first time through and apply it with success on the repeat day.

His family is unaware of his predicament although he has a therapist who has helped him deal with his unusual life. Plenty of bullies to contend with but the plot centers around one of the worst, Noah, who runs a lunchtime paid video game competition where he always wins the interactive Champions Royale. Is he really that good or is there cheating behind the scenes?

Danny sets out to find the answer with the help of two new friends. There’s Freddie, a girl who with some great comebacks and Zak, a music loving, peaceful soul who deals with conflict in his own special way. Gamers will enjoy every minute of the game time portrayed, especially the final match. I had more fun seeing what Danny would do on his Discard Day. Driving the parents’ car was just one of the never do in real life experiences for a sixth grader.

With an unusual plot and a likeable protagonist, THE DOUBLE LIFE OF DANNY DAY, will hopefully make it into many middle grader’s regular day.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: JUNE 15, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 320

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF DANNY DAY by Mike Thayer

  1. Everyone should have friends like Freddie and Zak. They both bring their own special way of helping Danny. Kind and respectful.
  2. If you have younger sisters, Danny’s twin sisters will be familiar. They are always getting into trouble with their destructive behavior. Good thing they have an older brother who can help them avoid trouble on the real days since he already knows what is about to happen.
  3. Learn from your mistakes is the prevalent theme and the story would make a great discussion or writing topic for kids. Which days would you like to have a do-over? Also a good classroom read-aloud.
  4. Life in sixth grade is portrayed perfectly. With social media’s presence and the typical cliques, you may be comparing it to your middle grade years.
  5. There’s hint of a sequel which would be fun to see the story continued.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Mike Thayer. Son of Douglas and Donlu Thayer, youngest of six, father of three and husband of one. I spent my youth playing video games, football, jam ball, doorbell ditching, camping, mowing lawns, watching action movies, recording pranks before there was YouTube, pursuing the opposite sex, and day dreaming about super powers and heroic deeds. I served an LDS mission in Rome, Italy where I rubbed shoulders with mob bosses and amassed a collection of fantastic ties. Shortly after that, I married, completed a degree in Chemical Engineering and began procreation. From there, a job in the Oil & Gas industry took me from the Rocky Mountains of Utah to the humid flatlands of Texas.

(For Mike’s full story of how he got into writing visit his author web site)

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Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

GUITARS

I’ve always had a fascination with guitars. As a teen I took lessons on an acoustic guitar but never got very good at it. I still enjoy the different sounds guitars can make. There’s nothing better than listening to a gifted master play the instrument live.

Now there is a book that explores the history of the guitar. Perfect to entice young readers to give the guitar a try.

First up is a pictorial representation of the guitar parts. There are 8 total but an electric guitar has 10. The science and history of the guitar are detailed although pinpointing exact beginnings is difficult, but is thought to be 1490 B.C.

Next comes HOW DOES AN ELECTRIC GUITAR WORK? before we meet guitar maker Meredith Coloma. The step by step process of how both an acoustic and electric guitar are made is detailed with accompanying images. It’s quite the process!

Finally, there is a brief look at many of the greatest guitarists of all time like Les Paul, Chuck Berry, and Carlos Santana. The pages come to an end with a detailed timeline of important events in the history of the guitar along with Resources and Bibliography.

Young and old alike will be making their own tunes after reading the interesting details in GUITARS. This new release is available now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patricia Lakin, a former elementary school teacher and an award-winning author, has written more than fifty published works. Her books, both fiction and nonfiction, span multiple age groups—from toddlers to middle graders. Patricia lives in New York City with her husband, Lee Koenigsberg. They have two grown sons, Aaron and Benjahmin. When not reading, writing, or researching, she can be found traveling with Lee to far-off places in the world.

Other titles in the series include Skateboards, Steel Drums, and Bicycles.

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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 August 16, 2021

                 boy-20clip-20art-school-boy-md

 Click on a red book to open up some great Middle Grade reviews and features.

happy bookAt ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY by Cliff Burke, my first in a series of MG book reviews with boy protagonists.

happy book Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles interviews debut author Christyne Morrell with a GIVEAWAY of her MG fantasy Kingdom of Secrets.

happy bookSue Heavenrich at Archimedes Notebook has a non-fiction book, Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World, by Miranda Krestovnikoff.

happy bookJune McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic has Yonie Wondernose  by Author Marguerite de Angeli, a historical fiction book about an Amish boy.

happy bookAuthor Michelle Mason is back with another MG roundup including Everywhere Blue and a few other MG books you should read.

happy bookCOMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF is recommending Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani.

happy bookPatricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews These Unlucky Stars by Gillian McDunn.

happy bookMaria Antonia at OF BOOKS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND TEA features LEAVING LYMON by Lesa Cline-Ransome.

happy bookRosi Hollinbeck has a review of UPSTAGED by Diana Harmon Asher. Rosi also shares three helpful links for her writing friends.

happy bookKaren Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads fills her blog with great reviews all week and today for MMGM she features: HOPE SPRINGS.

 THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!
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

AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY

I’ve been getting quite a few requests from parents and boys looking for books with male protagonists. I have three good ones to share beginning with today’s review of AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY.

Theo is 13 and the narrator of the story. His older sister is almost 16 and they both do a good job of annoying each other—quite often with laugh out loud results. Dad is a High School science teacher and the whole family is off for their summer trip to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. It’s the first trip since Mom died of cancer two years prior.

Theo is not a fan of being outdoors in secluded places. Too many things to worry about like snakes and bears. He would much rather be working on his graphic novel Bob: The Boy with Perfect Memory. Dad has other ideas like living close to nature and one problem after another is just what Theo didn’t want. He does though become a hero of sorts.

But Dad’s real purpose for the trip is to introduce his “girlfriend” who meets them for the last two days of the vacation. Much too soon for both Theo and his sister who have never had the opportunity to address the grief trapped inside them. It all comes out in a perfect climatic way.

Thirty-eight chapters fly by thanks to the doses of humor and spot on voices. Mourning the loss of a loved one gets special treatment here and you’ll be thankful you got to spend time with the Ripley family.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: May 18, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 224

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY by Cliff Burke

  1. The characters are realistic in every way. No super heroes. Instead we have a regular family with all the believable emotions surfacing at every turn.
  2. The tale is so realistic it reminded me of my family trip to Yellowstone as a kid and may do the same for you and yours. I was glad to be with them but also tired of three sisters who knew more than me about everything. We thankfully made it home in one piece.
  3. Theo’s book is addressed throughout and you’ll soon figure out the connection to his real life. A great plotting device.
  4. The theme of a family dealing with loss is covered in a heartfelt way. The Ripley family still has a long way to go to heal but by book’s end you fell they are going to get there.
  5. Road trip books are the best summer treat. I also love the cover, especially when you see a full panel of back and front:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Cliff Burke’s author web site)

Cliff Burke grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He worked as a house painter, a parking lot attendant, and a sign-twirling dancing banana before graduating from the College of William and Mary. For the past ten years, he has taught reading and writing in China, Hong Kong, and Texas. Currently, he teaches writing and humanities at a middle school in the San Francisco Bay Area. An Occasionally Happy Family is his first novel.

Cliff is represented by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

You can follow Cliff on Instagram or Goodreads.

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Comments are welcome below!

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THREADS OF PEACE

This thoroughly researched biography of these famous men is not a boring account of the history and events connected with each. Instead, you’ll be mesmerized by the story telling and gain a deep understanding about the ways and personality of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.—two lives cut way too short. Here’s the publisher description:

Mahatma Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. both shook, and changed, the world, in their quest for peace among all people, but what threads connected these great activists together in their shared goal of social revolution?

A lawyer and activist, tiny of stature with giant ideas, in British-ruled India at the beginning of the 20th century.

A minister from Georgia with a thunderous voice and hopes for peace at the height of the civil rights movement in America.

Born more than a half-century apart, with seemingly little in common except one shared wish, both would go on to be icons of peaceful resistance and human decency. Both preached love for all human beings, regardless of race or religion. Both believed that freedom and justice were won by not one, but many. Both met their ends in the most unpeaceful of ways—assassination.

But what led them down the path of peace? How did their experiences parallel…and diverge? Threads of Peace keenly examines and celebrates these extraordinary activists’ lives, the threads that connect them, and the threads of peace they laid throughout the world, for us to pick up, and weave together.

Although a hefty 336 pages it never seems that long. Images are intermixed with the text to provide an appealing layout. Here’s a typical sample page:

Mohandas Gandhi takes over the first half of the book. This brave man did whatever he could to force equality among all races and people. Fascinating details of his family life and career as a lawyer are included along with the incident that convinced him to take non-violent action to lead for change in his native country and the world.

I thought I knew all there was about Martin Luther King Jr., but I was continually surprised at the details of his life. Beginning with the early days to the event that would propel him into a stand of non-violent change happened when he was 15 and his first public speech. His later marriage to Corretta is also given insights. Then the tale continues depicting the many scenes of hatred and that fateful day in Memphis.

The research is supported by an extensive list of sources and an excellent bibliography. Another plus is the timeline provided in the back pages of the many events that shaped their lives. The author goes a step further by providing details on each the two assassins and clues as to what made them resort to such a violent choice.

A must for libraries and the home shelf, this is the definitive source to engage middle grade readers and up in the life stories of these two great individuals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children including Book Uncle and Me (International Literacy Association Social Justice Literature Award, USBBY Outstanding International Book)and Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh (Asian Pacific American Librarians Award, FOCAL Award). She was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. To learn more, visit her website: umakrishnaswami.org.

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I received an advance copy of the story in exchange for my honest review

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Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments