Middle Grade in the News 9/2/19

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

  1. Author’s and Librarians on Why Schools and Libraries Need LGBTQ+ Books. Check out what they say right here.
  2. I may have to make room in my TBR pile for a few of these: The Best Fall Books for Children.
  3. Understanding why others are different from yourself is an important topic for young readers. Here are Nine Must Read Middle Grade Novels to Promote Empathy.

That’s all for now.

I’ll be back Friday with another review.

Posted in Middle Grade News | Tagged | 1 Comment

MMGM for 9/30/2019

             

Click the happy face to reach a blogger’s feature.

ALWAYS in the MIDDLE (that’s me) features a new fantasy novel, A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY by Nicole Valentine.

June McCrary Jacobs (Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic) has a S.T.E.A.M. feature, Science You Can Eat:  20 Activities that Put Food Under the Microscope.

Dorine White (The Write Path) has a review of The Last Dragon by James Riley.

Beth Mitchell (Imaginary Friends) reviews The Reckless Club by Beth Vrabel.

Patricia Tilton (Children’s Books Heal) reviews Finding Orion by John David Anderson. She calls it heartwarming and hilarious.

Maria Antonia (Of Books, Photography, and Tea) features a review of a graphic novel: New Kid by Jerry Craft.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews and has a GIVEAWAY of CRYPTID CREATURES by Kelly Milner Halls. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Christi M. (A Garden Of Books) reviews Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament by Kim Long.  She says it’s like the Amazing Race for STEM students.

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 HARVEY COMES HOME.

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 , , | 2 Comments

A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity

Welcome to another edition of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY and my review of a new fantasy novel.

BACKGROUND for A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY  by Nicole Valentine

timetravelerTwelve-year-old Finn is used to people in his family disappearing. His twin sister, Faith, drowned when they were three years old. A few months ago, his mom abandoned him and his dad with no explanation. Finn clings to the concrete facts in his physics books―and to his best friend, Gabi―to ward off his sadness. But then his grandmother tells him a secret: the women in their family are Travelers, able to move back and forth in time. Finn’s mom is trapped somewhere in the timeline, and she’s left Finn a portal to find her. But to succeed, he’ll have to put his trust in something bigger than logic.

 

Publisher’s Release Date: Oct. 1, 2019      PAGES: 352

MY THOUGHTS: The two MG books I had read previous to this one were lighthearted plots—predictable and not very challenging for the adult reader. But they were perfect for any new MG reader.

The exact opposite occurred while turning the pages of A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity. I needed full concentration to figure out everything going on here. There are portals, nodes, parallel worlds, and no real traditional ending. You’re left to ponder  time travel and how it will impact Finn and Gabi’s future.

But the character’s won me over. Both Finn and Gabi are a couple of great kids who approach life differently. Finn takes a science approach while Gabi is more likely to say science can’t prove magic doesn’t exist. Other family members also enrich the premise of time travel and their relationship with Finn. There’s the Grandmother who cares deeply about Finn and often presents herself in two time periods. His mom who is desperately trying to save her child. It was the Dad’s attitude toward his son that bothered me at first, but he comes around.

Overall, my head hurt just a bit after reading this one, but it was a good kind of hurt. One that made me appreciate how the love for family and friendship is the most powerful magic of all.

laugh2FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:laugh2

A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY

  1. The third person narration stays close to Finn 95% of the way, but a first person narrator puts her own slant on the preceding between several scenes. It’s creepy at first but rather heartwarming with the final words she uses to end the story.
  2. The bond between twins is given the most compelling set of twists and turns I’ve ever read in a book with twin characters. Great plot structure and character arc here.
  3. A unique and welcome addition to time travel themed books. Fans of science, Einstein, and magic will polish this off in one sitting.
  4. The question of who we are to friends and family will resonate long after reading.
  5. Compelling and hopeful, this one will be best for the established MG reader

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Valentine (https://www.nicolevalentinebooks.com/) earned her Nicole Valentine_credit Nina Pomeroy PhotographyMFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches writing workshops at the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, PA. As the former chief technology officer at Figment.com and Space.com, Nicole loves science and as a writer enjoys pondering the times when science falls short of explanation and magic has room to sneak in. When not engaged in fictional world-building, Nicole can often be found with a hawk on her arm. A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity is her debut novel. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

 

Twitter: @nicoleva

IG: @nicolevalentine

Blog: https://steamg.org/

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An advanced copy was provided in exchange for my honest review. If you have time, please comment below.

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exclamationThere is still time to enter the huge giveaway offered here last Wednesday for Explorer Academy: The Double Helix Book Blast. Read my post and find out how to enter.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

DOUBLE FELIX

double felix coverThe cover makes this middle grade novel appear like a story of two friends on an adventure. Partially true, but DOUBLE FELIX is more an adventure of discovery and understanding, especially for the main character. He has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Here’s the background from Kane Miller Books:

Eleven-year-old Felix Twain’s life revolves around the number two. He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules.

Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns Felix’s world upside down. She’s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?

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Almost everything eleven-year-old Felix does is controlled by Basil, a voice in his head. Felix either does as told or believes bad things will happen. Being around Felix is challenging for his parents (his mom is pregnant with child #5), three siblings, and teachers. You witness his behavior from page one as Felix has locked himself in the Principal’s office and is doing some needed redecoration, making things much more even in appearance.

Narrated by Felix, the tale supplies readers with empathy for his condition. This would make a fantastic read-aloud in the classroom or at home. A beautiful story to enjoy and share.

August Clip Art 10762FIVE THINGS THAT SHINE ABOUTAugust Clip Art 10762

DOUBLE FELIX by Sally Harris

  1. No odd numbers for Felix. The chapters are presented  in even order, beginning with chapter two. As the plot unfolds, keep an eye out for any changes.
  2. Charlie Pye has a huge problem of her own but she provides Felix with something he has never had before: friendship. It’s an uneasy type of friendship, but one that shines a heartwarming message.
  3. Great secondary characters. Life is tricky but when you have a supportive family along with people at school like Miss Claudette, the librarian and Hugo, a counselor, the road might not be so rough.
  4. The illustrations are nicely balanced with the text, appearing every few pages. They let you into Felix’s world in a visual way.
  5. The almost 200 pages is an impressive effort that will help teachers and student understand.

FAVORITE LINES

“You can’t just go around shouting at teachers and locking yourself  in principal’s offices, you know, Felix,” he continues. “You need to start controlling your temper. You can’t just get mad at everyone who doesn’t do what you want. People don’t like it if you’re angry with them all the time.”

“There are just some things that have to be done the right way and sometimes other people don’t understand how to do them properly,” I tell Dad. “I don’t like it when things aren’t done right. It makes me feel all funny inside.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, SALLY HARRIS

School Teacher. Mama. Creative sort. Coffee drinker. Dog wrangler. Expert mess maker. Writer of books for children (and adults with impeccable taste!)

(For more visit Sally’s author website)

Comments are welcome below.

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green checkmarkThere is still time to enter the huge giveaway offered here last Wednesday for Explorer Academy: The Double Helix Book Blast. Read my post and find out how to enter.

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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 , , , | 3 Comments

Explorer Academy: The Double Helix Book Blast!

Welcome Back to the Explorer Academy!



Welcome to the Explorer Academy: The Double Helix Book Blast!

 

To celebrate the release of Explorer Academy: The Double Helix by Trudi Trueit on September 24th, blogs across the web are featuring special content from the world of the Explorer Academy, as well as 5 chances to win an Explorer Academy Prize Pack!

Ultimate Activities

  

Find out if you’ve got what it takes to make it at Explorer Academy! Below you’ll find awesome activities that challenge your skills in codebreaking, problem solving, puzzle cracking, and general expertise in flexing your mental muscle out in the field.

 

 

A printable PDF is available here.
For more brain-building activities, pick up Explorer Academy Ultimate Activity Challenge on November 5th or win an early copy in the giveaway below!
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Blog Tour Schedule:
September 23rd – YA and Kids Books Central

September 24th – Java John Z’s

September 25th – Always in the Middle

September 26th – From the Mixed Up Files

September 27th – BookhoundsYA 

“A fun, exciting and action-packed ride that kids will love.”  
—J.J. Abrams, director of Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lost and Alias
 
Explorer  Academy  is  sure  to  awaken  readers’  inner  adventurer  and  curiosity  about  the  world  around  them.”
—LeVar  Burton,  host  of  “Reading  Rainbow”and “LeVar  Burton  Reads”
 


Buy
: National GeographicAmazon | Indiebound

Follow TrudiWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | YoutubeFollow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

The mystery deepens and the action intensifies for 12-year-old Cruz Coronado and friends in the exciting third book in the Explorer Academy series.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.







About the Author: Author Trudi Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences. She has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Trueit lives in Everett, Washington.

GIVEAWAY

  • One (1) winner will receive SIGNED copies of Explorer Academy books 1-3, Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure, an ADVANCE copy of Explorer Academy Ultimate Activity Challenge (not otherwise available to the public until November!), an Explorer Academy pin, baseball cap, bag, digital watch, bookmark, and a $50 Visa Gift Card!
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 10/4 at midnight ET

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Explorer Academy Recruitment Day — October 10, 2019

October 10th, 2019 is Explorer Academy Recruitment Day. From New York to Vancouver, Ohio to Texas, and all points in between, real-life National Geographic Explorers will be talking to thousands of kids across North America, sharing their experiences and revealing how the Explorers themselves inspired the coolest school on the planet: The Explorer Academy. Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit will also be in her hometown of Seattle, talking to local schools (if only we could make more Trudi’s to go around but, alas, she is one-of-a-kind). Thanks to the series’ publication in a dozen countries, Explorer Academy Recruitment Day has turned into a GLOBAL phenomenon, with students all over the world participating in events similar to the ones happening in North America.

10/10, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

PUBLIC EVENT with Nat Geo Explorer Rae Wynn Grant

HOORAY FOR BOOKS

1555 KIng Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

Event details:  Presentation, Q&A, and signing of posters

10/10, 7:00 pm

PUBLIC EVENT with Nat Geo Explorer Jennifer W. Lopez

CHILDREN’S BOOK WORLD

17 Haverford Station Road

Haverford, PA  19041

Event details:  Presentation, Q&A, and signing of posters

10/12, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

PUBLIC EVENT with Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit

BRICK & MORTAR BOOKS

7430 164th Ave NE

Redmond, WA 98052

Event details:  Presentation, Q&A, and signing

 

Posted in Giveaways, New Release | Tagged , | 37 Comments

MMGM for 9/23/19

                    

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY and the FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN!

CLICK ON A FALL(ing) LEAF TO REACH A BLOGGER’S POST.

ALWAYS in the MIDDLE (that’s me) features a special book, MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU by Barbara Dee.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic has a feature on the ALA’s Annual ‘Library Card Sign-Up’ Month.

Dorine White at The Write Path is back this week with a review of the MG Sci-fi, The Red Rover: Origins

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf  has a fun, new book, AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet, by Jon Scieszka; illus by Steven Weinberg.

Suzanne Warr at Tales From The Raven spotlights The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea gives us a review of Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz.

Completely Full Bookshelf returns to the MMGM lineup with a review of  Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading also features a review of MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU. Check it out to see if our reactions are the same or vastly different.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of ON SNOWDEN MOUNTAIN by Jeri Watts. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernande.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS reviews another audio book, Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, who is also the narrator.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL is back in the fold this week with a review of  Beverly, Here and Now by Kate DiCamillo.

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 BAD BELLA.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot in the parade, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com
(Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring)
You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU

WELCOME TO ANOTHER EDITION OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY with a very special and timely book for the beginning of the school year…

For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on themaybe school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

Year Published: 2019

MY TAKE: And this is a middle grade story? You bet and perfect as a discussion starter for fifth grade on up. The short chapters beg to be talked about. Begin your discussion with What would you do?

No one should be put in the position that Mila finds herself in. She’s the victim of several male classmates who are playing a game they keep track of in scorecard fashion. It seems like innocent fun to them but it isn’t—especially for Mila. They hug her, get entirely too close in the halls and bus, and make inappropriate comments.

As I breezed through the chapters my heart went out to Mila, but I kept shaking my head thinking “Go ask an adult for help!” The more I read it was understandable why she didn’t. Her mom is having job troubles and doesn’t need one more thing to think about; Dad is absent and doesn’t pay child support; her female counselor is away on maternity leave. When Mila does see a male counselor, he doesn’t listen the right way to her plea.

Thankfully, she finally finds an unlikely ally. The ending is an unexpected but hopeful resolution. My hope is MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU will be a staple for both boys and girls in classrooms and at home for years to come.

laugh2FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUTlaugh2

Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

  1. The depiction of middle school life in 7th grade is spot on. Friendships, misunderstandings, and trying to find your voice are all woven together in a smooth sounding concert of words.
  2. The approach used in the plot is honest—both for the kids and adults. They all have to come to terms with the consequences of their own behavior.
  3. Mila’s friends. I would enjoy another story delving into what makes them tick— especially Max who is also the victim of bullying.
  4. The conversations coming about as a result of the story will have many parents wishing they’d had the book when they were a tween or teen. It resonates with adults just as much as the targeted audience.
  5. Having Band and Karate a part of the plot.

A THOUGHT FROM AUTHOR, BARBARA DEE

I’ve faced some tough challenges in my life, and I know many kids have, too. Reading about characters who face similar challenges can be empowering. And if you’re a kid who hasn’t personally faced those challenges, reading can open your heart, help you to develop empathy.

Oh, and by the way: just because a book is about a serious subject doesn’t mean it can’t be fun or funny! My goal is to write about serious topics in a humorous, kid-friendly way.   (For more visit Barbara’s author web page)

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I received an arc for my honest review. Please comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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