MMGM for June 3, 2019

            

It’s also National Egg Day!

CLICK ON EACH BLOGGER’S EGG TO CRACK OPEN THEIR POST.

I like my eggs scrambled, but my reviews are always over easy. Today I’m reviewing  THE LIGHT JAR by Lisa Thompson at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. 

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf features Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure, by Alex T. Smith.

June McCrary Jacobs at ‘Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic’ reviews  Art Lab for Kids:  Express Yourself.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea has The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan.

Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven spotlights The Vengekeep Prophecies, by Brian Farrey. A bonus is Suzanne’s obligatory pic of her pool office.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of THE DOG WHO LOST HIS BARK by Eoin Colfer. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

A Garden of Books gives insights on Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse by K.J. Kruk.

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.

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

THE LIGHT JAR

WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

A story of hope, fear, and flight from a bad situation. The Light Jar was first released in the UK in 2018. The North American version with a new cover came about earlier this year thanks to Scholastic Press.thelightjar.png

Eleven-year-old Nate tells the story, beginning with an escape in a rental car with his Mum. They’re leaving behind a controlling and emotionally abusive man who has been living with them. Their destination is a cottage deep in an English forest. What happens is every kids worst nightmare: his mother leaves him there and doesn’t come back. Nate is alone to fend for himself.

There’s not much food and he has to keep the fire going to escape the chill. Nate chooses not to seek help because it would probably mean returning to live with Gary, the person they ran from, or maybe social services would place him elsewhere. He waits and hopes his Mum will return. The situation seems hopeless until he discovers an old friend and a strange girl named Kitty.

An overall sadness pervades, but there’s also a tense mystery with a wonderful set of twists. You’ll be guessing until the end and the final pages will most likely take you by surprise. Nate’s narration is spot on. His interior thoughts and feelings give this story heart. It’s one I found hard to put down.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2019   PAGE COUNT: 240

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

THE LIGHT JAR

  1. The light in the jar provides a nice subplot, giving meaning to Nate’s situation.
  2. Ben is the old friend Nate meets again and played an important role in Nate’s past. His kindness and direction give Nate the hope everything will turn out all right.
  3. Kitty has the most layers as a character. When they’re revealed, it brings sense to  the entire story.
  4. The main mystery of what happened to the mother will have you guessing along with Nate. Did she get in an accident? Go back to live with with Gary? Or maybe did she just run away?
  5. Anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, and hope are mixed together and the results are enticing.

FAVORITE LINES

We sat in silence for a bit, and I looked at the streetlights reflected in the puddles on the road. It reminded me of something from when I was little, but I couldn’t quite place what it was. It was the color I remembered. A yellowish, glowing color. I suddenly felt like I wanted to cry.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From SCHOLASTIC)

Nate and his mother are running away. Fleeing from an emotionally abusive situation, they hide out in an abandoned cottage in the middle of a forest. Though it’s old and run-down, at least it’s a place of their own.
Then Nate’s mother heads off for groceries and doesn’t return. Has she run into trouble, or simply abandoned him? He is left alone and afraid, with the dark closing in on him.
But comfort can come from the most unexpected of places, like a strange girl trying to solve the mystery of a treasure hunt, and the reappearance of a friend from his past. Will Nate find the bravery he needs to face down his fears, survive on his own, and ultimately illuminate his future?
The Light Jar is a captivating story of fear and hope, loneliness and friendship, and finding the light within, even in the darkest of times.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Thompson is a children’s novelist born in Essex, UK on 5th May, 1973.  Her debut novel, The Goldfish Boy, was bought as part of a two-book deal with Scholastic (UK). It was published in the UK in January 2017, where it was a Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month and went on to become a bestseller.  The US version was published by Scholastic Inc in February 2017 and was given a starred review by Kirkus Reviews. The Goldfish Boy has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, The Branford Boase Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. It has been sold to nine territories around the world.

Before becoming a novelist, Lisa worked as a broadcast assistant for BBC Radio 2 and CPL Productions where she got to make tea for lots of famous people.  She lives in Suffolk, UK with her family.

(For more visit Lisa Thompson’s website)

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Comments are welcome below. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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ALMANAC 2020

2020-bear-4.ngsversion.1542397671742.jpgNational Geographic Kids celebrates the 10th anniversary of this iconic series with a 2020 edition sure to fill those long summer days. Eleven eye-popping chapters are filled with games, resources, cool technology, and humor. Readers will also find interviews with National Geographic explorers—ones sure to plant new career ideas.

There’s more! This edition includes the launch of the 20/20 Visionary Challenge, encouraging readers to imagine the world 10 years from now and to picture a positive change, invention, or discovery they’d like to see become reality, in whatever area interests them: animals, people, places, science, technology or beyond. Many of the ideas will appear in next year’s Almanac 2021. More can be found at the almanac web site.

Okay, enough of the formalities. Here’s a look at my ten favorite features in the Almanac:

  • Meet 20 CUTEST ANIMALS of 2020 From meerkats to badgers and even a smiling squid, the images will have you smiling. The accompanying paragraphs will have you learning new things about these cuties.
  • COOL INVENTIONS I loved the robot folding laundry and the umbrella that predicts the weather!
  • SKY CALENDAR 2020 Pencil these dates in for a year of celestial events. I’m looking forward to October 13, 2020 and the best chance to view Mars.
  • FUN AND GAMES This chapter is filled with quizzes to stump your parents, laugh out loud cartoons, and funny fill-ins.
  • MEET YOUR SHARK BESTIE gets you up close and personal with these guardians of the sea.
  • HURRICANE HAPPENINGS Facts and background on the weather event that receives world wide attention.
  • SECRETS OF THE TITANIC presents new evidence about how the ships sank.
  • GEOGRAPHY ROCKS looks at the continents and is  filled with facts and amazing colorful pictures and maps.
  • COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD features a flag and and general overview for 195 countries. What a great resource!
  • HOMEWORK HELP are one page in-depth directions on writing a business letter, creating a wildly good animal report, or how to ace your Science Fair to name just a few that are included.

This is a must for curious children (and a few of us adults). Perfect for travel or to savor on those rare indoor days. 2020? I can’t wait!

Available in hardback or softcover, you can order your own copy here.

To learn even more about this edition of the almanac visit NGK’s FACEBOOK and TWITTER page.

You can also take a chance at a great giveaway:70B00799-05CE-467E-8CB1-E2B31E3CFA8A.jpeg

ENTER HERE!

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Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 May 27, 2019

              

I review ORDER OF THE MAJESTIC at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. Click the flag to read and do the same for the other features and reviews below.

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf has The Becket List: A Blackberry Farm Story, by Adele Griffin.

Fleur Bradley at YA Sleuth features a review of Can You Crack The Code? by Ella Schwartz, illustrated by Lily Williams

June McCrary Jacobs at ‘Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic’ has a ‘Retro Fiction Feature’ on book #1 in the ‘Encyclopedia Brown’ series: ‘Boy Detective’.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea gives us a review of  Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell.

Rosi Hollinbeck features a review and GIVEAWAY of  big NATE PAYBACK TIME by Lincoln Peirce. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including BATTING ORDER by Mike Lupica.

Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story reviews STAND ON THE SKY by Erin Bow. This one is an adventure about a girl and her eagle.

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

ORDER OF THE MAJESTIC

IT”S ANOTHER EDITION OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

Ace a test and it just might lead to a magical adventure filled with danger. Joey Kopecky has the test taking skills perfected—so much that his parents have enrolled him in a “special” year round school. Soon after his reluctant arrival at Exemplar Academy, Joey is transported to an old theater where Redondo the Magnificent, a grumpy out of work magician, is surprised to have a visitor.71sA4CC+eKL.jpg

Redondo had previously led the good side of magic known as Order of the Majestic. A competing faction, the Invisible Hand, has an evil plan to take over magic and eventually the world. Looks like they’ll have no trouble doing so until Joey and two other kids step into the fray.

There are magical mirrors and doorways along with a special deck of cards. Joey is both frightened and intrigued by the whole world he never knew existed. The third person narration has many twists and turns and will keep readers guessing what will happen next—although the four hundred plus pages in twenty long chapters might be a bit much for some middle grade readers.

Those staying on the journey to THE END will be rewarded. An exciting climatic scene is pulled off in page turning splendor. If you can’t get enough of fantasy and magical realism this is the book you should have for the summer.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2019   PAGE COUNT: 432

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

ORDER OF THE MAJESTIC

  1. Humor comes in to play often and at the right time, especially in the exchanges Joey has with Redondo.
  2. The young characters are a diverse group. It will be fun to get to know them deeper in future installments.
  3. The cover does its job to invite readers in and take a look at a boy in a rather desperate situation.
  4. Joey’s personality is spot on for a twelve year old. His head is full of trying to figure out who he wants to be while keeping a hold of his childhood.
  5. The set-up for the next book sets the tone in the final chapter. A new antagonist arrives and is perhaps more intriguing than Grayson, the bad guy in this story.

THE PLOT (From SIMON AND SCHUSTER)

Twelve-year-old daydreamer Joey Kopecky’s life has been turned upside down. After acing a series of tests, he’s declared a genius and awarded a full scholarship at a special (year-round!) school. He’s understandably devastated, until he takes one last test, and the room around him disappears, replaced by the interior of an old theater.There, Joey meets the washed-up magician, Redondo the Magnificent, and makes a shocking discovery…magic is real, but sadly, there isn’t much left in the world. It may be too late to save what little remains, but for the first time in his life Joey wants to try—really try—to do something big. Soon he’s swept up into a centuries-old conflict between two rival societies of magicians—the Order of the Majestic, who fights to keep magic alive and free for all, and the dark magicians of the Invisible Hand, who hoard magic for their own evil ends.

The endless battle for control of magic itself has reached a tipping point. For Redondo and the Order to survive, Joey must inherit the lost legacy of Harry Houdini. Will he prove himself worthy, or will the Invisible Hand strike him down? The answer will depend on Joey’s ability to believe, not just in magic, but in himself.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Matt Myklusch is the author of the Jack Blank Series. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons.

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Comments are welcome below. I read them all and if time allows you might even get a response. (I received an ARC for my honest feedback).

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LINGERING ECHOES

The GHOSTS OF ORDINARY OBJECTS series continues with Lingering Echoes. I previously featured BONE’S GIFT and loved the characters along with the time period—World War II. Be sure to read this first book as it will enrich the experience in reading Lingering Echoes. The story is certainly intriguing…

51ntHMjFvVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBone wants to understand her Gift—She can hold an object and see images or full scenes of what happened in the past with that object—good and bad. It’s the mysterious jar her best friend Will holds that has her both curious and scared. Will hasn’t talked since his father died in the Virginia coal mines. Can she find the courage to touch the jar to see what secrets it holds?

The writing brings history alive with vivid details of what it was like. School life will especially be an eye opener for young readers with one classroom each for the younger and older kids at the town’s schoolhouse. Family and community are also portrayed well along with the food of the times. War is ever present with rationing, scrap drives to support the effort, labor shortages, and elimination of sport leagues due to lack of players.

The story ends on Halloween and appropriately so as Bone loves to tell about “Stingy Jack”, an old Jack-o’-lantern folk tale that surfaces throughout the book. But the heart of the story belongs to Bone and Will as they separately come to grips with the loss of a parent. Savor the results as we will have to wait until 2020 for THE TRUCE, book three and the true end of this enjoyable trilogy.

THE OFFICIAL PLOT (From Amazon)

In a southern Virginia coal-mining town in October 1942, Bone Phillips is learning to control her Gift: Bone can see the history of a significant object when she touches it. When her best friend, Will Kincaid, asks Bone to “read” the history of his daddy’s jelly jar–the jelly jar that was buried alongside his father during the mine cave-in that killed him–Bone is afraid. Even before Bone touches it, she can feel that the jar has its own strange power. With her mother dead, her father gone to war, and Aunt Mattie’s assault looming over Bone, she can’t bear the idea of losing Will too. As Will’s obsession with the jelly jar becomes dangerous, Bone struggles to understand the truth behind the jar and save him. Featuring a beautiful, compelling voice, this novel weaves a story of mystery, family, and ultimately, love.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE LINES

Bone shook her head violently. The jar called to her, but the teensy hairs on her neck bristled and her arms went all gooseflesh and her throat seized up. This jar was nothing to fool with.

ABOUT ANGIE SMIBERT

I was born in Blacksburg, a once sleepy college town in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian; organic chemistry had other ideas. But I always had stories in my head. Eventually, after a few degrees and few cool jobs—including a 10-year stint at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center—I wrote some of those stories down. (For more visit Angie’s author web site).

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Coming up this Monday (Yes, I’m open on Memorial Day) is another edition of…

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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

SHRED GIRLS—LINDSAY’S JOYRIDE

Welcome to the blog tour stop for this fun new title!

An empowering new series from the cyclist who runs Shred-Girls.com is guaranteed to give readers an adrenaline rush!ShredGirls_Final1

Lindsay can’t wait to spend her summer break reading comics and watching superhero movies–until she finds out she’ll be moving in with her weird older cousin Phoebe instead. And Phoebe has big plans for her: a BMX class at her bike park with cool-girl Jen and perfectionist Ali. Lindsay’s summer of learning awesome BMX tricks with new friends and a new bike turns out to be more epic than any comic book–and it’s all leading up to a jumping competition. But some of the biker boys don’t think girls should be allowed to compete in BMX. Now it’s up to Lindsay, Jen, and Ali to win the competition and prove that anyone can be great at BMX.

MY THOUGHTS: I’d heard of BMX biking, but beyond that I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Case, Bunny Hop, or J-Hop. Now after reading the first book in the Shred Girls series I feel like an expert.  The first person narration with Lindsay in the driver’s seat is spot on for a twelve-year-old. Her worries will be familiar with many girls her age: friendships, clothes, first crush, and learning a new skill.

Young readers won’t mind having the parents off in another country while Lindsay stays with Phoebe, a cousin who hasn’t been the most responsible person. Older readers may pause, but the parents obviously know more about the 23 year old than they let on. Phoebe gives Lindsay the confidence to be who she wants to be. The 33 chapters are separated with entries in Lindsay’s journal. It’s her honest appraisal of everything going on in her world—a nice progression of how much she changes in one summer.

Most of the action stays close to the Joyride Training Center where Phoebe works. It’s a fascinating look at a whole different sporting competition I’ve never come across in middle grade books. The story is perfect for girls, but this might be a hard sell for boys. They might join in if they know there are all sorts of awesome tricks and tips on training—worthwhile for any sport. The tale may also serve as a recruiting guide for the next BMX class.

Give it a go and climb aboard this fun new series for a fast moving ride.

Molly Hurford is the author of four books on cycling, and a writer for Bicycling Magazine as well as many other fitness and outdoor publications. She’s the co-host of The Consummate Athlete Podcast, creator of TheOutdoorEdit.com, and a lover of all things bike-related. She spends her time traveling the world to find the best places to ride, race, and explore.

READ MORE AT THE SHRED GIRLS WEBSITE

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