MMGM LINKS (11/6/17)

 

 MMGM LINKS FOR November 6, 2017

(Click on a star to take you to their site)

The Boy’s Read Blog is thrilled to present the final results of the World Series of Reading Contest
Natalie at Literary Rambles is interviewing debut author Jodi Kendall and giving away a copy of her MG contemporary THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY
Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal is reviewing The War I Finally Won, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin has a lot to say about David Barclay Moore’s THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET at Project Mayhem
Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing and giving away Jabber-Walking at The Write Stuff
Susan M. Olson at Time Travel Times Two is featuring PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY AND THYME
Justin Talks Books is coming off the bench and reviewing FOOTBALL HERO
Dorine White is featuring Adventure Against the Endermen, A Mindcraft adventure
Andrea Mack gives a shout out to FALCON WILD by Terry Lynn Johnson
Karen Yingling always has some awesome MMGM Picks
And… Check out my review below of BOBBY LEE CLAREMONT AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT (Also linked via the blue star)
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own star on the walkway, 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!
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

 

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BOBBY LEE CLAREMONT AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT

It’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Take a journey back in time with Bobby Lee as he flees his orphanage in 1923 New Orleans and boards a train to Chicago. His goal—a new life as a criminal. A full blown murder mystery unfolds on the rails with a widow and a lot of people up to no good. Bobby Lee meets up with two other boys who ride in the “colored only” car and together they try to figure out what’s going on.

A train is the perfect setting for unleashing tension at every stop. They tug at Bobby Lee’s heart and make him wonder if he’s doing the right thing. By the end of the trip your own heart will ache at the decisions Bobby makes along the way but also hopeful that the positive adults in his life will steer him to the good side.

Heartwarming and funny at times, Jeannie Mobley has nailed this time period with perfection. I enjoyed the trip immensely.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 246

FULL PLOT (from Amazon)

All aboard for a fast-paced, Jazz Age–era murder mystery set aboard a Chicago-bound train! It’s 1923, and thirteen-year-old Bobby Lee Claremont is leaving the Sisters of Charitable Mercy orphanage in New Orleans, certain a better life awaits in Chicago’s glamorous-sounding mob scene. But his plans unravel when he boards his train and meets the recently widowed Nanette O’Halloran, her two traveling companions, and a cop who suspects the trio of murdering Nanette’s husband. Bobby Lee is sure Nanette’s innocent. But what about her companions? As Bobby Lee digs for answers, he discovers the
mob, Prohibition, segregation, and a famed jazz band are all pieces of an increasingly dangerous puzzle.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

BOBBY LEE CLAREMONT  AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT

  1. All the hot topics of the time period unfold before our eyes: Segregation, Prohibition, and inter racial marriage. We see it through Bobby Lee’s viewpoint, and his engaging thoughts are understandable for young readers to grasp.
  2. A few extra features add to the book’s authenticity. There a handy map at the beginning of the book showing the section of the country the train travels through. The Author’s Note at the end is must reading where you will find out how Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” became the inspiration for the story.
  3. Terrance and Leon are two memorable secondary characters. They’re just two kids trying to make the best of being in a white man’s world.
  4. This would be a great one to read on a current day train trip. The pages would flip by quicker than the images passing by your window.
  5. And of course—Bobby Lee Claremont. The train ride is also a ride through his conscience. You’ll remember him long after closing the book.

FAVORITE LINES: 

Mrs. O’Halloran nodded. “Thank you, Bobby Lee. You are a good boy.”

A good boy. She wouldn’t think so if she knew about my plans to become a first-rate crook in Chicago. Good folks didn’t get ahead in the world. Being good to me was what killed Maman. I was done with good. So why did it warm my empty belly to hear her say it?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am a writer with eclectic taste. Whether it is books, music, food, or art, I seem to like all kinds of things and never limit myself to one variety of anything.When it comes to my writing, I’m the same way–I have written humor, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, fantasy. Right now I am focusing on historical fiction, but who knows what I may be writing in the near future. Maybe it will be humorous historical fiction with a fantastical yet contemporary twist. After all, why limit myself.

When I am not being a writer, I am an archaeologist and a college professor.

I have worked on archaeological sites from North Dakota to El Salvador, but I specialize in the archaeology of the American Southwest and the prehistoric cultures around Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado.

I have lived most of my life in Colorado, but have ventured out of its boundaries on numerous occasions, some adventurous and others mundane. I love the mountains, the forests, the quiet of the country side. I love, too, to think about the extraordinary nature of ordinary lives.

Whether it is the ruins of Mesa Verde or the remains of gold miner’s cabins, Colorado is full of reminders of those who came before. Though the people of the past are now silent, their stories come to me in the things they left behind. This is what drew me to both my callings, as an archaeologist, exploring the past through science, and as a writer, giving voice to the fullness of life’s experiences.

(For more about Jeannie and her books visit her author web page and catch my interview last week with Jeannie right here.)

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A Chat with Author Jeannie Mobley

Jeannie Mobley, author of the new historical novel, BOBBY LEE CLAREMONT AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT, joins me today and has graciously offered to answer a few questions.  The story line and time period of this novel sure pulled me in and I’m sure it will do the same for you:

All aboard for a fast-paced, Jazz Age–era murder mystery set aboard a Chicago-bound train! It’s 1923, and thirteen-year-old Bobby Lee Claremont is leaving the Sisters of Charitable Mercy orphanage in New Orleans, certain a better life awaits in Chicago’s glamorous-sounding mob scene. But his plans unravel when he boards his train and meets the recently widowed Nanette O’Halloran, her two traveling companions, and a cop who suspects the trio of murdering Nanette’s husband. Bobby Lee is sure Nanette’s innocent. But what about her companions? As Bobby Lee digs for answers, he discovers the mob, Prohibition, segregation, and a famed jazz band are all pieces of an increasingly dangerous puzzle.

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Hi Jeannie and welcome to ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. Congratulations on your new historical novel. I’ll have a review next week right here on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. First off, how did you decide to become a writer?

Hmm. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever decided to become a writer. I think I was an innocent victim of a whole bunch of stories that kept leaping out of shadows and demanding to be told. This all started when I was in grade school. When I got to college, I managed to hide behind schoolwork for a while, but eventually in graduate school a story caught me again, and I was powerless against it. That was about twenty years ago. When I finished my dissertation–rather miraculously, considering how much time I was spending on writing fiction instead of research—I decided I would pursue publication in the world of fiction and apply for jobs in my field of study (anthropology) and whichever career panned out would be the one I would pursue. Here I am twelve years later with a full time job in anthropology and three published novels, still waiting for my answer.

You obviously love what you do on both fronts. Now this new story is set in 1923 on a train as it travels from New Orleans to Chicago. What brought you to using this setting and time period as the backdrop for your story?

This setting has a rather spurious beginning, I’m afraid. The initial inspiration for the story came to me while I was singing in the shower. The song was City of New Orleans, and the various scenes in the song made me start thinking about what a fun bunch of characters and setting it was. I was intrigued by the challenge of telling a story on a train for two reasons. One, the characters are trapped in a very small, setting that limits their movement and the range of things they can do or access, which is a challenge for plotting. Second, this closed setting is itself moving, from the South to the North of the country at the height of segregation and Jim Crow laws, when even the definition of White and Black changed from state to state. This really let me play with a range of situations in the social setting.

The main character, thirteen-year-old Bobby Lee Claremont, wants to be a criminal. How were you able to make him so endearing to readers?

I think he has two qualities that make him endearing. First, is the voice. The story is told in first person narrative, which allowed Bobby Lee a lot of space to express his charming, quirky, Southern self. He likes to use funny metaphors and similes, and is very open with his less-than-reverent views on society, money, crime, and even God. But at the same time he expresses his somewhat cynical views on the world, they are never sharp edged, bitter, or cruel. Booklist, in a starred review, called Bobby Lee “cocky but disarmingly naïve,” and I think this is the second key to his likeability. He himself thinks he’s got a black heart, but the reader can see pretty clearly that it’s gold, and we are all just waiting for Bobby Lee to realize it. His bad is never as bad as he believes it to be, and his good is much, much better, so in the end, he’s pretty lovable.

You’ve written several other historical novels (Colorado Book Award winners’ KATARINA’S WISH and SEARCHING FOR SLIVERHEELS). Was the experience of writing BOBBY LEE CLAREMONT AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT different from those first two? What new challenges did you face?

The process really wasn’t much different. Every novel has its own unique problems and research. My previous two books were both set in my home state of Colorado, so I felt a little more at home with the settings of those, but since this book was set more on a train than in any one place, and I have spent some time on old trains (thank goodness for all the historic trains in Colorado and my dad’s love of them that has given me chances to ride them), I didn’t have to worry about intricate knowledge of a strange city. I did do some research on every location that is described in the book, so since the train passes through many towns and stops at many depots, I did look for historic photographs or descriptions of all of them, but didn’t have to go into great detail. Had I set the story only in one place, it would have saved me some time, but the research was fascinating, so I regret nothing.

What three wishes do you hope young readers will leave with after reading the story?

Above anything, I just want my readers to enjoy the experience. While there are social issues in the book that could be discussed, and the book could educate readers on aspects of American history, I think the main thing I want is for the mystery, the humor, and the characters to take reader on a fun, exciting romp. That said, I personally like reading a book that can be discussed on many levels, so for readers who feel that way, I hope BOBBY LEE provides enough depth for that as well.

That’s not exactly three wishes, but really, naming three is too hard when every reader should be free to find whatever kind of enjoyment they want in reading.

Do you have any big plans to celebrate sending Bobbie Lee out into the world?

I’ve already been celebrating, with a variety of events in Denver, Boulder, and even Austin, Texas. But my BIG event is coming up this Sunday, November 5, 2:00 at the Tattered Cover in Denver, at 2:00. Come on by and you can hear more about the book, enjoy some nibbles, and get a chance to learn some 1920s dances to 1920s music! You can check out my website for additional information on upcoming events. www.jeanniemobley.com

Thanks, Jeannie, and best of luck with Bobby Lee. For more about BOBBY LEE CLAREMONT AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT look for my review here next week at the new temporary home for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

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If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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.
Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and for spreading the middle grade love!

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

 

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EMILY AND THE SPELLSTONE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

First off—some big news: I’m taking over MMGM for the next two months. Our fearless leader, Shannon Messenger, is on a crazy travel schedule and reached out to me to take over for November and December. See below on how to submit your next MMGM pick.

Now, onto this week’s review feature… EMILY AND THE SPELLSTONE

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This fantasy adventure is perfect for Halloween week or any week for that matter. It has parallel worlds and a not too scary demon who supplies most of the funny moments. Told in third person, the story centers around an unhappy middle schooler, Emily. She hasn’t quite fit in yet and the popular mean girl is making sure she never does.

Enter the stone and Emily’s life changes—and not for the better. The stone has somehow chosen her to be the Stonemaster. She keeps the stone hidden but the power of it is soon evident in her world—just ask the neighbor!

Gorgo the demon pops out of the stone and he’s scary as they come but also helpful. Most of the real terror comes from a family in the other world who wants the stone. It’s an enjoyable read with hints of a sequel. I’ll be ready once I drain the candy bowl for all the trick or treaters tomorrow night. Too bad sequels don’t happen as fast.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 288

FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Emily picks up a stone that looks like a cell phone but has unexpected magical powers. It’s a Spellstone! Now that she has become an unwilling Stonemaster—one who wields the power of the Stone—she has to figure out Spellstone technology fast if she is to survive a hair-raising adventure among giant dogs, demons, clones, mean girls, and deeply wicked people who want the Stone. A witty tale of a quiet girl who discovers she’s a hero when she needs to be. Stonemasters rule!

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

  EMILY AND THE SPELLSTONE

  1. A librarian helps Emily with answers to her questions about the stone. Librarians rarely get a nod in MG books so this secondary character made me smile.
  2. Word play is evident throughout. How about the difference between a dog, dogg, and doggg? Those last two are definitely not man’s best friend.
  3. A great meshing of the two main characters. Loud mouthed Gorgo with Emily’s more cautious personality.
  4. I laughed out loud many times at Gorgo’s witty comebacks.
  5. Messages about friendships and fitting in are welcome themes for young people to read about.

FAVORITE LINES:

“I have a list of rules,” she said.

“Oh, boy.”

“First off: I command you to always be honest with me.”

“Okay. You’re too old to have superhero bed sheets,” he said. “What? You said I have to be honest.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Rubens is the author of the novels The Sheriff of Yrnameer, Sons of the 613, The Bad Decisions Playlist, and Emily and the Spellstone (June 2017). He is a correspondent and producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and has previously produced for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. His writing has also appeared in places like The New Yorker Daily Shouts, Salon, and McSweeney’s. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, to help alleviate that area’s critical shortage of writers and producers.

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Make a comment below if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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.
Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and for spreading the middle grade love!

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

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A Special Friday Update

I’ve been so busy with the three R’s (Reading, wRiting, and Revising) that I haven’t had time to talk about some big news happening on my blogging and writing front. Today is the day to take care of that omission… sort of.

The first change is for ALWAYS in the MIDDLE. That announcement will come next Monday. Sorry, I can’t say anything else due to other parties wanting to announce it on the same day. Stay tuned!

On the writing side, I’ve been busy editing and revising two manuscripts that went through SCBWI’s mentorship program the first six months of this year. They are ready to go and I fully expected to have some news concerning one of these by this time. That was until something fantastic happened at the end of August with a third story:

I got into PITCH WARS!

I got in! 2017!

This contest is sort of the super bowl of all writing contests. Several thousand MG, YA, and Adult authors enter for a precious few 180 spots. I gasped when the email arrived accepting my story. For the past two months I’ve been matched with the amazing Gabrielle Byrne. Unlike most contests this is a full look at your story. She started off with an edit letter detailing what she liked and what could be improved. Next came a detailed line edit.

She’s provided moral support and in the end I have a more powerful story. You can see the interview here that the Pitch Wars folks did with us last month. If you want to check out some of Gabrielle’s awesome editing advice, head on over to The Winged Pen for her recent post on metaphors.

Next Thursday is the Pitch Wars Agent Round for MG. I know how subjective these things are and I might not get any interest, but a lot of people are going to see the results of my work with Gabrielle. I’ll post the link when it becomes available next week.

Have a great weekend!

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FRAZZLED #2

Let me first spell out the entire title:

FRAZZLED: ORDINARY MISHAPS AND INEVITABLE CATASTROPHES.

Try saying that three times fast… Okay, I couldn’t either.

Abbie Wu is back in her second story about life in middle school. I reviewed and loved the first FRAZZLED book last year. Both are done in graphic novel splendor. Sure to please reluctant readers and any middle school age student looking for a quick, fun read.

The images are well done and often hilarious. I found myself going back and looking at many of them again after completing the book.

There are locker mishaps, uncertain friendships, and a very creative invention. You also meet an irritating cat who might sound like a cat you’ve known or owned. Leave it up to Abbie to finally make sense of her problems, giving real life kids in the same frantic time of middle school  just a little bit of hope.

My hope is to see more from ABBIE Wu in future editions.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017   PAGE COUNT: 224

FULL PLOT (From HARPER COLLINS)

Things are looking up for Abbie Wu: this year she’ll run for class president and get a brand-new shiny locker. Until—she doesn’t…

In her second tumultuous misadventure, Abbie Wu tackles more unbelievably unfair and calamitous middle school days. From facing locker thieves and battling diabolical cats to having absolutely no idea what to build for her science project, Abbie Wu is still in perpetual crisis.

From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, this second story follows Abbie Wu, your favorite hilariously neurotic middle school girl, as she tries to come up with solutions to what seems to be a series of inevitable catastrophes.

Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone hoping to figuring out how to survive the ordinary mishaps of middle school.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: FRAZZLED #2

  1. This would be a great series to give to those kids who avoid any kind of reading. They’ll for sure be begging for more.
  2. Abbie learns a great lesson about friendship. It helps her see friends in a new way and even helps mend the divide between her and the obnoxious cat.
  3. There’s even more fun doodles in this second book. I’m still smiling.
  4. Abbie Wu is far from perfect. She can be irritating at times, endearing, happy, grumpy, or fill in almost any other emotion. Yep, spot on middle grade!
  5. Nothing too heavy and a good gateway to more challenging reading.

FAVORITE LINES: 

We were so busy trying to get through classes and figure out what was going on that sometimes it felt like there wasn’t enough room in our brains to think about anything else!

All ABOUT AUTHOR, BOOKI VIVAT:  

Booki Vivat has been doodling somewhat seriously since 2011 and not-so-seriously since childhood. She grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California, San Diego. She currently works in publishing and lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can follow her on Instagram at @bookibookibooki and on Twitter at @thebookiv.

 

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DON’T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE BED

This new book from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS is especially spine tingling during the season of spooks and goblins. The tales here though dare to explain some of the odder places, animals, and occurrences in our world. Just in case you are squeamish, there’s a handy ‘FRIGHT-O-METER’ next to each story to warn young readers of the intensity from 0-10.

Some of my favorites included:

  • The many strange and wild living creatures you would not want to be next to. Be amazed (and maybe grossed out) at the goblin shark, a blobfish, bloodsucking bats, and yes, tongue lice. Yuck! Oh, and one more: The Mongolian death worm. It may not be real, but I’m not going to go out of my way to find out for sure.
  • Real spooky places. They include the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, Island of the Dolls in Mexico, and the haunted Tower of London to name a few. You can still visit these scary haunts.
  • The unexplained. What happened  to the three keepers who always manned the lighthouse on Eilean Mor? Is Yellowstone’s super volcano about to blow its top? Who were the green children of Woolpit? These and many more are given an explanation and likely scenario as to the truth.

Colorful pictures abound on every page. Scattered throughout are fun quizzes to test your own knowledge. There’s something to please everyone in the more than five dozen articles. Keep it tucked in the car or close by on the bookshelf when you need a fiction break and a whole lot of creepiness. Good reading for October or any month of the year. I found it both thought provoking and entertaining.

THE OFFICIAL BACKGROUND FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC:

Love to tell scary stories around the camp fire? Like to solve mysteries? Brave enough to hear the truth about some pretty freaky phenomena? Then cuddle up with this spooky spine-tingler, filled with delightfully frightful true stories of real-life monsters, doomed domains, menacing mysteries, strange disappearances, and so much more.

Meet ghosts, ghouls, and zombies. Go inside haunted houses, hidden graveyards, and deadly secret passages. The Fright-o-meter rates each story for its level of scariness. Full of thrills and chills, this book will have you sleeping with a nightlight for sure. Read if you dare, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!

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Have a great weekend everyone!

 

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