EARTH, WIND, FIRE, AND RAIN

If you were expecting a post about the iconic musical group adding some rain to their band, you won’t find it here. What you will discover is another fantastic Mystery and Mayhem title written with flare by author Judy Dodge Cummings.

Five tales demonstrate that Mother Nature is truly in charge, sometimes helped by the poor decisions of humans. The first three were new to me even though the devastation was epic in proportions:

  • The Peshtigo, Wisconsin forest fire in 1871, killing an estimated 1,500-2,500 people.
  • The great blizzard of 1888 that engulfed New York and kept some drifts visible for months.
  • In 1989, the South Fork Dam in Pennsylvania breaks and kills and estimated 2,000 men, women and children who lived below.

The last two were familiar but told in a fresh, engaging way:

  • The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires, in a chapter called EARTH DRAGON.
  • Horrific dust storms swept across parts of five states from 1935-1940 causing sickness and death.

What makes each of these five chapters special are the personal stories that come out of each. Father Pernin, Sarah Wilson, Sam Strong, Victor Heiser, Hugh Kwong Liang, and the Shaw family are names you won’t recognize, but each one will stay in your memory with what they each had to endure. You learn the details from the five big events, but it’s the human stories that will touch your heart.

One of the classic Earth, Wind, and Fire hits was “Shining Star” and this new Mystery and Mayhem title certainly fits that description.

Two other new titles in the series may also interest young and old readers alike. Learn more about the entire series here:

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Coming up next week is another…
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 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.
Posted in non fiction, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

MMGM for 2/5/18

The LINKS for February 5, 2018

(Click the MMGM Book to open up their site)

I’m featuring THE NOCTURNALS—THE HIDDEN KINGDOM. You can scroll down to read (Also linked via the red MMGM book).
Suzanne Warr at Tales From The Raven has the spotlight on Prisoner of Ice and Snow, by Ruth Lauren.
Welcome to Author June McCrary Jacobs who joins the MMGM fun with a feature on ‘Sewing for Children’ by Author Emma Hardy. June is also hosting two giveaways to celebrate the launch of her blog—’Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic’
Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal is reviewing The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. 
Author Melissa Roske has an interview with MG author, Rob Vlock. It’s another in her Ask the Author series.
Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff is back this week reviewing and giving away Why Don’t Fish Drown?
Susan Olson over at Time Travel Times Two joins us with a review of D:DAY : BATTLE ON THE BEACH (RANGER IN TIME #7).
BOOKS 4 LEARNING has a feature on Seasaw Girl by Linda Sue Park
Karen Yingling always has great MMGM picks. Be sure to read her review today along with the many other choices she posted the past week.
Dorine White is  featuring Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot 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.
Posted in MMGM Links | 3 Comments

THE NOCTURNALS: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM

If you haven’t caught one of the titles in this middle grade series, have no worries as they each read well on their own. First up in 2016 were THE MYSTERIOUS ABDUCTIONS followed by THE OMINOUS EYE. Last year came the third adventure with THE FALLEN STAR.

The stories feature a band of curious animals known as the Nocturnal Brigade. There’s Dawn, a graceful fox with quiet leadership qualities; Tobin, a gentle-souled pangolin (in real life these are a rare scale covered mammal and sadly one of the most hunted species); Bismark takes up the final spot of the trio. He’s a sugar glider who has a somewhat inflated ego and is not shy about letting us know why.

Out this week is the fourth title: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM. There’s a mysterious drought causing panic and sickness in the animal world. The Nocturnal Brigade take off to find the reason why the water is disappearing. They soon come face to face with some nasty creatures led by a chameleon. The climatic ending has them in an all out battle to regain what should be shared and they find the reasons for the many strange happenings.

Full color illustrations are scattered throughout and support the story well. You’ll be guessing the entire way as to what natural phenomenon must be triggering the events. Perfect as read-aloud, the twenty-four chapters zip by and will grab your attention at every turn. This fun series focuses on adventure but you’ll also come out respecting and understanding the animal kingdom even more.

In the words of Bismark… “We shall be bold in adventure! We shall be brave in challenge! The Nocturnal Brigade to the rescue!”

Yes indeed…

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 208

THE OFFICIAL WORD ON THE PLOT: In The Nocturnals: The Hidden Kingdom, animals in the valley start to trip on the crumbling ground beneath them, water disappears, and disembodied voices are heard. Everyone assumes the forest is under an evil spell. However, it’s a group of veiled creatures—a chameleon, stick bugs, leaf bugs, and other assorted camouflaged insects—that are upset because they want the valley’s recognition for their hard work in preventing a drought. The Nocturnal Brigade—Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark—solve this mystery and unites the forest.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM

  1. You’ll match the personalities of the animals to either yourself or friends. They make a good parallel to the feelings and emotions coming out in kids these days.
  2. The story has the protagonist and antagonist eventually trying to understand each others motives. It’s a nice conclusion without a much more violent outcome.
  3. Readers will be motivated to learn more about these three species with possible extensions to science, language arts, and foreign languages.
  4. A balance of text and pictures—perfect for the reluctant reader and for reading out loud.
  5. Even if you aren’t a big fan of talking animal stories, this one makes you feel like you’re reading a story about a group of your own friends.

FAVORITE LINE:

“Mon dieu!” Bismark cried, hopping up and down on his lily pad. “It’s a tongue-of-war!”

AUTHOR QUOTE (From an interview at Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls):
Bullying is a big part of children’s lives, and animal protagonists are a big part of children’s literature. So combining the two was quite natural. I had to make sure the animal characters experience the same emotions that kids experience with bullies, and most importantly, do so in an authentic way.

You can also visit the Nocturnals’ website for some fantastic resources to help support the series both in the classroom and at home.

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Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

 

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ERUPTIONS AND EXPLOSIONS

Sit tight—here’s another addition to the addicting Mystery & Mayhem series from NOMAD PRESS. You may have knowledge of these outbursts, but the stories before, during, and after each of these life-changing events drive this page-turner.

1815 Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupts. The after effects cause change to the climate and an author is also moved to create the plot for a new story. Mary Shelley pens the tale that would also become famous— Frankenstein.

1865 The riverboat Sultana explodes on the Mississippi near Memphis, killing an estimated 2,500—most of whom were freed prisoners from the Civil War. You’re not alone if you’ve never heard of this event. It is known as the forgotten tragedy.

1945 The United States explodes the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. It’s a tough one to read as we follow 13-year-old Yoko who is an innocent victim, surviving the initial blast, but like so many, life ends for her a few days later.

1986 The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant has a nuclear accident effecting hundreds of thousands. Learn why it happened and the effects on those who lost everything.

2010 The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes in the gulf of Mexico. Eleven men were killed and millions of gallons of oil spilled into the gulf. The results effected wildlife, people, and the economy.

You can read these in any order and the format is perfect for reluctant readers. Maps and a few black and white photos also accompany each story. A glossary and resource page allow for further understanding.

Each of these events provides a window to the history of each time period. Kids and adults alike will learn something they whether they had previously read about the explosions or not. I especially liked the human side of each story—those who were there and experienced the tragedy.

There’s also an important tie-in to this place we call home—Earth. As the introduction states: Read these stories and heed their warning. Before it’s too late.

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Coming up next Monday is another:
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.

 

Posted in non fiction, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

MMGM for 1/29/18

Today is NATIONAL PUZZLE DAY

Before you disappear to work on a puzzle, check out all the MMGM links below…

The LINKS for January 29, 2018

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

I’m featuring ELLIE, ENGINEER. You can scroll down to read (Also linked via the puzzle pieces).
Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans.
Elizabeth Van Tassel returns with a review of Cassie Beasley’s book Tumble & Blue.
Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL is reviewing an MG historical fiction novel  Duck and Cover by Janet Smart about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story has a feature on We Are Party People by Leslie Margolis.
Melissa Roske has an interview with PB author Josh Funk.
Dorine White at the Write Path has a review and giveaway of The Four-Fingered Man.
Karen Yingling always has great MMGM picks. Be sure to read her review today along with the many other choices she posted the past week.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot 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.
Posted in MMGM Links | 2 Comments

ELLIE, ENGINEER

Ellie is a tool belt wielding girl who is always planning her next project. She’s an engineer in the making and a great one, too. That career choice will for sure come later. For now Ellie wants to build a dog house for a best friend who’s positive a new furry canine will arrive on her birthday.

While Ellie sports a drill, the boy she befriends has a liking for tea parties. How’s that for a much needed role reversal? Filled with gender confrontations and misunderstandings, the story charms its way to a surprising conclusion. There are plenty of lessons learned about lying and stereotypes. Girls though will probably flock to this one more than boys, but even our young male friends could learn something if they take a look.

This would make a great series for younger MG readers.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 192

From BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING: Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present–the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet, all while keeping a secret from Kit?

Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: ELLIE, ENGINEER

  1. It’s okay for boys to do ‘girl’ stuff sometimes and vice versa. A perfect message for this new generation of readers.
  2. STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) is a popular acronym in education circles. It is books like this one that can increase the percentage of girls entering those careers.
  3. Ellie is a strong, persistent female character that is much needed in books these days.
  4. Not all of Ellie’s projects turn out winners, i.e. an automatic hair braiding device. Mistakes are fine as long as you don’t hurt someone.
  5. Black and white images detailing Ellie’s projects are scattered throughout. They’re like a window to the mind of a future architect or engineer.

FAVORITE LINES:

Ellie’s fingers got jittery, which happened a lot when she was getting an idea for a new project—it was like her fingers were just as excited as her heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
Jackson Pearce currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She auditioned for the circus once, but didn’t make it; other jobs she’s had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist.
Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn’t tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve. Her parents thought it was cute at first, but have grown steadily more concerned for her ever since. For more visit her online.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

HEROES OF BLACK HISTORY

TIME for KIDS of course has perfect timing with this new title and the arrival of Black History month in February. It must have been hard to choose just four great black Americans. If you don’t see your hero on the cover, perhaps you will find them via the added nineteen mini-biographies in the back pages.

Each of the four chapters takes you through the individual’s life and what makes them special. Many of the things learned will have you giving even more appreciation to the work these four have done. Each biography also ends with a two-page time line of important events in their life.

Here are a few highlights:

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) She first escaped slavery at age 29 and it is estimated over her lifetime that she led 300 more slaves to freedom. She never had much money but always helped others. A true inspiration and she continues to inspire today.

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) #42. And what a journey he had to reach the Brooklyn Dodgers as one of its prized players. Despite taunts from angry white fans and being treated differently, Jackie focused on his passion. As the chapter title proclaims: He was strong inside and out.

Rosa Parks (1913-2005) The act of not giving up her bus seat to a white man propelled this brave woman to the front as a civil rights pioneer. Her life was not easy and many pages will have you rooting for this lady. You’ll have a full understanding why she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1996.

Barack Obama (1961-      ) You may think you know all about our previous president. Give this a read and there will be many more surprises. Raised by his mother, Ann Dunham, Barack (Barry) grew up both in Hawaii an in Jakarta, Indonesia. In his teen years he lived with his grandparents in Hawaii. Each step of his life prepared him to become the first African-American president.

Colorful pictures accompany each biography. The text is also large and easy to read. Perfect for not only Black History Month but any month you want to learn about the struggles and triumphs of four great Americans.

If you are using this in the classroom, check out the curriculum guide by clicking on our young reader below:

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Coming up next Monday is another:
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.

 

Posted in non fiction, Reviews | Tagged , , | 3 Comments