THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART

The loss of a parent at any age is traumatic. But when you’ve always been Dad’s little girl, it is especially tough for 13-year-old Briana. Her dad passed away suddenly from a rare heart condition. She lost both a father and her rock of support.

Mom has gone “crazy” in Briana’s words and stays locked in her bedroom most days. Grandpa Ben tells stories, but they’re not much help. Then there is little brother Aaron, a kindergartner  on the autism spectrum. It’s up to Brianna to look after him before and after school. Her middle school friendships are also changing, including best friend Peter who she has a crush on.

Told through Briana’s first person narration, it is a sad but hopeful tale of grief,with flashbacks to the times she spent with her father. The hardest part for Briana is the feeling Dad’s heart has parked itself in her stomach. She hears Dad’s voice come out of it speaking to her in short phrases.

The writing is spot on and flows in a steady stream of understanding. The topic of parent death is not new to middle grade, but this one sure hits the right chords. It’s not a story most kids who have never experienced a loss like this will purposely pick up and read, but for those who have, it serves as a huge hug of support.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 240

THE  PLOT (From Barnes & Noble):  There are times we all feel we need more than one heart to get through. When Briana’s father dies, she imagines she has a new heart growing inside her. It speaks to her in her Dad’s voice. Some of its commands are mysterious.

Find Her! it says. Be Your Own!

How can Briana “be her own” when her grieving mother needs her to take care of her demanding little brother all the time? When all her grandpa can do is tell stories instead of being the “rock” she needs? When her not-so-normal home life leaves no time to pursue her dream of writing for the school literary magazine? When the first blush of a new romance threatens to be nipped in the bud? Forced by the loss of her favorite parent to see all that was once familiar with new eyes, Briana draws on her own imagination, originality, and tender loving heart to discover a surprising path through the storm.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART

by Laura Geringer Bass

  1. Peter is the support Briana needs and although it comes in unexpected ways, his presence as a secondary character shined. The same goes for Grandpa Ben.
  2. Memories are what keep loved ones close. Sometimes the advice you get is to move on and forget, but this story shows it’s the memories that keep us going.
  3. Dealing with a young person on the autism spectrum is accurately portrayed—both the good times and bad. Aaron is the type of kid you grow to understand in the same way Briana does.
  4. Middle school social status and friendships are spot on in all of their uncomfortable and often hateful glory.
  5. The heart serves as a center point to emotion for anyone who experiences loss. What a wonderful way to show how important this concept is through story telling.

FAVORITE LINE:

Standing there, surrounded by toys from Before Aaron, my Dad heart made a soothing sound like the rustle of leaves, like the wind in an endless stretch of sky, like the creak and sway of vines in my own hidden garden.

AUTHOR QUOTE:

It’s long one but worth reading on Laura’s  blog: GRIEF HAS A LONG TAIL: Dealing with Loss, Trauma, Friendship, Love, and Joy Through Storytelling.

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

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

LITTLE ORANGE HONEY HOOD

A Carolina folktale comes to life in this story that is part Brother’s Grimm and part Little Red Riding Hood. Never trust an alligator as young Blossom journeys through the river swampland. Her goal is to deliver mosquito-fever medicine to an ailing grandmother. Both Blossom and the alligator provide the biggest surprises in a whimsical adventure sure to please readers of all ages.

The tale moves swiftly and will have you rereading more than once. Full page colorful art work include many details worthy of long admiring looks. Added material are a plus at the back of the book beginning with information about both North and South Carolina in a two-page spread. The final pages feature several enticing recipes for Black Tea with Honey, Peach Pie, Gator Nuggets, Grilled Gator Tail, and Corn Bread. Not sure if I’m ready for a gator diet, but I’ll be helping a youngster prepare those other delicious sounding foods and drinks.

Whether you’ve been to the Carolina’s or not, the historic South takes center stage and Little Orange Honey Hood is a great addition to any library.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Anne Cullen is an author and illustrator of picture books, as well as a screenwriter and photographer. Her passion for Carolina wildlife and nature fuels her artistry. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She holds an MFA in Writing and a BA in English/Creative Writing. Writing and illustrating for the children’s market is her long-time dream come true. (For more about Lisa and her books visit her web site)

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Coming up next week is another MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY.
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 New Release, Reviews | Tagged , | 2 Comments

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 8/1/18

Here are a few news and special feature articles I’ve enjoyed recently (If you missed any of the previous posts click here to see them all):

  1. Here’s an author campaigning for more middle grade books about suicide and severe depression. Interesting points made throughout.
  2. I’ve already sent this list to a few parents who have robot obsessed kids in their midst. It’s Twenty Great Books to Hook Kids and Teens on Robotics.
  3. Last month many of us followed the boy’s soccer team and their coach trapped in a  Thailand cave. It won’t be forgotten with the announcement of a middle grade non-fiction book covering all the tense moments: RISING WATER—The story of the Thai Cave Rescue

I’ll be back Friday with a feature on LITTLE ORANGE HONEY HOOD.

Posted in Middle Grade News | 1 Comment

MMGM for 7/30/18

Click on each blogger’s MMGM label to read their post.

1. Leading the MMGM parade today is Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads. She reviews daily, is a past CYBILS chair, and librarian extraordinaire. In other words, she’s super human. Click on MMGM to read all of her reviews the past week.
2. Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of DRAGON RIDER—The Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke.
3. Author June McCrary Jacobs features a contemporary novel by Author Melissa Walker entitled, ‘Why Can’t I Be You‘.
4. Iron Guy Carl has two recommendations for those who can’t  get enough of Han Solo. The Force will be with you by reading his post.
5. Michelle Mason at Musings of a Young Adult Writer reviews THE TRAIN OF LOST THINGS by Ammi-Joan Paquette.
6. Susan Uhlig is raving about the graphic novel and Newbery honor book ROLLER GIRL.
7. Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal has a review of the magical MG novel, Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.
8. Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story is featuring The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty.
9. Completely Full Bookshelf  reviews a classic, Watership Down by Richard Adams.
10. Author Rosi Hollinbeck has a REVIEW and GIVEAWAY of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. Seems to be a favorite this 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! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in MMGM Links | Tagged | 2 Comments

DRAGON RIDER—The Griffin’s Feather

Last month I reviewed the first DRAGON RIDER book. This second installment took more than a decade to arrive and what I found reflecting back on both books is a passionate love of animals, the good in people, and the beauty in our world. The length of this one might scare away some young readers, but the message coming out of the story is one they shouldn’t miss.

Real and mythical creatures take center stage with their human counterparts. Dragon rider Ben is back, along with  a few new characters. An additional twenty plus pages was added as a glossary with descriptions of the people and places in the story.

Adventure seekers will rejoice at having a new addition to their reading list. The worldwide locations from Norway to the Himalayas make the tale an epic one.  But in the end it’s the love between a boy and a dragon. The last pages hinted maybe this story isn’t complete. Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long for the next DRAGON RIDER to be released.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 432

THE PLOT

It’s now been two years since Ben and Firedrake defeated Nettlebrand and rescued the silver dragons. Both boy and dragon have finally found homes, but they must live hundreds of miles apart and can only see each other every once in a while. During one such visit, news reaches Ben, the Greenblooms, and their friends that the last Pegasus in the world has been discovered. The legendary horse has three unhatched eggs with him, but the only way they’ll ever hatch — and continue the survival of this incredible magical species — is to place them under a griffin’s feather. But griffins are the most dangerous creatures in the world, and their mortal enemies are dragons…Ben has vowed not to tell Firedrake about his quest, to protect him. But as he and the Greenbloom team set off for a remote island where the terrible griffins are rumored to live, he may just need the help of his best friend and dragon…

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

DRAGON RIDER—THE GRIFFIN’S FEATHER

  1. Each chapter begins with an author’s quote from one of their books. It had me making a list of several I wanted to pursue further.
  2. The beginning made me smile when we get an update as to what Ben has been up to the last two years since his adventure in the first book ended.
  3. Fanciful drawings of creatures and locations appear in every chapter. It made my imagination grow even more.
  4. The theme of respect all creatures. It would make our world work so much better.
  5. The climatic battle had me on the edge of my seat. Superb writing that has high expectations for young readers.

FAVORITE LINE:

“Maybe we should choose our friends not by our species but by what their hearts are like.”

A QUOTE FROM AUTHOR Cornelia Funke:

I love being an author, because … … I can be a million different creatures and at a million different places with my stories – and that I come to countries for the very first time to find my stories have been living there for years in thousands of heads and hearts …that is the ultimate magic.

For more of her likes and dislikes visit Cornelia’s website.

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

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

THE SWEETEST SOUND

Today I present the third book in my quest to provide support to past titles. I call it The Nurturing of Middle Grade Books. The last time I saw this book featured was last February on Suzanne Warr’s blog.

Cadence has a beautiful voice that will for sure wow audiences and send her onto a professional career. One slight problem: Her shyness hides this gift and she’s terror stricken whenever attention comes her way. Life with a father and older half brother has its challenges, too.  With a nickname like “Mouse” and mother who disappeared many years ago, Cadence has the whole town pitying her plight. Little do they know this little girl can sing like none other.

A quiet story for sure, but with a rhythm of familiarity to all those kids wanting to come out of their shell. The gospel choir background gives it a perfect setting for Cadence to shine. Her choice as to how to do so is unexpected but not unrealistic. Give this one to a quiet kid and they too may be transformed.

RELEASED: 2017  PAGE COUNT: 272

THE PLOT (from Amazon)

For ten-year-old Cadence Jolly, birthdays are a constant reminder of all that has changed since her mother skipped town with dreams of becoming a singing star. Cadence inherited that musical soul, she can’t deny it, but otherwise she couldn’t be more different – she’s as shy as can be.

She did make a promise last year that she would try to break out of her shell, just a little. And she prayed that she’d get the courage to do it. As her eleventh birthday draws near, she realizes time is running out. And when a secret recording of her singing leaks and catches the attention of her whole church, she needs to decide what’s better: deceiving everyone by pretending it belongs to someone else, or finally stepping into the spotlight.

FIVE THINGS I LIKED ABOUT:  THE SWEETEST SOUND

by Sherri Winston

  1. Cadence also wants to be an author. Frequent references to authors and books was an enjoyable sidelight.
  2. I liked Junior, her older athletic half brother. He’s already a shining football star, but adults are making decisions for him that he’s not so sure he wants. A very lifelike occurrence.
  3. Though a small part, Jones has a character arc many young people will appreciate.
  4. References to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and many talented gospel singers will supply familiarity to music loving readers.
  5. It was a nice surprise to read about a black family and not have it be about race. A different tune indeed, and one that shows so much more about getting along.

FAVORITE LINE

…Living with Daddy and Junior, I’d learned that almost anything could be settled between men with football. And the right snacks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sherri Winston not only can write but she makes a mean bowl of tomato soup. Check out her recipe 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.
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, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

MMGM for 7/23/18

It’s NATIONAL VANILLA ICE CREAM DAY!
Click a cone to reach each blogger’s post.

Leading the MMGM parade today is writer Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal. She’s features a picture book on Fridays and of course is here each Monday with a MG review. Click on the large vanilla cone to read her newest— A review of Lost! Survivor Diaries by Terry Lynn Johnson.  
Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a few thoughts on THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS by Avi. Read all about this second book in my series on the nurturing of MG Books.
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has an interview with debut author K.A. Reynolds and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAND OF YESTERDAY.
Author June McRary Jacobs at Reading, Writing and Stitch-Metic has a contemporary fiction feature on a very moving book, ‘From You to Me’, by Author K.A. Holt.
Suzanne Warr and Tales from the Raven spotlights The Very Little Princess, by Marion Dane Bauer.
Scribbles of an Aspiring Author, Kara Armstrong, reviews The Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson.
Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books returns this week with a review of THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART by Laura Geringer Bass.
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 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 by 11 PM Eastern Time.
(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 Uncategorized | 1 Comment