MONA LISA’S GHOST

Mona Lisa. The name alone brings images to mind of the iconic painting. This second story in the fantasy/sci-fi Lucy Nightingale Adventure Series capitalizes on the aura surrounding the artistic masterpiece. Book one, The Crystal Navigator,  (2014) also has a focus on art.

I jumped right in and read MONA LISA’S GHOST as my introduction to the series. There were pieces of the first story that I caught on to quickly and had no problem immersing myself in this newest adventure. The plot is perfect for lovers of science, time travel, and art history. Others who take a chance will become a fan after finishing the tale.

Lucy makes a strong female character while Sam, her partner stays behind and gives her encouragement through his superphone invention. It was nice to see the bulk of the plot falling mostly on Lucy. She has to deal with many action packed and tension filled situations as this sample shows:

Sweat stung her eyes and trickled down her back. Her hands grasped the sides of the ladder so tightly that they lost feeling. Something rattled, chunks of concrete crumbled, the screws holding the upper part of the ladder popped out and splashed into the water. Unsecured, the upper part of the ladder pulled out of the wall and snapped back, dangling Lucy over whatever sightless, evil thing swished in the water below.

The twenty-two chapters fly by and would be perfect for a read-aloud in the classroom or at home. There’s mystery and excitement along with imparting some interest in art history. Many extensions for further study of this painting will come about for readers. The science, both real an imagined, is never watered down, but always thought provoking. There are even doses of humor thanks to the many dialog exchanges among the characters.

I’m sure Leonardo would also give this one a thumbs-up.

THE OFFICIAL WORD ON THE PLOT: Lucy Nightingale and her genius friend, Sam Winter have formed SLARP, (Sam and Lucy’s Anomalies Research Project,) to investigate odd happenings in the universe. They find their first case while watching a class video about the newly-scanned Mona Lisa. The experiment to measure the paint layers with a Spectrographic Scanner has had terrible consequences. Lucy and Sam are horrified by what they see. The painting seems to be exploding before their eyes. Purple clouds swirl through the once-sunny landscape, Lisa is crying, and letters float in her right eyeball.  If that weren’t reason enough to investigate, one of their classmates, shy Melissa Blackwood, claims to be the reincarnation of Lisa Gherardini, the real Mona Lisa. She tells Lucy that she has come back to get the portrait her husband paid for, but which Leonardo never delivered to her. Then, the painting vanishes without a trace.

Like twenty-first century versions of 007 and Q in Ian Fleming’s James Bond Series, Lucy and Sam embark on a perilous adventure to find the painting before it self-destructs. Equipped with Sam’s superphone, the Quetzal, Lucy travels through the phantom-infested catacombs under Paris, down unexplored, underground rivers, and back to France in 1517 to meet with Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce where he is working for the French king. If the facts of the mystery they solve were ever made public, it would stun the world and change the face of Quantum Physics forever.

WHO IS NANCY KUNHARDT LODGE? I have a PhD in Renaissance Art History and taught at universities in the U.S. and Italy. My aim is to inspire children to read by bringing art and artists to life. I believe the best way to captivate a child’s interest is through humor. Therefore, I try to present art history and science, along with messages of empowerment and self-esteem, with as much wit as possible.

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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.

 

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MIDDLE GRADE IN THE NEWS—4/5/18

Here are a few news and special feature articles I’ve enjoyed the past week:

1. Kids grow up so fast and soon they are reading on their own. Here’s a Dad who didn’t want to lose that time reading with his daughter so he started a Book Club with his Tween.

2. I previously read and reviewed Richard Peck’s THE BEST MAN, s story about a boy looking for a role model. Other characters include an Uncle and teacher who are gay. When a parent asked that the book be banished from Avid Bookshop’s annual book fair in Athen’s Georgia, I never expected the store to respond in this way. Read about it here.

3. Middle school students arrive an hour early to school each day to discuss books. What’s going on here? Find out how B.O.B. is helping children connect to books and each other through a fun competition.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a review of MONA LISA’S GHOST.

Posted in Middle Grade News | 1 Comment

MMGM for 4/2/18

The #MMGM LINKS for APRIL 2, 2018

It’s National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!

(Click on some P & J to visit their site)

I have a review of MICKEY MALLOY WONDER BOY!. You can scroll down to read (Also linked via the P & J sandwich boy).
Author, June McCrary Jacobs is featuring a S.T.E.A.M. education title by Author/Educator Kathy Ceceri, ‘Make:  Edible Inventions–Cooking Hacks and Yummy Recipes You Can Build, Mix, Bake, and Grow’.
Carl at Boys Read Boys Rule! has a triumphant post on completing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He also adds his thoughts about the book. (In honor of this grand achievement I’m adding a second post from Carl in the next entry…)
Carl at Boys Read Boys Rule! also presents several Cool Spring Break Reading titles. Just in time for those just starting their breaks.
Author Dorine White has a Book Review and Giveaway of Once Upon A Princess at The Write Path.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw.
Reading Nook Reviews has a review of The 11:11 Wish!
Rosi Hollinbeck at the Write Stuff is reviewing and giving away Heartwood Hotel Book 3 Better Together. (You will also see her cool new website!)
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! (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

MICKEY MALLOY WONDER BOY!

WELCOME TO MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

When author Laurisa White Reyes asked me to review her newest book, MICKEY MALLOY WONDER BOY!, I jumped at the chance. I knew Laura as the moderator of Middle Grade Mania and also as the former editor in chief of Middle Shelf Magazine. Having just finished reading a string of deadly serious MG novels, my emotions needed a little break. Mickey Malloy was the perfect remedy

Yes, this is a short chapter book intended for up to age 10, but the story will still pull you in with its fun plot. And with  such a fantastic cover, who could resist a read?  There are five more full-page illustrations inside by the talented Matt Easterbrook. Each one puts a smile on your face.

The book would make a great read-aloud in the classroom or at home. It’s also one of those stories that will have kids asking to read it themselves. One other sidelight: I began reading this while waiting for a haircut at my local shop.  Every time I looked up someone was staring at me with a broad smile. I smiled back and turned the page.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018   PAGE COUNT: 88

THE PLOT (From Amazon): 

Mickey Malloy is just your average kid who loves comic books and superheroes. When a mysterious package arrives with his name on it, he finds a strange contraption inside. Urged on by his friend, Juanita, Mickey pushes the thing’s button and gets ZZZZZZAPPED! Suddenly, he isn’t a normal kid anymore, he’s Mickey Malloy, Wonder Boy! The human magnet! But what seems like an awesome superpower gets Mickey into more trouble than he could possibly imagine.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: MICKEY MALLOY WONDER BOY!

  1. A human magnet can only bring the worst results and they’re all hilariously depicted. Watch out for that box of paper clips.
  2. There’s a hint of a sequel in the final scene and all I can say is bring it on!
  3. Juanita has a subtle charm all her own. It takes Mickey most of his lifetime and this adventure to truly see it.
  4. Mickey narrates the story and is pleasant voice to spend some time with. He’s both funny and perceptive.
  5. The classroom scene. You’ll have to read it yourself. No spoilers here.

FAVORITE LINES:

“Who wants to go to some girl’s party anyway?” I said, though if I had gotten an invitation, I would have gone. Linda Parker is the most popular girl in school. She’s smart. She’s pretty. And she smells good.

AUTHOR QUOTE:

I wrote Mickey Malloy about a decade ago when my oldest son (who is now 20) was a kid. My children have always gotten a kick out of the story, begging me to read it to them again and again. This year, when my youngest son turned ten, I realized that soon he’d be too old to enjoy Mickey’s story. So I decided this would be the year I’d finally get it published. I’m happy to say that Jarett got the first copy for Christmas. (Visit Laura’s Web Site for more)

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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 New Release, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

KIDS AND PLEASURE READING

Are you frustrated with the lack of pleasure reading your tweens or teens are doing? Parents and teachers have all heard the excuses:

I have too much homework.

I’d rather play sports.

There aren’t any books I like.

I’ll just read what’s on my phone.

Battles ensue and no one wins. Thankfully, help has arrived in a 170 page guide written by Kaye Newton. She made it through the wars and found peace with her three children, age ten, eleven and fourteen.

Kaye covers all the whys of this reading problem and what to do about it in your own home. Part one covers Understanding Reading Motivations and Challenges. Part two is an in-depth look at Carrying Out a Reading Project.

Her suggestions are wide ranging depending on the child. Backed  by research and her own experience, the methods give you an excellent chance of turning kids into self motivated, independent readers. It wraps up with a chapter on how to get your schools to promote a reading culture.

Throughout, she answers questions from other concerned adults. This one has crossed my paths several times: I’ve read that boys’ reading-comprehension skills are dropping faster than girls’. Any advice about encouraging boys to read? Her answer is spot on and includes book choices for video gamers, humor loving kids, and sports fans to name a few.

Other book recommendations cover the ages from ten to sixteen. The key here is a broad selection of  books whether it’s for a sixteen year-old social media loving girl or a ten year old who will read nothing but graphic novels.

A helpful set of book and web resources are listed in the back pages and included one I have used often: Reading Rockets.

Another plus is a handy glossary of reading terms educators and publishers use. Understanding confusing words like Accelerated Reader Software, Lexile level, hi-lo books, and DEAR will put you on an even playing field.

Even if you already have a home of book loving kids, you’ll still find creative ways to increase their pleasure in reading through these inspired words.

View snippets of HOW TO GET YOUR SCREEN-LOVING KIDS TO READ BOOKS FOR PLEASURE @ Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Happy Reading!

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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 New Release, non fiction, Reading, Resources | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 3/29/18

My weeks are filled with writing, reading, teaching and mentoring. I not only read MG books (36 already this year!), but I also read articles about the craft of writing and editing. Thanks to all the bloggers out there who alert me to great links.

The articles I often have to skim and hold onto for later, are ones focused on the business side of the MG publishing and stories about MG authors. Today marks a new feature at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE where I will share those industry articles with you. Now I won’t have to bookmark them!

  1. Middle Grade books remain a hot commodity as reported here from the Bologna Book Fair by Publisher’s Weekly.
  2. There’s a storm brewing over a recent MG release, P.S. I MISS YOU. This article is a response from the author, Jen Petro-Roy, and her reaction to schools refusing to have the book on their shelves.
  3. Gordon Korman. The name brings a smile to my face. I just finished reading his upcoming release, WHATSHISFACE, and will have a review in May. Check out this interview about his 40 year career!

Enjoy! Tomorrow I’ll have a review of a new non-fiction release: HOW TO GET YOUR SCREEN-LOVING KIDS TO READ BOOKS FOR PLEASURE

Posted in Middle Grade News | 5 Comments

MMGM for 3/26/18

The #MMGM LINKS for March 26, 2018

(A short line-up with spring breaks and a few out sick. Click on a Springtime bouquet to visit those who made it this week.)

I have a review of PHOEBE’S HERON You can scroll down to read (Also linked via the Springtime bouquet).
Author, June McCrary Jacobs is featuring a mid-century historical novel by author Rosemary Wells entitled, Ivy Takes Care’.
Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story is back with a feature
on Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce.
Dorine White has a review of Embers of Destruction.
Rosie Hollinbeck is reviewing and giving away Natural History Museum Explorer Dinosaurs!
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! (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 | 1 Comment