PETS AND THEIR FAMOUS HUMANS

petshumans.jpgFamous humans always get noticed while their beloved pets stay out of sight. The humans presented here are not your current set of celebrities. Instead, PETS AND THEIR FAMOUS HUMANS is a look at 20 people who made a memorable mark in the world in art, music, literature or science. But this time time their furry creatures get equal billing.

Each of the features in this hardback include a full page colorful drawing of the person and their pet. On the opposite page is a story as to how the pet became an important component of their life and work. It’s here you discover what made the relationship with their pet special. It’s a fascinating way to bring out the true personalities of these gifted people.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Bibo—Albert Einstein’s parrot he told jokes to cheer up the depressed bird.
  • Bo & Chia—Georgia O’Keefe’s chow chow pups who she often called “the little people.”
  • Puce—A black cat belonging to artist Henry Matisse would stay by his side for hours as he created new works.

Whether you’re an animal lover or not, the stories of these famous humans will touch your heart. A great gift for your favorite person, too.

I’m not famous, but I couldn’t resist posting a picture of my own pet who was rescued from a Wyoming animal shelter. She’s never been one to practice social distancing!

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Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration:

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 , , , | 6 Comments

MMGM for April 20, 2020

           

HAPPY NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK!

Many of the recommendations below may have first come from that special guardian of the books. Thank you to all the librarians and support staff. You inspire those you serve!

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of AGATHA ODDLY—MURDER AT THE MUSEUM. Click on the green book to learn all about it then do the same for the other selections below.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has a guest post by debut author Loriel Ryon and her agent Kristy Hunter, a giveaway of Loriel’s MG magical realism INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS and a query critique by Kristy.

Sue Heavenrich at Archimedes Notebook has a non-fiction selection with Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids, by Rowena Rae.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic celebrates the upcoming Earth Day (4/22) and Arbor Day (4/24). She’ll share link packs for educational activities for kids and families to participate in from home.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea gives us a few thoughts on The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser (Book #3)

COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF is recommending The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.

Jenni Enzor  goes way back to a series known as the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. It’s a celebration of the author’s birth on April 25th.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis with a Giveaway.

Rosi Hollinbeck features a non-fiction title, Spies, Lies, & Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds that Won World War II. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

THE COMFY READER has an MG ARC REVIEW of The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another fantastic MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including LOUDER THAN WORDS.

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 , , | 1 Comment

AGATHA ODDLY—MURDER AT THE MUSEUM

AgathaO.jpgThis British import is back with a second mystery. To be honest, I had never read Book One—THE SECRET KEY—but I had no problem getting into this new adventure.

Lena Jones was not an author I’d come across in all my MG reading. I did a little research and discovered she’s fictional just like the series. Written by a team of many writers, the result is a collaborative effort similar to what is used in television script writing.

Told in first person through the eyes of Agatha Oddlow (Oddly is the name she is often called at school). Agatha is a 13-year-old detective who lives with her father in London. Mom is gone after being killed in a suspicious bike accident. Agatha wants to find out the truth. At the same time she’s sticking her nose into a murder investigation at the British Museum and trying to gain acceptance into a secret Guild—an underground group of detectives who work to solve and prevent crime.

Her two best friends provide support while her father remains mostly clueless to all of Agatha’s sleuthing. The London locale is welcome as is the direction of the plot, deftly dropping in clues along the way. Great escapism for young and old readers alike.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From Harper Collins)

Agatha Oddlow’s set to become the youngest member of the Gatekeepers’ Guild, but before that, she’s got a mystery to solve!

There’s been a murder at the British Museum and, although the police are investigating, Agatha suspects that they’re missing a wider plot going on below London – a plot involving a disused Tube station, a huge fireworks display, and five thousand tonnes of gold bullion…

FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT

AgathaOAGATHA ODDLY MURDER AT THE MUSEUMAgathaO

by LENA JONES

1. Agatha is the perfect teen heroine sure to appeal to both boys and girls. She has the same worries many tweens and teens have even though they aren’t fighting off crime below the streets of London.

2. Her namesake is Agatha Christie and it made for a welcome connection of the famous writer’s Detective Poirot into Agatha’s thoughts.

3. Although parents may cringe at the amount of freedom Agatha has to roam around by herself, it will only endear her more to the intended audience.

4. The urge to visit London will be strong after reading this one.

5. The series will continue as at least one plot point is waiting to be solved. THE SILVER SERPENT will be out in June of 2020.

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I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Comments are welcome below.

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

INTO THE CLOUDS

At an elevation of 28,251 feet, K2 is the second highest mountain in the world—surpassed only by Mt. Everest. Experts agree a climb to the ominous peak of K2 is a more difficult and dangerous climb. INTO THE CLOUDS is the story of three separate American attempts to reach the top—first in 1938, followed by 1939, and then finally 1953.intotheclouds.jpg

Each of the accounts are filled with details of the harrowing journey. Individuals with the drive to even attempt such a climb come from different parts of the U.S., but all share the desire to do what many believed at the time to be impossible.

Details of each climb will have you on the edge of your seat. Halfway through the first story, I couldn’t help but question why would someone want to do something so life threatening. One of the climbers summed it up further with these chilling words: “It tries to kill you.”

I kept reading and discovered they do it for the sheer love of climbing and the freedom it provides. It’s a brotherhood (and since then a sisterhood) only few experience.

The stories are superbly researched, filled with black and white photos and a few drawings. Each detail is an often sad reminder of the toll this mountain can take. And don’t miss the excellent back of the book material. Included are images of the gear needed to attack K2, a compelling author’s note, and further sources.

Perfect for ages ten and up. Kids and adults alike will get caught up in the excitement presented within these pages.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tod Olson is the author of the narrative nonfiction series, LOST, and the historical fiction series How to Get Rich. He has written for national magazines on the Columbine school shooting, homeless teens, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and many other stories of interest to children and young adults. Tod holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Vermont with his family, his mountain bike, and his electric reclining chair. To learn more, and to download free teaching resources, visit his website: todolson.com.

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Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration:

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 , , | 1 Comment

MMGM for April 13, 2020

                 

Four U.S. Presidents were born in the month of April, including Thomas Jefferson born on this date in 1743. While you let that sink in enjoy these outstanding posts from our MMGM family. Click on a gold star to read what they have to say.

At ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of Misadventures of a Magician’s Son by Laurie Smollett Kutscera.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic features  ‘Selah’s Stolen Dream’. Included is an excerpt, author interview, and review.

Michelle Mason at Musings of a Young Adult Writer again turns things over to her 6th grade son. Expect some humor as he shares his view on THE CHANGELINGS by Christina Soontornvat.

Jenni Enzor gives readers her thoughts on a book I enjoyed, Restart by Gordon Korman.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea celebrates Beverly Cleary’s 104th birthday with a post about the Ramona books. 

Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso features Esther Hautzig’s classic memoir, The Endless Steppe.

Stephanie Robinson at Fairday’s Blog is back with a review of Ollie Oxley and the Ghost: The Search for Lost Gold by Lisa Schmid.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading tells us about Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews The Case of the Missing Auntie by Michael Hutchinson, a story about the stolen Indigenous children of Canada.

Mark Baker at Carstairs Considers gives 5 stars to Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs.

  Rosi Hollinbeck features a review of DOG DRIVEN by Terry Lynn Johnson. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another fantastic MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including NAT ENOUGH.

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 MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Misadventures of a Magician’s Son

magicians son.jpgThere’s nothing like a little magical escapism to chase away the bad news in the world. Middle school is hard enough, but more so for Alex. He’s in a new town after his famous magician father passed away attempting to create a new trick. When Alex discovers a magical deck of playing cards his dad left him, the adventure begins and what he knows about magic changes forever.

The story is fast paced and frequent illustrations by the author add to the appeal. The royal family of hearts comes to life, but only Alex can communicate with them. That is until he misplaces the deck. His ways of dealing with the crisis are sincere and kid like. The fictional small town of Orchard, Maine is the setting Alex despises as it is quite the change from growing up in his home state of New York. Filled with magical surprises and a thrilling ending, the book would appeal to any girl or boy—along with a few of us older MG readers. There’s also a hint on the final page of what would be a welcome sequel.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: APRIL 1, 2020 (no fooling!)      PAGE COUNT: 178

laugh2FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUTlaugh2

MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON

1. The joker in the deck will cause a smile or two as you read.

2. The 27 chapters (each announced with accompanying cards from the magical deck) were the perfect length for a read-aloud.

3. Mom pretty much stays aside for the story and keeps the young characters in the forefront.

4. Magic lovers might be inspired to get there own deck of cards. There weren’t any sources in the back pages but I can recommend an oldie but goodie: The Kid’s Guide to Magic Tricks.

5. The small town setting was nicely woven into the story. Big city kids might be surprised at the differences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  (From Blue Whale Press)

Laurie Smollett Kutscera was born in Greenwich Village and grew up in Queens, New York. At the age of 11, she performed her first magic trick and was destined to be a ventriloquist with the aid of her childhood friend, Neil, who today is a real magician! But rather than follow in the footsteps of Houdini, she went on to study fine art and children’s book illustration at Queens College with Caldecott medalist Marvin Bileck. She is an award-winning graphic designer, a published children’s book illustrator, and toy designer.

Laurie’s passion for writing began 12 years ago while cruising the eastern seaboard from Nantucket to the Virgin Islands. Today she continues to write and illustrate and is currently working on several contemporary picture books and middle grade novels.

Laurie lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband Nick and rescue doggie, Cody. You can learn more about Laurie by going to lskillustration.com.

Read Laurie’s recent guest post at Reading Writing, and Stitch-metic.

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Comments are always welcome! Leave one below.

 

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

NINA SONI, SISTER FIXER

I featured the first book in this series, Nina Soni, Former Best Friend, last October.  Nina is an Indian-American girl who lives with her parents and little sister. It’s a charming set of stories filled with Indian customs and food. But the real emphasis is on Nina as she struggles with the sister fixer.jpgsame problems many kids face.

Nina Soni, Sister Fixer focuses on how to deal with an irritating sibling. Nina’s younger sister, Kavita, is beyond embarrassing. Her made up songs and unstoppable do anything behavior has gone too far. Nina sets out to fix her sister before they join a neighbor family on an overnight trip. Kavita’s weirdness must be stopped.

Nina loves to make lists to keep her thoughts organized. One thought is to have her sister help build a dam by the storm drain out front. It might  keep her mind on doing something other than singing. All does not go well.

Perfect for readers in third to fifth grade, the 128 pages are a fast read with illustrations to break up the text. There’s also one boy character, Jay, who is Nina’s best friend. Told from Nina’s point of view, her actions are spot on for someone this age. It was a nice wrap up when the reveal came as to how she resolved her sister problem. The story will bring a smile to your face and is a good introduction to middle grade books.

Check out the DISCUSSION GUIDE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR

Kashmira Sheth was born in India and came to the US when she was seventeen to attend Iowa State University, where she received a BS in microbiology. She is the author of several picture books,  middle grade, and young adult novels. She lives in Wisconsin. You can visit  her website here.

Jenn Kocsmierksy is a watercolor artist and picture book illustrator. She was adopted from Seoul, South Korea and grew up in rural New Hampshire. Now, as a mom and artist, Jenn hopes to promote relatable childhood experiences featuring diverse characters. She was the recipient of the 2018 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship for Illustration and the 2016–2017 Walter Dean Meyers Grant. She lives in New York with her two children and a ginormous goldfish named Joey. You can visit her website here.

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Blogging about middle grade books or authors next week? Join the celebration:

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