MMGM for January 28, 2019

                    

Tomorrow is National Puzzle Day, but there’s nothing puzzling about the wide variety of reviews and features here today. Click the puzzle pieces to reach my review of THOMAS WILDUS AND THE BOOK OF SORROWS by J.M. Bergen, and the Rubik’s Cube for all the other sites below.
Author Susan Uhlig is featuring INKLING by Kenneth Oppel, a story with an unusual character.
June McCrary Jacobs at ‘Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic’ honors the centennial anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s birth on January 31st, 1919. The book is a biography entitled, ‘Jackie Robinson: American Hero‘.
Dorine White at The Write Path returns with a review of The Light by Robert Jones.
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles has an interview with debut author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Ruby in the Sky.
Faith Hough at Life’s An Art! has a potential future Newbery winner. Discover why with her review of Gary D. Schmidt’s Pay Attention, Carter Jones.
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso has a lot to say about THE FRIENDSHIP WAR.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal shares Survival Tails: Endurance in Antarctica by Katrina Charmanan action-packed animal adventure about an expedition to Antarctica told from the dogs POV.
Maria Antonia has Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary (winner of the Newbery Honor in 1978), part of Maria’s blog series on Newbery books.
Kara Armstrong at Scribbles of an Aspiring Writer returns with a review of an upper middle grade book—Cinder, by Marissa Meyer.
Rosi Hollinbeck reviews MOON SHADOW by Erin Downing. Be sure to also click on her helpful links for writers.
Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has an informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews 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
(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.
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THOMAS WILDUS AND THE BOOK OF SORROWS

This new fantasy series has a familiar plot line of a boy discovering his magical abilities but with plenty of surprising twists. We first meet twelve-year-old Thomas Wildus as a loving son going to school and spending Thomas-Wildus-And-The-Book-Of-Sorrows-Main-File (10.10.18).jpgtime with his mom and a best friend, Enrique. Then he wanders into a book store and is given a copy of The Book Of Sorrows to read. His concept of who he is and the world around him begin to change.

Memories of his father’s final words seven years prior have renewed meaning… “Magic is real Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.” He’s never been able to find evidence of those words until now. It’s a journey that takes him from California to places around the globe, giving him insights into his own talents and heritage.

Told in third person, the storytelling stays close to Thomas. The focus is on good versus evil and figuring out which side is which. The page turning climax reveals the answer and will have you wanting to read more about Thomas. Thankfully, the wait won’t be long with the soon to be release of Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria, book 2 in the series.

Until then you’ll find this story weaves our modern world perfectly with ancient magic, giving readers an adventurous ride with plenty of memorable characters.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2019   PAGE COUNT: 364

THE OFFICIAL BLURB (From AMAZON)

Thomas thinks he’s an ordinary twelve year old, but when a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes gives him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows, the world he knows is turned upside down. Suddenly he’s faced with a secret family legacy, powers he can hardly begin to understand, and an enemy bent on destroying everything he holds dear. The more he reads and discovers, the deeper the danger to himself and the people he loves. As the race to the final showdown unfolds, Thomas must turn to trusted friends and uncertain allies as he seeks to prevent destruction at an epic scale.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

THOMAS WILDUS AND THE BOOK OF SORROWS

  1. Thomas shines as the main character. His interests are typical for a twelve year old, including a first crush. You’ll find yourself attached to this kid with his changing mood and emotions.
  2. Enrique makes a nice secondary character. His family situation is different from Thomas and their connection was one of those surprising twists.
  3. The different types of magic are a fun part of the story. I need the same ability, especially after I’ve forgotten something from home!
  4. Short excerpts of The Book of Sorrow, the book Thomas is asked to read, are shared The old English is not easy reading, but there is enough after thought thrown to help one’s comprehension. You haveth been warneth.
  5. The elements I look for in a fantasy read are all here: enduring characters, new worlds explored, and an exciting story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (From J.M. Bergen’s website)

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away…
J.M. Bergen graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in creative writing, a minor in business, and a head full of dreams.Over the years his writing has appeared in a variety of publications under a variety of pen names, and though his favorite stories feature magic and adventure, his best-known work to date has been non-fiction. J.M.’s debut series originally started as a bedtime story for his oldest son. The story turned into a saga, and one book turned into five.

The first book in the series, Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, is scheduled for release in February 2019. The second, Thomas Wildus and The Wizard of Sumeria, will be published in late 2019, with the remainder of the series released before the end of 2021.

When J.M. isn’t working on the Thomas Wildus books, you can find him playing with his kids, napping, or dreaming up new adventures. If you ever meet him and can’t think of anything to talk about, you might ask about Herman the Shark, the Kai and Eli stories, or why Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip is his all-time favorite book. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have questions and stories of your own (if you do, he’ll think that’s far more interesting).

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I was given an ARC for an honest review.

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

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CAPTAIN ROSALIE

CAPTAINROSALIE.jpgThis sweet but sad tale is set during World War I. In just 60 pages, you learn how Rosalie is dealing with her father’s absence. He’s a soldier away on duty. She sits in back of the classroom and plans her own mission. Meanwhile, her mother works long hours to support the war efforts. The consequences are great for both of them.

Told in first person through Rosalie’s eyes, the text is frequently broken up with charming illustrations that give deeper meaning to the story. Read it to yourself or as a read aloud. The tale brings understanding to those who have never had a loved one fighting for a cause in a far away place.

Captain Rosalie is a beautiful effort and a book you will want to share.

THE OFFICIAL WORD

While her father is at war, five-year-old Rosalie is a captain on her own secret mission. She wears the disguise of a little girl and tracks her progress in a secret notebook. Some evenings, Rosalie’s mother reads aloud Father’s letters from the front lines, so that Rosalie knows he is thinking of her and looking forward to the end of the war and to finally coming home. But one day a letter comes that her mother doesn’t read to her, and Rosalie knows her mission must soon come to an end. Author Timothée de Fombelle reveals the true consequence of war through the experiences of small, determined Rosalie, while acclaimed artist Isabelle Arsenault illustrates Rosalie’s story in muted grays marked with soft spots of color — the orange flame of Rosalie’s hair, the pale pink of a scarf, the deep blue ink of her father’s letters. All the more captivating for the simplicity with which it is drawn and told, this quiet tale will stay with the reader long after its last page is turned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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MMGM for January 21, 2019

            

ALWAYS in the MIDDLE has a review of THE FRIENDSHIP WAR by Andrew Clements. Click the MLK graphic on the left to reach the review and do the same for each of the other sites below.
June McCrary Jacobs at ‘Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic’ has a another intriguing S.T.E.A.M. book, ‘Low-Mess Crafts for Kids’.
Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven turns the spotlight on a half dozen 2019 MG debuts who participated in the recent #MGlitchat.
Completely Full Bookshelf sneaks back to the past and recommends Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal reviews Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship by Chitra Soundar, a book  inspired by traditional Indian folklore.
Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends has a review of 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling
Faith Hough at Life’s An Art! is back with another review—The Faithful Spy, by John Hendrix.
A big MMGM welcome to Maria Antonia who compares two books about Hurricane Katrina: Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick followed by Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick.
Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story takes a look at Eliza Bing is (Not) a Star by Carmella Van Vleet.
Rosi Hollinbeck reviews NO FIXED ADDRESS by Susin Nielsen.  Be sure to also click on her links for writers as they’re always helpful.
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso is featuring BOW WOW by Spencer Quinn.
Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads always has an informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews 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
(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

THE FRIENDSHIP WAR

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY REVIEW!

A welcome feeling surrounds me every time I open a new Andrew Clements book. He has over 80 published so far. Most are about school and have a unique twist on life inside those walls.81x7EGJFMTL.jpg

Sixth grader Grace narrates the newest story. She has an emerging scientific mind and loves to test out theories. Her best friend is a “do it my way or no way” type of personality and their friendship ends thanks to buttons—the kind on your clothes.

At first I thought how improbable, but then it all makes sense. Fads come and go like Pokemon cards, fidget spinners, and even marbles back in the day. Why not button collections? They actually have a fascinating history and I found myself checking out the buttons in my own closet.

Grace gets boxes of buttons from her grandpa who is still grieving the loss of his wife. She brings a few to school and soon everyone is collecting and trading for the best ones. Kids create bracelets and belts all in good fun. Grace makes predictions as to how her actions will fuel the button fad. What she can’t predict or fix is the breakup with her best friend. Leave it to new friend Hank and a different view of friendship to hopefully bring this war to an end.

Clements’s books can be light in nature, but always have a few tough issues buried inside. The length makes a perfect friend to those looking for the old style of MG books that were around 200 pages. You also get an entertaining story.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2019   PAGE COUNT: 208

FULL PLOT (From AMAZON)

Grace and Ellie have been best friends since second grade. Ellie’s always right in the center of everything–and Grace is usually happy to be Ellie’s sidekick. But what happens when everything changes? This time it’s Grace who suddenly has everyone’s attention when she accidentally starts a new fad at school. It’s a fad that has first her class, then her grade, and then the entire school collecting and trading and even fighting over . . . buttons?! A fad that might also get her in major trouble and could even be the end of Grace and Ellie’s friendship. Because Ellie’s not used to being one-upped by anybody. There’s only one thing for Grace to do. With the help of Hank–the biggest button collector in the sixth grade–she will have to figure out a way to end the fad once and for all. But once a fad starts, can it be stopped?

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE FRIENDSHIP WAR by Andrew Clements

  1. The relationship between Grace and her grandfather is special. It’s all about supporting one another and the results are heartwarming.
  2. Who knew there was so much history surrounding buttons? The ones you find each have a story and many are valuable.
  3. Hank is the perfect friend. He always wants to know why and his scenes with Grace were my favorite.
  4. Hurray for a story that doesn’t have a dozen issues crashing down on the MC. There’s also no divorce—just a loving family taking care of their kids.
  5. Emerging readers or those who haven’t quite caught on to the joys of reading can start here with a easy to understand story that forces you to think.

AUTHOR BEGINNINGS

I was born in Camden, New Jersey in 1949 and lived in Oaklyn and Cherry Hill until the middle of sixth grade. Then we moved to Springfield, Illinois. My parents were avid readers and they gave that love of books and reading to me and to all my brothers and sisters. I didn’t think about being a writer at all back then, but I did love to read. I’m certain there’s a link between reading good books and becoming a writer. I don’t know a single writer who wasn’t a reader first. Before moving to Illinois, and even afterwards, our family spent summers at a cabin on a lake in Maine. There was no TV there, no phone, no doorbell—and email wasn’t even invented. All day there was time to swim and fish and mess around outside, and every night, there was time to read. I know those quiet summers helped me begin to think like a writer. (Read more at Andrew’s author website)

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I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.

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LOST IN THE ANTARCTIC

lost low res cover

Tod Olson continues his well-researched ‘Lost’ series with Lost in the Antarctic. Previous exciting reads include Lost in the Pacific, 1942; Lost in Outer Space; and Lost in the Amazon.

This current effort is a riveting account of Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. He led 28 men on an ship called Endurance, hoping it could break through the icy waters. What results is a life threatening ordeal for each and every man aboard. The story comes together thanks in part to journals many of them kept to record their thoughts.

Beginning with THE LAST GREAT JOURNEY and ending with  LAST STAND, fourteen chapters take readers through the drama of trying to stay alive. Food is dwindling and living conditions are at their worst. Who could survive such horrid conditions? You’ll be pulling for them to make it home safely, but also question the thinking behind trying such a difficult expedition in the first place. They did it because they were explorers, wanting nothing more than to do something no one else had done.

Black and white pictures support the text and show aspects of the journey that will have you shaking your head. The outcome for Lost in the Antarctic is a thrilling ride and a great way to learn about an event through the eyes of those who experienced it.

THE OFFICIAL BACKGROUND from Scholastic

There wasn’t a thing Ernest Shackleton could do. He stood on the ice-bound Weddell Sea, watching the giant blocks of frozen saltwater squeeze his ship to death. The ship’s name seemed ironic now: the Endurance. But she had lasted nine months in this condition, stuck on the ice in the frigid Antarctic winter. So had Shackleton and his crew of 28 men, trying to become the first expedition ever to cross the entire continent.

Now, in October 1915, as he watched his ship break into pieces, Shackleton gave up on that goal. He ordered his men to abandon ship. From here on, their new goal would be to focus on only one thing: survival.

Filled with incredible photographs that survived the doomed voyage of the Endurance, Lost in the Antarctic retells one of the greatest adventure and exploration stories of all time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

tod olson photoTod Olson is the author of the historical fiction series How to Get Rich and the four books in the Lost series–Lost in the Pacific, 1942; Lost in Outer Space;  Lost in the Amazon; and Lost in the Antarctic. 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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Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

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, non fiction | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

MIDDLE GRADE in the NEWS 1/16/19

Here are a few news and special feature articles I’ve enjoyed recently:INTHE NEWS

  1. Corrina Allen, fifth grade teacher and mom, takes a look at MG trends and what’s ahead for 2019. A great article to wet your appetite for what to read. There is also a podcast if you prefer to hear Corrina’s insights.

  2. Harry Potter fans will enjoy this post: 20 little-known facts about the ‘Harry Potter’ series. I was surprised with quite a few.
  3. Kids’ book authors are asked what it takes to work in the field today. The result is 11 Secrets of Children’s Book Authors.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back Friday with a review of LOST IN ANTARCTIC!

Posted in Middle Grade News | Tagged | 2 Comments