THE ORANGUTAN RESCUE GANG

WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

I’m having an Orangutan summer. I reviewed UNDAUNTED last month, the non-fiction story of scientist Birute Mary Galdikas and her efforts to save orangutans in Borneo. Today I’m featuring a new fiction title by Joyce Major, a middle grade adventure set in Sumatra.

THE PLOT (from AMAZON): When eleven-year-old Jaylynn moves from Seattle to Sumatra, she discovers an endangered baby orangutan chained to a wall by his mean owner, 51kO+j2TFgL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Maniac Man. Quickly she pieces together her mission: steal the baby orangutan, then return him to the rain forest. Unable to rescue him on her own, she asks Bima and Zaqi, two Sumatran friends, to join her rescue gang. But first they must outfox Maniac Man. Then find the orangutan’s mother in the rainforest. Facing insurmountable obstacles, the gang struggles for solutions. When their friendship strains at the seams, they must find the understanding needed to work together and the courage to stand up of what they believe in or else Little O, the baby orangutan, will never return to the rainforest.

Includes an index with an action plan for readers and conservation lesson plans for teachers. All profits will go to orangutan conservation.

MY THOUGHTS: A gentle adventure sure to have you on the protagonsist’s side. Jaylynn narrates the story and at times speaks more like an adult. She does in fact have a huge adult like problem: How to save Little O, an orangutan she’s able to understand and share emotions. Jaylynn feels strongly about her quest and reverts to stealing money from her dad and lying so she can buy the baby orangutan. Her desperation is driven in part by her connection to Little O as they both are missing their moms.

Animal lovers and conservationists of all shapes and sizes will find the perfect story here. Most important is the compassion you will have for orangutans and their rain forest home. A helpful TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP ORANGUTANS follows the tale.

orangutan-clip-art-18599385-cute-orangutan-cartoon-hanging-on-a-tree-branchFIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT—

THE ORANGUTAN RESCUE GANG

  1. The cover captures the emotion you’ll get by reading the story.
  2. Learning about these precious animals and the rain forests they call home.
  3. The culture of Sumatra comes through in Jaylynn’s daily interactions with her new friends and surroundings.
  4. With little help from adults, these three kids secretly carry out their plan with both trepidation and optimism. A perfect tension building combination.
  5. Thirty-four chapters were just the right length to take you through the eleven day adventure.

FAVORITE LINES

He watched me, his eyes pinned to mine like he understood. Squatting close enough to touch his back, I slowly reached my hand out, gradually, with no jerky movements, closer and closer and my fingers stretched out almost close enough to touch him, a few inches more, almost there…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joyce Major has volunteered all over the world with kangaroos, lions, baboons, monkeys, and elephants. She has also taught English, volunteered in conservation and sustainability projects, with orphans, at a medical mission and even volunteered as a reporter in Ireland and on a radio station in Bolivia. She loves inspiring people to travel as a volunteer.

“As a former middle grade math teacher, I knew this book needed to be packed with action. Based on the reality of what I found in Indonesia during my 6 months volunteering to save orangutans, I filled it with all the problems they could face rescuing a baby orangutan from his miserable owner. I included the reality of the illegal pet trade, palm oil and the rain forest.” Joyce Major, author

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I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Comments can be made below.

And this just in!!! Susan Uhlig won last week’s GIVEAWAY for a hardback edition of THE ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS. Congrats!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Middle Grade… In The News 7/12/19

Here are a few articles and features I’ve enjoyed recently:INTHE NEWS

  1. I’ve read quite a few books this year about friendships and middle grade kids. It’s nice to know I have more than a few left with this list of 50 Must-Read Middle Grade Friendship Stories.
  2. A mom writes asking for help. Her son is supposed to be going to sixth grade and middle school in the Fall and is not socially ready for the big change. A teacher responds with a great list of middle school books that deal with the awkwardness and struggles ahead. Read a few of these and the transition might be easier.
  3. If you like author interviews here’s a bunch focusing on our beloved middle grade authors from Cracking the Cover.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back Monday with another edition of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

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 Uncategorized | 2 Comments

MMGM for July 8. 2019

                            

To reach a blogger’s post click their red dot!

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review and GIVEAWAY of THE ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS. And if you missed my review of A Heartland Tale series you can read it here.

Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books returns! She has an interview with Nicole Valentine, author of the debut MG novel A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY.

Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles also returns this week. She is featuring an interview with June McCrary Jacobs and giving away a copy of June’s MG historical adventure RES-Q TYLER STOP.

June McCrary Jacobs at ‘Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic’ features a National Geographic Kids book, 100 Ways to be Thankful.

Susan Uhlig reviews two award winning novels. The first is Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood.

Susan Uhlig’s second post centers around the endearing story, Paperboy by Vince Vawter.

Michelle Mason at Musings of a young adult writer has an interview and giveaway of Rajani LaRocca’s MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea reviews Love Double Dutch by Doreen Spicer-Dannelly.

Completely Full Bookshelf recommends Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.

Faith Hough at LIFE’S AN ART! returns with a review of The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue, by Karina Yan Glaser.

Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal also makes a return this week with a review of Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh, a very compelling Syrian refugee story

A GARDEN OF BOOKS reviews The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave. At the end of the review are some thoughts from an 11-year-old boy about the book.

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of  ZENOBIA JULY by Lisa Bunker. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of Karen’s reviews including her take on THE ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS.

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 | 2 Comments

THE ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS

IT”S MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY with a feature and GIVEAWAY of THE ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS!

PUBLISHED: 2019   PAGE COUNT: 208

THE OFFICIAL PLOT

Nevaeh, Vic, and Mara are veterans of the Los Angeles foster care system. For over ax510 year they’ve been staying with Mrs. K in Echo Park. Vic spends most of his time living in a dream world, Mara barely speaks, and Nevaeh is forced to act as a back-up parent. Though their situation isn’t ideal, it’s still their best home yet.

Then Child Protective Services places Quentin in the house, and everything is turned upside down. Nevaeh really can’t handle watching over anyone else, especially a boy on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, Quentin is having trouble adjusting and attempts to run away.

So when Vic realizes Quentin just wants to see his mom again, he plans an “epic quest” to reunite them. It could result in the foster siblings getting sent to different group homes. But isn’t family always worth the risk?

MY THOUGHTS

The technique of using three alternating narrators was previously used in MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY by John David Anderson. To do it successfully you need compelling characters and M.G. Hennessey pulls it off with Nevaeh, Vic, and Quentin. They take turns in each chapter and the story moves forward at a rapid pace.

Heartbreaking at times, you feel the plight of these kids as they’ve arrived in the foster care system under different circumstances. Their shared wish is to have a a home where they feel wanted. For now they’ve been thrown together to live in Mrs. K’s house who is not the most tuned in foster parent. This leaves eighth grader Nevaeh to watch over the younger ones.

They are a handful with Vic living in his made-up spy world and ADHD; Quentin with a developmental disorder known as Aspergers—his odd behavior has everyone on edge; Finally there is the youngest, Mara, who is quiet, speaks little Spanish, and almost no English.

The quest to find Quentin’s mom takes up most of the pages. It’s a compelling read as the four take a rather difficult route find her. The ending comes quick and it was both sad and heartwarming. What little it takes to bring these four together. It is something most kids would take for granted (A hint is on the cover).

The adventure they go on is both believable and page turning. You’ll be wishing for more from this band of castaways. The time you do spend with them is one you won’t soon forget. Highly recommended for those who enjoy modern contemporary dramas.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:

THE  ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS

  1. The foster care system is exposed with all of its hopes, flaws, and tear jerking realities.
  2. Nevaeh is a strong girl who sees a future much better than what she has now. She’s the glue that holds the group together but even that may not be enough.
  3. The depiction of how a family, who is not family, becomes one.
  4. The backstory of each character is necessary and ties in wonderfully to the present predicament.
  5. Mrs. K has a surprising and welcome character arc as she could have been left in the background for the entire ride.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M. G. Hennessey loves Star Wars, the San Francisco Giants, strawberry ice cream, and dancing (not necessarily in that order). If she could choose one superpower, it would be flying. A supporter of the Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum, and the Human Rights Campaign, she lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her on the web.

I received and ARC for my honest Review. Comment below…and you’ll be entered into a GIVEAWAY for a new hardback edition of this endearing story. Entries are accepted through July 14th and the winner will be announced next Monday.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

A HEARTLAND TALE…

…or two.

The first book, THE WAYFINDER, was published in 2000 and a new edition came out last month (June, 2019) with a fantastic new cover. The second story, THE FALCONER, releases this month. A Heartland Tale is not a series in the traditional sense with an ending cliffhanger leading you into the next adventure. Instead we have two different stories—young Winchal Eldras is our protagonist in book one and his granddaughter, Britt, takes control in book two.

Here’s what to expect:

Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 1.42.20 PM.pngA great loss has frozen Win’s heart.
He cares for nothing.

But a plague is spreading like wildfire across the Heartland.

Win must use his Wayfinding skills to descend into the great Rift, for beyond it lies the Well of Life. Only its waters will heal the plague.

The Heartland depends on him. Can he put his loss behind him and fight for the Heartland?

 

MY THOUGHTS: The Heartland is the  setting for this magical fantasy. Short chapters almost always end with a page turning scene. Our likeable hero, Win, is a Wayfinder. He can find almost anything whether it be a person, place, or thing. An internal force leads him in the right direction. But one unfortunate miscue has him doubting his bravery and abilities. He’s chosen for a trip into the Rift to hopefully save his homeland. The journey is perilous and he is joined by Lady Kala, a dog who is devoted to the Prince. The canine is not an easy one to travel with.

Wolves, crocodiles, and some other unworldly creatures add increased tension to the exhausting journey. The ending wraps up all the plot points in marvelous fashion. A big recommend for a summertime read. One could also use the story to read out loud in the classroom or at home. Find this book and you’ll be transported to a new world with an unforgettable Wayfinder.

Here’s a peek at book 2:

Britt’s only goal is to become a falconer.Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 1.40.59 PM.png

She steals a gyrfalcon egg in hopes of raising a chick.

But the fierce Zendi, who’ve conquered the Heartland, appear on her doorstep.

She’s pulled into their conflict.

Their prophecies warn of a Wayfinder and a Bell.

She’s just an apprentice Wayfinder.

But she’s the only one who has a Finding for the missing Bell.

Can Britt and her falcon journey together across the Heartland, Find the Bell and save her people?

This is the story of a falconer, a courageous girl who strides out of the north country and into legend.

MY THOUGHTS: A much slower pace is not a problem here as everything leads Britt, the  thirteen year old heroine, to a climatic finish. Despite some misgivings, Britt comes to realize she’ll have to take things into her own hands. She might lose everything including her life.

The world building is laid out in an engaging fashion. Britt’s internalization of her surroundings and predicament makes for fine story telling. The third person point of view stays close to Britt the entire way. It’s also nice to have female protagonist in our male dominated fantasy world.

Britt’s love of animals goes beyond the respect she shows for her beloved gyrfalcon, Tatty Mog. A connection is also made to Ravens and a grumpy pack mule named Stubborn. She and her falcon must also hunt wild animals, but she does so to survive.

As in book one, a map of the Heartland is displayed on two pages before the chapters begin. It’s a nice way to visualize where the tale will take place. I’m not sure if we’ll see another Heartland Tale, but I’m hoping another generation of this family springs forth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Published in nine languages, children’s book author and writing teacher Darcy Pattison has been published with Harcourt, Philomel/Penguin, Harpercollins, Arbordale, and Mims House. Her books received recognition for excellence with starred reviews in Kirkus, BCCB and PW. Twice her books have been honored as National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade books. The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt) received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, was named a Notable Book in Language Arts, and has been reprinted in a Houghton Mifflin textbook.

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Coming up next Monday is another MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY

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 Uncategorized | 4 Comments

WEIRD BUT TRUE! USA

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The fourth of July finds a great partner with the newest version of this classic series. Here’s the background from AMAZON:

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It’s weird. It’s true. And now, it’s red, white, and blue! Explore the wonderfully wacky side of the United States of America Weird But True! style.

Calling all patriots! Get ready to explore wacky wonders, facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia about America’s 50 states and territories! Did you know that there is a floating post office in Michigan? Or that a library book checked out by George Washington was returned to a New York City library 221 years late? Maybe you’d be amazed to discover that the ink used to print U.S. paper money is magnetic? In this latest and greatest edition of Weird But True!, you’ll encounter all kinds of bizarre people, places, events, and things that make our country great.

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Colorful images accompanying the text will have readers turning the book in all directions. The 6.5 inches on each side make it an easy companion for any middle grade reader to enjoy on those those long trips. I speak from experience. A recent trip had a boy I mentor reading every fact out loud from the back seat. I discovered it did make the time go faster. If Grandpa or Grandpa are along for the ride they too will smile at the facts laid out in no particular order. I found a few I didn’t know about scattered throughout the pages on my home state of Colorado: Cats live on average two years longer here, we’re home to a yearly pet rock Olympics and a UFO watchtower.

You’ll have to get your own copy to discover all kinds of bizarre people, places, events, and things that make your state — and our country — great.

If I had to grade this effort I’d give it three solid F’s…

Fantastic, Fun, and Fascinating.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , | 2 Comments

MMGM FOR JULY 1, 2019

                    

We’re celebrating July 4th a bit early!

CLICK A FLAG TO REACH EACH BLOGGER’S POST!

Here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I have a review of THE SAND DOG by Sarah Lean.

Susan Uhlig fills us in on all we need to know about The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman.

What better way to celebrate than a second post this week from Susan Uhlig with another book she loved: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly.

June McCrary Jacobs at ‘Reading, Writing, & Stitch-Metic’ features a recently-released biography of Neil Armstrong, Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream. There is also  a paperback giveaway to one lucky US resident! 

Sue Heavenrich at Sally’s Bookshelf is wishing there was an adult camp she could attend after reviewing Camp Average, by Craig Battle.

Sue Heavenrich is also doing double duty this week. She heads over to Archimedes Notebook with a feature on Explorer Academy: The Falcon’s Feather, by Trudi Trueit.

Completely Full Bookshelf recommends All Summer Long by Hope Larson, and is giving away two copies of the book (one signed and one unsigned)!

Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven also has a double feature. She spotlights Inside Out and Back Again *and* Listen, Slowly, both by Thanhha Lai.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews and has a GIVEAWAY of CAMP SHADY CROOK by Lee Gjertsen Malone. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

A Garden of Books features an adorably cute and silly book, Knighthood for Beginners by Elys Dolan.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another great MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including SOLVING FOR M by Jennifer Swenden.

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