BRAIN CANDY

This is it! My final holiday MG non-fiction recommendation.
51VI2SkRLiL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgDo you know a kid who doesn’t like to read? Hand them this book and they’ll be reading these fun facts right back to you. Hundreds are included along with colorful pictures. Everyone will have their favorites and here are three of mine:

  • A baby could crawl through a blue whale’s blowhole (p. 25).
  • There are more than 200 million insects for every human on the planet (p. 96).
  • A magnitude 9 earthquake releases about as much energy as 99,000,000 tons of TNT does (p. 195).

In between all these facts are one page features on a variety of diverse topics. A sampling include finding out why maps lie, seeing why Australia’s a favorite home to lots of dangerous species, and be amazed at amazing animal tongues.

A handy index helps you find all of the facts. It’s a book perfect for car trips or a great diversion during those long breaks from school. Here’s the full story from National Geographic:

Brain Candy: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity – This offbeat, “stocking-sized” book is like a sweet treat that will satisfy any reader’s fun fact cravings. Cranium “cavities” will be filled to the brim with 500 fascinating knowledge nuggets about numbers, fun facts, and cool trivia on all kinds of topics.  With features that dive into why potatoes and tomatoes are a dynamic duo, amazing animal tongues and how they are used to ”lick” their competition and dental care through the ages, Brain Candy is a tasty approach to feeding kids tantalizing tidbits about the world. 

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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, 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 , , | 2 Comments

THE BIG BOOK OF BLING

Have some sparkle and shine with my fourth of five recommendations for MG holiday non-fiction shopping:
61VeVzyMi-L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBling isn’t just the shiny ring on your finger or the fancy extras at a party. It’s everything that shines and amazes. Keep your sunglasses handy as the bright, in your face pictures burst off the pages. Nine chapters run the gamut from Ritzy Rocks to Lavish Lights. In between you’ll find Extravagant Animals, Super Splurges, and Magnificent Money to name a few.

The photos come with background text, explaining the connection to our world. They provide meaning to the color and also might encourage young readers to explore the topic even more.

I opened the book on a coffee table and leaned over for the splashy visual feast. It’s also  a perfect lap book, whether your middle grader is passing the time in the back seat of your car or on the couch during a holiday break.

There’s is so much to admire in the big book like the every chapter feature—7 Flashy Facts About… (Dazzling Diamonds, Glamorous Goods. A-List Accessories, Splendid Spending, Nice Ice, Amazing Armor, Big Ticket Travel, Sparkling Space, and Bioluminescent Bling). You’ll be amazed at what you didn’t know.

All that glitters is not gold is the old saying, but the treasures found in THE BIG BOOK OF BLING are all valuable feasts for the eyes and brain. Here’s the official scoop from National Geographic Kids:

From upscale splurges to flashy fun in nature, this treasure trove is filled with wonders that will dazzle and delight. Read about how nature struts its stuff with tantalizing tidbits about animals, including a few that literally glitter with iridesence to confuse predators. Or maybe you’ll strike it rich after reading about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, U.S.A., where anyone can go hunt for sparkling gems. Dig into info about the world’s mysterious minerals, gorgeous geodes, and ritzy rocks. Discover extravagant expenditures like Canada’s million-dollar solid gold coin. Learn all about the splendid science of diamonds that rain from the sky in space. Get the secret behind glowing bioluminescence. And go back in time to uncover palatial palaces, the riches of royalty, and other ancient treasures.  To show off the lush content in proper fashion, readers will be dazzled by hundreds of fun flashy photos throughout.
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Treasury of Bible Stories

You don’t have to be faithful to enjoy this collection of re-tellings from the ancient Bible, my third of five recommendations for MG holiday non-fiction shopping. The text has a gentle, lyrical quality making for an easy read. Here’s the scoop from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC:

51tVduDqAkL._SX383_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgTreasury of Bible Stories Noah’s Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, the ten plagues, Daniel and the lions’ den, Jonah and the giant fish, and many more of the Bible’s most powerful stories — 28 in all — are compellingly retold in this beautifully illustrated treasury. Readers will be fascinated by the ancient people and events they encounter, surprised by some of the lesser known accounts revealed, and inspired by the lessons these tales impart. Stories cover important ground beyond religion, such as culture, history, and geography, and they touch on issues that remain relevant today–faith, loyalty, kindness, violence, generosity, greed, jealousy, and more. These accessible, readible stories give kids a rich picture of biblical times, which encourages them to think about our role in the world and to learn more.
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Here’s what else I liked:
  • The back material is excellent and perhaps a good place to start if you are new to the Bible. There’s a map showing the lands of the Bible; a detailed timeline from 10,000-8000 B.C.E to 539 B.C.E.; and five pages devoted to the people of the Bible, detailing what book to find them in and what they are known for.
  • The bold, colorful illustrations seem to jump off the pages. The characters are a variety of skin colors reflecting a more accurate portrayal of the lands’ people at the time.
  • Boxed insets serve as a connection to history, culture, and geography. Interesting reading on its own.

This special hardback should appeal to a much wider audience than I first suspected. The stories are engaging and fit in well with the coming holiday season.

For more on author Donna Jo Napoli visit her author website.

You can also checkout illustrator, Christina Balit’s work here.

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, non fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

MMGM for 12-16-19

           

IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

In case you’re planning ahead, I’ll be posting the MMGM lineup every Monday this month.

Today at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE I’m reviewing THE MIRACULOUS by Jess Redman.

COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF has a list of six upcoming movie adaptations of MG books.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading has an exiting story to share: Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews a picture book, The Shortest Day by poet/author Susan Cooper.  It is for young and old alike with the Winter Solstice arriving Saturday.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea has mini-reviews featuring Books About Photography… Plus a Photography Calendar Giveaway.

Christi M. at A GARDEN OF BOOKS listened to on audio called The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It was a finalist on the GoodReads Choice Awards (middle grade category)

Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven spotlights The Vanderbeekers of 141st St, by Karina Yan Glaser. Just in time for Christmas!

Rosi Hollinbeck has a review and GIVEAWAY of WAR IS OVER by David Almond. 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 her reviews last week including COG.

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 , , | 3 Comments

THE MIRACULOUS

WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!

The death of a family member is never easy, especially for someone like the always happy main character, Wunder. He isn’t sure how to deal with a death of his baby sister. The subject is dealt with in a unique way in this debut, and it comes off beautifully.

THE BACKGROUND (From Macmillan/Farrar Strauss Giroux Booksmiraculous.jpg)

Eleven-year-old Wunder Ellis is a miracologist. In a journal he calls The Miraculous, he records stories of the inexplicable and the extraordinary. And he believes every single one. But then his newborn sister dies, at only eight days old. If that can happen, then miracles can’t exist. So Wunder gets rid of The Miraculous. He stops believing.

Then he meets Faye―a cape-wearing, outspoken girl with losses of her own. Together, they find an abandoned house by the cemetery and a mysterious old woman who just might be a witch. The old woman asks for their help. She asks them to go through graveyards and forests, to townhalls and police stations, by bicycle and by train. She asks them to believe. And so they begin a journey that leads to friendship, to adventure, to healing―and to miracles.

The third person narration unfolds in 48 chapters. Wunder’s parents face the tragedy in their own way, leaving little room for the emotional support their son desperately needs. Mom is locked up in her bedroom most of the time and Dad’s work hours have increased. This leaves Wunder to discover the connection to death with the overbearing help of a sort of new friend and an old lady at the cemetery.

The results are compassionate and therapeutic, almost sure to heal those dealing with a death. The setting and cast of characters make sure of that. But of course it’s the story line—part adventure-part mystery—that will leave you thankful you got to spend time with the miracle known as THE MIRACULOUS.

happy-face-clipart-y4T9gyjiEFIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUThappy-face-clipart-y4T9gyjiE

THE MIRACULOUS by Jess Redman

  1. The emotions and feelings are so true in this story. They are inspirational and raw, always well stated.
  2. Wunder is one of the more complicated main characters ever featured in an MG book and readers are the beneficiaries.
  3. Humor also makes its way into the tale, mostly thanks to the interactions Wunder has with Faye, the girl who wants answers.
  4. The importance of community when dealing with grief shines throughout.
  5. The adventure part of the story when the kids take a train trip to steal a tree came at the perfect time in the plot.

FAVORITE LINES

Wunder hadn’t understood before why his mother was so opposed to the funeral, why she had sent her parents and her sister home, why she had refused to speak to visitors, why she had shut herself in her room. But after last night, he understood. Because now he felt the same way.

He didn’t want to listen to anyone read verses or pray or talk about how his sister was in a better place. He didn’t want to see the casket or the grave. He was glad no one else had been invited. He didn’t want to be there at all.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

At age six, Jess Redman published a poem in a local anthology. The first line was, “I read and read and read all day.” She knew then, reading her printed words in a real book, that she wanted to be an author when she grew up.

She spent the next couple of decades doing things like surviving middle school, traveling around the world, becoming a therapist, and having two kids. She wrote the whole time.

Then one day, she realized that she was probably an official grown up and it was time to try to get some more of her words printed in real books.

Her debut middle-grade novel, The Miraculous, was published by FSG/Macmillan on July 30, 2019. Her second middle-grade novel, QUINTESSENCE, will be out on May 19, 2020.

She still reads and reads and reads all day. (For more visit Jess’s author website)

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The winner of my giveaway of DOG DRIVEN is Beth Mitchell. You can find her great book reviews over at Imaginary Friends. Congratulations BETH!

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

INTO THE DEEP—An Exploration of Our Oceans

The second non-fiction book in my MG holiday gift guide takes us out to sea. Open this book on your lap for a journey unlike none other. It begins as you climb aboard the research vessel, Meteor, where you take a ride on a submersible to the ocean’s floor. You’ll be awestruck looking at sea life you’ve never seen before. Into_the_Deep__199858.jpg

Filled with full page oil paintings and concise text, each page gives the most up to date facts on what we know about this mysterious part of our world. A sampling of the creatures living in the dark include Comb Jellies, Firefly Squid, and one of the strangest, a siphonophor (described as  a mass of shimmering pearls, some reaching 131 feet long).

There also many you would not want to come face to face with—except of course in this book. The Ribbon Sawtail Fish, The Vampire Squid, and the Hatchetfish are sure to enthrall and mesmerize the curious.

The authors also include a warning, reminding us the oceans are in danger. Our use of plastics is killing 100,000 marine animals and sea birds each year.

Into the Deep would make a great gift for the sea loving young person in your life. It may inspire them to become the next generation of oceanographers. Here’s the official background:

Immerse yourself in a strange and beautiful world as you journey from the beach to the depths of the ocean floor.

Beneath the surface of the ocean lies a mysterious and astounding world that few people ever get to see. This book merges breathtaking art with the latest scientific research to take readers on a fantastic voyage on the submarine Marine Snow, where they meet blue whales, vampire squid, viper fish, and a giant sea spider. They’ll learn about bioluminescence, Radiolaria, and coral reefs, discovering incredible facts about the marine world. Annika Siems’s illustrations vibrate with color and detail, even as they convey the mystery of a place with scant natural light. From the smallest plankton magnified by thousands, to the most enormous whale, captured on a single page, the sea’s denizens are recreated with spectacular precision and artistry. Marine biologist Wolfgang Dreyer’s text brings the ocean to life–whether he’s describing a transparent jellyfish or the way colors disappear from view as you descend to the ocean floor. A feast for the eye and the mind, this stunning book helps us comprehend a massive, mostly unfamiliar part of our world–one that flourishes with life and beauty.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

ANNIKA SIEMS is an award-winning artist and illustrator. The pictures in this book are oil paintings , some in a really large format which were photographed.

DR. WOLFGANG DREYER served as director of eh Zoological Museum at Kiel University in Germany for two decades. He has written nearly thirty books o marine biology.

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Coming up next Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join the MMGM parade, 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 New Release, non fiction | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

JOURNEY TO JO’BURG

Apartheid took hold of South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s. Racial segregation was the law and non-whites were treated as a lower class—one that restricted their rights. This re-release of the award winning JOURNEY TO JO’BURG comes as at a perfect time as we continue to witness hatred in our present world.

Although the story is less than 100 pages, you’ll discover the hurt apartheid caused for so many. Author Beverly Naidoo made a great choice in unfolding the story through the eyes of two children, both of whom learn the difficult truth of growing up black in South Africa at the time.

THE OFFICIAL WORD ON THE PLOT

Jo-burg.jpg

Separated from their mother by the harsh social and economic conditions prevalent among blacks in South Africa, thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother make a journey over 300 kilometers to find her in Johannesburg. Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village Naledi and Tiro call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn’t until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.

The new cover shines, depicting the love of a family and the journey they must make to ensure it’s survival. Fifteen short chapters along with several enriching illustrations by Eric Velasquez would serve well as a read aloud and lead to much discussion.

Also added to this new edition are bonus materials including the author relating her life experiences that contributed to writing the story along with a copy of the letter detailing the banning of the story when it was first released. A concise and helpful History of Apartheid closes out the book and will help students understand how this act came about.

The book would make a nice addition to a school or home library. The story will encourage new generations to make sure this awful time is never repeated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beverley Naidoo is the award-winning author of several children’s books, including The Other Side of Truth, No Turning Back, and Chain of Fire. Her books center on political corruption, struggle, and injustices that occur in South Africa. After being exiled, Naidoo moved to England where she married and had children with another South African exile. 

Get to know more about  illustrator Eric Velasquez from his website.

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