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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Middle Grade, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,321
1. #662 – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School… by Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School…

Written by Davide Cali
Illustrations by Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books              3/3/2015
978-1-4521-3168-9
40 pages            Age 8 to 12

“EXCUSES, EXCUSES! Or are they? First, some giant ants steal breakfast. Then there are the evil ninjas, massive ape, mysterious mole people, giant blob, and other daunting (and astonishing) detours along the way to school. Are these excuses really why this student is late? Or is there another explanation that is even more outrageous than the rest? From “I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .” author/illustrator team Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud comes a fast-paced, action-packed, laugh-out-loud story about finding your way to school despite the odds—and unbelievable oddness!”

Review
In the same style as I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . (HERE), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . contains hilarious excuses why this young boy is late for school. Will the teacher believe these excuses any more than she believed why he did not do his homework? Will you believe?

Would you believe the boy missed breakfast because giant ants stole it from him? Would you believe a huge—and I mean HUGE—ape mistook the school bus for a banana? Would you believe the boy meet a girl wearing a red coat and needing help finding her grandmother’s house in the woods? No?

A Funny Thing Happened_Int_It's a Long Story... Giant Ants

The illustrations are great. The title page shows the first book lying on the floor, open as if the boy had been reading it the night before. The clock shows he is late, as does the look on his dog’s face. There are so many little details on each page it could take you a long time to finish this quick read. If you have read Farewell Floppy (reviewed soon) The Bear’s Song (HERE), or Bear’s Sea Escape (HERE), you will instantly recognize Chaud’s distinctive style.

The excuses may be wild but the young boy actually makes it to school on time . . . then realizes he forgot his backpack (with his homework inside). I love this reference to I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . ., which brings the two books full circle. I hope that does not mean this is the end of the line for the young boy, his imagination—or is it real—and the teacher who patiently listens to the young boy’s story.

A Funny Thing Happened_Int_Ninjas and Majorettes

This is hilarious and kids of all ages will appreciate the young boy trying in vain to get to school on time. Along the way, look out for the Little Red Riding Hood, the Pied Piper, falling—rather grabbed by mole people—into a sewer hole ala Alice in Wonderland, the Gingerbread House, Bigfoot, and Yeti. Of course, there is a fabulous twist and a most humorous ending befitting the young boy’s trouble getting to school. If you liked I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . ., you will love A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . .Together, the two books make a great double-tale of middle grade woe.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL . . . Text copyright © 2015 by Davide Cali. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Benjamin Chaud. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

(CHeck this out!) BEHIND THE SCENES: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL…
Learn more about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . HERE.

Meet the author, Davide Cali, at his facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Davide-Cali/164285603678359?
Meet the illustrator, Benjamin Chaud, at his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.chaud.1
Find great books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: 978-1-4521-3168-9, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School..., Benjamin Chaud, Chronicle Books, Davide Cali, kid's excuses, late for school, school excuses

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2. #661 – Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds by Dale Kutzera

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Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds

Series: The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean
Written by Dale Kutzera
Illustrated by Joemel Requeza
Salmon Bay Books        10/6/2014
978-0-69202392-1
285 pages Age 8 to 12
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“Andy McBean is struggling to survive Middle School in the soggy hills of the Pacific Northwest. He’s messy, fearful of bullies, and hates the rain. And spending much of the last year in the hospital battling leukemia hasn’t helped. Then one night a meteor storm devastates the county, cutting off power and communications. One giant boulder skids to a halt right on Andy’s front lawn. The glowing meteor draws the attention of neighbors, the media, the army, and even the new girl from Andy’s art class. He is thrilled at the notoriety, but everything changes when the meteor cracks opens and a towering machine steps out. Separated from his family, Andy must fend for himself and rescue his friends. Join Andy on this thrilling adventure as he meets an alien, learns what they want on planet earth, and devises a bold plan to stop them.”

The Story

Andy wakes one morning to find an alien pod on his front lawn. Mom’s roses are ruined. The aliens are here to collect—using a Vaporizer—all the water found on Earth, including that of humans, who are more than 60% water. These creatures travel the universe harvesting water from planets without significant life. The “Big Heads,” who bark the orders, make a decision: humans are not significant. Large tripod machines crush homes and businesses with grabbers capable of sweeping up people and holding them in a cage, until it is time to vaporize them for their watery bodies.

Andy gets away and rescues Charlie from her ruined home and then his best friend Hector. They avoid the large, bulky “Thugs,” who bully the worker aliens until they obey the Big Heads’ commands, and the crushing arms of the grabbers. Andy befriends a worker alien by the name of Been’Tok. Been’Tok, Andy, Hector, Charlie, and Andy’s dad plan to shut down the vaporizer, free the hostages, and send the aliens back to where they came from. But can an eight-year-old boy, recently recovered from bouts of leukemia treatment, save his world?

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Review

Inspired by War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds actually brings the aliens to Earth. The action is fast. Andy and his friends are easy to like and fun to watch as they travel by foot. The story is believable, though Andy has several lucky escapes from the aliens (great fun!). Been’Tok is a cute, three-eyed monster with a heart and soul. He loves collecting the odd artifacts he finds while vaporizing various planets for the water his planet desperately needs. He disagrees with his commander, believing humans are significant, especially after Andy saves his life.

The cuteness of Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds reminded me of E. T., even though the two are different types of stories. Until the end, it is not clear whether Been’Tok wants to return home. He enjoys the company of Andy and his friends. The communication barriers make for some delightful scenes as Been’Tok tries to learn Andy’s language. World leaders and military might around the world meeting Been’Tok is funny. Unfortunately, there are several typos throughout the book, but I could actually ignore them—a first—thanks to the intense story that held my interest (though that does not excuse the sloppy editing). Black and white illustrations enhance the story.

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Middle grade kids, especially boys, will love the world Kutzera created.  The three-tiered aliens can be humorous and dangerous at the same time. Readers will find several surprises along the way and a happy conclusion. Andy is a terrific character from his loyalty to his best friend Hector, his desire to impress Charlie—the new girl at school—and his valiant attempts to move past his illness, despite his parents’ fears and coddling. Will Andy McBean have future adventures?* If he does, I hope Been’Tok finds a way to join him.am4
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ANDY MCBEAN AND THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Text copyright © 2014 by Dale Kutzera. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Joemel Requeza. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Salmon Bay Books, Seattle, WA.

*Series: The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean
. . . . .   .    . #2: Andy McBean 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea released 12/29/2014

Purchase Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds at AmazonB&NSmashwords.
Learn more about Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds HERE
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Meet the author, Dale Kutzera at his website: http://dalekutzera.com/
Meet the illustrator, Joemel Requeza, at his website:
Find Salmon Bay Books here:
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: aliens, Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds, Dale Kutzera, Joemel Requeza, relationships, Salmon Bay Books, saving the world, The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean

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3. TURNING PAGES: MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE by ROBIN STEVENS

I am ALL about the mysteries, and it's kind of all over the board - adult fiction, YA fiction, and now MG. I heard about this mystery series by an American woman raised in England last year from The Book Smugglers, and to be honest, I got tired of... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE by ROBIN STEVENS as of 3/27/2015 2:35:00 PM
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4. Cleopatra in Space: Review Haiku

Approved by fifth-grade
daughter, second-grade son, and Mom.
Rip-roaring fun!

Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack. Graphix, 2014, 176 pages.

0 Comments on Cleopatra in Space: Review Haiku as of 3/25/2015 8:18:00 AM
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5. MMGM Links (3/23/15)

One quick update-y thing, before I get to the MMGM links. I've had a lot of readers request an easier way to keep up with important Shannon-Book-Updates, so I have finally taken the time to set up an author newsletter. I won't be sending them out very often (only when there are important update-y things) so you won't have to worry about me spamming your inbox too often.

If you would like to sign up for the newsletter you can do that HERE. Or fill out the fields below. (Note: if you're younger than 13 years old, you must have your parents fill out the form for you)


* indicates required



Okay, on to the MMGM links!
- Carl at Boys Rule Boys Read! joins the MMGM fun with a feature on three different books. Click HERE to see what they are.  
- Ben Langhinrichs is back with a shout-out for THE DETECTIVE'S ASSISTANT. Click HERE to read his review.
- Natalie Aguirre is interviewing author Erin Entrada and GIVING AWAY an ARC of BLACKBIRD FLY. Click HERE for details. 
- Cindy Tran is cheering for MANIAC MAGEE. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Sally's Bookshelf is going non-fiction this week with a feature on FATAL FEVER: TRACKING DOWN TYPHOID MARY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Andrea Mack is raving about RED WOLF. Click HERE to find her review. 
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is highlighting M.C. HIGGINS, THE GREAT. Click HERE to read her thoughts. 
Katie Fitzgerald has a double-feature review this week. See what she's gushing about HERE.
- Jess at the Reading Nook is singing praises for NIGHTBIRD. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Suzanne Warr is championing AUDREY (COW). Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is sharing THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE . Click HERE to read his feature.
- The Bookworm Blog is running away with THE RUNAWAY KING. Click HERE to see why.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY. Click HERE for details.  
 - Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.   
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and 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.

0 Comments on MMGM Links (3/23/15) as of 3/23/2015 8:15:00 AM
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6. The Case of the Missing Moonstone: Review Haiku

Super-charming
revisionist history
featuring kickass girls.

The Case of the Missing Moonstone (Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1) by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Knopf, 2015, 240 pages.

0 Comments on The Case of the Missing Moonstone: Review Haiku as of 1/1/1900
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7. Mister Doctor: Janusz Korczak & The Orphans of the Warsaw Ghetto by Irène Cohen-Janca, art by Maurizio A.C. Quarello

Janusz Korczak was a well-known, well-respected children's pediatrician in Poland in the early part of the 1900s.  Among his many accomplishments, he had founded an orphanage to care for some of Warsaw's young Jewish orphans. He loved children and would often regale his charges with stories he made up, including the now classic tale of King Matt the First, as well as looking after their health and cheering them up with their needed it.  And the children loved him back, affectionately calling him Mister Doctor.

On November 29, 1940, all the orphans living in the big orphanage at 92 Krochmalha Street in Warsaw, Poland were ordered to leave by the Nazis.  Accompanied by Mister Doctor and his assistant Madam Stefa, all of the children walked to the ghetto that would be their new home for a while carrying their meager belongings, softly singing, and the flag of King Matt the First.

Their new home is small, located within a two block radius, surrounded by barbed wire and armed watchman, their living quarters are cramped and dirty.  When their wagon full of potatoes were confiscated by the Nazis, Mister Doctor put on his WWI uniform and went to Gestapo headquarters, where he was laughed at, ridiculed, beaten and temporarily arrested.

Life in the ghetto grew more and more crowded as more Jews were brought in, food became scarcer and scarcer, with men, women and children dying in the streets everyday from starvation and disease.  Finally, in August 1942, the children were ordered to the train station and from there to a concentration camp and death.  But Mister Doctor was offered his freedom, after all, he was a famous doctor.  Instead, he refused and choose to accompany his children on this final journey.

The story Mister Doctor is told by a young boy named Simon to a younger, newly arrived orphan named Mietek.  Simon describes in detail how the orphanage was run, how the children were educated and how Mister Doctor took such special care of all of them.  At the same time, Simon is talking about past, he also gives detailed information to the reader about what is going on in their present situation.  Cohen-Janca has really captured the sense of longing and nostalgia in Simon's voice when he talks about life in the orphanage before the Nazis invaded Poland, and the fear and apprehension he feels about what is to come.

The story told here is a fictional reimagining of what happened to Dr. Janusz Korczak and the children in his care, but based on the true story of what happened to them during the Holocaust.  Pay particular attention to the last three paragraphs of this book and ask yourself who wrote them and why?

Like Michael Morpurgo's Half A Man, this book also looks like a chapter book with only 68 pages a simple narrative style and many illustrations, but it is also deceptively complicated and really for a middle grade reader.

The realistic black and white illustrations set against a marbled peach background are a precise reflection of the words that Cohen-Janca has written, and give the reader a real-to-life sense of the children, the doctor and their lives from 1940 to 1942.  Little touches, like the figure of Puss in Boots leaping over the barbed-wire fence of the ghetto as Simon talks about how that cat and his courageous deeds always gave the orphans courage.  But there is a subtext that says the Nazis can take away housing, food, dignity, but not the stories that means so much and help the get kids through very difficult times.

This is a powerfully poignant story that shouldn't be missed.  Additionally, at the end of Mister Doctor is information about the real Janusz Korczak, whose real name was Henryk Goldszmit, followed by a briefbut useful list of Further Reading and Resources, Children's Books by Janusz Korczak, Resources for Parents and Teachers and Related Links.

Mister Doctor was translated by Paula Ayer

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an E-ARC received from NetGalley

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8. The Penderwicks in Spring: Review Haiku

It's Spring! With Batty!
And you will cry and cry and cry.
And then rejoice,

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. Knopf, 2015, 352 pages.

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9. #657 – We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics Series: Science Gets It Wrong by Christine Zuchora-Walske

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We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics

Series:  Science Gets It Wrong
Written by Christine Zuchora-Walske
Lerner Publishing Group         9/1/2014
978-1-4677-3663-3
32 pages          Age 9 to 12
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“The universe circles around Earth.
Creatures live on the Sun.
You can tell the future by looking at the Stars.

At one time, science supported wild notions like these! But later studies proved these ideas were nonsense. Discover science’s biggest mistakes and oddest assumptions about physics and astronomy, and see how scientific thought changes over time.”

Review

Why is Pluto no longer a planet? What makes waves ebb and flow as they do? How did the universe begin? We’re the Center of the Universe will answer these questions and many more in this truly fascinating read. Even non-science buffs will find We’re the Center of the Universe interesting.

We’re the Center of the Universe packs a wild punch. Kids can learn about some of the greatest thinkers and scientists throughout history, and how their thoughts and postulates—once considered true—are now terribly off base. The physical sciences change with time. New information and tools improve research. New scientists bring new ideas. We’re the Center of the Universe will have kids laughing—and thinking—about the beliefs people once held, but as the author states,

“. . . in the future, people might think our scientific ideas are pretty goofy too!”

I loved the book and found it difficult to put down. Well-written and well-researched, kids will be drawn into to this primer on the misconceptions regarding our world and universe, specifically in the areas of physics and astronomy. The illustrations and photographs are fantastic and teachers can quickly incorporate We’re the Center of the Universe into the Common Core requirements.  

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Ms. Christine Zuchora-Walske knows how to write non-fiction for children. We’re the Center of the Universe is not a dry textbook, but rather a great adjunct text, a quick reference, and a fun read. In the resources section, she thoughtfully summarizes each book and website so readers can quickly find more information about whatever sparked their interest.

From ancient times to modern times, science continues to change and, sometimes, old ideas and thoughts are simply funny or just odd. Kids will find much to laugh about and learn inside the covers of We’re the Center of the Universe.
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WE’RE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! : SCIENCE’S BIGGEST MISTAKES ABOUT ASTRONOMY AND PHYSICS (SCIENCE GETS IT WRONG). Text copyright © 2014 by Christine Zuchora-Walske. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
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Learn more about We’re the Center of the Universe! HERE.
Purchase We’re the Center of the Universe! at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Publishing Group.

Meet the author, Christine Zuchora-Walske at her Lerner bio:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/contacts/987/Christine-Zuchora-Walske
View  Christine Zuchora-Walske’s linkedin page:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/christine-zuchora-walske/5/998/847
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SevenCsEditorial
Find more from the Science Gets it Wrong series at the Lerner Publishing website:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/

DON’T FORGET to VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, Series Tagged: astronomy for kids, Christine Zuchora-Walske, Lerner Publishing Group, physics for kids, scientific misconceptions, We're the Center of the Universe!: Science's Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics (Science Gets It Wrong)

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10. Half a Man by Michael Morpurgo

Young Michael had been told by his mother over and over again not to stare at his grandfather whenever he visited his family in London.  But Michael couldn't help it, slyly looking at a grandfather he really doesn't know very well and wondering how his face had gotten so disfigured, how he had lost part of the fingers on one hand and all of them on the other.  His mother doesn't talk about it and his grandfather doesn't talk about much of anything, let alone what happened to him.

Michael's grandfather lives a relatively isolated life on one of the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast, making a living crabbing and lobstering.  When Michael is about 12, he is sent to spend the summer with his grandpa, helping with the fishing, reading, and living a quiet life side by side without electricity, using only a generator that was shut off at night.  But Michael liked it there, it was calming and comforting.

One day, while out in the fishing boat, grandpa suddenly told Michael that the thing he liked about him was that he wasn't afraid to look at his face.  Before long, grandpa is telling Michael about his life and how things came to be as they are.

After marrying his youthful sweetheart, Annie, war broke out and grandpa joined the merchant navy.  One day while crossing the Atlantic in a convoy, his ship was torpedoed several times.  With their ship on fire and sinking, grandpa's friend Jim managed to get both of them off it and into the burning water.  They swam to a lifeboat, and even though there was no room for either of them, grandpa was pulled into it, and Jim stayed in the water, hanging on for as long as he could.

Grandpa woke up in the hospital, with a long recovery ahead of him.  Annie came to visit but grandpa could tell things were different.  When he finally returned to Scilly, they did have a baby girl, but things didn't improve.  Grandpa started drinking, living with so much hate and anger because of the war.  Eventually, Annie left, taking their daughter and never speaking to him again.  Father and daughter were estranged until she was grown and sought him out.  Their relationship was tentative at best, in part because he had always felt like half a man because people only half looked at him, and his own daughter always avoided looking at him.  It was only Michael who wasn't afraid to see his grandpa for who he was, scars and all.

This short story is told in retrospect by a now grown-up Michael.  It feels almost like a chapter book, in part because it is only 64 pages, in part because there are so many illustrations, and in part because it is told so simply, but it is a deceptively complicated story and not for such young readers.  It is really more for middle grade readers.

The ink and screen print illustrations are done in a palette of grays, oranges, blues and yellows, and are as spare as the story is intense.  Most are done from a distance to the subject, and those that are close up show no distinct features.  And distance seems to be an underlying theme of the story.  The story is told from the distance of time, about people who are just so distant from each other emotionally and physically.

I know Michael Morpurgo is a master at telling sad stories, but I found this to be a sadder story than usual, even though the end does bring closure, at the request of Michael's grandpa, bringing together his mother and grandmother, who have been estranged for years.  It really makes you sit back and think.  There was so much sadness because of what the war did to Michael's grandpa and the repercussions that resulted leaving these relatives isolated, alienated, even angry with each other, when really it should have elicited kindness, compassion and love.

For that reason, this is a story that will also have resonance in today's world, where we see so many veteran's coming back from war injured, disfigured and with traumatic brain injury.  It begs the question: how will we treat these veterans, these men and women and their families.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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11. Completely Clementine: Review Haiku

A satisfying
goodbye to one of my
favorite knuckleheads.

Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Hyperion, 2015, 192 pages.

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12. MMGM Links (3/16/15)

I'M BACK!!!!

Thank you all for bearing with me. Between deadlines, event travel, and two awesome rounds of illness it has been... a rather adventurous few weeks. But I am done with all of that--hopefully.

I am waiting on edits for NEVERSEEN (which...will likely be pretty intense...) so I may have to disappear again. But hopefully not. I'll let you know if I do, but I will TRY to keep up with everything.

In the meantime, here are the MMGM links:

(and a shout out to Greg Pattridge who did his best to cover my absence. THANK YOU!)

- Sally's Bookshelf is cheering for RORY'S PROMISE. Click HERE to see why.
- Alex at Randomly Reading is spotlighting STELLA BY STARLIGHT. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson has chills for CHILDREN OF WINTER. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Suzanne Warr is highlighting KOREAN CHILDREN'S FAVORITE STORIES. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is feeling SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT . Click HERE to read his feature.
- Jenni Enzor is blogging about LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- The Bookworm Blog is heading off to SPY CAMP. Click HERE to see why. 
- rcubed is all about RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8. Click HERE to read her review. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.  
 - Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and 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.

0 Comments on MMGM Links (3/16/15) as of 3/16/2015 7:10:00 AM
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13. Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac

When his grandchildren ask about the medal he has received, an elderly Navajo grandfather begins to tell them "the true story of how Navajo Marines helped America win a great war." (pg 1)  He begins his story when, at age 6, he leaves the loving confines of his family's hogan on the Navajo Reservation to be educated in an Navajo mission boarding school, not knowing what to expect.

But it doesn't take long for him to find out.  Arriving at the school, he is immediately stripped of everything Navajo - his beautiful traditional long black hair is shaved off, his Navajo clothes replaced by a uniform, the family's turquoise and silver jewelry he wore is taken never to be seen again and  his Navajo name, Kii Yázhí, becomes the anglicized Ned Begay.  But the worst was being told he could never speak his beloved Navajo language again.  The punishments were harsh for anyone caught speaking Navajo, as Ned discovered one day after greeting one of the teachers in Navajo.  And just to make sure they understand things, the students are continuously reminded that all things Navajo are bad, and their language most of all.

But Ned adjusts to life in the mission school and does very well, eventually returning home and going to the Navajo high school.  It is his hope to become a teacher, one who respects all his Indian students.  But, when Ned is 16, the United States is attacked by the Japanese, and reports of what happened in Pearl Harbor prompt his to want to join the Marines.  But he must wait a year before his parents will give him permission.

When he finally does join the Marines, he finds himself part of a group of other Navajos   Ned finishes boot camp and to his surprise, he and the other Navajos are not given the usual furlough Marines are given afterwards.  Instead, they are taken to an isolated location and Ned fears it will be mission boarding school all over again.

It is school, but it is a far cry from mission school.  In mission school, Ned and the other students would have to secretly speak Navajo, but now, they were being asked to use their sacred language to help the United States win the war against Japan.  It is Ned's job and the job of all the Navajo Marines to turn their language into a secret code.  And they cannot tell a single solitary person about what they are doing.

Eventually, Ned ships out to the Pacific theater where he is a radio operator, trained to both give and receive messages using the code he helped develop.  Ned and the other Marines fight their way across the Pacific theater of Guadalcanal, Bourgainville, Guam Iwo Jima and Okinawa, in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.  All the while, Ned feels pride and satisfaction knowing that his beloved language used as a Navajo code cannot be broken by the Japanese.  Ned serves in the Pacific until the end of the war, but the reader should keep in mind that in 1945, he was still just a teenage boy.

Code Talker is a realistic novel about the war and about the life of the Code Talkers.  Bruchac wrote it using a framing technique, so the young reader knows from the beginning that Ned survived the war.  As an elderly grandfather now, Ned tells his story fluidly and fluently.  Bruchac's plot is tight and straightforward, as is the language used.  Any reference to Navajo culture, custom, or way of life is respectfully explained within the story but without taking the reader away from the story.  For my part, however, I found the narrators voice is so intimate that after a while I begin to feel like I was sitting among his grandchildren listening to his story.  That, to me, is the sign of a really good book.

One important aspect that Bruchac includes is Ned's Navajo religion.  Ned often refers to the Holy People who watch over him and help him.  He also describes different ceremonies, like the protection ceremony called the Blessingway, done before Ned becomes a marine or the Enemyway ceremony, done when Ned returns home from war suffering what we would call PTSD nowadays, and done to put him back in balance with the world.  Each morning, Ned does his morning prayers, using the pollen  he is given in his Blessingway.

Although this is a book that is also about war, and covers some of the harshest, bloodiest fighting in circumstance that are difficult to imagine, it really has a very low key way of handling the combat sections.  They are more focused on Ned and the other marines than in anything else.  And the reader learns how men (and now women) survive in combat, from living in foxholes that had to dig themselves under enemy fire, to making soup in their helmets and constantly dealing with lice and rats

You might be interested in knowing that from the original 29 Code Talkers by the end of the war there were more than 400, including men from the Choctaw, Comanche, Navajo and Hopi tribes, all using their own tribal language.  The Code Talkers were not allowed to speak of their wartime accomplishment until 1969, when their work was declassified.  In 2000, President Clinton awarded the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers the Congressional Gold Medal, and the other Code Talkers the Congressional Silver Medal (which is the medal that sparks Ned's story).  Sadly, in June 2014, the last living Code Talker, Chester Nez, passed away at age.

Do read Code Talker if you are interested in Native Americans, codes and/or WWII.  It may read a little slowly at times, but it is well worth it.  Bruchac includes an Author's Note at the back of the novel, as well as a Selected Bibliography that includes books about Navajos, books about the Code Talkers and books about WWII for anyone interested in more information.

A useful discussion guide for Code Talker is available from the publisher, Scholastic

This short piece will give you a sense of what Ned Begay experienced and his legacy


This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was purchased for my personal library

0 Comments on Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac as of 3/15/2015 12:42:00 PM
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14. Nest and Nightbird: Audiobook Reviews

I’ve been short on time and unable to concentrate on reading lately, so I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks. They’re so wonderful when you’re driving or cooking or doing something else with your hands! I’m weirdly picky when it comes to narrators–I literally reject about 90% of the ones I sample–but it’s always a joy when I come across a reader whose voice and style I like. Today I’m reviewing two audiobooks I listened to recently, both of which are middle grade books featuring main characters with unusual names. Nest by Esther Ehrlich For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist... Read more »

The post Nest and Nightbird: Audiobook Reviews appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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15. The Honest Truth: Review Haiku

Beautiful meditation
on life, death, and friendship.
Worth all the buzz.

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart. Scholastic, 2015, 240 pages.

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16. Friday Feature: The Great Timelock Disaster


AMAZON



There's nothing’s more dangerous than a wizard-in-training. And Pete Riley, has just proven it. He's worked a bad time spell--a very bad time spell.

No YouTube, no smoothies, no Manga. Not ever again. Not unless Pete figures out how to reverse his spell and free Weasel and him from Victorian England. 

He has until the next full moon. Only a few days.

Tick. Tock.




Here’s how the story starts, and it only gets worse.


One minute the clock was tick-tocking on the mantel and the next it was a smoldering mess.

“No,”􏰁Harriet shouted. Then she braced one hand on her desk and covered her eyes with the other.

Pete froze, not blinking, not breathing, but waiting to see if Harriet would point one of her long, bony fingers at him and turn him into a turnip or something slimy.



SEQUEL TO ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD
To celebrate the launch of The Great Time Lock Disaster Lee is giving 20 eBooks away. She hopes you'll jump in to the copter and go for a ride!


Usually, C. Lee takes on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Double Negative (2014) was her third young adult novel. Researching it turned her into a literacy advocate. Her fourth YA, Sudden Secrets came out in December 2014. 



When she really want to have FUN, she writes middle grade books. Alligators Overhead and The Great Time Lock Disaster are now available.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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17. #663 – OMG . . . Am I a Witch?! by Talia Aikens-Nuñez

 

OMG…Am I A Witch?!

Talia Aikens-Nuñez, author
Alicja Ignaczak, illustrator
Central Avenue Publishing/Pinwheel Books          8/06/2014
978-1-77168-025-7
148 pages      Age 7+
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“April Appleton is s annoyed at her older brother that she searches the Internet for a spell to turn him into a dog. When it works, April realizes she has more power than she ever dreamed of! Now she has to figure out how to turn him back to normal before her parents find out.”

About the Story

April turns her older brother Austin into a little soft, poofy dog when he harasses her on the school bus. Yep, she is wearing huge red glasses and braces, but that does not give Austin the right to tease her. Now realizing she cannot keep Austin cute and cuddly forever—lest mom and dad will be unhappy—April tries in vain to turn Austin back into an annoying brother.

Things do not go well for April, who is getting better at opening and closing doors at will, but could not get the reversing spell to work. With the help of help best friend Grace and new friend Eve (her grand-mere is a witch doctor), April must perform some nasty tasks before the undo-spell might work. The Old Magic Book’s paper-thin pages are so dusty, reading might be difficult—and it is in French!

Review

First, I am not a fan of texting “terms” used in a story, and most definitely not in the title. I also do not like the double sign (?!), and because of this, think the title needs polished. The back cover preview (above), contains a sentence ending in a proposition. A few more are in the story. The expertly drawn black and white line drawings, at the onset of each chapter, help mark each new beginning, but do not add anything to the story.

omg1a

With that out of the way, OMG . . . Am I a Witch is a cute story with energized dialogue. Read in one sitting, I found the story entertaining and it held my attention throughout. Most of April’s magic occurs as she thinks of what she would like, such as thinking her doggy-brother looks white and billowy as the clouds above, then he begins floating upward. April does a lot of thinking and worrying. The humor is light, which suits the urgency of the story.

“Austin is fluffy like those clouds. Ha ha. I could just imagine him floating off like a cloud . . . I just made him float. He floated like a cloud in my daydream. I am a witch. Wow. I am . . . a . . . witch.”

Girls will especially love the main character and her female sidekicks. OMG . . . Am I a Witch is a short 148 pages that can be read one chapter at a time or entirely in one sitting, making this a good story for younger middle grade kids. I believe this is Ms. Aikens-Nuñez’s first MG book. She has written a fine first foray into writing for the late elementary and middle grades. I would love to find out how April uses her newfound magic and how her friends will influence her choices. I loved all the characters.  I think OMG . . . Am I a Witch would make a fine series, especially if April ages along the way.

OMG . . . AM I A WITCH?! Text copyright © 2014 by Talia Aikens-Nuñez. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alicja Ignaczak. Published by Central Avenue Publishing, British Columbia, CAN and Point Roberts, WA.
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Purchase OMG . . . Am I a Witch?! at Amazon B&NBook DepositoryiTunesPublisher’s Website.
Find out more about OMG . . . Am I a Witch?! HERE.
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Meet the author, Talia Aikens-Nuñez, at her website:  http://talia-aikens-nunez.vpweb.com/
Meet the illustrator, Alicja Ignaczak, at her facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/alicja.ignaczak.102
Learn more about the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, at their website: centralavenuepublishing.com
Learn more about Pinwheel Books: http://pinwheelbooks.com/

Interview with Talia Aikens-Nuñez: HERE
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fcc omg
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Chapter Book, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: Alicja Ignaczak, Central Avenue Publishing, chapter books, fantasy, magic, Pinwheel Books, Talia Aikens-Nuñez

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18. Fuzzy Mud: Review Haiku

Ecoterrorism
with benign intent.
Scarily plausible.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar. Delacorte, 2015 192 pages.

0 Comments on Fuzzy Mud: Review Haiku as of 1/1/1900
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19. MMGM Links (2/23/15)

Scrambling a bit (when aren't I, anymore? le sigh), so here's what I HOPE are correct MMGM links:

- RCubed is highlighting SEAN GRISWALD'S HEAD. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Alex at Randomly Reading is cheering for NICKEL BAY NICK. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is gushing about THE DRAGON OF ROME. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is highlighting OVER SEA, UNDER STONE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Suzanne Warr thinks THE DREAMER is a dream. Click HERE to see why. 
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is cheering for GOOD MASTERS, SWEET LADIES. Click HERE to see her review.
- The Bookworm Blog is gushing about SPACE CASE. Click HERE to see why.
- Greg Pattridge is WAITING FOR UNICORNS (and really, who isn't?) :) . Click HERE to read his feature.
- Sally at Sally's bookshelf is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--THE GIRLS OF GETTYSBURG. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--MOONPENNY ISLAND. Click HERE for details.   
- Katie Fitzgerald is also featuring MOONPENNY ISLAND. Click HERE to see her thoughts. 

- Jenni Enzor is spotlighting THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS. Click HERE to read her feature.  
- Mark Baker is taken with STORY THIEVES. Click HERE to read his review. 
- Dorine White is breaking Brandon Mull news. Click HERE to see what it is. 
- Katie Fitzgerald has ALL THE ANSWERS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 




If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and 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.

0 Comments on MMGM Links (2/23/15) as of 2/23/2015 7:54:00 AM
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20. Cybils Finalist Review: THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER! by Jimmy Gownley

Summary: This book has got a great title. Rest assured the premise lives up to the promise. This was one of my personal favorite titles from this year's excellent crop of Cybils graphic novel finalists. The autobiographical story of how the author... Read the rest of this post

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21. Gaijin: Review Haiku

A different story
of internment, with
complicated characters.

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner. Disney, 2014, 144 pages.

0 Comments on Gaijin: Review Haiku as of 1/1/1900
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22. Review and Giveaway: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye

Today I have a review and giveaway for Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye!

If you have been following the blog, you already know that I enjoy all genres of fiction.  Reading level is irrelevant.  I love anything from picture books on up and I always have.  When I saw Witherwood Reform School, I thought it would be worth checking out, so I was happy to hop on the blog tour.  I haven’t read Obert Skye previously, but I have heard of his Pillage trilogy and have it on my TBR.  Witherwood Reform School is the start of a new series about Tobias and Charlotte Eggars, a brother and sister who get themselves into more trouble than they’ve ever been in before.  And to think it all started with tadpoles and gravy!

Tobias and Charlotte are mischievous kids, and they’ve already managed to drive off several governesses.  Their latest, Martha, is like a thorn in their sides.  She’s lazy, mean, and after threatening harm to Charlotte, Tobias has had enough.  He very cleverly sneaks tadpoles into the gravy, fully expecting to be amused when Martha runs screaming from the house.  What he doesn’t expect is for her to choke on a mouthful of mashed potatoes, hurl up the grossly contaminated gravy, and run screaming from the house – right as Ralph, the kids’ put-upon father, returns home early from work.  Ralph is not in a good mood; he’s just been fired from another job, and his children are the last straw.  He orders them into the car, drives out to the middle of nowhere, and drops them off at the gates of Witherwood Reform School.  Then he leaves them standing in the rain, intending only to give them a scare.  He then gets into an accident and loses his memory.  Poor Ralph!  Poor Tobias!  Poor Charlotte!  Their lives are all about to become a lot more complicated!

There is something weird going on at Witherwood, and it’s not just the creepy teachers and scary monsters patrolling the school grounds. As Tobias and Charlotte are forced to attend classes and do dishes and slave away on KP duty, they realize that something is not right.  There are guys wandering around in lab coats, singing guards walking the halls, and mysterious rooms they are told never to enter.  They are locked in their room at night, and they don’t even have pillows!  That right there would be reason enough for me to escape.  I mean, how are you expected to get a decent night’s sleep with NO pillow?

The tone of the story is very dry, and reminded me of Lemony Snicket.  Witherwood Reform School is fast paced, and a very quick read.  Charlotte and Tobias are likeable protagonists, even if they have a tendency to create mayhem.  They are clever, which serves them well with their attempts to escape, but also unlucky, because every attempt is foiled, leaving them in more trouble than before.  My only complaint is that it reads like a serial – think of Darren Shan’s Zom-B.  It ended on a cliffhanger, none of the important plot points were resolved, and it has a feeling of incompleteness.  I think it will appeal equally to boys or girls, assuming they don’t mind the non-ending and are ready to follow the series for the long haul.

 

 

Obert Skye is the author and illustrator of the Creature from My Closet series: Wonkenstein, Potterwookiee, Pinocula, and Katfish (forthcoming September 2014). He has also written the bestselling children’s fantasy adventure series Leven Thumps and Pillage. He currently lives indoors and near a thin, winding road with his family. Visit him online at abituneven.com or follow him on Twitter at @obertskye.

After a slight misunderstanding involving a horrible governess, gravy, and a jar of tadpoles, siblings Tobias and Charlotte Eggars find themselves abandoned by their father at the gates of a creepy reform school. Evil mysteries are afoot at Witherwood, where the grounds are patrolled by vicious creatures and kids are locked in their rooms. Charlotte and Tobias soon realize that they are in terrible danger—especially because the head of Witherwood has perfected the art of mind control. If only their amnesiac father would recover. If only Tobias and Charlotte could solve the dark mystery and free the kids at Witherwood—and ultimately save themselves.

US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  2/18: Little Red Reads

2/19: A Reader’s Adventure

2/20: Stories & Sweeties

2/23: The Hiding Spot

2/24: Bumbles and Fairytales

2/25: Manga Maniac Café

2/26: The Book Monsters

2/27: Mundie Kids

3/2: Milk & Cookies: Comfort Reading

3/3: Green Bean Teen Queen

The post Review and Giveaway: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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23. Interview with Patrick Jennings, Author of Hissy Fitz!

Happy Hour banner

by Julie Eshbaugh

featuring Patrick Jennings!

~~

Patrick JenningsAs readers of this blog already know, PubCrawl is excited to help spread the word about Egmont USA’s spring 2015 list, a group which has banded together under the name Egmont’s Last List. It’s my pleasure to welcome Patrick Jennings as our guest here at PubCrawl today! (And we are giving away of one of Patrick’s books! More on that below…) I’m so thrilled to interview such a prolific writer of children’s books! Patrick’s website lists 25(!) titles. If you’d like to see all their beautiful covers, you can click here. Patrick’s latest is HISSY FITZ, which came out last month from Egmont. Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:


hissy_frontcoverHissy Fitz lives with some two-legged creatures who are destined to serve him in every possible way and understand his every whim. Sadly, these creatures are sorely lacking in their skills. For one thing–they touch him when they want to touch him. Don’t they know that the two-legged are there for him to touch when he wants to–meaning when he wants food? Petting wakes him up! They speak to him–don’t they know the two-legged should be seen–so Hissy knows where to order food–and not heard?! It’s becoming intolerable. What is this irascible cat to do?

I understand that, although you generally write for middle graders, this book is for younger readers. What made you decide to move in that direction?
My publisher wondered if I’d be interested in writing a chapter book. The book fairs and clubs had been asking for them. I told my editor about my insomniac cat idea and she liked it.

What changes in your writing process when you target a different age level? Do you write for a certain age, a reading level, or both?

I think the story dictates the reading level, the audience. When a story is right for a seven-year-old, the language often takes care of itself. In other words, if you want to engage with a kid, you should talk about something they care about, and in a voice and vocabulary that makes sense to them. That’s not talking down; that’s talking to.   

Hissy Fitz is your first illustrated chapter book in in a long time (over ten years, correct?) How is an author matched to an illustrator? What is the process involved in creating an illustrated book? Other than providing the text, do you have any other input as to the illustrations?

When a book is submitted without illustrations, the art director looks for an artist. They have many illustrators’ portfolios on file. I work on the book with my editor while the artist is found. Usually the text is nearly finished before the illustrating begins. For Bat and Rat, a picture book, I ended up retooling my text, cutting out what was rendered visually by the amazing Matthew Cordell. I did a little tweaking for Hissy after Michael Allen Austin’s hilarious pictures came in. There were textless spreads in Bat and Rat, so, some notes were needed, but, in general, one tries to leave artistic decisions to artists.  

I also understand that this is your first cat book! Yet you’ve had pet cats for 20 years? What took you so long to write a book about a cat?

I never had a story to tell. I’ve considered that this is due to cats not really doing much of anything. Mostly they just sit around the house. Dogs go out and play with their owners, protect their owners, rescue people, hang with their friends. Cats nap on average eighteen hours a day. It was when I struck upon the idea of an insomniac cat that I finally had a cat story. 

Hissy Fitz is such a unique character – his voice really sucked me in. I know it’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of an idea, but can you say where the character of Hissy Fitz came from? What made you decide to tell this particular cat’s story?
Those twenty years with cats were spent wondering what they thought about, especially what they thought of humans. In recent years, I’ve led a young writing group at my house, and have watched the writers interact with my cats. I tried sharing with the kids all I’d learned about how to approach a cat, touch a cat, and treat a cat, but it didn’t make much of an impression. I suppose their treatment of my cats shaped my idea of how Hissy would view kids, as well as other humans. 

I know you do a lot of school and library visits with children. What’s your favorite thing about meeting young readers?

Their enthusiasm. They love to read, and they get very excited when they meet an author of a book they’ve read. They have tons of very good questions. They’re often also interested in writing stories. The whole day is filled with excitement. I’m thoroughly exhausted afterward. It’s the best.

Any last words of advice for aspiring writers, particularly those hoping to write for children?

Spend as much time as you can with kids. Volunteer to read at the library, or in classrooms. Read to nieces and nephews, grandchildren, whomever. Talk to kids about the books they love. Listen carefully. Feel their enthusiasm.

Thank you so much, Patrick! Also, I want to offer congratulations on the news that Lerner Publishing has acquired all of Egmont USA’s frontlist and backlist titles. We look forward to reading many more of your stories!

To celebrate the publication of HISSY FITZ, we’re giving away a copy of this wonderful book! Leave a comment below and use the Rafflecopter form to enter!

About the author:

Patrick Jennings’s books for young readers have received honors from Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book, Smithsonian Magazine, the PEN Center USA, the Woman’s National Book Association, and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. The Seattle Public Library awarded his book, Guinea Dog, the Washington State Book Award of 2011. His book, Faith and the Electric Dogs, is currently being adapted for the screen. His new book, Hissy Fitz, will be published in January 2015. He currently writes full time in his home in Port Townsend, Washington.

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24. Classic Readalong Discussion: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Today’s readalong discussion is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH! Are you ready to have your heart warmed by a valiant young mouse? To swoon over a dashing rat captain of the guard?  (Yes, you read that correctly.) We all loved this month’s book, so let’s dive right in. As always, while we’re always hoping that our discussions will encourage new readers to pick up these books, we do discuss specific spoilers in each story.   Wendy: I’m very fond of extraordinarily handsome rats. :D Layla: I first read this in junior high school (and still have my copy today, boo-yeah!). I remember avoiding Frisby for awhile because I was really into fantasy novels and thought the cover / title were unappealing. Boy howdy was I wrong. I loved this book as a kid and I still love it now; it has officially withstood the test of time for... Read more »

The post Classic Readalong Discussion: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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25. Bo at Iditarod Creek: Review Haiku

It feels like Alaska
outside, so snuggle in
with Bo and the gang.

Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Holt, 2015, 288 pages.

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