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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Middle Grade, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,336
1. Moonpenny Island: Review Haiku

More than your garden-variety
quirky middle-grade.
Trilobites!

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb. Balzer + Bray. 2015, 304 pages.

0 Comments on Moonpenny Island: Review Haiku as of 4/17/2015 6:19:00 AM
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2. #669 – Sherlock Academy by F. C. Shaw

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Sherlock Academy

Written by F. C. Shaw
Future House Publishing         3/16/2015*
978-0-09891253-4-5       
214 pages        Age 8—12
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“Teachers in disguise. Secret libraries, hollow books . . . All these and more await eleven-year-old Rollie Wilson at the mysterious Academy of Fine Sleuths. When Rollie and his best friend, Cecily, are invited to attend a school where children learn the art of detection just like the great Sherlock Holmes, they discover a strange burglary has been committed and a mystery is a foot. Determined to investigate, Rollie discovers that appearances can be deceiving, the truth can be hurtful, and friends sometimes turn into foes. Does Rollie have what it takers to follow in Holmes footsteps? Can he use his skills to solve the mystery and save the school from an unknown villain?”

The Story
Rollie Wilson is the middle child of five and the only non-twin. That makes it difficult for Rollie to gain his family’s attention; even Great Auntie Ei, who shows Rollie both attention and affection, finds herself preoccupied with Herr Zilch , a mastermind thief who continues to allude Scotland Yard. But when an invitation arrives for Rollie, the entire family is interested.

“Rollie E. Wilson:

“It is our pleasure to inform you of your eligibility for the Sherlock Holmes Academy of Fine Sleuths. We believe you possess the qualities we seek in fine students . . . bring only the following item [to orientation]: your favorite book.”

Rollie’s best friend, Cecily, also receives an invitation, and both are admitted, each taking their favorite Sherlock Holmes book, which is placed into a strange library by staff. To get their book back, students must figure out how the library shelves work. No student has ever figured the out the secret or retrieved their book. Rollie intends to be the first, but is interrupted. Someone has broken into the library, for what no one knows—or is saying. Deciphering all the secrets (library, teachers,and other characters), will put Rollie and his family into grave danger.

Review
Sherlock Academy will not only entertain readers, it might just encourage kids to learn about codes—explained well in the story—or to simply pick up a Sherlock Holmes story for the first time. The characters are will developed. Rollie and his best buddy Cecily solve most every question by asking themselves five basic questions about the problem or situation at hand: Who? What? Why?, When? and How?

Rollie and Cecily have been neighborhood detectives for quite sometime, often using binoculars to spy on Mr. Crenshaw, Rollie’s next-door neighbor. Crenshaw enjoys this sleuthing, often waving back or inviting the two junior sleuths in for tea and sending Auntie Ei chocolates (which she loves). Careful observation will glean that Crenshaw’s activities are the first of many clues that somethings are not always what they seem to be.

My only negative, to me, was how easy it is to figure out where Auntie Ei’s nemesis, Herr Zilch, is hiding between criminal acts, though his plans took me by surprised. There are several characters with secrets, including the eighty-year-old aunt, which are not evident until the end. The author does a great job of teasing the reader and then sending them in a new direction, once again confusing things. Rollie, being good detective—with his Watson (Cecily)—figures out most mysteries, but has a final surprise that leads him, and readers, to book 2.

This is year one for Rollie and Cecily at Sherlock Academy. What will Shaw put them in the middle of during year two is something I cannot wait to discover. Sherlock Academy is a wonderful mystery even younger kids can enjoy. There are a few detective terms that might send them to a dictionary (always a good thing), but over all. Sherlock Academy, with its well-written story, will keep readers turning the pages and entertaining them until the very mysterious end. Herr Zilch should return as Rollie’s nemesis, as will the teachers, plus probably one new goofball to replace the one that leaves. If you like mysteries, if you like Sherlock Holmes, if you like relatively fast reads with well-kept secrets and a nice flow, well, then Sherlock Academy is the new series for you. Enjoy!

SHERLOCK ACADEMY. Text copyright © 2015 by F. C. Shaw. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Future House Publishing, Orem, UT.

*First published on July 31, 2009
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Purchase Sherlock Academy at AmazonBook Depository.
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Learn more Sherlock Academy HERE.
Meet the author, F. C. Shaw, at her website: www.sherlockacademy.com
Find other middle grade novels at the Future House Publishing website: www.futurehousepublishing.com

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original cover
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Full Disclosure: Sherlock Academy, by F. C. Shaw, and received from Future House Publishing, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed belong to Kid Lit Reviews and no one else’s. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CRF, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: F. C. Shaw, Future House Publishing, mystery, Sherlock Holmes, suspense

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3. MMGM Links (4/13/15)

Here's the  MMGM links for the week (and if you're in Kentucky, hope to see you at SOKY Book Fest this Friday and Saturday!)

- Claire Caterer is has a double review--and a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.    
- Birdie Reader is singing praises for THE SAME STUFF AS STARS. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Rcubed is feeling spacey for SPACE CASE. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is highlighting ABBEY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD. Click HERE to find his review. 
- Jenni Enzor is caught up in THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Cindy Tran is gushing about THE TIME OF FIREFLIES. Click HERE to see why.
- Andrea Mack is SAVING HOUDINI  Click HERE to see her review. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--WATCH THE SKY. Click HERE for all the details.  
- Suzanne Warr is featuring THE SEAMS: THE GLITCH IN SLEEP. Click HERE for details. 
- Greg Pattridge is raving about TEDDY MARS--ALMOST A WORLD RECORD BREAKER. Click HERE to read his feature.
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is spotlighting FLORA AND ULYSSES. Click HERE to see why.  
- Dorine White is seeing the beauty in THE LUCK UGLIES. Click HERE to find her review. 
- The Bookworm Blog is rooting for THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. Click HERE to see why.   
- Sally's Bookshelf is dishing about DIARY OF A WAITRESS--THE NOT SO GLAMOROUS LIFE OF A HARVEY GIRL. Click HERE to see her feature.
- 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 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 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!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

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 (4/13/15) as of 4/13/2015 8:34:00 AM
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4. Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from World War I by Stephanie Bearce

In October 2014, I reviewed a book called Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions, & Hidden Facts from World War II.  It is such an interesting book, and I discovered all kinds of new information about the hidden workings and wartime secrets that helped end the war.   Now, the author, Stephanie Bearce has followed it up with a similar book about World War I.

Bearce has once again culled little known information about WWI and combined it with more well-known details and events in a book that will fascinate young readers.  For instance, they will read about the secret society, the Black Hand, formed by the Serbian Army for the purpose of freeing Serbia from being ruled by Austria-Hungary, which led to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife and the start of WWI.

And then, in the section on Spies, there is the prospector/mining engineer Howard Burnham, who had lost part of his leg before the war in an accident.  Working for the Allies, Harry traveled into German territory to do learn enemy troop positions.  Howard has a photographic mind and didn't need to put anything on paper.  In addition, he cleverly hid his surveying tools in his prosthetic leg and no one was ever the wiser.  Readers will also read about brave women like Nurse Edith Cavell and Nurse Marthe Cnockaert, whose professions helped them spy for the Allies.  After the war, Cnockaert went on to write spy novels.

One of my favorite stories in the Special Missions section are the dazzle ships.  Radar was unknown in WWI, and the Germans had developed their submarines or U-boat to such an extent that Allied ships were being successfully torpedoed by them.  A British naval officer named Norman Wilkinson came up with a unique way to confuse the Germans: camouflage the ships by painting the bright geometric patterns so the U-boats couldn't zero in on their position.  See what I mean:

HMS London (1918 Public Domain)
Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from WWI is chockablock with interesting facts, people and events.  Towards the end of the war, as planes were being used more and more, the French were afraid that Paris would be bombed.  What to do?  Readers will discover the unusual solution the French come up with in this book.  And speaking of airplanes, remember the World War I flying ace, Snoopy and his foe, the Red Barron.  Well, readers will meet the read Red Barron in the section on Secret Forces.

And they will learn about some secret weapons that were used, like carrier pigeons and dogs, and Little Willie, the tank that was able to put an end to trench warfare.  How?  Here's a hint:

The newly invented tank could easily cross over a trench 
Like it companion book, this one is also divided into five sections: Secrets, Spies, Special Missions, Secret Weapons and Secret Forces, each packed with all kinds of interesting information, and within that, readers will find inserts with even more unusual facts.  And at the end of each of the five sections, there are activities and projects for kids to do that corresponds to the topic covered.

A Bibliography of Books and Websites is included for further exploration.  Like Bearce's book on WWII, this volume is also sure to please young history buffs, or anyone else who like a good secret.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Prurock Press


0 Comments on Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from World War I by Stephanie Bearce as of 4/10/2015 9:34:00 AM
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5. The Terrible Two: Review Haiku

This avowed prank-hater
still found these guys kinda
charming. (But trouble.)

The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Abrams, 2015, 224 pages.


0 Comments on The Terrible Two: Review Haiku as of 1/1/1900
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6. Lucky Strike: Review Haiku

A sturdy middle-grade
with wacky characters
and some light magic.

Lucky Strike by Bobbie Pyron. Levine/Scholastic, 2015, 272 pages.

0 Comments on Lucky Strike: Review Haiku as of 4/8/2015 6:03:00 AM
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7. #667 – LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser

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Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age

. . . . .(How One Small Boy Saved Our Big, Dumb Species)
Written by David Zeltser
Illustrations by Jan Gerardi
Egmont USA          2014
978-1-60684-513-4
190 pages       Age 8 to 12
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“In Lug’s Stone Age clan, a caveboy becomes a caveman by catching a jungle llama and riding it against the rival Boar Rider clan in the Big Game. The thing is, Lug has a forbidden, secret art cave and would rather paint than smash skulls. Because Lug is different, his clan’s Big Man is out to get him, he’s got a pair of bullies on his case—oh, and the Ice Age is coming. When Lug is banished from the clan for failing to catch jungle llama, he’s forced to team up with Stony, a silent Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow, and Echo (a Boar Rider girl!). In a world experiencing some serious global cooling, these misfits must protect their feuding clans from the impending freeze and a particularly unpleasant pride of migrating saber-toothed tigers.” [book jacket]
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About the Story
The clan has broken into two factions, the Macrauchenia Riders and the Boar Riders. Each clan believes the other are uncivilized—without laws, few table manners, and possibly cannibals—yet each clan is living exactly like the other clan lives. The two only get together for the Big Game, called Headstone, where, using stones, they bash in opponents’ heads. To become cavemen, caveboys must catch an animal to ride in the Big Game.

Lug, a smaller caveboy, is the outsider, the one the bullies and their cohorts pick on. He has no interest in Headstone. Lug AG4simply wants to draw, something not understood by others. He fails to catch a llama and is banished to the woods, along with Stone, who also failed. The hot and humid weather is getting colder, something Lug notices but others brush off. The Ice Age is on its way and no one will listen, except Crazy Crag—banished years ago—and Hamela (aka Echo), a Boar Rider girl. To make matters worse, a pride of hungry saber-toothed tigers is migrating south and heading for the clans—and a meal of cave-people-steak. The cave kids try to save their people with the help of Woolly, a baby woolly mammoth, lost from its family, who can communicate with Echo. Living alone in the woods, Crazy Crag has figured out a few things. Can Lug learn Crazy Crag’s secret in time to save the clans people, or will they become extinct?

Review
AG3
LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age
has all the elements of a book: fast-paced action, suspense, and good characters the reader can relate to and enjoy. Written for middle grade kids, younger advanced readers will also enjoy LUG’s charm. I like the cover and the illustrations, which are black-and-white cave-like drawings, slanted enough to often be funny. The story itself has kid-funny action and characters. Reading it will make you laugh and sometimes groan at the word play, (Headstone; Smilus, the ruthless head saber-tooth tiger; Bonehead, the Big Man’s son).

I love the curly-haired Echo, who is an activist and a vegetarian, possibly the world’s first. I also loved the coming of the CG 4 EchoIce Age’s parallel to today’s climate crisis. LUG might make kids more aware of their own climate changing. Lug agrees, writing in a pre-story note,

“. . . You see, the world began to get colder—much colder. And my clan initially reacted by doing this:

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“That’s right, a whole lot of NOTHING . . . I hope this story will inspire you to pay attention to the big changes happening to your world. If you are extinct, sorry.”

There are no prehistoric dinosaurs, but the animals you will find have interesting qualities, including finding a way to talk to humans. More than anything, I like LUG because it is a good story. If cave kids could read, they would have enjoyed LUG

Lug returns for more prehistoric climate-change adventures this Fall (2015) in LUG: Blast from the North (working title). LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age is David Zeltser’s debut children’s series.  (20% of proceeds go to organizations that help children and families in need.)

LUG: DAWN OF THE ICE AGE (HOW ONE SMALL BOY SAVED OUR BIG DUMB SPECIES). Text copyright © 2014 by David Zeltser. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jan Gerardi. Published in 2014 by Egmont USA, New York, NY.
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Purchase LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age at AmazoniTunesBook DepositoryEgmont USA.

Learn more about LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age HERE.
Meet the author, David Zeltser, at his website:  http://www.davidzeltser.com/
Meet the illustrator, Jan Gerardi, short bio:  http://bit.ly/19Z1Vh3
Find more Middle Grade Books at the Egmont USA website:  http://egmontusa.com/

Curriculum Guide can be found HERE.
Activity Guide can be found HERE.
fcc LUG DAWN OF THE ICE AGE 2014

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Fast Friday Read, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: cavemen, children's books, David Zeltser, Egmont USA, humor, Jan Gerardi, LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age, prehistoric era

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8. MMGM Links (4/6/15)

I'm back in the deadline cave (Dear NEVERSEEN: why must you refuse to cooperate!) so I am throwing these MMGM links together on minimum brainpower. Here's hoping they're right--sorry if they're not.

- Iron Guy Carl is back with a review of MISSION TITANIC. Click HERE to read his thoughts. 
- Cindy Tran has a triple feature for you guys this week. Click HERE to see what the books are!
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is on the edge of his seat for SURVIVING BEAR ISLAND. Click HERE to see why.
- Andrea Mack is marking her calendar for SEPTEMBER 17.  Click HERE to see her review. 
- Katie Fitzgerald is spotlighting CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS. Click HERE to see her feature.
- Jess at the Reading Nook wants you to take the WORST CLASS TRIP EVER. Click HERE for her thoughts. 
- Suzanne Warr is sharing how to get in the middle grade mood. Click HERE for details. 
- Greg Pattridge is raving about TIME SQUARE--THE SHIFT. Click HERE to read his feature.
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is cheering for THE WHIPPING BOY. Click HERE to see why. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.  
- 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!  



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 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!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

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 (4/6/15) as of 1/1/1900
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9. Winners: 2014 Best Books on Kid Lit Review

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party-banner

Well, it’s a little later than it should be,  . . . .but the voting is done and the winners have been chosen. Thank you to everyone who voted for the 2014 winners.   It was an honor to review each of these books.

To become a Top Book, and in the running for Best Book, a book must receive a 6-star review here at Kid Lit Reviews, released within the 2013 and 2014, and have been reviewed between December 1, 2013 and November 30, 2014. Voting normally occurs in December and the results announced in January. This year the only variation was the actual voting, which took place in March. Hopefully 2015 will be a healthier year and all will go as planned.

So, without any further delay, here are the winners.  Congratulations to all.

2014 PB hi resBest Picture Book

The Grudge Keeper

Author:  Mara Rockliff

Illustrator:  Eliza Wheeler

Publisher:  Peachtree Publishers    (April 1, 2014)

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2014 MB hi resBest Middle Grade Novel

The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

Author:  Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Cover Artist:  David McClellan

Publisher:  HarperCollins Children’s Books    (September 23, 2014)

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2014 NF hi resBest Nonfiction Book

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Author: Patricia Hruby Powell

Illustrator: Christian Robinson

Publisher: Chronicle Books    (January 14, 2014)

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2014 poetry hi resBest Poetry Book

Rhyme Schemer

Author:  K. A. Holt

Publisher:  Chronicle Books (October 1, 2014)

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2014 holiday hi resBest Holiday Book

Lobo’s Howliday (The Adventures of Loveable Lobo #5)

Author:  C. L. Murphy

Illustrator:  C. L. Murphy

Publisher:  Peanut Butter Prose    (December 1, 2013)

SIGN 1

cat-reading-bookWINNERS: I can offer you the files for your “stamp,” if you are interested. Otherwise this is more bragging rights than anything. Please email (or use contact form). Once again, congratulations to all the winners!

mycutegraphicsdotcomlogo

(flags and reading cat © Laura Strickland @ My Cute Graphics)


Filed under: Children's Books, Holiday Book, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, Picture Book, Poetry, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: 2014 best books on KLR, C.L. Murphy, Christian Robinson, Chronicle Books, David McClellan, Eliza Wheeler, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, K.A. Holt, Lobo’s Howliday (The Adventures of Loveable Lobo #5), Mara Rockliff, Patricia Hruby Powell, Peachtree Publishers, Peanut Butter Prose, Rhyme Schemer, The Grudge Keeper, The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

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10. #666 – When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson

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When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses

Written by Rebecca L. Johnson
Millbrook Press          9/1/2015
978-1-4677-2109-7
Nonfiction Picture Book
48 pages       Age 9 to 14

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“In nature, good defenses can mean the difference between surviving a predator’s attack and becoming its lunch. Some animals rely on sharp teeth and claws or camouflage. But that’s only the beginning. Meet creatures with some of the strangest defenses known to science. How strange? Hagfish that can instantaneously produce oodles of gooey, slippery slime; frogs that poke their own toe bones through their skin to create claws; young birds that shoot streams of stinking poop; and more.” [book jacket]

Review 
“On Earth the challenge of survival is a real and serious business. In the wild, every living thing is constantly at risk of being eaten by something else.”

Life is a bed of strange abilities as explored in When Lunch Fights Back. These animals—and one plant—have incredible defense mechanisms. You will wonder what other odd defense mechanisms other animals might possess. I do. It also made me wonder why humans have limited natural defense abilities. Hitting, screaming, and kicking are all fine defenses, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to have some of these abilities.

1. Cover your predator with thick, slimy, goo. (Atlantic Hagfish)
2. Extend your fingers so the bones protrude through the skin like sharp claws. (African Hairy Frog)
3. Bulge out your eyes and shoot a deadly stream of blood into a predator’s mouth. (Texas Horned Lizard)

Stuff of science fiction? Nope. When Lunch Fights Back contains animals with these abilities and much more. This nonfiction picture book for older kids is a fascinating read. There is enough “yuck” to entertain kids and the author supplies the science behind those incredible abilities, making this a great adjunct text for science teachers. Author notes, a glossary, index, bibliography, and extra resources are included.

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Johnson writes in a manner that should be accessible to most middle grade aged kids. She introduces researchers and scientist in the “Science Behind the Story” sections. There is so much to learn and see it just might develop a child’s interest in the natural word. If the title does not peak a child’s interest, the images will. The color photographs highlight the noxious defenses and info-boxes give additional information about each animal (scientific name, location, habitat, and size).

Still, would it not be terrific if humans could spew putrid contents at a predator, much like a fulmar? Or, and this is a tad gross, turn our other check and “shoot streams of foul-smelling feces” at an attacker, much like a hoopoe chick can do? If you had the ability to slime an attacker, like the hagfish (aka “snot eel”), I doubt anyone would mess with you.

When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses is an amazing look into some crazy species. Kids will love this book and teachers can use that interest to bring out the zoologist, biologist, or naturalist in her (or his) students. While a tad gross, and most definitely with a yuck value of 9, kids will enjoy When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses. This kid did!
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WHEN LUNCH FIGHTS BACK: WICKEDLY CLEVER ANIMA DEFENSES. Text copyright © 2015 by Rebecca L. Johnson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
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Purchase When Lunch Fights Back at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Books.
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Learn more about When Lunch Fights Back HERE.
Meet the author, Rebecca L Johnson, at her website:  http://www.rebeccajohnsonbooks.com/
Find more MG Nonfiction at the Lerner Publishing Group website:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/

Millbrook Press is an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group.
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, Picture Book Tagged: biology, Lerner Publishing Group, Millbrook Press, naturalist, quirky animal defense mechanisms, Rebecca L. Johnson, When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses, zoology

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11. Classic Readalong Discussion: The Secret Garden

First off–my sincere apologies for the delay in posting this discussion. It’s the first time something has failed to publish the day it was supposed to, and it’s my fault entirely, as I’m in the middle of a rather intensely busy and crazy-making period offline. Thank you all for being so patient with me, however, and thanks to Kim and Layla, too. I’m eager to get into this one, so let’s begin! Wendy: This is one of my favorite books of all time. As a child, I responded so strongly to the lovely English-ness of everything–it’s part of what set me on the path of being a lifelong Anglophile.  And whenever I was in botanical gardens and parks, I was always on the lookout for secret doorways and walls that might be hiding something. And look! As an adult, I finally found one. The photo to the right was taken... Read more »

The post Classic Readalong Discussion: The Secret Garden appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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12. The Question of Miracles: Review Haiku

Grief in tangible and
intangible forms: a
deft meditation.

The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold. Harcourt, 2015, 240 pages.

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13. When it’s too close to home: Writing Q&A with Anne Bustard, author of Anywhere But Paradise

AnneBustard_PhotoIt is my absolute pleasure to welcome Anne Bustard today, in celebration of the release of her new Middle Grade book, which comes out today. Anne, a part of Egmont’s Last List, has graciously agreed to indulge my questions about her writing process with her brilliant answers. So without further ado, welcome, Anne!

Anywhere But ParadiseSet in 1960 Hawaii, Anywhere But Paradise is the story of reluctant seventh-grade newcomer Peggy Sue Bennett, who is baffled by local customs, worried about her quarantined cat and targeted by a school bully because she is haole, white. At first, Peggy Sue would rather be anywhere—anywhere but paradise. But a new friend, hula lessons, the beauty of the islands and more, help Peggy Sue find her way. This is a story about fear and guilt. About hope and home. About aloha, love.

I’ve read that Anywhere But Paradise was inspired by your growing up in Hawaii. Can you tell us more about that? Did you do a lot of research on Hawaii in 1960 or mostly rely on your personal experiences?

I was born in Honolulu, moved away when I was a toddler and returned to paradise after fifth grade. I have wonderful memories of hiking to waterfalls with my cousins, aunt and uncle, eating lilikoi (passion fruit) shave ice on the bench outside the Matsumoto storefront on the North Shore, stringing lei from plumeria flowers from our yard and listening to the ocean.

I did not live in the islands in 1960. But even if I had, research would still have been a gigantic part of my process. I couldn’t have written the story without delving deeper and double-triple checking details. I love research, so this part of the writing process was particularly fun! I needed to verify the animal quarantine requirements, when the night-blooming cereus flowered, stories about Madame Pele and dozens of other facets of the novel. I did a lot on my own, but so, so many generous people helped me along the way. I am exceedingly grateful.

Small moments of my personal experience flavor the narrative. I know what it’s like to hear a tsumani warning siren wail and evacuate to higher ground, to be verbally threatened by a bully (though unlike Peggy Sue, it happened to me only once) and to be enchanted by the beauty and rhythms of the islands.

Writing about a character’s problems can unearth a ton of old ghosts of our own. How did you go about navigating your past and finding the inspiration for the character of Peggy Sue? Did you ever find her problems difficult to confront due to them being too close to home?

All writers draw upon some portion of ourselves, no matter how small. Part of my own journey was to recognize that I was holding back. In a pivotal conversation with the wonderful children’s and YA writer, Janet Fox, it occurred to me that Hawaii was the antagonist of the story. I love Hawaii. It is my home. I told Janet that I did not want it to be the antagonist.

“I know,” she said in a soft voice. “But in the end,” Janet said brightly, “Hawaii isn’t the antagonist.”

True. But. I realized not only had I been protecting Peggy Sue, I’d been protecting Hawaii. In the end, both would have to stand up for themselves.

What advice would you give to a writer who is struggling to separate their reality from their fictional character? How can we protect ourselves emotionally if a character reminds us too much of ourselves?

You are not your character. But there may be parts of her that resonate with you.

So my answer may surprise you—don’t separate. This is where you will find the gold.

It’s way scary.

It took me years to get to the point where I could do this. Years.

What was the most useful lesson you learned while writing this book? If you could go back and talk to the you who is about to begin writing, how would you warn or arm her against the difficulties ahead?

My big takeaway? Go there emotionally.

Breathe. Trust the process. It’s going to take as long as it takes. It’s all about revision, going deeper. About finding the heart of the story. About discovering what your characters really want.

Tim Wynne-Jones says, “The answers are in your writing.” He posits that we give ourselves clues to unlocking the mysteries of our own work. It’s our job to look carefully, to look differently, until we discover them.

Amen to that, Anne. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful answers!

To celebrate the release of Anywhere But Paradise, we are giving away a signed copy to a lucky winner! Enter the draw through the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win this beautifully written book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anne Bustard is a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk in the sand every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. She is the author of the award-winning picture book Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). Her debut middle grade historical novel Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont Publishing) is out on March 31, 2015. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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14. MMGM Links (3/30/15)

Here's the MMGM links for this week!

- Cindy Tran is feeling energetic for THE WIDE-AWAKE PRINCESS. Click HERE to welcome her to the group. 
- Sally's Bookshelf is interviewing author Gail Jarrow--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Natalie Aguirre has a quest post from author Caroline Starr Rose, and a GIVEAWAY of BLUEBIRDS. Click HERE for details. 
- RCubed is SAVING LUCAS BRIGGS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is featuring time travel books about Alexander Graham Bell.  Click HERE to see why. 
- Andrea Mack is showing everyone HOW TO OUTRUN A CROCODILE WHEN YOUR SHOES ARE UNTIED. Click HERE to find her review. 
- Jenni Enzor is highlighting ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA, THE FORBIDDEN PALACE, AND OTHER TOURIST ATTRACTIONS. Click HERE to read her thoughts. 
Katie Fitzgerald has another double-feature this week, with the first two books in the Sylvie Scruggs series. Learn about both HERE.
- Jess at the Reading Nook shares her opinions on THE ARCTIC CODE. Click HERE for her thoughts. 
- Suzanne Warr is spotlighting THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is raving about STORY THIEVES . Click HERE to read his feature.
- The Bookworm Blog is wondering at WONDERSTRUCK. Click HERE to see why.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--LIKE A RIVER: A CIVIL WAR STORY. Click HERE for details. 
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is featuring CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD. Click HERE to see why. 
- 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.  
- 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.

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15. True Things (Amelia Rules): Review Haiku

Oh, my heart: hard truths,
decisions for my (second-)
favorite fifth grader.

True Things (Adults Don't Want Kids to Know) by Jimmy Gownley. Atheneum, 2010, 176 pages.

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16. #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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17. #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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18. 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

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19. 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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20. #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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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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