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1. MMGM Links (9/1/14)

Bit of a smaller list given the whole "holiday weekend" thing, but I still put together the MMGM links:


- The B.O.B. is discussing THE LIGHTNING THIEF. Click HERE to see what she thought of the book and the movie.
- Bookish Serendipity is FINDING RUBY STARLING. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Amara Jabber is gushing about THE BLACKWELL PAGES. Click HERE to see why.
- Suzanne Warr is cheering for PRINCESS POSEY AND THE MONSTER STEW. Click HERE to see her review.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing and GIVING AWAY a copy of THE SECRET AT HANEY FIELD. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Jess at the Reading Nook is digging THE SWAP. Click HERE to see her feature.  
- Greg Pattridge is captivated by DIEGO'S DRAGON.  Click HERE to see why.  
- Rcubed is highlighting THE GREAT GREENE HEIST! Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring 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! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting 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. (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 (9/1/14) as of 9/1/2014 8:35:00 AM
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2. #647 – The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

guardian herd 1 starfire

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The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvareztop-10-use-eb-trans
Harper/HarperCollins Children’s Books      9/23/2014
978-0-06-228606-2
Age 8 to 12              272 pages
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“Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful Pegasus in all of Anok. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders. His epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.”

Opening

“Star trotted through the dense pine forest, alone.”

The Story

The Pegasi of Anok (mythical winged horses), consists of five herds each with their own leader—the over-stallions—and their own land. None crosses the borders without permission. Wars have been raging between these herds for hundreds of years. Star is a black foal born into the Sun Herd, led by Thunderwing. When Star’s mother died birthing Star, Thunderwing’s mate adopted him, much against her mate’s wishes.

Star, a black foal, was born under the Hundred Year Star. If he can remain alive until his first birthday, he will receive the star’s power, and then become either a destroyer or a healer. No one knows which he will become, not even Star, and this terrifies the over-stallions of each herd. The last black foal born under this star all thought would be a healer. He was a good weanling, but when he received the power, he became a destroyer and wrecked havoc in all the land of Anok. It is up to the over-stallion of the guardian herd—Thunderwing—to kill the black foal before his first birthday, or to let him live and receive his ultimate power. Thunderwing is as scared as the others are and plans to execute Star before his first birthday.

Only Star’s three friends and his adopted mother believe Star will be a healer and seek to keep Star alive so he can receive the power of the Hundred Year Star. The other weanlings (those under one-year of age) bully Star and his three friends, mainly because he cannot fly. He does not fit into his wings, and must walk every like a common horse—a terrible insult to a Pegasus.

One particular weanling has it in for Star and tries to kill him. But in doing so, he crosses into another herd’s land, starting a war. Between this new war and the majority of pegasi wanting him executed, Star knows he must be on his own. Can Star survive without his friends, tend to his own food and water, and remain hidden from all other pegasi? Whether or not Star can survive on his own will greatly determine his future. With five herds looking for him, Star’s odds of survival are slim.

Review

The Guardian Herd has every element a kid wants in an adventure. The author has created an imaginative, highly stylized world kids will appreciate. There are great characters that are easy to understand and like, even the terrifying bully Brackentail. This adventure has tons of action, some with violence. The violence is not bad until the final battle, making this book more appropriate for middle graders on the older end of their age-range.

There are many characters is The Guardian Herd. So many that the author starts with five pages of descriptions so kids know the herds and the pegasi in each herd. I found this section a tad overwhelming and skipped it altogether. I had no trouble remembering who was who and where they belonged. The only thing this list does, in my opinion, is make the story seem cumbersome and it might scare off a reader or two. I would drop it or place it at the end of the story.

Star is a wonderful character. Despite his worthless wings and inability to fly, Star has a warm personality, respects and honors his friends and adopted mare, and is braver than one would think given his situation and fate. Star is a character whose side you will quickly take up. When off on his own, Star’s humor—or the author’s humorous writing—had me in stitches. I loved his friend Crabwing and the things they did in and around the bay.

Granted, there is a huge war near the end of the story and the violence can be just shy of young adult territory, but I do not think it will give any kid nightmares, especially when the scenes that follow these battles are as strong and easy to envision. Once these scenes begin, the war becomes a distant memory. I think these final scenes will override any violent scenes a kid may linger on. The ending is extremely well written and strong. It was nothing as I imagined it might be. I cannot explain any further without spoilers, so this will have to do: the ending is fantastic. If the author does not hurry up and finish the next book, I may start stalking her blog.

The Guardian Herd may not be a New York Bestseller, yet, but it will entertain, and possibly teach your child a few things about friendship, respect, and loyalty. If not, they will still be completely engrossed for a few hours with an imaginative world that actually resembles our own world in many ways. I highly recommend this series for kids age 10 and up. Adults who love fantasy adventures will also enjoy The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire. This is Jennifer’s debut novel with HarperCollins—her first traditionally published book!

THE GUARDIAN HERD #1: STARFIRE. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Advanced Readers Copy received from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

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Get your copy of The Guardian Herd: Starfire at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryHarperCollinsyour favorite book store.

Learn more about The Guardian Herd: Starfire HERE

**Also Available in Audio

Meet the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website:    http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/

Find more exciting stories at the HarperCollins website:    http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Here is a twelve-year-old kid’s view of The Guardian Herd #1:  Starfire. Read Erik’s review HERE

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Also by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

The Pet Washer

The Pet Washer

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Reviewed HERE

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guardian herd starfire

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children's book reviews, Guardian Herd, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Hundred Year Star, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Land of Anok, middle grade novel, Pegasus, Starfire

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3. The End of the Line by Sharon E. McKay

It is Fall 1942 and the Nazis have been occupying Holland since Spring 1940.  Beatrix, 6, and her mother are Jews who have been running and hiding from the Nazis for that long.  But now it is time to hid Beatrix in a safer more stable place.

Sitting on the tram, on their way to meet the woman who would take Beatrix to safety, her mother is suddenly taken away by the Nazis who regularly board and search the trams looking for Jews.  Beatrix is left sitting on the tram by herself.

Brothers Lars, 63,  and Hans Gorter, 65, both life-long bachelors, work together on a tram - Hans driving it while Lars collects tickets.  When it looked like the Nazis were also going to take Beatrix away, Lars suddenly told them that she was his niece.  The war and all the rumors they had heard about Nazi treatment of Jews suddenly became real for the brothers.

Now, these kind, well-meaning though naive brothers must learn how to care for a little girl, who has been traumatized by the loss of her mother and who must become someone different than who she really is - if only for the duration of the Nazi occupation.  Luckily, Hans and Lars have help from their elderly neighbor Mrs. Vos, 80, and from a new, younger neighbor, Lieve van der Meer, 30, who husband is rumored to have escaped Holland and is flying for the RAF.

Why would two older men who have made it a point to always live quietly and keep a low profile, suddenly risk everything, including their lives, for a little girl they know nothing about?  That is the question at the heart of The End of the Line and Canadian author Sharon McKay answers it eloquently as the story of Beatrix and her new uncles unfolds.

There are lots of books about Jewish children who were rescued by people during the Holocaust and who did what they did simply because they believed it was the right thing to do.  But these stories are generally written from the point of view of the child.  What makes The End of the Line stand out is that it is written from the point of view of the two brothers. and yet it is a thoroughly appealing, totally engaging book for young readers accustomed to reading about protagonists their own age.

Living under Nazi occupation meant living under a daily shroud of fear and anxiety, never knowing if you were going to be singled out at any given moment.  There are plenty of these moments portrayed in the story of Hans, Lars and Beatrix, like the time Beatrix whispers Geb Achting, Yiddish for be careful, to a young Nazi soldier.  However, the story offers more insight into what it was like for the brothers in order to survive the war and the occupation of Holland, from dressing Beatrix as she grows, managing to find food when there is almost none to be had, even to buying her a doll to cuddle and comfort herself with may be new experiences for Hans and Lars, but keeping her safe from the Nazis turns out to be instinctual for these kind brothers.

The End of the Line is an interesting supplement to Holocaust literature written for young readers by an author who is part of the Canadian War Artist Program and has already written books about child soldiers in Uganda, young girls caught in the war in Afghanistan and short stories dealing with the Holocaust with Kathy Kacer, another Canadian artist who also writes books for young readers about the Holocaust.  This should be a welcome addition to any library.

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

You can find more information and a very useful lesson plan for The End of the Line from the publisher HERE

0 Comments on The End of the Line by Sharon E. McKay as of 8/29/2014 11:17:00 AM
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4. Smek for President: Review Haiku

Some prior knowledge
is helpful, but you'll still root
for Tip and J.Lo.

Smek for President by Adam Rex. Disney, 2014, 272 pages.

0 Comments on Smek for President: Review Haiku as of 8/29/2014 6:45:00 AM
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5. #643 – The Pushcart War: 50th Anniversary Edition by Jean Merrill & Ronni Solbert

PushcartWar
The Pushcart War: 50th Anniversary Edition

Written by Jean Merrill
Illustrated by Ronni Solbert
The New York Review Children’s Collection   9/16/2014
978-1-59017-819-5
Age 8 to 12             230 pages
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“Do you know the history of the pushcart war? The real history? It’s a story of how regular people banded together and, armed with little more than their brains and good aim, defeated a mighty foe.”

Opening

“The Pushcart War started on the  afternoon of March 15, 2026, when a truck ran down a pushcart belonging to a flower peddler.”

The Story

The Pushcart War began on a normal New York City day. The streets were jammed with cars, taxis, and delivery trucks that ranged from the normal size to the mammoth trucks with tires large than your car. It was taking up to four hours to travel four city streets. Tempers are running high, especially for Mack, a truck driver, who, despite his parents being pushcart peddlers, hated pushcarts. That day, with pure intention, deliberately ran into Morris the Florist (no known relation). Thanks to Marvin Seeley’s photo of the onset of the Daffodil Massacre, we know how the war started.

THE PUSHCART WAR. Text copyright © 1964/1992 by Jean Merrill. Illustrations copyright © 1964/1992 by Ronni Solbert. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, New York Review of Books, New York, NY.The trucks don’t want the pushcarts on the road and blamed them for the congestion. For some reason, these light, tiny, carts bothered the heavy, huge trucks. The peddlers couldn’t let the attack of Morris the Florist go unanswered, but lacked the funds the truck companies enjoyed. instead of a major affront, the peddlers decided to use pea shooters and pins to deflate the trucks tires, causing mass congestion and anger people to the point of voting trucks off city streets. For a while it worked and no one could figure out how the tires all went bad within minutes of each other. Until a mechanic found a pin.

A single pin, or many pins does not reveal the culprit. One the newspapers ran the story, children began shooting truck tires for fun, unwittingly taking up the cause for the pushcart peddlers. Unfortunately, Frank the Flower was spotted and arrested for killing a truck tire with a pea shooter. He confessed to all 18,991 flattened tires.

“All 18,991?” asked the Police Commissioner as if he had not heard correctly the first time.

“I cannot be sure down to the last tire,” said Frank the Flower. “But I have been at it several days now.”

“But 18,991 tires!” Aid the Police Commissioner.

“It was nothing,” said Frank the Flower.

Well, kids took up the cause and to stop them the city began taxing tacks, which made the British upset since they are the world’s top producers of tacks. This got Washington involved. New York City becomes embroiled in the Pushcart War, though this name is not used yet. The Big Three Truck Companies: Leaping Lemas, Mighty Mammoths, and Tiger Trucking held a secret meeting to wipe out the pushcarts and the Pushcart King. What will happen to New York City in 2026? Will the pushcarts survive? Will the British calm down? Will Frank the Flower, who single-handedly killed 18,991 truck tires, ever leave his jail cell? What will happen to Mack, the trucker who put Morris the Florist into the hospital and started the war?

THE PUSHCART WAR. Text copyright © 1964/1992 by Jean Merrill. Illustrations copyright © 1964/1992 by Ronni Solbert. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, New York Review of Books, New York, NY.Review

“The Big Three,” comprised of three delivery truck firms LEMA (Lower Eastside Moving Association) also called “Leaping Lemas,” and Tiger Trucking or “Tiger Trucks,” and Mammoth Moving, which used three sizes of trucks: Baby Mammoth, Mama Mammoth, and the Mighty Mammoth. These are the bullies of the story. For once, the bullies are not too big to fail.

The Pushcart War is a fun read. The humor is terrific and kept me groaning and laughing every few pages. The pushcart peddlers are a colorful bunch of characters especially The Pushcart King. The name to Maxie Hammerman because he fixes all of the pushcarts or builds new ones from scratch and is the only one in New York City capable of making the pushcarts correctly. When the trucking bullies decide to kidnap and dispose of The King—thinking he is the mastermind behind the campaign to rid the city streets of their trucks—Maxie has a surprise of his own. This is one of the best scenes of the story. It felt like I was reading the script from the movie called The Sting.

THE PUSHCART WAR. Text copyright © 1964/1992 by Jean Merrill. Illustrations copyright © 1964/1992 by Ronni Solbert. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, New York Review of Books, New York, NY.

Kids will enjoy this futuristic farce of a “true tale.” The author casts herself as the futuristic novelist reporting on The Pushcart War ten years after the dust has settled and people are ready to hear about the war once more. City kids play a large part in the war, keeping the mayor and police commissioner completely puzzled. Written in 1964, the author envisions a New York City sixty years down the road. I find it interesting that there is no grand technology like cell phones and computers. The biggest difference is the extremely crowded streets, excess number of delivery trucks, and prices remaining similar, if not lower than the prices of her current time. (Apples are 5 cents).

The Pushcart War has style. The illustrations are black and white line art similar to what one would find in a newspaper only upgraded several times over. I love the illustration of Frank the Flower shooting his peashooter for the first time and Mr. Jerusalem who, after struggling over the morality of shooting truck tires, finds he is not only a terrific shot but enjoys his mission. Mr. Jerusalem quickly becomes the top tire executioner.

THE PUSHCART WAR. Text copyright © 1964/1992 by Jean Merrill. Illustrations copyright © 1964/1992 by Ronni Solbert. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, New York Review of Books, New York, NY.The Pushcart War is a classic tale of the big bully taking on the little guy and finding the littlest guy can outsmart, outthink, outwit the big dumb bully with grace and class. It should be required reading for every middle grade student. There is a little sociology, psychology, criminology, and a few other “ologies” worth reading. I love The Pushcart War.

THE PUSHCART WAR. Text copyright © 1964/1992 by Jean Merrill. Illustrations copyright © 1964/1992 by Ronni Solbert. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, New York Review of Books, New York, NY.

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Buy The Pushcart War at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryNew York Review of Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about The Pushcart War HERE

Meet the author, Jean Merrill, from New York Times:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/books/jean-merrill-childrens-book-writer-dies-at-89.html?_r=0

Meet the illustrator, Ronni Solbert, from NYRB:  http://www.nybooks.com/books/authors/ronni-solbert/ 

Find more classics at The New York Review Children’s Collection website:  http://www.nybooks.com/books/imprints/childrens/

The New York Review Children’s Collection is an imprint of The New York Review of Books:   http://www.nybooks.com/

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Also by Jean Merrill and Ronni Solbert

The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars 3/10/2015

The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars
3/10/2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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pushcart war

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: bullies, children's book reviews, Jean Merrill, middle grade novel, mighty trucks, New York Review of Books, outwitting an opponent, pushcarts, Ronni Solbert, standing up for what is right, The New York Review Children’s Collection

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6. Dash by Kirby Larson

Last year, Kirby Larson introduced us to Hobie Hanson and his dog Duke.  Hobie somewhat reluctantly volunteered Duke to be part of the country's Dogs for Defense program.  This year, Larson introduces us to Mitsi Kashino and her dog Dash.

It's January 1942, one month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  So far, things haven't been very different for Mitsi, 11, and her family, Japanese Americans living in Seattle, Washington.  But on the first day back to school, after the Christmas holidays, all that suddenly changes.  First, Mitsi's two best friends aren't at their usual meeting place, and at school they give her a cold shoulder.  Other classmates also ignore her in class and at recess.  On the way home from school in the rain, she is surrounded by a group of high school boys, who trip her causing her to fall and who tear up and kick everything in her school bag into puddles.  Luckily, a new neighbor, Mrs. Bowker comes along and breaks it up.

Change becomes even more apparent.  Cameras and radios had to be turned into the government, some of the Japanese men are being taken away by the FBI and even Mitsi's grandmother, Obaachan, must register as an alien because she was born in Japan.  Getting to know Mrs. Bowker seems to be one part of Mitsi's life that is pleasant, that and the comfort of her beloved little dog Dash.

But then April comes and with it the news that the Kashino family, along with all the other Japanese American families living in Seattle are to be sent to an internment camp for the duration of the war.  Each family member can being just one suitcase.  Naturally, Mitsi assumes she can bring Dash with her, but when she finds out that no pets are allowed in the camp, she is devastated.  What can she do with Dash to keep him safe?  Knowing that Mrs. Bowker lives alone, and might want some company, Mitsi asks her if she would be willing to take care of Dash temporarily.  Luckily, kind-hearted Mrs. Bowker agrees.

Losing everything, including her dog and her two best friends was a hard blow for Mitsi.  Now, Mitsi and her family must adjust to their new life behind a barbed-wire fence, surrounded by soldiers with rifles watching their every move.  One bright spot for Mitsi are the wonderful letters she receives from Dash, telling her about life with Mrs. Bowker.  But even that isn't quite enough to pull Mitsi out of the depression she falls into.  But a new best friend just might do the trick.

I have always believed that every persons experience of World War II is similar but different from everyone else.  And each novel I read reflects that.  Dash is based on a true story and much of what Mitsi does is taken from that story, giving the novel its sense of reality.

Dash spends a lot of time what life was like between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and life in an internment camp.  It would seem that it took a while after the initial shock of the bombing on December 7, 1941 for people began to be aware of such anti-Japanese feelings that they could turn on old friends and neighbors so vehemently, as it did with Mitsi and the kids she went to school with.  In that respect, Larson gives the reader a good picture of what it was like.

Larson also gives a good depiction of the internment camps, which were really fit only for the horses many of them were meant to house, and life was always dirty and unpleasant.  She really conveys the sense of betrayal, loneliness and the fear of the family coming apart that Mitsi experiences on top of losing everything she has known her whole life.

I like the way Larson shows the reader that even in times of great distress and hardship, good things can happen and in the end this is a story about the strength of family, the value of true friendship and learning to appreciate what is really important.

Dash will be of special interest to anyone who is a dog lover, or has an interest in WWII history on the home front.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was obtained from the publisher

0 Comments on Dash by Kirby Larson as of 8/25/2014 11:03:00 AM
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7. MMGM Links (8/25/14)

Have not met my word count goals for this weekend, thanks to an unpleasant incident involving a ridiculous amount of cat poop (don't ask), so I'm throwing these links together a bit hastily so I can get back to writing. Sorry if there's any mistakes, and thanks to all of you for supporting MMGM! I swear I'll get back on track soon. In the meantime, here you go!


- Amara Jabber joins the MMGM fun with a feature on the HEROES OF OLYMPUS series. Click HERE to welcome her to the group! 
- Suzanne Warr has chills for ICE DOGS. Click HERE to see her review.
- Sherrie Peterson is interviewing author Laurisa White Reyes. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Heidi Grange is shining a spotlight on A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Reader Noir is cheering for SISTERS. Click HERE to read their feature.  
- Kim Aippersbach wants you to discover a new Science Fiction novel by Monica Hughes. Click HERE to see what it is.  
- Greg Pattridge is highlighting ABSOLUTELY ALMOST.  Click HERE to see why.  
- Susan Olson is raving about THE PIRATE'S COIN: A SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS ADVENTURE. Click HERE to see her review.  
- Michelle Mason is interviewing author Jen Malone and GIVING AWAY an annotated e-ARC of AT YOUR SERVICE. Click HERE for details. 
- Dorine White is revealing the cover for ARRGH! Click HERE to see the shiny
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring 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! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting 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. (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 (8/25/14) as of 8/25/2014 6:55:00 AM
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8. Monday Mishmash: 8/25/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. My Mom's Birthday!  Today is my mom's birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! You're the best mother, friend, and beta reader I could ever ask for.
  2. Booking Events  I'm booking author events for the fall. I've got at list of signings planned and I will start working on booking school visits soon. :)
  3. Perfect For You Pre-order  Perfect For You is now up for pre-order and it's only $2.99! I'm excited. You can order it here.
  4. Perfect For You Release Day Blitz  In addition to the blog tour, there will be a release day blitz for Perfect For You. Want to sign up? Click here.
  5. Curse of the Granville Fortune Blog Tour Signups  The Curse of the Granville Fortune Blog Tour will run from October 20 to November 2. If you'd like to sign up, click here.

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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9. #640 – Jackpot: An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel (#10) by Karla Oceanak & Kendra Spanjer

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Jackpot: An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel (#10)

Written by Karla Oceanak
Illustrated by Kendra Spanjer
Bailiwick Press                   6/10/2014
978-1-934649-49-7
Age 7+           160 pages
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“Finding a dinosaur bone is like hitting the jackpot, right? Dino fossils are worth millions! Plus you get to b famous! You’re minding your own kid business when bam!—out of the mud pop fortune and glory. Ka-ching! That’s how I thought it would go, anyway, after my best friend, Jack, and I found a fossil in our neighborhood ditch. But as usual, grown-up rules made things way too complicated.”

Opening

“I wish we could play outside. This morning, I said that. I mean, I actually heard my own voice speak those exact words. Me. Aldo Zelnick.”

The Story

Aldo and his best friend, Jack, actually did go outside to play. It was cold and muddy causing the boys to slip and slid right into a neighborhood ditch. This is when Jack finds a big rock that, when cleaned, is much better than a rock. It is a fossil—a dinosaur fossil, right from their own backyard.

Aldo believes the fossil is worth millions of dollars and holds this hope out to the very end. Jack is thinking only of fame. A famous paleontologist, a famous middle grade paleontologist, would be cool, he thought. Jack holds out this hope to the very end. This is the only contention between Aldo and Jack: fame or fortune, but why not both!

The boys head to the natural history museum to find out what kind of fossil they found and, for Aldo, how much it is worth. Aldo thinks the museum will pay him on the spot—they do not. But, it is a dinosaur bone and the ditch might just have more bones. Now the boys must get the neighborhood to consent to digging up the ditch, and then find the rest of the dinosaur. Once done, Aldo and Jack will go on tour with their fame and fortunes. If only they can keep everyone out of the ditch until excavation day.

Jackpot_AldoZelnick_Denver_Museum

Review

When we last read about Aldo he was skiing in Ignoramus. Since then, Aldo and Jack have changed only incrementally, as they normally would. I like that the authors are not maturing the characters quickly. Of course, with twenty-six books, they have lots of room to let the characters blossom slowly. Still, Aldo may be in college by the time “Z” hits the shelves. Aldo is still using his diary to write about his life and then—oh, I meant his journal, so sorry. Sometimes a good character just sticks with you and Aldo is one of those characters. He also wants you to know he is an artist and draws some terrific scenes that help readers visualize his stories.

In “J,” for Jackpot, Aldo and his best friend Jack finally go outside to play. They do not pick the best day, as it is cold and the ground is muddy and slippery. Aldo and Jack slip and slide into a neighborhood ditch. In the ditch Jack loosens a great looking rock. The rock turns out to be a dinosaur bone and more could be in that ditch. Aldo thinks this is great fortune, as in money. Jack thinks this is fortunate, as in fame. He would love a dinosaur named after him. Aldo would probably like a bank, or at least the largest vault, named after him. They have hit the JACKPOT!

As in books A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I, J (for Jackpot) is crazy and funny with loads of mishaps, misunderstandings, and a girl interfering—or trying to—with Aldo and his journals. Jackpot is not a graphic novel. It contains enough text to keep the story on track and moving, but not so much as to crowd out the wonderful illustrations meant to be from Aldo. I love the detailed illustrations that greatly enhance the story. Aldo and Jack both sport Indiana Jones hats (fedoras). Kids will love the black and white “doodles” Aldo draws on nearly every page.

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I enjoyed Jackpot, reading it in one sitting. Middle grade kids—especially reluctant readers—will love this series. The characters are believable, multi-dimensional, likable and in many ways familiar to everyday life. Reluctant readers will appreciate the story staying on track and the short chapters. Kids can stop reading at any point, and when ready, easily reemerge back into the story. This is most terrific for reluctant readers who are at a distinct disadvantage with continuing a book midway through.

As far as the actual writing is concerned, the story stays on point even when Aldo goes off on a tangent. Aldo’s tangential thoughts are about money. In several illustrations, Aldo has made long lists of numbers needing added to project his coming wealth. The characters, especially Aldo and Jack, are easy to care about as the story progresses. If you have been reading the alphabet series known as Aldo Zelnick, you already care about Aldo and Jack, but the author makes no assumptions and brings new readers into the fan club.

Jackpot is the tenth book in Aldo’s series. I like that each of these books introduces new words that begin with that book’s letter. Jackpot, then, has words beginning with the letter “J.” Examples include jabbering, jack squat, jicama, and several French words like Joie de vivre and jugo de naranja. There is a glossary in the back, which defines each “J” word. In the text, the highlighted words are marked with an asterisk (*).

Jackpot_AldoZelnick_BaconBoy_IndianaJones

The Aldo Zelnick series is similar to The Wimpy Kid except that Jackpot, and every book thus far, have better defined illustrations. I like the “J” words in Jackpot. The glossary defines each of these words. I also like reading the comic Bacon Boy by Aldo Zelnick. How often do you get two books in one and both books are terrific? Aldo and Bacon Boy have a lot in common. I think Bacon Boy is Aldo and a safe, funny way for Aldo to document his childhood. Kids will laugh their hinnies off, no external exercise needed.

JACKPOT: AN ALDO ZELNICK COMIC NOVEL (#10). Text copyright © 2014 by by Karla Oceanak. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kendra Spanjer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bailiwick Press, Fort Collins, CO.

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Purchase Jackpot at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryBailiwick PressYour Favorite Bookstore.

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Learn more about Jackpot HERE.

Meet the author, Karla Oceanak, at her website:  http://www.karlaoceanak.com/

Meet the illustrator, Kendra Spanjer, at her website:   http://www.kendraspanjer.com/

Find more Aldo Zelnick books at the Bailiwick Press website:   http://www.bailiwickpress.com/

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Also by Karla Oceanak & Kendra Spanjer

Ignoramus:  An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel (#9)

Ignoramus #9

Hotdogger  (#8)

Hotdogger (#8)

Read Hotdogger Review HERE.

Read Ignoramus Review HERE.

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: Aldo Zelnick, Bailiwick Press, children's book reviews, comics, Karla Oceanak, Kendra Soanjer, middle grade books

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10. Revolution: Review Haiku

Freedom Summer as
you haven't seen it before.
Pair this with Delphine.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles. Scholastic, 2014, 544 pages.

0 Comments on Revolution: Review Haiku as of 8/20/2014 7:51:00 AM
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11. MMGM Links (8/18/14)

Just got home from an AMAZING tour (if you came to one of the events--thank you sooooooooooo much. It was so fun getting to meet you!). So fair warning: after 5 events in 6 days, my brain is pretty much shot. I'm going to TRY to put together the MMGM links still, but if any of them are messed up, sorry!


- The Rad Reader is back to cheer for A SNICKER OF MAGIC Click HERE to see why.
- The B.O.B. is raving about COLOSSUS RISES. Click HERE to see their review.
- Jenni Enzor is curious about CURIOSITY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Reader Noir has chills for SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Greg Pattridge is highlighting THE GIVER.  Click HERE to see why.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing and GIVING AWAY a copy of SAY IT AIN'T SO. Click HERE for details.  
- Mark Baker is riveted by THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Rcubed is captivated with FAITH, HOPE, AND IYY JUNE. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring 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! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting 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. (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 (8/18/14) as of 8/18/2014 7:45:00 AM
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12. West of the Moon: Review Haiku

Moody and odd, as
only Scandihoovians
can be. Quite a trip.

West of the Moon by Margi Preus. Amulet, 2014, 224 pages.

0 Comments on West of the Moon: Review Haiku as of 8/18/2014 7:13:00 AM
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13. Absolutely Almost: Review Haiku

Oh, Albie - let me
rescue you and Calista.
You can live with me.

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Philomel, 2014, 304 pages.

0 Comments on Absolutely Almost: Review Haiku as of 8/1/2014 6:40:00 PM
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14. Throwback Thursday: Ship of Souls

Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott (2011, ARC) 
Amazon Publishing

Rating: 3.5/5

IQ "Kids on my block called 'reject'. Grown folks at church called me an 'old soul'. One girl at school told me I talked like a whiteboy. But when I ask Mom about it she just said, 'you are black. And nothing you say, or do, or pretend to be will ever change that fact. So just be yourself, Dmitri. Be who you are." pg. 3

Dmitri, known as D, is living with a foster family after his mother dies of breast cancer. D is used to having his foster mom all to himself, when she takes in Mercy, a crack-addicted baby he finds himself unable to cope. He is at a new school and while tutoring he becomes friend with Hakeem, a basketball star who needs extra math help and Nyla, a military brat both boys have crushes on. Sometimes after school D bird watches in Prospect Park and he discovers a mysterious bird, Nuru that can communicate with him. He enlists Hakeem and Nyla to help him help Nuru (who is injured) escape evil forces, the ghosts of soldiers that died during the Revolutionary War. They journey from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in Manhattan to assist Nuru in freeing the souls that reside there.

I wish some of the fantasy elements had been developed a bit further, such as Nuru's role, his dialogue also came across sounding a little ridiculous and heavy on the 'wise mentor' scale. The characters did come across as having a message. It is made very clear that Hakeem is Muslim and Nyla is 'different from the stereotype. I wish the individuality of the characters had come off in a more subtle way (for example when Hakeem describes how his older sister listed all Muslim basketball players to convince his dad to let him play. And then Hakim lists them all and weaves in tidbits about the hijab. It came across as stilted for middle school dialogue). But then again this book is intended for a younger audience who need it hammered in that it's dangerous to define people and put them in boxes. I also wish the book had been longer just by a few chapters, selfishly because I wanted more historical tidbits but also because I felt that the fantasy elements happened so fast as did the sudden strong friendship with Hakeem and Nyla. And the love triangle made me sad but that's not the author's fault! Although I would have been happy without it.

Yet again Zetta Elliott seamlessly blends together history and fantasy, Black American history that is often ignored in textbooks. Unlike the descriptions of the characters I found the historical tidbits woven in artfully. There are so many goodies in here about the importance of working with other people, that heroes need not go it alone. This is especially vital because the author makes it explicitly clear that D is unbearably lonely but he keeps himself isolated from other people because he doesn't want to be abandoned or disappointed or lose them in a tragic way as happened with his mother. The author does a great job of making you truly feel and understand D's loneliness and your heart aches for him. Also while I didn't think the friendship had enough time to really grow into the strong bonds that developed so quickly, it was a very genuine friendship (once you suspend your disbelief) in terms of doing anything and everything for your friends and believing the seemingly improbable. It is also clear that the author has a strong appreciation of nature and that makes the fantasy elements more interesting while also making it appear more realistic.

Ship of Souls is a great story that focuses on a portion and population of the American Revolution that is completely ignored by most history outlets. The fantasy world is well-thought out, I only wish the book had been longer to explain more about the world D and his friends get involved in as well as more time to believably develop their friendship. The characters are strong, but they were written with a heavy hand that tries hard to point out how they defy stereotypes.  I devoured the story not just because of the length but because it is so different from anything else out there and it's a lovely addition to the YA/MG fantasy world. I can't wait to see what the author does next and again I adored her first YA novel A Wish After Midnight. I recommend both books.

Disclosure: Received from the author, who I do consider a wonderful friend and mentor. Many thanks Zetta!

0 Comments on Throwback Thursday: Ship of Souls as of 8/14/2014 10:12:00 PM
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15. Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

Keeping Secrets is a middle grade book, but it will appeal to horse enthusiasts of all ages.  I felt so awful for protagonist Kate.  She has spent the last six months blaming herself for the death of  a horse at her old barn.  A convenient scape goat, she was kicked out, banished for allowing the horse to escape from his stall, get into the feed room, and colic.  What a crappy thing to do to a 14 year old girl.  The old trainer earned zero respect from me, and poor Kate, heartbroken over the loss of her favorite horse, decided that horses would no longer play a part in her life.  Kate’s disinterested father didn’t help her with her grief.  The guy, a professor, was never home, and he probably didn’t even know about the horrible experience Kate was struggling to deal with.  Instead, he traipsed around the planet research butterflies. 

With her father on a trip, she’s moved in with her aunt.  Kate wants a job, so when she hears about a babysitting job, she applies for it.  Her charge is actually her own age, and Holly has been confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident.  Kate’s job is to be her companion for the summer, so her mom can continue coaching riders at the barn behind their small house.  Barn?  Yes, barn!  So even though Kate wants nothing to do with horses, she is stuck having to deal with them every day.  Holly’s dream is to get back in the saddle again, and she drags Kate to the barn every day.  To hide her new discomfort around the animals, Kate lies and tells Holly that she’s terrified of them, and, oh, yeah, she’s allergic, too.  When her secret is outted, she has to earn back Holly’s trust, as well as help save Holly’s mom’s job.

This is a very fast paced read, and I couldn’t put it down.  Once Kate gets back in the saddle, things accelerate even more.  She has to help win a team competition, but guess what?  Angela is out to get her, because Kate rides better than she does, so Kate has to learn quickly to avoid Angela’s attempts to sabotage her.  I loved all of the conflict Angela started.  She’s the perfect girl you love to hate, but because her mother demands constant perfection from her, you feel a smidge, just a smidge!, of pity for her.  She’s afraid that Kate will show her up in front of her mother, and all her mother cares about is that Angela is the best.  Her mother also has a lot of control over whether or not Holly’s mother will keep her job, it turns out, so there’s even greater friction between the girls.  Add in the fact that Angela is a bully and likes to pick on what she considers weaker girls, and you really have the perfect villain.

I enjoyed Keeping Secrets, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Kate and Holly.  I’m sure that Angela will continue to make trouble for the girls, making for more entertaining reading.

Grade:  B/B+  (I love the cover – that gets an A)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A valuable horse is dead, and it’s all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has banished horses and riding from her life … forever!

But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes her back to the barn—the last place Kate wants to be. 

Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? And, more important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean, a teenage bully who lives for only two things: winning ribbons and causing trouble? 

Kate manages to keep her secret hidden until an accident forces it into the open … and it’s just the moment Angela has been waiting for.

The post Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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16. The Fourteenth Goldfish: Review Haiku

Deeper than it looks
and expertly wrought.
Give that fish a sticker, eh?

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm. Random House, 2014, 208 pages.

0 Comments on The Fourteenth Goldfish: Review Haiku as of 8/13/2014 6:20:00 AM
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17. #634 – Double Reverse by Fred Bowen

         PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR

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Double Reverse

by Fred Bowen
Peachtree Publishers               8/01/2014
978-1-56145-814-1
Age 7 to 12                 144 pages
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“READY . . . SET . . . HUT ONE!

“Jesse Wagner has run pass patterns with his older brother Jay since he was a little kid. Now Jay’s heading to college and Jesse’s a wide receiver for the high school freshman team, the Panthers. The season starts off badly, and things get even worse when the Panthers quarterback is injured. Jay suggests that Jesse try out as QB. Jesse knows the playbook backwards and forwards, but he feels that he’s too small for the role. He just doesn’t look the part. Can he play against type and help the Panthers become a winning team?”

Opening

“Ready . . . set . . . hut one!” Jesse Wagner and his older brother Jay were running pass patterns at Hobbs Park, just as they had a thousand times before.”

The Story

Jesse Wagner is finally in high school and the wide receiver for the freshman football team. Quinn (right tackle), and Langston (reserve wide receiver), two of Jesse’s best friends, also play on the Panther freshman football team. Jesse has been running pass patterns with his older brother, Jay and now knows all of the plays the Panthers use without referencing the playbook. Jay, last year’s All-Conference quarterback, is now off to Dartmouth College to play quarterback there.

Henry, the freshman quarterback for the freshman Panthers, poor kid, is confused about every play, cannot seem to remember any of them, and his throws are too short or too long, too high or too wide. Henry looks like an all-star quarterback and will scare the other team . . . until the first play. Jesse nearly suffers a concussion trying to go after a bad pass from Henry. The one who does get hurt is Henry. A Panther lineman stumbles into Henry causing a season ending injury.

Meanwhile, Jay is a good quarterback, but so are many other boys. He does not get the job. His coach wants him to play safety. Home for the weekend to decide if he will quit the team or play safety, Jay talks to Jesse while throwing around a football. Jay agrees to accept safety if Jesse agrees to try out for quarterback, now t hat Henry is gone the position is open. Deal made, Jay returns to Dartmouth and Jesse asks to try out. The assistant coach thinks the shorter than the average quarterback could work. The coach is not buying it. A few practice plays and Jesse has won the position and the nickname “Tark” after Fran Tarkington, a short quarterback that ruled the game in the NFL. Only problem is, with quarterback shored up, another game-busting problem becomes visible: the kicking game sucks. The Panthers sorely need a kicker that can kick beyond midfield.

Savannah, who happens to play the other football game (soccer), as the goalie, can kick the ball with a huge depth and a long hang-time impressing Jesse and his friends, and giving them an outrageous idea. Jesse suggests they ask Savannah to kick for their football team. Savannah is intrigued, but will the coaches? Will the freshman football coaches sign off on a girl football player? Will the girls soccer coach sign off on his best player leaving the team to play football? Can Savannah even make a difference to the plagued freshman Panther football team?

Review

Double Reverse highlights high school football, three stars of the game, and situations that place all three in odd positions. For Jay, a big man on a high school campus, he easily becomes a little man on a college campus, and Jay is having trouble accepting this. He thinks ending his football career is a better idea than taking his talent in another direction. He seriously considers quitting the team—and his Dartmouth education—rather than change his positions and play safety.

From Panther's Playbook

From Panther’s Playbook

Jesse is a great wide receiver, or he would be great if the quarterback could ever get the ball to him. Then injury takes Henry—the quarterback—out during the first game. The Panthers do not have a viable quarterback and Jay thinks Jesse can do it. Jesse believes he is too short to play quarterback—he just does not look the part as Henry did, but Henry couldn’t throw the ball or remember plays so what kind of help was his quarterback looks? The brothers make a pact to try the other positions. Turns out, both are great in their new spots and both are happy.

I enjoyed reading Double Reverse. It has a lot of football action and even gives away some of the panther’s playbook. Double Reverse is also about reinventing yourself when the need or opportunity arises. It is about diversifying yourself, rather than being one set thing all your life. I get how Jay feels, but I do not understand how he could risk his education. Jesse and Savannah both soon learn perception and reality do not always match when they are good at positions neither saw themselves at—Jesse as quarterback and Savannah as goalie (soccer) and then kicker (football).

Jesse's Inspired Change of Play

Jesse’s Inspired Change of Play

Girls will love the character of Savannah who does not want to be the goalie, yet turns out to be a killer goalie. When the boys need her, she reinvents herself as a football player and helps her friends finally win a game. Savanna reflects the change in football with more and more girls playing at the high school level and commend the author for inventing this character and making her so fresh and vibrant. There is a lot of ego in girl’s sports, and girls will enjoy that Savannah’s kicking game is the reason the football team wins a game.

Mainly, Double Reverse shows the importance of growth as children age and experience new things. Sometimes it is good to be the best. Other times it is good to be a team player and sacrifice your glory for the team’s glory. I am not interested in football, yet enjoyed Double Reverse very much, and understand the game better after reading this book. I actually loved all the action during the games. After the story are the true stories of two legends, Fran Tarkington and Cal Ripken, both thought to be wrong to play their respective positions in the pros and the inspiration for Double Reverse.

Dartmouth College "Big Green" Roster

Dartmouth College “Big Green” Roster

No one is expecting a winning season, but the Panthers find ways to overcome the odds against them, some by breaking stereotypes and putting the team before themselves—Henry does this upon his return. Boys and girls that like football, be it the American European, will love reading Double Reverse. The story is much more than a football story, making it appealing to both boys and girls, and it’s a story the reluctant reader can savor thanks to shorter sentences and an uncomplicated vocabulary. Double Reverse is an all-around winning story.

DOUBLE REVERSE. Text copyright © 2014 by Fred Bowen. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by XXXXXXXXX. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlantic, GA.

Purchase a copy of Double Reverse at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtree Publishersat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Double Reverse HERE.

Meet the author, Fred Bowen, at his website:   http://www.fredbowen.com/

Find other great books at the Peachtree Publishers website:  http://peachtree-online.com/

Also Writte by Fred Bowen

The Kid Coach

The Kid Coach

Winners Take All

Winners Take All

Soccer Team Upset

Soccer Team Upset

Off the Rim

Off the Rim

Perfect Game

Perfect Game

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Reviewed HERE.

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copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR

Double Reverse

Monday 8/11
The Write Path     http://www.dorinewhite.blogspot.com/

Tuesday 8/12
Kid Lit Reviews     http://kid-lit-reviews.com/
Geo Librarian     http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com/

Wednesday 8/13
Librarian in Cute Shoes     http://www.librarianincuteshoes.blogspot.com/

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Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: chidren's book reviews, Dartmouth College Big Green, Fred Bowen, girls high school soccer, girls playing high school football, high shool football, middle grade book, Peachtree Publishers, transforming yourself in sports

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18. MMGM Links (8/11/14)

Things seem to keep getting crazier around here, so once again, I don't have an MMGM shoutout. But that's because I'm on tour this week. If you're in LA, Fresno, Reno, Portland, or Seattle here's where you can find me:

Hope to see some of you there--and now, on to the links!!!

- The Rad Reader joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY. Click HERE to welcome her to the group! 
- The B.O.B. has been swept away with OUT OF THE DUST. Click HERE to see their review.
- Samantha at Bookish Serendipity is spotlighting SAVING KABUL CORNER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Reader Noir is highlighting LOOT. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Greg Pattridge is dishing about THE SHORT SELLER.  Click HERE to see why. 
- Michael Gettel Gilmarten is gushing about WRITTEN IN STONE. Click HERE for his take. 
- Mark Baker is rooting for THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--COUSINS AND ROBBERS: TALES OF BLACK JACK JETTY. Click HERE for details.  
- Michelle Isenhoff is caught up in WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON. Click HERE to see her feature. 
- Katie Fitzgerald is loving TRUTH AND KISSES. Click HERE to see why.
- Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books is raving about  TIME OF THE FIREFLIES. Click HERE to read her feature.
- Annie McMahon reveals her cover, and discusses her reasons for Indie-Publishing. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Suzanne Warr sees nothing ordinary about THE ORDINARY PRINCESS. Click HERE to read her review.  
- Rcubed thinks MAGYK is absolutely magical. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is interviewing author Nancy Castaldo and GIVING AWAY a copy of SNIFFER DOGS. Click HERE for details.  
- Roseanne Parry is drawn to THE ONE SUMMER. Click HERE to see why.  
 - Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring 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! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting 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. (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 (8/11/14) as of 8/11/2014 8:10:00 AM
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19. #628 – Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption by Mark Myers

virgil creech 1.

Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption

written by Mark Myers

published by Mark Myers                  12/19/2013

978-0-61587615-3

Age 8 to 13     222 pages

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“Welcome to the sleepy little town of Portsong, Georgia where there is a struggle a foot. Unbeknownst to the current owner, Virgil Creech has his selfish eyes set on taking back a dog he considers his. To be fair, as the youngest of nine bickering and bustling brothers, Virgil has always had to fight for the few things he could call his own. In this case, the property in question ran away from Virgil several months prior and now wants nothing to do with the boy, for he has found a happy home with the kindly Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle. Undetered, Virgil teams up with  reluctant friend, Henry Lee, to retrieve the dog.”

Opening

“That was a mark!” yelled Henry as he disappeared behind the row of elm trees to round up the ball.”

The Story

Four friends, Virgil, Henry, Willy, and Joe are playing in the town green (like a park) when Virgil kicks the ball hard and too high hitting Colonel Birdwhistle in the back of the head, knocking him out onto the pavement. The boys cautiously check to see if he is alive and Virgil accidentally causes Birdwhistle to hit his head again, knocking him cold. Later, at the hospital, Willy and Joe check on Birdwhistle and leave believing the boys have caused Birdwhistle to become blind. Willy, Joe, and Henry decide to find a dog, train it as a Seeing Eye dog, and give him to the Colonel.

At the city dump, the boys find a dirty, matted, and awful smelling mongrel. Henry gives the dog a half-hour session in leading the blind, and then takes the dog to the hospital, leaving it in Birdwhistle’s room. The Colonel takes the mutt home, cleans him up, and decides to keep him. The dog, now named Oscar, is now a happy dog.

Virgil realizes Oscar his is dog and is mad that Birdwhistle stole the dog from him. According to Virgil, Birdwhistle came right into his house and took Bertie (same dog, different name). Virgil is determined to get his dog back and enlists the help of his one friend, Henry Lee. Henry is determined to keep Virgil sway from Oscar. To complicate matters, a nationwide contest for a trip to Africa gets the town, including Virgil, up in a tizzy. Virgil knows he is the winner and must just wait for the day his name is called. When he returns from Africa, he will then get his dog back. But Colonel Birdwhistle has been entered hundreds of times by townsfolk who appreciate and admire him. Birdwhistle wins, causing Virgil to believe the Colonel has now stolen two things from him. He is madder than two Creech boys fighting over a chicken drumstick are. How will Henry contain Virgil and keep Oscar safe and with Birdwhistle. Can he do it?

Review

Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption tells the story of two boys, Virgil, Henry, a British transplant, and the man’s dog, Oscar. Virgil is a mean boy, the last of nine boys. Not a day goes by that he is not beat or taken advantage by one of his brothers. In turn, Virgil always has a chip on his shoulder, beats up kids at school, must always get his way, and has no friends. Virgil’s temper is as short as a temper can possibly be. Henry is a kind, well-mannered boy from a fine family. After Virgil kicks a ball that knocks-out Colonel Birdwhistle, the boys, especially Henry and Virgil, are thrown together for survival.

The well-planned and well-written story will keep you turning the pages. The author understands the psyche of the twelve-year-old boy and offers explanations and comments throughout the book. At first, I thought these annoying, but as more and more pages turned, the narrative became more natural, the comments regarding boys in general became interesting, and the story became a smooth ride, except for the Virgil bumps along the way. Packed with humor, tender moments, and upheaval only two young boys can cause, Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption will please adults as well as kids.

I enjoyed the story, which focused more on Henry and his life than on the main character, Virgil. As one reviewer has already pointed out, Henry should be the protagonist. Virgil is a perfect antagonist and causes most of Henry’s stress. Once Henry understands how Virgil treated his dog and how the dog ended up living in the city dump, he vows to keep Oscar with the Colonel. Even Oscar stays away from Virgil, refusing to go anywhere he can smell the boy—which is not hard for anyone to do. At one point, the author states that Virgil is the only Creech that did a selfless act. Not so, the two brothers who rescued Bertie (Oscar in a former life), and cared for the dog, albeit in a dump, thought only of the dog, not themselves. Seems any Creech could have a heart deep within his chest.

There are no illustrations in the story. Oscar is a small dog, one that Henry can easily pick up. The dog on the cover is not small. I do like the angry hate-the-world scowl on Virgil’s face. This accurately portrays the boy’s disposition. While reading the story, Colonel Birdwhistle looked very near the image on the cover. The houses seem out of place for an area of town filled with green grass. Maybe on the other side they would be correct. Having saidall that, for someone who has not read the story, the cover is inviting and makes you want to know what the scamp on the cover has done.

I am not overly fond of the trick Birdwhistle and George, Henry’s father, plays on the town when Birdwhistle decides not to accept the trip he won, without entering himself. I like the first part, but what is the difference, as Henry asks, between leaving for three months and hiding out, without your dog, for three months. The Colonel does not want to leave the town, where he feels accepted and a member of nearly every family, yet he is still gone from the children and the story hour Birdwhistle did not want to miss. It would have made more sense for the Colonel to feign an illness. The author wanted a twist that would delight the reader but I think this failed to hit the mark.

Kids who love adventure or family-spun stories will enjoy Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption. For his first book, Myers offered readers a well-crafted story, less the twist. There is a second Virgil Creech story to be released this Fall. I cannot wait to find out what bothers Virgil enough to make his face “glow red.” It is entitled, Virgil Creech Sings for His Supper. There is no preview, so make of this title as you will. Just the idea of Virgil singing scares me.

For a middle grade boy’s perspective of Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption  click HERE.

VIRGIL CREECH TAKES A SWIPE AT REDEMPTION. Text copyright © 2013 by Mark Myers.

To purchase your copy of Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption go to AmazonB&NBook DepositoryAuthor’s Websiteyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption  HERE.

Meet the author, Mark Myers, at his website:    https://portsong.wordpress.com/

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virgil creech 1

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copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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evil fairies love hairm

Don’t forget! Evil Fairies Love Hair releases AUGUST 5th. As a reminder, the review is HERE.

Get it at Amazon   B&N    Book Depository    Clarion 


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: 1920's, boy's book, bullies, children's book reviews, family relationships, friends, Mark Myers, middle grade novel, Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption

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20. Sisters: Review Haiku

Honest, heart-breaking,
totally funny. I gave it
to my sister.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier. GRAPHIX/Scholastic, 2014, 208 pages.

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21.

LOT'S going on around here, between drafting, SCBWI LA this weekend, and the EXILE paperback coming out tomorrow (stop by for an awesome giveaway tomorrow to celebrate). Plus I'm touring all next week (click HERE to see where you can meet me). So I don't have an MMGM shoutout, but I do have links!

- Samantha at Bookish Serendipity joins the MMGM fun with three mini middle grade reviews. Click HERE to see what they are. 
- Birdie Reader is singing praises for LOKI'S WOLVES. Click HERE to see what she thought. Natalie 
- Alex at Randomly Reading is raving about THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Reader Noir is curious about CURIOSITY. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Greg Pattridge is bugging about EVERYBODY BUGS OUT.  Click HERE to see why. 
- Michael Gettel Gilmarten has chills for THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES. Click HERE for his take. 
- Mark Baker is looking back at an old classic: THE HARDY BOYS: TOWER TREASURE. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--COUSINS AND ROBBERS: TALES OF BLACK JACK JETTY. Click HERE for details.  
- Michelle Isenhoff is glowing for FLORA AND ULYSSES. Click HERE to see her feature. 
- Katie Fitzgerald is loving REVENGE OF THE FLOWER GIRLS. Click HERE to see why.
- Dorine White is smiling for SMILE. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Annie McMahon is fearing THE WRATH OF SIREN. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
 - Roseanne Parry is drawn to the illustrated version of WEE FREE MEN. Click HERE to see why. 
- Rcubed is talking about why she loves Andrew Clements. Click HERE to read more. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is featuring THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART and GIVING AWAY a signed hardcover. Click HERE for details.  
- Jess at the Reading Nook is all whipped up for DASH. Click HERE to see why. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring 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! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting 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. (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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22. #630 – Twice Told Tales: Cassie and the Woolf by Olivia Snowe & Michelle Lamoreaux

cover.

Twicetold Tales: Cassie and the Woolf

written by Olivia Snowe
illustrated by Michelle Lamoreaux
Stone Arch Books       8/01/2014
978-1-4342-6278-3
Age 8 to 12 128 pages

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“Once (or twice) upon a time, a girl named Cassie brought supper to her grandmother. But in this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Cassie doesn’t know that Caleb Woolf gets to her grandmother first. When Cassie finds out what Caleb has done, she is determined to get revenge. Whatever it takes, Cassie is ready. She will fight the Woolf . . . “

Opening

“Cassie Cloak held her red raincoat closed at the neck.”

The Story

Cassie Cloak stops at a deli after school then delivers supper to her grandmother. Caleb’s basketball game with friends breaks up leaving Caleb alone and hungry, but unwilling to go home. He can smell the chicken soup and sandwiches in Cassie’s deli containers as she dodges the rain. He also hears Cassie decline a ride from the deli man and the address of grandma’s apartment complex. Caleb times it so he “runs into” Cassie on the street, but is not the most cordial guy. Cassie is glad when he leaves.

At grandmother’s apartment complex, Cassie checks on grandma but collides with the bathroom door instead, falling unconscious to the floor. Later she unties grandma and realizes the black hoodie left in the bathroom belongs to Caleb. He had ambushed grandma, knocked out Cassie, and left with their supper. Cassie and grandma plan their revenge. Cassie invites Caleb to dinner. He accepts, planning to retrieve his hoodie before anyone else sees it. (He figures Cassie had not seen it else, she would not invite him to dinner. Or was it a trap.) Caleb went back and forth with this debate throughout the day.

Grandma opens up windows so the smell of her soup and roast will flow down the street, enticing Caleb. She knew Caleb could not resist the aroma of her cooking, just in case he was going to stand her up. Promptly buzzed past security, Caleb walks through grandma’s ajar apartment door, which shuts quickly behind him. Caleb announces his presence, but hears nothing in return. He is alone. With the doors are locked—from the outside—and the windows are sealed shut, no one can hear Caleb when he realizes the horror of his mistake.

Review

I read Cassie and the Woolf in one sitting. The story is a mere 128 pages but I couldn’t put it down if broccoli began to burn on my stove, again. It is that good. This modern retelling’s setting is an after-dark dangerous downtown. Most every shop has closed and Cassie and Caleb pass no one on the streets. Add in a fierce rainstorm and the elements are set for a horror showdown. Caleb is a brut of a boy with little manner or social skills. His claim to fame at the middle school he shares with Cassie is his basketball skills. When they meet, Cassie has no idea who Caleb is and it might have turned his anger ugly. He proceeds to bounce his basketball into a puddle, soaking Cassie. It is no secret what Caleb Woolf—the wolf—is going to do at Cassie—Little Red’s grandmother’s home. It is what happens after that will draw readers in the most.

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Both Cassie and her grandma are formidable foes, unlike the original story where the wolf eats them both. In this retelling, the woolf, I mean wolf, will get his due. What happens when Caleb finds himself trapped inside grandma’s apartment will not scare anyone. I quite enjoyed the scheme, not once figuring out what was happening until it happened. Even the ending threw me off. I can’t say much more or story spoils would fill the page. I will say the writing and potting are masterfully done, never letting the reader figure out the next step until Cassie and grandma take it..

The characters are believable and easy to care about, including Caleb Woolf. You have sympathy for him shortly after meeting him, alone, his stomach growling, and unable to go home. He slowly turns into the wolf. As he walks with Cassie, he slowly becomes more annoying. After he has eaten Red’s supper, Caleb’s stomach hurts from over ingestion and he actually feels a bit remorseful, though I think he is confusing gastritis with remorse. I felt bad for Caleb at that moment—a little—and hoped Cassie’s revenge would not hurt him. But then the following day Caleb treats Cassie unkindly and the sympathy waned. Caleb’s character is a rollercoaster between decent and awful.

2

Middle grade aged kids will enjoy Cassie and the Woolf. Nothing in the story will spark nightmares or upset kids in the least—unless they are a fan of the wolf. No one dies; no one is shot, knifed, or beat up. Violence is at a minimal level. Suspense rises as slow as possible once Caleb enters grandma’s apartment and finds he is alone. From the moment Caleb sees his washed and folded hoodie, he knows something bad is going to happen; that he had walked into a trap. Readers who open Cassie and the Woolf will find they love the build up, the suspense, the basketball-bouncing walk through downtown streets, and the dinner invite given at school. Cassie and the Woolf is a fun read and an excellent modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Middle grade and older kids will enjoy this fairy tale once more. I’d expect nothing less from an author whose last name is Snowe.

TWICETOLD TALES: CASSIE AND THE WOOLF. Text copyright © 2014 by Olivia Snowe. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Michelle Lamoreaux. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Stone Arch Books, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Cassie and the Woolf at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryStone Arch Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Twicetold Tales HERE.
Meet the author, Olivia Snowe, at her website:
Meet the illustrator, Michelle Lamoreaux, at her website:
Find more stories at the Stone Arch Books website:    http://stonearchbooks.blogspot.com/

Stone Arch Books is a Capstone imprint.   http://www.capstonepub.com/

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Also in 2014 by Olivia Snowe & Michelle Lamoreaux.

A Home in the Sky (Twicetold Tales)

A Home in the Sky (Twicetold Tales)

Beauty and the Basement (Twicetold Tales)

Beauty and the Basement (Twicetold Tales)

Dandelion and the Witch (Twicetold Tales)

Dandelion and the Witch (Twicetold Tales)

Hansen and Gracie (Twicetold Tales)

Hansen and Gracie (Twicetold Tales)

The Girl and the Seven Thieves (Twicetold Tales)

The Girl and the Seven Thieves (Twicetold Tales)

The Sealed-Up House (Twicetold Tales)

The Sealed-Up House (Twicetold Tales)

casiie and the woolf

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copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Abigail Samoun, Capstone, Little Red Riding Hood retold, Michelle Lamoreaux, Olivia Snowe, retold tales, Stone Arch Books

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23. Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done: Review Haiku

Better than its
predecessor, but still -- it
coulda been funnier.

Now Look What You've Done (Timmy Failure #2) by Stephen Patsis. Candlewick, 2014, 288 pages.

0 Comments on Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done: Review Haiku as of 8/6/2014 7:50:00 AM
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24. The LIght in the Cellar (A Molly Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey

Everyone at school needs to sign up to do volunteer work for the war effort of some kind and Molly McIntire really wants to join the Junior Red Cross with her friends Susan and Linda.  But Emily Bennett, an evacuee from the London Blitz who has been staying with the McIntire's since she arrived in the U.S., wants to volunteer to be a magazine delivery girl at the Oak Knoll Convalescent Hospital.  That way, she can visit her Aunt Prim, recovering from pneumonia.  Emily was supposed to live with Aunt Prim for the duration of the war, but is living with the McIntire's instead until she recovers.

But before any magazines can be delivered, Emily needs to learn how to ride a bike, since that is their only means of transportation to Oak Knoll.  One evening, Molly, Susan and Linda take Emily to a deserted road by the old (haunted?) Greystone Manor.  While there, they notice a light in the cellar is on.

Shortly after this, Molly's mother discovers seven 10 pound bags of sugar are missing from the Red Cross office, where they are kept.  The supplies are used to bake cookies for the soldiers on the troop trains passing through.  Sugar is rationed and can't be replaced.  Oddly, Molly overhears a conversation at Oak Knoll that supplies there are missing as well.  Could someone be stealing these valuable supplies to sell on the black market?

Surprised, Molly finds she enjoys being a magazine delivery girl and meeting the different patients at Oak Knoll, especially Mrs. Currier, who lives in Greystone Manor.  When Mrs. Currier asks Molly to go get her reading glasses from the house, Molly agrees despite being more than a little creeped out.  While there with Emily the next day, a black truck pulls up to the house and two men start carrying in packages and putting them in the basement.  Trouble is, they forget to put the spare key to the Manor back where it belongs and must return again.

Bringing Linda and Susan with them, Molly and Emily return to the Manor with the key.  While there, they decide to look in the basement window and, sure enough, there are the missing bags of sugar from the Red Cross and Oak Knoll.

But who could be doing something like this?  Mr. Laurence, who delivers Oak Knoll's laundry, tells Molly to be careful are Marta, a Polish refuge with a young daughter, hinting that the missing items are because of her, but Molly refuses to believe that, especially not after what Auntie Prim says about her.

What to do?  Can Molly and her friends actually set a trap to catch the thief before all those supplies disappear on the black market?

The Light in the Cellar is a middle grade novel that is full of adventure and excitement, but of a kinder, gentler nature than many of the WWII books I've reviewed for young readers.  For today's readers, though, the amount of freedom 9 year old Molly enjoys to ride her bike and just hang out with her friends may surprise them.  I know it did my Kiddo when she read them.

However, there are a few plot holes.  How long has Mrs. Currier been at Oak Knoll if Molly and her friends have always thought of Greystone Manor as haunted and falling into disrepair and why didn't Mrs. Currier have her reading glasses already if it has been so long?

Still, the historical facts in the novel are well-researched story by an author who is very familiar with American Girl values and has written a number of books about the historical figures that were the original purpose of the Pleasant Company before it was sold to Mattel.

And my Kiddo learned a lot because American Girl books involving historical figures like Molly McIntire are always written so that they give young readers a good idea of what life might have been like for girls their age, and the mysteries are not different.  The Light in the Cellar introduces kids to rationing and ration books, and the black market, to the work of Red Cross volunteers, to plane spotting by kids like Molly's older brother Ricky, and, of course, to scrap collecting - all so much a part of life during WWII.

However, I did like that Molly and Emily got a little testy with each other, showing that sometimes friendships can be strained no matter what the circumstances and letting readers know that Molly, like themselves, isn't perfect.  Then again, sometimes the McIntires forgot that Emily wasn't one of them and treated her like another sister, which proved to please her very much.

All of the American Girl historical figures have a series of mystery stories like Molly's, so if your young reader is showing an interest in mysteries and/or history, these are great starter book (and a nice prelude to novels like Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy among others).

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was purchased for my Kiddo's personal library


0 Comments on The LIght in the Cellar (A Molly Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey as of 8/6/2014 9:52:00 PM
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25. The Great Greene Heist: Review Haiku

Is it creepy that
I want Jackson to be my
boyfriend? Probably.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. Scholastic/Levine, 2014, 240 pages.

0 Comments on The Great Greene Heist: Review Haiku as of 8/11/2014 7:09:00 AM
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