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1. Escape in Time by Ronit Lowenstein-Malz

Living a comfortable life in Tel Aviv, Nessya, 12, is stunned to hear that her grandmother, Miri Malz, has been invited to speak at her school's Holocaust Remembrance Day program.  Nessya has never heard her happy, smiling grandmother speak being a Holocaust survivor, and besides, she doesn't even have at tattoo AND she has her family's old photo albums - items always destroyed by the Nazis.

When Nessya and her friend Rachel cook up a scheme to get into Grandma Miri's apartment to search for evidence while she is out to look for clues, the plan backfires.  But, is Grandma Miri really a survivor?  For almost two weeks, Grandma Miri keeps to herself, seeing no one but her husband.  When she finally does come to visit, she takes Nessya aside and begins to talk to her about her past.

Living in Munkács, Czechoslovakia, Miri Eneman was part of a large, loving family and life was pretty peaceful.  The family thought they were Hungarian and pretty safe from the Nazis, until one night in the spring of 1944 it all changed with a knocking on their door.  The family was being rounded up.  That night, Miri's father escaped out the back window, leaving everyone to think he had run off and deserted his family.  But in reality, that was just the beginning of his fight for their survival.

When she leaves, Grandma Miri gives Nessya a packet of letters written by her family members and tucked into their diaries, all of which her grandmother had spent two weeks translating for her granddaughter and including her own memories of her family during the Holocaust.  The story of her family's survival is her gift to Nessya for her upcoming bat mitzvah.

Miri's story is riveting.  The Eneman family is often on the run after escaping the Munkács Ghetto, in hiding and living in fear, separated from other family members and never knowing what is happening to them.  All the while, Miri's father manages to anticipate what to do and stay one step ahead of Nazi actions, even hiding in plain sight in Budapest.  At one point, they find themselves living in and caring for a grand apartment after the owner flees to Switzerland.  Here, they lived across the street from the virulent anti-Semitic Hungarian pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party's headquarters and under the nose to an equally anti-Semitic concierge.  But can their collective luck whole out until the end of the war?

Escape in Time is a truly apt name for this novel about one Jewish family's survival during the Holocaust.  It is a story of courage, daring, luck and survival doing whatever needs to be done.  Lowenstein-Malz based this story on actual memoirs giving it a real sense of authenticity.  The book is written in such a way that the reader reads Miri's story right along with Nessya, but there are occasional breaks where we see her reaction to what she is reading (don't be surprised if your reactions are similar to hers).

There aren't many good middle grade books about the fate of Hungarian Jews in WWII so this is a welcome additon to the body of Holocaust literature.  For so long, they, like the Eneman family, thought they were safe, but it was just a question of time and politics and it all changed.  It is one of the reasons that I found myself so drawn into Miri's memories, and her family's letters and diary entries.  This is a slightly different Holocaust story in that, interestingly, no one in Grandma Miri's immediate family spends any time in a concentration camp, though extended family were sent there from the ghetto in 1944.  Young readers will not only meet this courageous family, but they will also meet some really good people willing to help the Enemen family as well as some really hateful people who would turn them in in the blink of an eye.

Escape in Time was originally written in Hebrew and I found the translation to be a very smooth one.  Having done some translating myself, I know it is often hard to get together all the elements that make a book great, but that wasn't a problem here.

Throughout this novel, there are realistic sepia-toned portrait illustrations that enhance the narration about the Eneman family.

Miri and her older sister Magda
Escape in Time is a well-written book with well drawn, realistic characters for young readers interested in the Holocaust or historical fiction, and since it is a story of survival against great odds, don't be surprised if you shed a few tears along with Nessya.  I did.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This was an EARC recieved from Net Galley


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2. Top 20 Middle Grade Agents: 129 Sales in the Last 12 Months


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What agents are selling middle grade novels? Publishersmarketplace.com does a great job of monitoring the business of selling manuscripts to publishers. If you’re looking for an agent, you’ll want to spend a lot of time there doing research on agents to find the perfect match for you and your stories. Here’s just one way to look at the agents for middle grade novels. This list includes information on the agent, links to his/her agency and the number of middle grade deals made in the last twelve months. Please note that the agent/agency may have made many other deals in addition to these; these are limited to those self-reported by the agent/agency in the category of middle grade. For more information, go to Publishersmarketplace.com (you must pay to join to see full information).

This is the second of three articles on current agents for children’s books. See also Picture Book Agents and YA Agents lists (link is live on 4/29).

Top-Agents-2015-MG


I did this roundup of middle grade agents in 2013 and you may want to compare the list from then. At that time, I only listed the top 10 agents, who represented 60 sales. This time, the top 10 middle grade agents report 80 sales. There may be two reasons for this. First, Publisher’s Marketplace relies on agents to self-report. This means that the agents are, for the first time, in a sort of competition for rankings. Reporting more sales means they are ranked higher, which gives prestige and possibly brings in more prospective clients. Second, it could mean that sales are up for middle grade novels. We hope the latter is the case, but suspect the first reason has much to do with the increased number of sales.

  1. Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary Agency), 15 deals. Website
  2. Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary Agency), 14 deals. Website
  3. Ammi-Joan Paquette (Erin Murphy Literary Agency), 10 deals. Website
  4. Erin Murphy (Erin Murphy Literary Agency), 9 deals. Website
  5. Steven Chudney (The Chudney Agency), 9 deals. Website
  6. Holly McGhee (Pippin Properties), 8 deals. Website
  7. Tina Wexler (ICM), 6 deals. Website
  8. Stephen Barbara (Inkwell Management), 6 deals. Website
  9. Kelly Sonnack (Andrea Brown Literary Agency), 6 deals. Website
  10. Rosemary Stimola (Stimola Literary Studio), 5 deals. Website
  11. Daniel Lazar (Writers House), 5 deals. Website
  12. Sara Crowe (Harvey Klinger), 5 deals. Website
  13. Tracey Adams (Adams Literary), 5 deals. Website
  14. Rebecca Sherman (Writers House), 5 deals. Website
  15. Josh Adams (Adams Literary), 5 deals. Website
  16. Jennifer Rofe (Andrea Brown Literary Agency), 5 deals. Website
  17. Brianne Johnson (Writers House), 5 deals. Website
  18. Caryn Wiseman (Andrea Brown Literary Agency), 4 deals. Website
  19. Laura Dail (Laura Dail Literary Agency), 4 deals. Website
  20. Jill Corcoran (Jill Corcoran Literary Agency), 4 deals. Website

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3. MMGM Links (4/27/15)

It's deadline crunch-time around here, so I'm tossing the MMGM links together super quick. Sorry again if there are mistakes. I should hopefully getting my brain back soon. I'm tired of sharing it with Sophie & Crew! :)

- Rcubed sees something special in SOMETHING NEW. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Jenni Enzor is charmed by THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING. Click HERE to see why. 
- Cindy Tran is featuring BLACKBIRD FLY with an interview with Erin Entrada Kelly. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS. Click HERE for all the details.   
- Katie at Storytime Secrets is spreading some love for MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is sold on SEAN ROSEN IS NOT FOR SALE. Click HERE to read his feature. 
- The Page Turner is whispering about HOUSE OF SECRETS. Click HERE for their thoughts.
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is caught up in THE WESTING GAME. Click HERE to see why.  
- Laurisa White Reyes is answering the call for A MONSTER CALLS. Click HERE to find her review.  
- Suzanne Warr is spotlighting GOBLIN QUEST. 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.

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4. Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas

American bornTomi Itano, 12, her younger brother Hiro and older brother Roy, 17, have been raised by their Japanese-born parents to love the United States and to be the best Americans they can be.  Every morning, the family solemnly raises the American flag to fly over their rented strawberry farm in California.  The Itanos, Osamu called Sam and his wife Sumiko, had made a pretty good life for their family.

But in January 1942, shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it all changed.  Suddenly signs reading "No Japs" appeared in store windows, Tomi was no longer welcomed in her Girl Scout troop, and worse than anything, Pop was arrested as a spy by the FBI.

Then came the notice that the family had two weeks to get ready to go to a "relocation camp" taking only what they could carry in suitcases.  Everything they owned was sold for a few dollars each, prized momentos from Japan were burned and the family found themselves living in a smelly horse stall at the Santa Anita Racetrack for the first months of internment, eventually being transfered to Colorado and a camp called Tallgrass.

Throughout their ordeal, Mom, Tomi, Hiro and Roy keep their spirits up, trying to make the most of the situation they are in, even though they hear very little from Pop, and really have no idea what is going on with him.  Tomi meets a girl at Tallgrass named Ruth and the two girls become best friends.  Roy, who had a band called the Jivin Five in California, decides to form a jazz band at Tallgrass, playing at Saturday night dances.  Mom, who had always been a perfect Japanese wife, doing only what her husband said she could do, suddenly blossomed, teaching a quilting class and making her own decisions.  Hiro and his new best friend Wilson start playing on the camp's baseball team.  All the Itanos seem to have adjusted, believing that living in the internment camp is only a temporary situation and they will eventually be able to return to their old life once the war ends.

But when Pop shows up at the door unexpectedly, everything changes.  He looks almost unrecognizable - gray haired, stooped and walking with a cane.  And he is angry and bitter at what has happened to him, and has turned on his adopted country.  Suddenly, happy, optimistic Tomi begins to behave with the same bitterness and anger towards the country she had always loved.  Tomi has become so inflamed, even Ruth doesn't want to hang around with her anymore.

So, when when a newpaper runs a essay contest, Tomi's teacher wants her class to participate, answering the question Why I am an American, Tomi is faced with quite a dilemma  - how should she honestly write the essay.

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky is the middle grade version of Sandra Dallas's adult novel Tallgrass, which I have not read.  I've read a lot of books about Japanese internment, and while I do believe it is a shameful period of American history, I can't say I was terribly inspired by this particular book.

Factually, this was a good novel, although a bit too didactic at times.  It is meant for young readers who may not know much about how the Japanese were treated in this country during WWII, and I realize that inserting factual information is a tricky business.  Still, that could have gone more smoothly, or put into notes at the end of the novel.

But I found Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky forced and emotionally cold.  I never really formed a clear picture of Tomi, Roy or Hiro, though I felt their mom was a better drawn character, and it wasn't until Pop arrived at Tallgrass that there was any real feeling.  I kept wondering how and why the Itano family didn't get angry, bitter, depressed at having their lives disrupted, when everything they worked for was lost, and people who were friends suddenly turning on them, at least for a while.  That's a lot of emotional stuff to handle for anyone, but they just easily assimilated throughout their whole ordeal.

In the end, Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky is an OK novel at will give readers some insight to what life was life in the internment camps.  I am, however, now curious to read Tallgrass and see what that novel has to offer.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

The Library of Congress has a Teaching Guide using Primary Sources to learn more about Japanese American Internment During World War II HERE,

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5. Lumberjanes: Review Haiku

Kicka$$ girls go camping,
fight monsters, and set up
for new adventures.

Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. BOOM! Box, 2015, 128 pages.

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6. The ABCDs of Research

The last few posts from my fellow TeachingAuthors have been on poetry.  Each of them has written eloquently on the topic.  But trust me when I tell you that I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the topic of poetry.   So, I’ll share a topic with you that I do know about:  research. 

I enjoy sharing how to do research with students and teachers.  I offer a variety of program options including several different types of sessions on brainstorming, research, and writing.   I love to be invited into a school for a live author visit.  But that isn’t always possible.  In the last couple of years, I’ve done lots of Interactive Video Conferences as part of the Authors on Call group of inkthinktank.com. 

During these video conferences, I’ve come up with ways to teach students from third grade through high school how to approach a research project.  One method I use is to give them an easy way to remember the steps to plan their research using A, B, C, and D:

A
ALWAYS CHOOSE A TOPIC THAT INTERESTS YOU.

B
BRAINSTORM FOR IDEAS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR PAPER DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER PAPER.

C
CHOOSE AN ANGLE FOR YOUR PAPER AND WRITE A ONE SENTENCE PLAN THAT BEGINS:
MY PAPER IS ABOUT . . .

D
DECIDE WHERE TO FIND THE RESEARCH INFORMATION THAT FITS THE ANGLE OF YOUR PAPER.


The earlier students learn good research skills, the better.  Learning some tips and tricks like my ABCD plan will help.  I hope it makes the whole process less daunting.



Carla Killough McClafferty

To find out more about booking an Interactive Video Conference with students or teachers:

Contact Carla Killough McClafferty

iNK THINK TANK

Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (search for mcclafferty or inkthinktank)

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7. #672 – The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee

the-water-and-the-wild-k-e-ormsbeexWaterAndTheWild_BlogTourBanner2

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The Water and the Wild

Written by K. E. Ormsbee
Illustrated by Elsa Mora
Chronicle Books       4/14/2015
978-1-4521-1386-9
440 pages           Age 10—14
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“For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her have been her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter-writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things and people are arriving on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless.

And then a door opens in the apple tree.

Follow Lottie down through the apple roots to another world—a world of magic both treacherous and beautiful—in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.” [book jacket]

Review
The beginning of The Water and the Wild draws the reader in with the sharp writing and imaginative descriptions. We meet 12-year-old Lottie, an orphan, who lives in a New Kemble Island boardinghouse with a reluctant Mrs. Yates, whom the author describes as dour with a dislike of children.

“In her opinion, children belonged to a noxious class of furless, yippy house pets that did nothing but make noise at inconvenient times and crash into her potted gardenias.”

Lottie has only two things she cares about: the apple tree, where she hides her keepsakes in a copper box she found hidden in its roots, and her best friend Eliot. Each year, Lottie placed a wish in her keepsake copper box and returned it to the roots of the apple tree. Each year, on her birthday, an unknown writer sent Lottie her wish.

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Eliot is ill with an unknown incurable disease, and nearing the end of his young life. Lottie decides to ask for a cure for the incurable. Soon after, her life changes course when Adelaide, a sprite, urgently whisks Lottie to safety down the roots of the apple tree to Limn, a mysterious place that exists under New Kemble Island. Here, Lottie meets Mr. Wilfer, a sprite healer, Adelaide and Oliver’s father, and Lottie’s benefactor. Mr. Wilfer has been working on an “Otherwise Incurable” potion. Problem is, this is supposed to be for the king, not Eliot, and when it does not arrive as expected, the king arrests Mr. Wilfer. With the cure in hand, Adelaide, Oliver, Oliver’s half-sprite, half-wisp friend Fife, and Lottie take off for the castle to save Mr. Wilfer.

I enjoyed The Water and the Wild but the journey to the castle felt like it would never end, though there are many bright spots along the way that I loved and will intrigue readers. The three kids travel through strange lands filled with danger. Along the way, Lottie learns she is half human-half sprite—a Halfling—and the Heir of Fiske making her heir apparent to the throne and a target of the current, rather cruel, king. The worlds of both New Kemble Island and Limn are easy to visualize.

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Oliver speaks in the words of poets, all of which the author annotates after the story. This can make Oliver’s speech confusing at times for both Lottie and the reader, but is an unusual and imaginative way to introduce kids to classic poetry. Lottie, the odd-girl-out in both worlds, is an easy character to cheer on and kids in similar situations will easily identify with Lottie’s loneliness and the cruel, bullying students she encounters at home.

I wish I knew how the story ended. Maybe there is a sequel in the works, but as it is now, Lottie is somewhere in Limn doing something and, as the author writes,

“This is better.”

I do recommend The Water and the Wild to advanced middle grade readers and adults who enjoy a good story filled with suspense, unusual beings, adventure, and a little magic. The illustrations at the head of each chapter are made from cut paper. See Elsa Mora’s website for more examples of this incredible artform. The Water and the Wild is K. E. Ormsbee’s debut novel.

NOTE: There is a sequel planned for Fall 2016, as yet un-titled.

THE WATER AND THE WILD. Text copyright © 2015 by K. E. Ormsbee. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Elsa Mora. Reproduced by permission of the Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase The Water and the Wild at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Read an excerpt HERE or HERE
.

Learn more about The Water and the Wild HERE.
Meet the author, K. E. Ormsbee, at her website:  http://www.keormsbee.com/
Meet the illustrator, Elsa Mora, at her website:  http://www.artisaway.com/
Find more middle grade novels at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

© KLR — Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

water and the wild 2015


Filed under: 4stars, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: adventure, Chronicle Books, Elsa Mora, imagination, K. E. Ormsbee, magic, sprites, The Water and the Wild, wisps

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8. From the Archives #28: Lucy of the Sea Rangers by F.O.H. Nash

I don't get sick often, but when I do, I like to read comfort books.  Usually that means an old book I have read before that just makes me feel good.  So at the beginning of February, when I found myself home with a respiratory infection, I started to reach for an old Nancy Drew or Chalet School book, but decided to reread Lucy of the Sea Rangers.  I love old books about Girl Scouts and Girl Guides and have a small but nice collection of them.

In this novel, Lucy Butler, 16, is a Sea Ranger, a branch of the Girl Guides, but living in London, she and the other Rangers have never had any real sea experience.  The Blitz is just beginning, so when the department store she works in is damaged by a bomb, Lucy is off to the small village of Sea Bay in Somerset to live with her Aunt Nell and help out in her shop.  Best of all, Sea Bay is located right on the beach.

It doesn't take long for word to spread among the village girls that Lucy is a Sea Ranger.  And although Lucy misses her best friend and fellow Ranger Sally, who is still in London,  she manages to meet and become friends with a girl named Betty, who also has lots of Guide experience.  Before long, they two girls have cobbled together a patrol for the local girls.

One afternoon, Aunt Nell tells Lucy that Mr. Grant, who runs a large guest house and golf course, needs some clerical help and Lucy immediately thinks of her friend Sally.  Wouldn't it be grand if Sally came to live with Aunt Nell and could work for Mr. Grant.  On her way to talk to Mr. Grant about this, Lucy and Betty see a small plane crash land on the edge of the golf course.  Out come a man, a woman and a young boy claiming they had just escaped from Holland and the Nazis.

Feeling sorry for the family, the Vanhuysens are quickly given jobs and help from the trusting villagers.  But when a fire threatens to destroy the club house on Mr. Grant's gold course, Lucy becomes suspicious of the Vanhuysens when she finds herself suddenly surrounded by fire with no way to escape and realizes that Mrs. Vanhuysen is responsible to it.  Perhaps this refugee family isn't who or what they claim to be, after all.

Aside from the possible spy family story line, which is somewhat interesting, the novel provides a lot of Guide and Ranger information, from how patrols were formed, naming them, ranks and activities, to making uniforms.  And of course, there is the usual collection of girls with different personalities for added interest.  In fact, the reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement wrote of Lucy of the Sea Rangers that aside from the spy business "...which is distressingly inevitable by now, there is a healthily ordinary atmosphere about this story." (TLS November 20, 1943).

Lucy of the Sea Rangers is a fun look at guiding during the war in England and a bit of history not many people know about.

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

You probably know that Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret were Girl Guides when they were young, but did you also know that Queen Elizabeth became a Sea Ranger in 1943?


Two books that may be useful to anyone interested in Guiding in fact and fiction are
How the Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton  and
True to the Trefoil: A Celebration of Fictional Girl Guides by Tig Thomas, editor


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9. #671 – The Guardian Herd, #2: Stormbound by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Guardian Herd 2 Stormboundvv

 

The Guardian Herd #2: Stormbound

Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Published by Harper 2015
978-0-06-228609-3
309 pages Age 8—12 (+)
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“When Star received is powers on his first birthday, he became the most powerful pegasus in Anok. But many were afraid to follow the yearling colt and felt safer remaining with their over-stallions. The rest unified with Star and formed River Herd. Now his new herd is homeless and menaced by predators, causing Star to question his ability to keep them safe. And then the Blue Tongue plague appears. . . Mountain Herd is outgrowing its territory . . . Rockwing, hatches a plan to kidnap Morningleaf and . . . Nightwing the Destroyer is alive, and his rise to power threatens all of Anok.

“Star can heal, but he can also destroy, and he can’t help but question his purpose. Is he truly the one to unite the herds? Or will his dark powers overcome him?”

Review
Wow! Alvarez has outdone herself. Stormbound is a riveting, page-turner, just as Starfire—her debut—was before it, only Stormbound ratchets up the stakes to keep readers spell-bound. Star has survived his first birthday and received his star power, making him not only immortal, but the most powerful pegasus in all of Anok . . . as long as 400-year-old Nightwing the Destroyer remains in hibernation. He does not. Star reaching his first birthday awakens the beast, who must now destroy Star to remain the most powerful, and most dreaded, pegasus in all of Anok. Every inhabitant of Anok fears Nightwing, and with good reason.

The great majority of Stormbound is about gathering the herds to unite against Nightwing the Destroyer and survive, but not all are on board, mainly out of a fear of Star. Some, like Rightwing, are desperate to gain new land. His herd has outgrown its land and is now slowly starving to death. Fearing a rebuff by Star, Rightwing kidnaps Morningleaf as a bargaining chip. The Blue Tongue plague is wiping out Snow Herd, whose over-stallion fears Star more than the plague. All of these plots join to make a unified story that will keep the reader glued to the pages and anguished when Stormbound ends.

Alvarez uses one of the oldest writing techniques to keep readers on edge while waiting for her final installment: overwhelming suspense. The big battle between Nightwing the Destroyer (the original black foal), and Star (the new black foal), begins with a mutual sizing-up, and then . . . the final book of this trilogy cannot be released fast enough. It is the perfect ending to a most captivating and spellbound story that, dare I say, is as thrilling a read as Harry Potter.

There are two series out this year that I highly recommend to fans of action-adventure stories. The Guardian Herd is one. The other I’ll write about next week. That gives you enough time to grab The Guardian Herd #2: Stormbound, and, if new to this series, The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire, and enjoy this absolutely wonderful, imaginative, and addictive series. Stormbound can stand alone, but why miss the dramatic beginning to Star and the herds of Anok? And just how, if at all, does the “Territory of the Landwalkers” figure into Star’s story? Wherever you begin your journey in the land of Anok, Star, his friends, and enemies will stick with you for a very long time.

COMING SOON: The Guardian Herd #3: Landfall
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THE GUARDIAN HERD #2: STORMBOUND. Text copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Interior art copyright © by David McClellan. Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.
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Purchase The Guardian Herd #2: Stormbound at AmazonBook DepositoryHarperCollins.

Purchase The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire at AmazonBook DepositoryHarperCollins

Learn more about The Guardian Herd #2: Stormbound HERE.
Learn more about The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire HERE.  [reviewed here]

Ms. Alvarez interviews illustrator David McClellan HERE.  (with sketches)

Meet the Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website: http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com
Meet the illustrator, David McClellan,, at his website:  http://davemcclellan.blogspot.com
Find more middle grade novels at the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books’ website: http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com

Harper and HarperCollins Children’s Books are imprints of HarperCollins Publishing.

AWARDS for #1: STARFIRE
2014 ABC Best Books for Children: Middle Grade Novel (American Bookseller’s Association)
2014 Kid Lit Reviews Best Middle Grade Novel (as voted by readers)
6-Star Review on KLR

2014 MB hi res

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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Full Disclosure: The Guardian Herd #2: Stormbound, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, and received from Harper (an imprint of HarperCollins 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. This is disclosed in accordance with The Federal Trade Commission 16CFR, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: action-adventure, David McClellan, Harper, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Pegasus, The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire, The Guardian Herd #3: Landfill, The GuardianHerd #2: Stormbound

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10. MMGM Links (4/20/15)

Just got home from a very hectic (but awesome) festival (THANK YOU, KY!). So I'm putting the  MMGM links together on jet lag AND deadline brain. Sorry if there are errors!

- Carl at Boys Rule Boys Read has two fun posts this week. Click HERE to read his review of IT HAPPENED ON A TRAIN. And HERE for a post from two boy readers talking up books they loved.
- Susan Olson wants to TRAVEL TO TOMORROW. Click HERE for her review. 
- Rcubed is rallying support for SAVING LUCAS BIGGS. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Kim Aippersbach is feeling super about ALMOST SUPER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Michelle Mason is caught up in THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES. Click HERE to read what she thought.
- Jenni Enzor is chasing the WOODS RUNNER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Cindy Tran is feeling some love for SISTERS. Click HERE to see why.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--FIND THE WORM. Click HERE for all the details.   
- Myrna Foster is relishing THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is fighting for NINJA LIBRARIANS: THE ACCIDENTAL KEYHAND. Click HERE to read his feature. 
- The Page Turner also has a double feature this week. To see what she thought about A HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM, go HERE. And for THE SILVER BOWL go HERE.
- Rachel at What Rachel Wrote is spotlighting YOUNG FU OF THE UPPER YANGTZE. Click HERE to see why.  
- Dorine White sees nothing odd about ALISTAIR GRIM'S ODDITORIUM. Click HERE to find her review.  
- Jess at the Reading Nook is sweet on GENUINE SWEET. Click HERE to see her thoughts. 
- 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 (4/20/15) as of 4/20/2015 7:35:00 AM
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11. 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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12. #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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13. 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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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. #667 – LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser

cover - publisherx

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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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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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24. #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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25. Winners: 2014 Best Books on Kid Lit Review

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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)

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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!

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(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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