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Search tags: Middle-Grade
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review 2018-09-23 03:28
The Creek by Jennifer L. Holm
The Creek - Jennifer L. Holm

 

First, pets go missing, and then a child is killed. Twelve-year-old Penny and her friends hear the gossip about Caleb and they, like all the parents, think he is the killer. After all, he terrorized the town before he was sent away and now he is back. 

 

The story was okay. The characters don't have a lot of depth and Caleb is basically just a shadow of evil. The final reveal is a bit of a stretch. But it was a quick read with some twists and creepy moments. It's aimed at middle-grade readers and I think that age group would enjoy it.

 

I read this for the Terrifying Women square:

 

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review 2018-09-20 05:22
The Lemonade Crime (audiobook) by Jacqueline Davies, narrated by Stina Nielson
The Lemonade Crime: Lemonade Series, Book 2 (MP3 Book) - Jacqueline Davies,Suzy Jackson

Evan and his little sister Jessie are both in the fourth grade, not because they're twins, but rather because Jessie skipped a grade. Jessie is particularly good at math, very focused, feels strongly that things should be fair, and believes that rules are meant to be followed.

When one of their classmates, Scott, announces that he now owns a fancy new Xbox 2020, Evan sees red. He knows exactly where Scott got the money for it - Scott stole that money, over two hundred dollars, from Evan's shorts when they were swimming at a friend's house. Evan doesn't have any proof that Scott did it, but it's the only explanation. Then Jessie comes up with a plan: she's going to bring the truth to light in a court of law created by her and her classmates.

I checked this out from my library's Overdrive without realizing that the library owned the first book in audio as well, or I'd have started with the first book instead. It looks like I'll be listening to this series out of order.

And I do plan on listening to the first book. I enjoyed this second book in the series more than I expected to, considering that Middle Grade fiction usually reads too young for me (yes, I know that's the point - I'm not the intended audience for these books and I realize that). Jessie and Evan were great characters, both flawed in their own ways but still good kids.

Jessie didn't quite feel like she fit in. I sympathized with her trouble figuring out where to hang out during recess (or was it lunch? I can't remember). The way she really got into her courtroom plan reminded me a bit of myself. I could imagine her tossing and turning in bed, unable to stop thinking about all the things she still needed to do before the trial. She'd taken on the responsibility of both setting up as realistic a trial as possible and acting as Evan's lawyer.

Evan was really into basketball and had a bit of a crush on one of his classmates, Megan, who was also his sister's friend. I hated the way Evan acted in one particular scene, but the good thing was that he hated how he'd acted too, once it was all over, and took the time to try to do something about it.

This ended in a way that was more peaceful and friendly than I expected, and I liked the layers it added to the characters.

The peeks at Scott's home life hinted at his motives, even if Evan couldn't see them, and I'm looking forward to finding out character information I missed by skipping the first book.

(spoiler show)


One nice detail: each chapter began with a definition of a term or phrase relating to courtroom proceedings (for example, "perjury"). Usually it was something illustrated by a character's words or actions in that particular chapter.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-09-16 23:48
Fairest - Gail Carson LevineĀ for A Grimm Tale
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

Meh. There were some nice changes from the standard Snow White, and I  quite liked that she wasn't beautiful at all, but downright ugly. But it will never be my favorite. Weirdly, whereas the musical aspect of Seraphina really engaged me, the constant singing just kind of annoyed me, and that is huge.

 

It's written for a middle grade audience, there's no sex, or drugs, or actual  murder, and the resolution is elegant. But it felt watered-down to me, way more so than the Disney version. It's first person, so there's no worry for the reader, but it goes beyond that: there is reference to revolution but I didn't believe it. The stakes felt really minor. Or maybe I'm bothered that the heroine only twice showed any initiative. She never made decisions she just did whatever she was told. At least Snow White comes up with the housekeeper idea, even if it is a stereotype.

 

Or it could just be that I've been tired and cranky all day despite the lovely rain.

 

Library copy 

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review 2018-09-07 16:47
The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park
The Adventures of Phatty & Payaso: Central Park - Marie Unanue

 

Phatty is a tabby cat who lives a luxurious life with his brothers Clyde and Stanley in a New York City apartment overlooking Central Park.  Phatty is usually scared and uncoordinated but is friendly and caring.  Every year Phatty looks forward to his friend Payaso visiting for the summer.  Payaso is well traveled, knows different languages and a lot about how things work. One day, an escaped hawk from teh zoo, Crawler comes to visit Phatty's window.  He threatens to hurt Phatty, Clyde and Stanly and steal their mother's jewels.  Phatty decides to overcome his fear and take care of Crawler.  He escapes to Central Park in hopes of finding Crawler's zoo keeper.  Phatty's friends race after him with the help of a boy named Max who can communicate in a different way and understands the animals.  Together, the friends will go on an adventure overcoming their fears.

An exciting adventure through the eyes of animals that revolves around conquering your fears, friendship and being your best self.  In the vein of A Pet's Life, The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park focuses on what the pets do when the humans are not around.  I think the middle grade audience would enjoy the variety of characters and their interactions.  Phatty is encouraged by his friends to come up with ideas to fend off Crawler as well as overcome his fears.  When Phatty is exploring Central Park he is able to learn even more about himself through the eyes of the many animals that live there in addition to making some new friends. I loved the addition of Max as well, a boy who seems have autism, though it is never mentioned.  He has trouble communicating with people, but can talk with animals just fine.  He shines as he helps the pets solve a series of problems as they track Phatty through Central Park.  Another important part of the story was the treatment of Crawler's character.  Although he was the bully of the story, the characters were able to realize the deeper reason for his actions and help him rather than retaliate.  Overall, a fun animal adventure with plenty of life lessons for a middle grade reader.


This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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text 2018-09-04 23:21
Reading progress update: I've read 57 out of 377 pages.
The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

Re reading for bookclub 

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