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Search tags: Middle-grade
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review 2017-05-25 17:04
Lemons by Melissa Savage
Lemons - Melissa Savage

Friends, this is an absolutely wonderful story. You all know that I consistently praise Middle Grade books for dealing so well with life lessons, and tough topics. Lemons is a shining example of exactly that. It was fitting, I think, that I was working my way through my own loss right around the time I was in the middle of reading this book. Middle Grade or not, this book really helped me sort things out. As Lemonade learned and grew, I worked my way through my issues right along with her. Which should tell you how wonderfully written Melissa Savage's book really is. Lemons is a wonderful story, no matter what age group you happen to fall in.

Lemonade Liberty Witt is the kind of character that I fall instantly in love with, every time. She's quirky, fiesty, and strong in a way that only young people who have suffered an unexpected loss can be. At the same time, she's every one of us no matter what our age. She's lost, confused, hurt, and feels like she may be drowning in her own sorrow. Tough on the outside, hurting on the inside, and just trying to make it all okay. I felt for her so deeply, and loved her all the more for it.

On the flip side is darling Tobin. Dealing with his own loss, in a completely different way, and just as quirky and original as Lemonade. When these two met, I just knew exciting things were going to happen. The fact that the backdrop of this story includes Bigfoot hunting? Well, that just made it all the more perfect. I wanted to believe in them just as much as Tobin did, and I wasn't at all disappointed.

Honestly though, I could gush about this book for paragraph upon paragraph. I loved the relationships between the characters, the unexpected friendships that were made, and the fact that everyone seemed to care so much for one another. I won't lie, I teared up more than a few times while reading this. It's tough not to when you're remembering the good times about people who have passed. Whether they are happy tears or sad tears, well, I'll let Lemonade school you on that.

I highly recommend this book to any young reader out there, and think it would make an excellent parent-child buddy read. Give it a shot! You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

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review 2017-05-25 03:05
Book 30/100: Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods

Zoe in WonderlandZoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun, sweet coming-of-age book about a daydreaming loner whose interest in the world beyond her mind is just beginning to be awakened. Well-drawn secondary characters, especially Zoe's next-door neighbor, and deals eloquently with some tough topics (cancer, financial instability, senility) without feeling too heavy.

View all my reviews

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review 2017-05-24 01:03
The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1) by Adrienne Kress
The Explorers: The Door in the Alley - Adrienne Kress

So much fun! That was the first coherent thought that raced through my brain as I crossed the finish line of The Door in the Alley. Everyone knows that I love a good middle grade book. Coincidentally, my favorite type of middle grade book though, is the kind that doesn't talk down to its readers. The kind that is smart, funny, and filled with adventure. That, my friends, is exactly what The Door in the Alley is. It is a wonderful ride!

Our story begins with Sebastian, a studious and mild mannered boy who loves to stick to the rules. So, of course, when his path is crossed by a pig in a teeny hat, he's not sure what to make of it. When that same pig then leads him into an adventure that he never expected, that's where things really take off! I loved watching poor Sebastian, with his rigid ideas of the way the world worked, suddenly thrown into the madness that was The Explorer's Society. His personality was the perfect contrast to such an imaginative place, and looking at this new world through his eyes was fascinating.

Then Evie entered the picture, and things got even more exciting. Imagine finding out that you've actually been part of a grand cover up your entire life. That you've always felt that you were ignored, and are now the most important person in the story! That's exactly what happened to Evie, and I warmed to her instantly. She's the type of character who I love, because she isn't quite sure of herself and yet does what needs to be done anyway.

Oh, and the adventure! If you have a young reader (or, like me, are just a young reader at heart) who loves books like A Series of Unfortunate Events, this is the book for you. It's funny, a bit worrisome at times, and full to the brim with courageousness and growth. Both Evie and Sebastian, although completely different in personalities, were absolute perfection in this story. You'll giggle, you'll gasp, and you'll love every minute of it. Pick this up! It's well worth your time. Meanwhile I'll be sitting here, eagerly awaiting their next adventure.

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review 2017-05-24 00:59
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior - Mark Siegel,Alexis Siegel,Xanthe Bouma,Matt Rockefeller,Boya Sun

Since you are all well aware of my obsession with Middle Grade fiction at this point, let's go ahead and skip that. Can we instead please focus on the growing existence of Middle Grade graphic novels? I am so pleased that there are more and more of these out there, and I'm determined to champion all of them! Kazu Kibuishi's blurb had me from the moment I saw this book. So I was thrilled when I was asked to join the blog tour. Warning: there's some gushing ahead. Let's go ahead and get the small qualms that I had out of the way first, though.

 

I think this graphic novel could definitely have benefited from a bit more action. It was heartening to see that the authors weren't afraid to bring the real idea of war alive on these pages. I love when MG readers aren't treated with kid gloves. However I think this book needed to move at a bit quicker of a pace. The illustrations are gorgeous, (I can't wait to actually see them all in color.) but some of the filler panels felt like a bit much. I wanted more of Oona's quest, more of their desperate rush to save the day, and just more tension in general. This first volume was missing that epic feeling that stories like this usually have for me.

 

That being said, the characters were absolutely lovely. Oona, An Tzu and Jax were all vivid, and easy to fall in love with. I loved how each of them came from a different background. The concept of race is alive and well in this book, and the idea of racism is gently touched upon as well. It makes me happy to see authors putting these things out into the world for readers of this age group to start to digest. Oona overhears people of different worlds talking badly about people of other worlds, and making mean jokes. She sees some people get upset about what others are saying. Young readers can start to get a grasp here on unity, diversity, and especially empathy. It's an amazing thing.

 

Add in the fact that the ending of this book has a twist I wasn't expecting, complete with a cliffhanger, and you have my complete attention. Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel have started something beautiful and magical with the 5 Worlds series. They've opened up a dialog that I think is important, in a way that is easy to digest and a lot of fun to read! Readers, young and old alike, will love this series. My only regret is that there isn't more of Oona's story to devour yet. I NEED to know what happens next.

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review 2017-05-20 21:44
Book Review of Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester
Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy - Maxine Sylvester,Maxine Sylvester

Ronaldo is the top flying cadet at the prestigious Reindeer Flying Academy. He dreams of getting his flying license and becoming one of Santa's reindeer, just like his hero, Vixen.

 

In the first adventure in the Ronaldo series, the second year flying cadets face their toughest ever flying test – The Endurance Challenge. Will Ronaldo be victorious and lift the silver cup? Or will mean brothers Dasher, Comet and Prancer ruin his chance for success?

 

Review 5*

 

This the first book in a new chapter book series aimed at 5-10 year olds. I loved it!

 

Ronaldo is a fantastic character. He is a young reindeer, trying to follow in the footsteps of his Granddad and his hero, Vixen, as a cadet in the Reindeer Flying Academy. He is determined to become one of Santa's reindeer. I really liked his determination, perseverance and courage.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a positive review.

 

First off, I would like to say that I love the cover. It captures the story perfectly. Secondly, the story was completely entertaining. There are some interesting characters to go with the story and one of my favourites (besides Ronaldo) is his best friend Rudi. He is funny, kind and sweet, though he would probably deny it.

 

The story is short, but it is full of action. It also full of educational tit bits about hygiene, keeping warm in freezing weather, building confidence, perseverance and determination. There is also a little bit about bullying. I found it a joy to read. Being a chapter book, it is perfect for a child to read on their own (depending on reading ability and age of course), and will keep them hooked. If you have a child/children with short attention spans, it would be easy to read a chapter or two with them before bedtime. I loved the Endurance Challenge scene as I love hot chocolate too, so I could imagine Ronaldo flying around thinking about it keeping him warm; I know it keeps me warm on cold winter nights. The story is also peppered with humourous events that will thoroughly entertain the young reader. There are also illustrations of the characters and the events that are extremely well drawn and compliment the book perfectly. Ronaldo learns a valuable lesson in the story and, hopefully, the child reading it will too. I must admit that I did feel sad when I reached the end of the book. Not because it ended sadly (because it didn't), but because the story had finished. I am now looking forward to reading more of Ronaldo's adventures when I have a chance.

 

Maxine Sylvester has written a fabulous chapter book. I love her imagination. I also love her writing style, which is fast paced but not rushed, it also has a lot of warmth and humour woven into it and is easy for a child to follow. The flow is wonderful and kept me turning the pages. I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

I highly recommend this book to young readers aged 5-10, but as this book can be read to children younger than this by their parents, I also recommend this book to children aged 3 upwards. I also recommend this book to adults who love reading chapter/middle grade books. - Lynn Worton

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