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Search tags: middle-grade-novel
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review 2018-02-20 19:24
When You Reach Me
When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

Author:  Rebecca Stead

Rating:  4 stars


***Newberry Medal Winner 2010***


This book was so good!


I'm trying to figure out how to describe it without giving the twists away. Hmmm... 


I'm going to stick with the blurb: 


"By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. 
I ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late."


Miranda is a great young heroine. She is making her way through adolescence and that uncomfortable time when being friends with boys changes and you realize your parents aren't perfect.  As I was reading and picked up on the science fiction angle I thought - this book is a genuinely good middle-grade novel, there's no need for the all this. But I stand corrected. I loved it. I loved how all the threads came together at the end.


I liked how unique and quirky all the characters were! Even now I'm a little down the book is over. 


Definitely recommend. 

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review 2018-02-19 23:21
Imagine: The Great Flood by Matt Koceich
The Great Flood - Matt Koceich The Great Flood - Matt Koceich

“Imagine: The Great Flood” is a short, quick read. Combining a time-travel adventure with Biblical history, Koceich crafts an inspirational story for young readers, drawing parallels between the two. The tale opens in modern-day Texas, where ten-year-old Corey Max is having a hard time dealing with an upcoming move that his family will be making to Florida. He suddenly finds himself immersed in ancient Mesopotamia, where preparations for Noah’s ark are almost complete. However, powerful opposition threatens to interrupt the project and bring harm to Noah’s family. As Corey works together with Noah’s sons, he comes to understand similarities to his own situation and wonders if he will ever have a chance to get back home. Although this is a short book, it packs plenty of action and lessons about trusting God into its pages, making it a great choice for kids.

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review 2018-02-09 14:57
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook - Leslie Connor

Author: Leslie Connor

Rating: 5 stars


I struggled with this premise yall.


A middle-grade novel about a boy being RAISED IN A MINIMUM SECURITY PRISON struck me as ridiculous and idealistically implausible. My brain kept screaming  A CHILD DOES NOT BELONG IN A PRISON.


I'm not quite sure All Rise circumvents those concerns. But it was heartwarming and enjoyable. I know that probably makes no sense, but it's my honest opinion and you'll just have to read the book to see if you agree. 


Perry's mother, Jessica,  is in jail for a "mistake" she made when she was 18. She realized she was pregnant shortly after being incarcerated. The warden steps in and becomes the foster parent of the baby.  The warden creates a room for the child - Perry- at the prison so Jessica can raise him. Perry attends school, is kinda the prison mascot and is friends with *some* of the "rezs".   It is stressed that all of the prisoners are non-violent and the ones that are dangerous - this is a prison lest we forget- are referred to as the "cold ones" and Perry stays away from them. The cold ones stay on the periphery of the story. Which seems appropriate when you consider that is where Jessica and Perry mentally keep the harsh circumstances around them. As I read this story, my objections to the premise began to calm down and you begin to see the residents as Perry's friends and as complex people who made mistakes. 


The villain in the story, if you want to call him that, is a prosecutor who becomes aware of the situation. Perry is the worst kept secret in town so he learns of what is going on. He has Perry removed from the prison and takes him into his own family to show him a better life. This brings up interesting thoughts on what is best for a child, what is home, belief in redemption, forgiveness. The prosecutor is not all bad. I couldn't hate him when he was just voicing my same knee-jerk objections. 


Perry is an optimistic and lovable little boy who always looks for the good in every situation. He is slow to anger and is probably the most well-rounded character in the story. You root for Perry the whole book.


The secondary characters were wonderful. One of my favorite characters in the story which is Mrs. Samuels - the prosecutor's wife. While she supports her husband, she supports Perry as well. She reads as submissive but you learn she is no pushover.  I really enjoyed her character. 


Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. I would even re-read it when I need a feel-good read. It was a pleasant surprise.






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review 2018-02-08 13:34
Flora and Ulysses
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures - K.G. Campbell,Kate DiCamillo

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Rating: 2.5 stars


Newberry Medal Winner 2014


Book Blurb:  Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. 


It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry - and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.


I should've liked this. A girl who reads comics and says things like "Holy Unanticipated Occurrences!"  A superhero squirrel that flies and loves poetry. Positive messages on connection and dealing with change... 


But I just could not connect with and/or get into this one. I closed the book and said "Meh". Maybe it's cuz I'm not the target demographic? Hmmm. Maybe. That's never stopped me before though. 


2.5 stars.

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review 2018-02-07 17:33
What did the Frenchman ever do to you?
Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: Twenty Chilling Tales from the Wilderness - Hal Johnson,Tom Mead

I think if I had a new copy of this book I would have had the benefit of seeing the illustrations in their original glow-in-the-dark awesomeness. As it is, I got this from the library and it had seen many days under the sun (and probably some under a flashlight to really get all the juice out of it).

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness by Hal Johnson with illustrations by Tom Mead is a children's graphic novel that certainly delivered what it set out to with that supremely long title. This is definitely a middle grade title and I wouldn't recommend reading this to your elementary aged child before bedtime (unless they're tough as nails). It would however make a fantastic Halloween read aloud. ;-) The book consists of short stories depicting different monstrous creatures of lore and how they were discovered, captured (if they ever were), and killed their victims. Each story is accompanied by illustrations of the creatures overlaid with the glow-in-the-dark ink I mentioned at the beginning. The illustrations are FANTASTIC. I also felt like the stories were the perfect length if you were using them to read aloud to kids. Since there are 20 you could read one a day on the lead up to Halloween. However, in the spirit of full transparency, I need to point out that it seemed as if the author had something against Frenchman (they were abused quite a lot throughout) which did make me quite uncomfortable at several points. If not for that, this would have been a fully enjoyable little collection of monster stories. As it stands, I'll go with a 7/10.


An example of the illustrative style and writing. [Source: Barnes & Noble]


What's Up Next: The Unreal and the Real: Where on Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin


What I'm Currently (Re)Reading: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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