Monday, May 25, 2015


A thrilling and unique middle grade story the presents the reader with delightful inventions and intense magic usage. I really enjoyed learning about the Odditorium and all the creations it contained. In fact, the main draw of the story was trying to figure out what Alistair Grim's secrets were, and how they all fit together. The author deals out the hints slowly, building up tension and presenting the reader with interesting puzzles.

Read the complete review on THE WRITE PATH.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mother Daughter Book Reviews Recommends THE UNDERGROUND PRINCESS

When we last left the inhabitants of the charming underground kingdom, Balderdash, Princess Scarlet had found her true love in the loyal pirate knight Roland, the evil Maleer was defeated, King Hurlock was happily ruling his kingdom alongside the mystical shaman, and Prince Kaylan was welcomed into Balderdash as King Hurlock’s adopted son.  Fast forward three years and we see that Balderdash is burgeoning with “life”.  But despite the prosperity, peace, and happiness spread throughout the kingdom, Kaylan feels like an outsider.
One day, as Kaylan and Scarlet’s pet owl Screech are exploring the caverns surrounding the kingdom, they run across two thugs towering threateningly over a frightened young woman, all human and much too close to Balderdash for comfort. Contemplating rescuing the girl, Kaylan must make an important decision which may place the entire kingdom in danger.  But an even greater danger presents itself when Kaylan goes above ground and encounters a familiar face intent on conquering the underworld.


The Underground Princess by J.W. Zulauf

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Books 4 Your Kids Recommends THE MAINE COON'S HAIKU

I love cats and I love haiku, so it makes sense that I find The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Lee White absolutely charming and fascinating. The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers consists of 20 poems, one each for a different breed of cat, divided into four sections that any cat owner will immediately recognize: Inside, Outside, Inside and Outside. If you are a cat owner and know anything about haiku, then you know that felines are the perfect subject for this style of poetry.

Read the entire review on BOOKS 4 YOUR KIDS

Monday, May 18, 2015


Inventions That Could Have Changed the World...But Didn't! is exactly the kind of book that my ten-year-old self would have devoured in a single sitting. It's sort of a curiosity cabinet of commercially unsuccessful inventions and the people who devised them. Each failed invention is described briefly -- usually in less than half a page -- and accompanied by cartoon illustrations, patent drawings, photos, or some combination of these.

Read the entire review on FOR THOSE ABOUT THE MOCK.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Le Grande Codex Likes ARSENIC FOR TEA

Our joyous pair of school girl detectives Daisy Wells & Hazel Wong are back for another spiffing case. Its the holidays and they (Daisy & Hazel) are at Fallingford, Daisy's home for her birthday. Invited are family, friends and few extras for a birthday tea. And one of the lot doesn't see the light of the next day/ With storm raging and floods setting in, home suddenly feels much more dangerous.

Read the complete review at LE GRANDE CODEX.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Welcome to Battle of the Book Covers, a new feature here at Middle Grade Mania. In keeping with last week's theme of silhouettes, here are four more new releases utilizing the same style.

In Judy Young's Promise, a simple image of a crow appears on a yellow background. Having read Promise (I loved it!) I can tell you that it fits the story very well.

The Trap by Steven Arnston has a night sky background, as does Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu. But Arnston's straigtforward unembellished title is surrounded by images mirrored on either side of the book. While neither the title or the images reveal much of what to expect from the story, the layout is effective and attractive. Haydu's cover is accompanied by a gold star and a clever visual for the title.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan places the silhouettes of children almost inconspicuously at the bottom, while the large sweeping title takes center stage.

What do you think of how these covers succeed or fail to take advantage of silhouettes? Which appeals to you the most? Why?