Monday, March 30, 2015

Small Review Talks Candidly About SERAPHINA

I thought it was pretty good, but nothing special. It's a neat, though not really unique, world where dragons transform into human form and live in a tense alliance with humans. There's all sorts of heavy handed shades of prejudice, fear, and related racial issues. There was a prior war. There is an impending war.

See? None of that is very unique or amazing, so I definitely am not in the camp that hails the world building as something uniquely special.

Read the entire review of SERAPHINA HERE:

Friday, March 27, 2015

THE NIGHT GARDENER Reviewed by Literary Hoots

With the Irish famine wiping the landscape, Molly and Kip are forced to travel to England to find whatever work they can. They are hired as servants in a creepy, crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be and the locals avoid at all costs. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious, dark specter and an ancient curse that threatens the lives of everyone in the house.

Read more about THE NIGHT GARDENER at Literary Hoots, HERE:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Write Stuff Reviews HERO by Sarah Lean

I have spent the last ten hours at a baseball field about an hour from our house watching our grandson play hard and have a lot of fun with a team other than his regular team that asked him to help them out this weekend. Today they played three games and we were there for all of them and all the time in between. My brain is fried. I'd love to write some brilliant new thing for you, but I'll be lucky if I can cut and paste correctly, but I'll try. Here is the review I wrote for San Francisco Book Review for Hero by Sarah Lean. I like her books and reviewed A Hundred Horses just about a year ago. If you missed it, click HERE to read that review. Here is my review for Hero.

The the complete review of HERO HERE

Monday, March 23, 2015

Times Travel Times Two Loves DINOSAUR COVE

I’ve fallen in love with the covers of the Dinosaur Cove series. Aren’t they just too cute?There are 26 books in all. In addition to the great pictures on the covers, there are line drawings that are exuberant and full of detail on about 75% of the pages. Attack of the Tyrannosauraus (Dinosaur Cove No. 1) (by Rex Stone, 2008, 68 pages) and many others in the series are out of print, but used copies are readily available. Alas, the covers of the more recently written ones partly follow the trend of title-words-as-image and are not quite as cute.

Read more about DINOSAUR COVE at Time Travel Times Two, HERE:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Avi's NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH Reviewed by Puss Reboots

Nothing but the Truth by Avi follows the unfolding events after a teacher has a boy suspended for humming along with the Star Spangled Banner every morning in homeroom. Through "documentary evidence", namely transcripts, letters and interviews, Avi presents the points of view of the different involved characters: the 9th grader, the English teacher, the Principal, and so forth.

My mother in law worked for twenty years as a high school math teacher. She describes teenagers as elementary school children in adult bodies. Clearly that's the case here with Philip Malloy. Being transferred from a rather liberal homeroom where the request for quiet isn't enforced, to a very strict room where I suspect an accidentally dropped pencil during the music would be cause of a trip to the office, is a rather disconcerting proposition for a teenager or for anyone.

Read Puss Reboots' complete review HERE:

Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel

Thursday, March 19, 2015



$1500 in prizes!

$40 Entry Fee

Any independently published book for children or teens in any genre is eligible. The overall winners in each category (children, middle grade, young adult) will each receive $500 and a year's worth of full-page ads in Middle Shelf Magazine (rate card value $4,500). In addition, more than 100 books deemed by the editors as "notable" entries will be featured in the November/December issue of Middle Shelf Magazine.

"Independently Published" books include self-published books and e-books, and/or books and e-books published through small presses releasing less than 5 titles per year. The competition is open to authors worldwide; books must be in English. Any length book and any publication date is eligible.

The deadline for entry is midnight on August 1, 2015. The winners will be notified by September 4, 2015.

See website for complete details on how to submit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ms. Yingling Reviews STINKY CECIL

Cecil is a toad who lives in a pond at the edge of town with his friends Sprout (a frog), Jeremy (a worm), Rayray (a lizard) and Reggie (a fly with a five day life span). After visiting Jeff the free-range hamster in his luxurious treehouse and getting picked up by a hawk, Cecil sees that there is a freeway coming right towards his habitat. Gathering his friends (including Jeff with his spiffy radio controlled car), Cecil tries to stop the construction in various ways, all of which prove unsuccessful. In the end, the group is saved when one of them turns out to be an endangered species.

Read Ms. Yingling's complete review HERE:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Always in the Middle Likes 'Finding the Worm' by Mark Goldblatt

Mark Goldblatt’s first book, TWERP, introduced us to 12-year-old Julian Twerski. He’s a smart kid with many thoughts about life and growing up. This sequel set in 1969-70, has Julian at age 13 returning to his journal writing. The story will have you laughing, crying, and thinking. It’s a funny book wrapped up in a serious one.

If you missed out on TWERP, you’ll be familiar with Julian’s gang of friends in no time. FINDING THE WORM is a separate story that stands well on its own. If you take the journey with Julian, he’ll seem like an old friend by the last page. I call that excellent writing. It also shows a male writer can push the emotional buttons instead of avoiding them. Everybody deserves to have someone in their life like Julian. He’s loyal and his story would be perfect for anyone at that awkward almost a teenager stage.

Read the complete review of FINDING THE WORM at Always in the Middle, HERE:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Word Spelunking Reviews 'Tunnel Vision'

Tunnel Vision is a fast-paced, smartly written story with a fascinating premise, likable hero, and enthralling storytelling. Susan Adrian mixes genres, with a little bit of mystery; thriller; and supernatural combined together to create a refreshing and captivating plot. The world Susan Adrian creates is a complex and layered one, with clever world-building. From mysterious men in suits, the steely DARPA agents, cryptic messages from Jake’s grandfather, and several twists; turns; and revelations, Tunnel Vision has such a thrilling and intense vibe. I found Jake’s tunneling ability to be super intriguing and wonderfully explored.

To read the complete review on Word Spelunking, click HERE

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Moonpenny Island Spotlighted by My New Tweendom

Flor and Sylvie are the best of friends.  They live on Moonpenny Island - a small island that only boasts 200 residents when all of the summer folks leave.  Even though Sylvie and Flor seem quite different from one another, they compliment each other very well.  Sylvie doesn't make fun of Flor's fears, and when she does laugh at her, it's not the kind of laugh that hurts her feelings.

Read more about Moonpenny Island on My New Tweendom HERE.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Literary Hoots Reviews Jason Segal's NIGHTMARES!

This book is pretty dark and depressing at first; Charlie is sleep-deprived, depressed, angry, and having terrible nightmares. Also, it's loooooong. Like, almost-didn't-finish long. The beginning seriously drags, and the actual conquering of fears requires a lot of work. So I was a little surprised that it's targeted to kids as young as 8 years (according to the publisher).

Read complete review on Literary Hoots HERE.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


The following blogs (S-Z) have been removed from Middle Grade Mania due to inactivity or not posting about middle grade books for the past three months.

If your blog is among these and you would like it reinstated, please send an email to lwredits at gmail dot com with a link to a recent post featuring a middle grade book (not picture books or young adult books.)

I'm sorry if these removals offend anyone, but this is a directory of current blogs that post regularly about books for middle grade readers. If you know of any blog that should be in the directory but isn't, please shoot me an email.

The next full update will occur in early 2016.

Thank you for understanding. 

* Alison's Book Marks 
So I'm Fifty
Tales of a Working Mom  
* There's A Book  

The following blog is currently under observation due to lack of activity:

* Youth Literature Reviews

Karen Langrish's blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles, has been moved to the Author List.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Diddakoi Reviewed on Middle Grade Strikes Back!

I'd never heard of The Diddakoi until someone recommended it during a #ukmgchat event on Twitter, which was on the theme of diversity in children's literature. I ordered a copy on that basis but, being a bit thick, I assumed the title was along the lines of The Gruffalo, or Jabberwocky or The Babadook, meaning I thought it was about a strangely-monikered monster. D'oh!

As I now know, "diddakoi" (or diddicoy/didicoi/didakai) is a pejorative slang word for "gypsy" or "Roma" or "traveller", as we would now say. 

Read the complete review HERE.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Operation Awesome Talks about MONSTROUS

The coolest thing about being a part of the online publishing community is that you get to see the genesis of all kinds of success stories.

I remember, for example, following The Writer's Voice contest in its first year, and seeing a particularly strong query+first page that was garnering a lot of requests. That page always stuck in my mind. And by the time I was fortunate enough to meet MarcyKate Connolly a year or so later, MONSTROUS was already on its way to become a book.

Read the complete post HERE.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe posts a list of participating blogs all posting about their favorite middle grade books. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday takes place every Monday right HERE.