Sunday, August 20, 2017


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grad Monday where Middle Grade Mania spotlights the newest upcoming releases for your young reader!


Deborah Lytton
Ages 8 - 12
Release Date: August 1, 2017

Ruby Starr has always loved books. She loves them so much that she started a lunchtime book club called The Unicorns. She also has the best friends ever—some real, some fictional—and that's just the way she likes it.

But then one dark and stormy night (okay it was the morning of a sunny day) Charlotte, a new student comes to town. Ruby knows from her books that a new character probably means trouble...and she's right! Charlotte wants to turn the book club into a drama club, and she's spending a lot of time with Ruby's best friend.

Ruby's going to have to use her imagination and love of reading to solve this big problem before she loses her school friends and her book friends for good.

Friday, August 18, 2017

YORK: Reviewed by Books4YourKids

Perhaps because of my early and abiding love for E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I never pass up the chance to read a middle grade mystery filled with puzzle clues, maps and museums, especially if the book is set in New York City, which seems to be THE place for this specific genre. However, this is a genre of kidlit that is especially challenging to write. It's hard to keep the plot complex and suspenseful while also making sure that it is reasonable and as realistic as possible. York: The Shadow Cipher  by Laura Ruby does all of this and more. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SUMMER OF LOST & FOUND reviewed by Akossiwa Ketoglo

by Rebecca Behrens
Reviewed by Akossiwa Ketoglo

During her stay on the island of Roanoke with her Archeobotanist mother, Nell befriends a boy equally curious about the truth behind the Lost Colony and together they set out to uncover it.
The story was sweet, fun, adventurous and a surprising page turner. I loved how it was told in dual point of views, one in the past with the narrator unknown and the second in the present being Nell. I appreciated the realistic approach the author took as in, Nell couldn’t experience the adventures she went on without some level of disobedience and a few white lies (or flat out lies) here and there. The conclusion was satisfying without being perfect and made me shed a few tears.


Sunday, August 13, 2017


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grad Monday where Middle Grade Mania spotlights the newest upcoming releases for your young reader!


Patricia Forde
Ages 10 - 14
Release Date: August 8, 2017

The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth. To make sure humans are able to survive, everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words.
Everyone that is, except Letta.

As apprentice to the Wordsmith, Letta can read all the words that have ever existed. Forbidden words like freedom, music, and even pineapple tell her about a world she's never known.

One day her master disappears and the leaders of Ark tell Letta she is the new Wordsmith and must shorten List to fewer and fewer words. Then Letta meets a teenage boy who somehow knows all the words that have been banned. Letta's faced with a dangerous choice: sit idly by and watch language slowly slip away or follow a stranger on a path to freedom . . . or banishment.

Friday, August 11, 2017

MURDER IS BAD MANNERS: Reviewed by The Booktalk Blog

I debated whether to include this book on my list last fall. A murder mystery for middle-grade readers? A dead teacher on the gymnasium floor? I though the book was really well done, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received by fifth and sixth grade students.

Turns out, they loved it.

It often came up as a favorite when I surveyed kids at the end of my presentation. Twice in the first two weeks, I had to tug it out of a fifth grader’s hands when I was leaving. One girl asked if she could please keep it — she was already hooked in the first five minutes. I explained that it was my display copy and I had to use it for other classes. Her response: “Can I have it after school then?”

The Wells and Wong Mystery series continues with Poison is Not Polite and First Class Murder.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

REVENGE OF THE GREEN BANANA review on A Year of Reading

by Jim Murphy
Reviewed on A Year of Reading

The Reading Without Walls challenge gets you out of your reading comfort zones and introduces you to new characters, settings, genres, or formats.

A funny story set in a Catholic school in the late 1950's that features a group of 6th grade boys (and one wacko second grader) plotting a revenge of reciprocal humiliation on Sister Angelica, their teacher, is definitely not my bailiwick. I described some of the details and read aloud a couple of scenes to the resident Catholic School Lifer, and he thought it all rang very true (and was very funny). Would a reader without such a resource buy into the Catholic School setting? Are the references to the 1950s/1960s strong enough to give a clear sense of "historical" fiction? Perhaps, perhaps not, but any reader who wants to enjoy a funny story about an underdog who tries to get revenge, but who stumbles on his own foibles at every turn, will enjoy this book.


Sunday, August 6, 2017


Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday where Middle Grade Mania spotlights new books for your young reader!

Amy Stewart
Algonquin Young Readers
Ages 8 - 12
Release Date: August 8, 2017

Did you know there are zombie bugs that not only eat other bugs but also inhabit and control their bodies? There’s even a wasp that delivers a perfectly-placed sting in a cockroach’s brain and then leads the roach around by its antennae — like a dog on a leash. Scorpions glow in ultraviolet light. Lots of bugs dine on corpses. And if you want to know how much it hurts to get stung by a bullet ant (hint: it really, really hurts), you can consult the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. It ranks the pain produced by ants and other stinging creatures. How does it work? Dr. Schmidt, the scientist who created it, voluntarily subjected himself to the stings of 150 species.

Organized into thematic categories (Everyday Dangers, Unwelcome Invaders, Destructive Pests, and Terrible Threats) and featuring full-color illustrations by Briony Morrow-Cribbs, Wicked Bugs is an educational and creepy-cool guide to the worst of the worst of insects, arachnids, and other arthropods. This is the young readers adaptation of Amy Stewart’s bestselling book for adult readers.

Friday, August 4, 2017

HENRY HUGGINS: Reviewed by The Book Nut

I realized last year, when doing my kids summer book club, that part of what drew people to it was the chance to revisit books the parents loved as a kid, and to share them with their kids. So, I decided to revisit one of my favorite authors this year: Beverly Cleary.

Now, I say she was one of my favorite authors, but in all honesty, the only books I ever read by her were the Ramona ones, which I adored. I think my brothers may have read some of the others, but I didn’t. So, I consciously picked the books I hadn’t read for this group. (I missed the Beezus and Ramona week. I am going to have to reread that one on my own time!)

Henry Huggins is living a boring life. That is, until a stray dog finds him. And then, all of a sudden, Henry’s life becomes SO much more adventuresome.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

THE MERLIN CONSIPIRACY reviewed by A Library Mama

by Diane Wynn Jones
Reviewed on A Library Mama

Nick, a secondary character from Deep Secret, lives in our London, wishing he could find a way to travel to the other worlds he knows are out there. He is at a convention with his dad, who hopes to meet one of his favorite authors.  (Diversity note: Nick’s dad is adoptive, and Nick himself, while from another world and raised in England, looks South Asian.) One step later and Nick finds himself in another world, boarding a strange flying machine as part of the magical security team for that very different England’s prince.  It takes him a while to realize that he’s really there, long enough to create some serious trouble, like running afoul of the powerful priests of a third world and  befriending a world-wandering elephant name Mini.