Middle Grade Book Review – The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Jun 22

After the recent killing of Harambe the Gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo, I was reminded of  one of my favorite books, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

 

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Katherine’s story of Ivan, a gorilla living on display at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade is a poignant look inside his life.    Ivan’s story is told by Ivan himself, in short verses.  True to Katherine Applegates style, I was drawn in by Ivan immediately.  I felt for him as he remembered bits and pieces of the past and how he came to live on display.

Ivan’s point of view also guides the reader through his present life,  of humans gaping at him, his art, his friend the elephant Stella and Bob a stray dog.  It’s not until a baby elephant arrives, Ruby, that Ivan begins to see and want to make a change.  He knows that their lives could all be better.  But how?

“The One and Only Ivan” has some stark realities that may be new to the reader, in the end, Ivan succeeds in his  wish of a better life for himself and all his friends.   Ivan will make the reader cry and laugh, get angry and think about change and how we can make things better.

 

 

 

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Young Adult Book Review – Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

Jun 15

Author Jessica Taylor, has crafted an amazing tale in her Young Adult novel, “Wandering Wild.” It’s a story of family, love, hopes and dreams and sometimes doing something painful to be where you need to be.

Wandering Wild

Wandering Wild

The characters Jessica created are likable and real. Talia “Tal” and her brother Wen belong to a family of Wanderers, where they’ve learned to live by cons and scams. Tal, wants more. She wants to wander on her own, travel to places a Wanderer would never go. But she’s got two problems:

1) She’s been bought and paid for, and her groom comes calling for her.

2) She fell in love with a Markie, a non-wanderer. Unknowingly, Tal has set in motion a chain of events that can’t be undone.

I never like to give away and ending, so you’ll have to read it for yourself to see if Tal adheres to the Wanderer’s life and goes with the man who bought and paid for her, or go the way of the Markies?

You can get a copy of your own here:

Barnes and Noble.com

Amazon.com

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Book Review Blitz: Finn’s Rocket A Surfer Catches Air

Dec 07

Rocket-front cover

About the Book

Title: Finn’s Rocket: A Surfer Catches Air (Finn’s Fast Books, Book #3) | Authors: Serena Schreiber | Publication Date: November 1, 2015 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 176 | Recommended Ages: 7 to 12

Amazon * Goodreads

Book Description:

Finn’s summer vacation plans didn’t include leaving the planet.

When his little sister gets kidnapped from space camp, Finn will do anything and go anywhere to get her back. Even the international space station.

 

The Buzz About “Finn’s Fast Books”

Finn’s Ship: The story blends Finn’s American upbringing with his German heritage, acquainting the reader with the many similarities and differences in food, culture, language, transportation and family values.~ Candy 613, Amazon

Finn’s Ship: The author did a marvelous job bringing the characters to life and making the reader feel apart of each scene.~ Glen G., Amazon

Finn’s Car: I really enjoyed reading this book! Very fun to read and it’s something that teens will love to read. I recommend it to everyone!~ Jocelyn, Amazon

Finn’s Car: A well-paced, funny and highly infectious read!~ Bree W., Amazon

My Review of  “Finn’s Fast Books”

If your young reader likes action and adventure they will enjoy Finn’s Rocket. Although, I was slightly confused about the appropriate age group, I believe this is a good fit for a middle grader.
It’s packed full of interesting characters, suspense, surfing, space, science and more. I love the relationship between Finn and his sister, they’re both smart and brave with a sense of humor. The family’s life style may be a little bit out of this world, but that’s ok, that’s what reading is for, to escape, imagine and dream.
I would say boys and girls a like would like Finn’s Rocket: A Surfer Catches Air. Serena, has a done a great job in capturing the voice and characterization of all the characters in the is book

 

About the Author: Serena Schreiber

serenaschreiberFirst published in Brooklyn in third grade, Serena Schreiber took a circuitous route through Europe to settle in Florida. When not writing for kids or scientists, she follows her other muse, fantasy. She’s a happy co-conspirator of Florida Writers Association Youth Program and runs the Howl at the Moon Writers Jam. Serena has two amazing children, a handsome husband, and a turtle named Bolt.

Author Website | Book Website

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

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Book Review: My Partner the Ghost by Lisa Schmid

Nov 24

My Partner the Ghost” is a full of fun, quirky and believable characters.  Ollie’s mom is on the move again, this time she has dragged her family of three back to her hometown.  Ollie, is clearly out of his element with his actress mother and want to be big star little sister, but he endures – even though it means moving into a pink house.
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Soon, weird things began to happen, and Ollie actually makes a new friend –  Teddy a ghost, a boy who died during the gold rush era and happens to be about Ollie’s age.  Teddy helps Ollie get adjusted to life in the new town, helps him defeat his arch rival Mary Kay to become class president.  They also happen to solve a 100 year old mystery.  Where did Teddy’s father bury his pile of gold?  This book is chocked full of action, adventure and fun.  Any reader who is fluent with chapter books and ready to make the next step up will find this a good fit.

Purchase “My Partner the Ghost” on Amazon

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Book Review: Maple by Lori Nichols

Nov 03

Now that Halloween has passed, it’s time for some not so scary stories.

One of  my new favorites is a book I picked up this last summer at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA: “Maple” written and illustrated by Lori Nichols.

 

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The story starts out with, “Maple loved her name.  When she was still a whisper, her parents planted a tiny tree in her honor!”

The story unfolds with Lori’s beautiful illustrations and we watch Maple grow with her tree.  Maple always has a playmate in her tree, even if she isn’t always the best of playmates, sometimes she a bit loud, but she does take care of her tree.  Then, something wonderful happens, Maple gets a little sister, Willow.  Maple learns that babies cry and demand attention.  But, Maple and her tree know just what to do.

The illustrations are amazing and will quickly spark the imagination in your child.  I recommend “Maple” and “Maple and Willow”.  These books will become treasures to pass down.

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Scary Book Quote from “Wait Till Helen Comes”

Oct 23

“Michael, please get up.  Please.  I saw Helen, I saw her!” My voice quivered and my heart beat faster as I remembered what I’d seen in the graveyard.  “She was horrible, more horrible than even I imagined.” Molly in Wait Till Helen Comes.

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Middle Grade Reader Scary Bedtime Stories – If You Dare

Oct 20

In a follow up to last week’s post “Scary Bedtime Stories – If You Dare” which was geared toward younger readers,  this  week’s scary bedtime stories are for middle grade readers.  These are spooky, scary, magical and mysterious – your middle grader may want to sleep with the lights on.

Again, jump up on a comfy mattress, get a blanket to cover yourself up, a flashlight and maybe a teddy bear or something else to cuddle, and start reading.

Wait Till Helen Comes 

by Helen Downing Hahn

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This book is a little older, written in 1986 but it still packs a punch for scary.  Molly and her brother Michael have a step-sister, Heather, that they don’t really like and with good reason.  She has made their lives miserable ever since their parents got married.  And, to make life worse for Molly and Michael, they’ve moved to a new house in the country.  The new house, just happens to be an old church and has a cemetery in the back yard. Spooky enough already.  But, the story really gets creepy when Heather starts talking to a ghost named Helen and she starts warning Molly and Michael that Helen is coming for them.  Dark secrets, ghosts, graves and a creepy step-sister will keep you scared through-out the entire book.

 

The Mostly True Story of Jack

by Kelly Barnhill

 

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One of my favorites!   Jack is sent away to live in Hazelwood, Iowa with his aunt and uncle, who are very STRANGE.  Jack doesn’t expect much for his summer, except a boredom because usually he goes unnoticed, like he’s invisible.   Little does he know, the town of Hazelwood has been waiting for him for a long time. Creeped out yet?   Almost immediately upon arrival he makes three new friends, who just happen to be imaginary.  Jack also becomes the the center of attention to the town bully and the richest man in town who want Jack gone.   Don’t be fooled,  this book is chocked full of  suspense, twists and turns, magic and deeply rooted secrets.  I don’t want to give too much away, but look close at the cover, the creepy house, the tentacle like roots and Jack’s three friends following him on bikes.

 

Long Lankin

by Lindsey  Barraclough

 

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This one comes from the other side of the pond, Great Britain,  and takes place during WWII.  I like to call this a good old fashioned horror tale, it will keep you up at night.  Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdo.  Auntie Ida is rigid and unfriendly.  The girls want nothing to do with Auntie Ida and the village, they want to go home  to London.   The reason they were sent to live with Aunt Ida to live, is to keep them safe from the bombs being dropped all over London.  But living in the isolated village with Aunt Ida is a fate which is worse than being back in London.  The sisters soon discover the evil curse and that their aunt’s life which was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall.   Cora makes friends with Roger and Peter, two village boys, and together they uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries.   Little do they know the curse is about to come full circle and it’s up to the group of friends to put a stop to it.

I think these three selections are enough to keep any middle grader scared and riveted at the same time.  Just make sure you have plenty of room in your bed when they come running from the nightmares.

 

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