Orbiting Jupiter

In Middle Grade Book Review, YA Book Reviews on November 14, 2017 at 7:12 pm


by Gary D. Schmidt

Contemporary Fiction/©2015/Recommended for Grade 7 and Up

Publisher Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

 When Jack meets his new foster brother, he already knows three things about him:

Joseph almost killed a teacher.

He was incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain.

He has a daughter. Her name is Jupiter. And he has never seen her.

What Jack doesn’t know, at first, is how desperate Joseph is to find his baby girl.

Or how urgently he, Jack, will want to help.

But the past can’t be shaken off. Even as new bonds form, old wounds reopen. The search for Jupiter demands more from Jack than he can imagine.

This tender, heartbreaking novel is Gary D. Schmidt at his best.

My Thoughts:

This is a short, quiet book that draws you in and packs an emotional wallop. The author has a way of effortlessly drawing out emotions in every scene, without ever making you feel like you’re being manipulated.

I love everything he writes, but I think this may be my new favorite. It didn’t take long to read (you can read this in one sitting!), but it will stay with you long after you turn the last page. It pulls at your heart strings and just makes you want to be a better person. It may be directed at middle school students, but this book has something for everyone.

To sum it up, Orbiting Jupiter is beautifully written with truly memorable characters and a compelling plot – Gary Schmidt nailed it once again.


The War I Finally Won (The War That Saved My Life #2)

In Middle Grade Book Review on October 7, 2017 at 10:58 pm


by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Historical Fiction/©2017/Recommended for Middle School

Publisher Information (Courtesy of Goodreads):

When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?

World War II continues, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their loving legal guardian, Susan, in a borrowed cottage on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton—along with Lady Thorton herself and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded cottage is tense enough, and then, quite suddenly, Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? The occupants of the house are horrified. But other impacts of the war become far more frightening. As death creeps closer to their door, life and morality during wartime grow more complex. Who is Ada now? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

My Thoughts:

I really didn’t think that The War That Saved My Life needed a sequel. I loved it just the way it was, and I was sure that a sequel couldn’t possibly meet my high expectations. However, I was definitely wrong about that.

The War I Finally Won is equal in every way – beautifully written, engaging plot and memorable characters.  Every bit as good as The War That Saved My Life!   The author took the opportunity of a sequel to add to Ada’s story, to more fully develop the characters, and to include more historical detail. A very satisfying sequel and a great addition to the middle school library.


Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win

In Middle Grade Book Review on October 4, 2017 at 11:34 pm


written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

Non’Fiction Biography/©2017/Recommended for Middle Grade

Publisher’s Info (Courtesy of Goodreads)

Women in Sports highlights notable women’s contributions to competitive athletics to inspire readers young and old. Keeping girls interested in sports has never been more important: research suggests that girls who play sports get better grades and have higher self-esteem–but girls are six times more likely to quit playing sports than boys and are unlikely to see female athlete role models in the media. A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports. The book also contains infographics about relevant topics such as muscle anatomy, a timeline of women’s participation in sports, statistics about women in athletics, and influential female teams.

My Thoughts:

I cannot say enough about this book! It is a great collection of brief bios of a very diverse group of amazing women. It is well researched and beautifully written. The author, though limiting each person to one page, managed to capture the essence and importance of each. The illustrations and graphics for each woman are eye-catching and engaging and add tremendously to each account.

The book goes through a timeline of history as well as including a wide range of sports. It talks of the challenges the women faced and how they dealt with them.

An empowering and inspiring book!

Other Books by This Author:

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World