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Archive for the ‘Middle Grade Book Review’ Category

Wolf by Wolf

In Middle Grade Book Review on July 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm

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by Ryan Graudin

YA Fiction/©

Book Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

My Thoughts:

A great combination of history and fantasy complete with an engaging plot and memorable characters. The motorcycle race was quite the adventure with its intricate web of evolving relationships, back-stabbing, and twists and turns. Definitely a page turner! And that ending!!! I did not see that coming. All in all, a great read, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Finding the Worm (Twerp Sequel)

In Middle Grade Book Review on May 22, 2017 at 5:07 pm

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by Mark Goldblatt

Realistic Fiction/@2015/Recommended for Middle School

Publisher’s Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Finding the Worm (Sequel to Twerp):

It’s not a test unless you can fail. . . .

Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.
 
Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.

My Thoughts:

Though Finding the Worm is the sequel to Twerp, both books can stand alone. However, you won’t want to miss out on either one. Each one gives you great writing, unforgettable characters and engaging plots. Both are powerful stories that give you a realistic view of life in 6th and 7th grade as related through Julian’s (i.e. Twerp) journals, both bring you humor and tears, both bring you thought provoking issues of bullying and its consequences, of integrity, and of empathy. I think both books will give middle grade readers much to think about long after they have finished the last page.

 

 

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

In Middle Grade Book Review, Poetry on March 23, 2017 at 7:09 pm

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By Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth

Poetry/©2017/Recommended for Middle Grade

Publisher’s Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder.

My Thoughts:

What a brilliant idea to write new poems in the style of master poets! The original poets would be so proud. Each poem gets a two-page spread with the most breath-taking illustrations. The book also includes a mini-biography for each of the honored poets. After reading each, I just had to go back to re-read the poem written in his/her honor. Each does, indeed, capture the heart and soul of the original poet. All in all, a fabulous collection of poetry that will entertain and inspire.

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life

In Middle Grade Book Review, Non-Fiction Reads on February 22, 2017 at 11:41 pm

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by Kwame Alexander

Non-Fiction/©2017/Recommended for Middle School

Book Info (Courtesy of Goodreads)

You gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life? What if we had our own rules of the game to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives?

Illustrated with photographs by Thai Neave, The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life. Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama. Kwame Alexander also provides his own poetic and uplifting words, as he shares stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games in this motivational and inspirational book just right for graduates of any age and anyone needing a little encouragement.

What I Thought:

I enjoyed Crossover and Booked by this author, so I couldn’t wait to read his latest one. It did not disappoint. This is an absolutely visually stunning book with its mixture of pictures and graphics, so it just grabs your full attention from the very beginning. It is not a story told in verse like his other books, but a piece of nonfiction full of short stories and quotes that are truly inspirational and thought provoking. I especially enjoyed reading the short pieces he wrote about himself, as well as the one about LaBron James that gave me a whole new insight into an athlete for whom I had had a very negative opinion. Scattered among these short pieces was a wide selection of great quotes from the likes of Steph Curry, Michael Jorden, and Sonia Sotomayo. It is a quick read, but it packs a punch. I honestly think it could be life changing for many. Great addition for the middle school library, but a worthy read regardless of age.

Undefeated Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

In Middle Grade Book Review, Non-Fiction Reads on January 29, 2017 at 11:03 pm

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by Steve Sheinkin

Non-Fiction/©2017/233 pages/Recommended for Middle School and Above

Publisher’s Comments (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in the history of America’s favorite sport. Called “the team that invented football,” Carlisle’s innovative squad challenged the greatest, most elite teams—Harvard, Yale, Army—audaciously vowing to take their place among the nation’s football powers.

This is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. It’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

My Thoughts:

This is definitely a piece of history that needs to be told, and no one tells it better than Steve Sheinkin. His intended audience is middle school/high school, but it will appeal to adults as well. It is thoroughly researched and brilliantly written, and manages to focus on the inspiring story of Jim Thorpe and the obstacles he and the undefeated Indian football team faced, as well as the evolution of football in America. Equally important, he also included our country’s deplorable treatment of Native Americans. It is a quick read, but it packs a punch.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Keeper of the Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1)

In Middle Grade Book Review on January 26, 2017 at 10:05 pm

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by Shannon Messenger

Middle Grade Fantasy/©2012/488 Pages/Recommended for Middle School/First in a series of 7 Books

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.

Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.

Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.”
There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

In this page-turning debut, Shannon Messenger creates a riveting story where one girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first.

My Thoughts:

This is just one of those books that grabs you on the first page and doesn’t let you go. The plot is engaging and full of twists and turns, the fantasy world setting is incredibly creative, and the characters (and there are many!) are each quite interesting and multidimensional. It is the first of seven in the series, and I am looking forward to reading them all. A well written, thoroughly enjoyable book.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White

In Middle Grade Book Review, Uncategorized, YA Book Reviews on January 10, 2017 at 7:44 pm

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by Melissa Sweet

Biography/©2016/176 pages/Recommended for Middle School and Beyond

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads):
“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter. 

My Thoughts:
Masterfully written and beautifully illustrated (as all books by Melissa Sweet seem to be), this is one biography that will grab you from the first page, and you won’t want to put it down. It is visually stunning, interspersed as it is with photos, quotes and memorabilia from White’s life, as well as Melissa Sweet’s incredible illustrations. It is also full of stunning revelations about Mr. White. I have read his books, but other than that I couldn’t tell you much about E. B. White. Now I can’t stop talking about him. This book may be intended for the middle school audience, but all adults who grew up on his books are going to enjoy reading this as well. It is some book!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Other Great Books illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh, Melissa Sweet

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jennifer Fisher Bryant, Melissa Sweet