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Archive for the ‘Middle Grade Book Review’ Category

Orbiting Jupiter

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

 

Restart

In Middle Grade Book Review on September 5, 2017 at 6:18 pm

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by Gordon Korman

Realistic Fiction/©2017/Stand Alone Book/Recommended for Middle School

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads)

Chase’s memory just went out the window.

Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name.

He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return. Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him. One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets.

Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.

My Thoughts:

Gordon Korman is one of my favorite middle grade authors, and this book did not disappoint. First of all, it has an intriguing  plot – having the bully lose his memory and then have to figure out who he is.  The author also provides a wide variety of memorable characters – several of whom shared POV with the main character. Quite a feat for the author to get them all to have separate, unique voices, but they did. And woven throughout, there are powerful messages and life lessons about bullying, kindness, the power of forgiveness, and so many more. I think it will give middle schools students a lot to ponder. There are some epic moments of humor and epic moments that bring you to tears. All in all, an enjoyable read that packs a punch.

 

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