Happy release week to these middle grade books making their rounds through our reviewers!
Thank you to @kidlitexchange for the review copies of these books. All opinions are our own.
The Cure for Cold Feet by Beth Ain
(May 8th 2018 ~ Random House Books for Young Readers)
Review and Photo by Lizzy originally on Instagram on @lizzypoo918
Izzy Kline is faced with all the drama of middle school. From hiding out in the girls’ bathroom when she should be in class, to FaceTiming with one friend while group chatting with others, and being forced to ballroom dance with a boy who Izzy despises for a social studies unit. Izzy is also faced with drama at home as well. Her mother is a yogi with a new significant other and her father has a new girlfriend. Izzy and her bother deal with the drama that families deal with. I really enjoyed reading this book because I feel like so many middle school aged children can relate to the character, Izzy. The book is written in verse, so it’s an easy way to read the story. The author does an excellent job with current references and readers will be able to make connections. This is a great book for any 5th to 8th grade student.
The Key to Everything by Pat Schmatz
(May 8th 2018 ~ Candlewick Press)
Photo and Review by Susan D. originally on Instagram on @redcanoereader.
Cap’n Jackie found Tash when she was a frightened two year old hiding in Jackie’s backyard. Ever since that day, the two have been best buddies. At least until the summer before Tasha begins middle school. That summer, instead of spending their time trying to conquer Jackie’s agoraphobia and Tasha’s autophobia, Tasha is going away to camp for a month and her guardian uncle, Kevin, is going off to traipse through New Zealand. Thus leaving Cap’n Jackie all alone with only her memories for company, even though Tasha would much rather be at home with her buddy.
I loved Tash and Jackie’s story and their love for one another. I loved the magic in their relationship that helped Tasha feel loved and protected through the years. I loved Kevin’s love for Tash and Jackie as he strived to care for both of them. I loved how Tasha’s love for Jackie, helped her to overcome her autophobia as she tried her best to to find the magic to bring Jackie home. In other words, I loved the kindness I found on every page in the story. Even though I shed tears as the story ended not quite the way I hoped, I still loved the journey. I highly recommend this middle grade realistic fiction book be added to every elementary and public library collection.
The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis
(May 8th 2018 ~ Amberjack Publishing)
Photo and Review by Danica originally on Instagram on @littleatticlibrary
The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis is a wonderful mix of fantasy, time travel, paranormal and historical fiction. Sometimes I’m not into time travel, but this wasn’t like anything I had read before and the unique time travel spin sucked me in.
Josie and Alec both live at 444 Sparrow Street. They sleep in the same room, but have never seen each other because they live a hundred years apart. They have formed a friendship across the century that separates them through a hand painted talking board.
I expected this to be a light, fun read but found it a bit heavier than I expected as it addressed topics like cruelty and child abuse. Alec and Josie have the sweetest friendship. Both struggle with loneliness, Alec from his parents’ recent divorce, and Josie from her controlling mother who keeps her and her little sister, Cass, trapped inside the home.
When Alec realizes the girls are in danger he realizes that maybe this special friendship has been allowed for a reason. Can he help the sisters change their future when it’s already past? You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out 😉 It comes out May 8th!
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel 4/5 ⭐️ I did have an unanswered question at the end about the spooky doll Josie’s little sister, Cass, carries around that knew the future 😳 but that was a fun element to the story that kept me on my toes. I just wish I knew more about that doll and her connection. I also wish more of Alec’s story was told. You know more about Josie than Alec, but this makes me hope that maybe there will be another book!! 🤞🏼
Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl
(May 8th 2018 ~ Chronicle Books)
Review by Kate Olson ~ originally on Good Reads
Diehl has written an incredibly rich middle school story with themes of divorce, chronic illness, friendship and most of all, SWIM TEAM. I loved this book and think that Alice’s messy and unpredictable life will be so relatable for so, so many tweens and early teens. I especially appreciated the storyline involving Alice’s mother NOT being cleanly resolved and NOT showing a miraculous recovery ~ kids know just as well as adults do that things aren’t always as simple as many novels like to portray them as, and Diehl shows this very well. I loved the babysitting storyline and the whole “mystery” with Piper and her speech, and I thought the friendship with Harriet was so well-written and compassionate regarding Harriet’s uniqueness. The gentle crush included in the book makes it appealing for students in grades 6 and up, but still very appropriate even for 4th and 5th grade. Oh, and the SWIM TEAM aspect. Hand this to any kid you know who swims ~ I feel like there are just not enough books focusing on this sport, but I may be biased given my childhood spent on pool decks and obsessing over my own 50 Free split!
Highly recommended for all libraries and classrooms serving a middle grade audience! I will be buying it for my own library and my 12-year-old daughter.
Whatshisface by Gordon Korman
(May 8th 2018 ~ Scholastic Press)
Review by Laura Gardner ~ @librarianMsG on Instagram
Cooper Vega moves a lot and at his new school he’s just whatshisface to his peers. His parents get him a fancy new cell phone as a bribe, but it immediately starts malfunctioning. In fact, it seems there’s a person trapped in his phone…who turns out to be from the 1500s. Things only get stranger from there.
What a goofy, fun concept for a book! As in all of Gordon Korman’s books, the plot moves swiftly and dialogue is snappy and true to life. Students will enjoy the confusion inherent in having someone from the Elizabethean era suddenly plopped into modern times. This is going to be another hit for Gordon Korman and at just over 200 pages sure to be a big draw for reluctant readers. Must-buy for all middle schools!
Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck
(May 8th 2018 ~ Amulet Books)
Photo and Review by Kadie M. ~ originally on Instagram
I can only think of a handful of middle grade and young adult novels positively portraying male-to-male friendships. Finding one that does so, while also delicately addressing the complicated nature of identity (the ones we’re born into and the ones we create) was a wonderful treat. @rebecca_petruck brilliantly captured the awkward dynamic of growing up and sometimes out of life-long friendships, learning how to take ownership of our mistakes, and making the best of unpleasant situations.
Will, driven by friend Daryl’s use of a racial slur directed at Eloy, another classmate, decides to divert attention by eating a stinkbug earning himself the title of ‘bug boy.’ This heat of the moment reaction and the school’s response to it sparks a deep interest in entomophagy (the practice of eating bugs). Petruck does a fabulous job of weaving fascinating nonfiction material related to this important and interesting topic into a fast-paced and fun read complete with wrestling, fart jokes, and some subtle coming of age undertones manageable for even young middle grade readers.
This would be a great parent-child read along or solo read for 8-12 year old kids, especially boys, but I have to admit – I had fun reading it solo as an adult! It doesn’t feel too heavy handed or hokey, despite the heavy themes. I’ll be ordering a copy for my 12-year-old niece to read this summer (complete with scorpion and cricket lollipops!). Join Will on his journey from Bug Boy to Bug King as he learns to be a better friend and an advocate for something he cares about.
Peeves by Mike Van Waes
(May 8th 2018 ~ Harper Collins)
Review by Christina ~ Originally on Instagram
Such a cute and fun book to read. Steven ‘Slim’ Pickings has panic attacks, so when it happens on his first day of school, his father takes him, as well as his sister Lucy, to work with him. While his dad goes to a meeting, Slim is in charge of keeping an eye on his sister, who immediately runs off. Slim runs after her and they stumble across a room where the lab rats are acting strangely. When Lucy shoves Slim out of the room, he crashes into Dr. Zanker, causing the the doctor to drop the nasal spray bottle and Slim to inhale the vapors. The vapors are Personal Vexation Zoners (PVZ) and this is where everything begins to go down hill.
Every time Slim sneezes, one of his peeves comes to life in a form of a furry potato sack looking creature. Only those infected can see the airborne peeves, so those coming in contact with the PVZ get a peeve or two of their own. When the whole town is infected, Slim and his family must work to stop it before it becomes a bigger monster. Will Slim be able to overcome his peeves or his fears to save the town? You should definitely read it to find out.
”..If you let your peeves loose, they could evolve into bigger, badder monsters that will literally eat you alive…or maybe just figuratively…but either way, if you’re dealing with peeves or anxieties or fears or any overwhelming feelings of your own, I want you to know that you’re not alone.”-Slim
More reviews coming soon for these titles! Look for them on Instagram on #kidlitexchange.
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