Happy release week to these middle grade books making their rounds through our reviewers!
Thank you to @kidlitexchange for providing the review copies of these books. All opinions are our own.
We’ll begin with one we missed last week. Many apologies!
My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella by Jerry Mahoney
(August 1st 2017 ~ Stone Arch Books)
Review and Picture by Kimberly ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads
This was such a fun chapter book. I’m a huge fan of fractured fairytales and retellings. I’ve mostly read this genre under young adult or picture books, but this is geared towards middle grade. Maddie has a huge obsession with the popular story of Cinderella. She can’t wait to present a report about it at school. The only problem is her stepbrother, Holden, brings up some pretty valid questions about the tale during class. Not only does this infuriate Maddie, but it magically changes the actual storyline. The two find themselves transferred into the pages of the book where they will have to make several corrections in order for Cinderella to have her happily ever after. 🏰
This book is full of clever imagination and non-stop humor. It was incredibly entertaining and full of numerous moments that make you wonderful why you’ve never questioned these ideas before. The prince cracked me up. I love that Mahoney played with the idea of him having face amnesia. Seriously, how can you not recognize the face of your one true love after spending a magical evening together. The characters, their interactions and the pace of the story all flowed so well together making this a very enjoyable, quick read. I can see this being an instant hit for many kids as well as teachers who are studying fairytales or writing. The author included some wonderful tips at the end explaining how you could start to imagine certain twists to your favorite stories in order to create your own unique retellings. 🎃
I can’t wait to share this one with my daughter. She will definitely love the sense of humor and I will love the fact that it introduces her to being inquisitive and creative when it comes to writing her own stories. I’m excited to see that this book is in a series. The step-siblings will visit Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Snow White.
Now on to the releases for this week, August 7th
Maze Quest by Travis Nichols
(August 7th 2018 ~ Chronicle Books)
Review and Picture by Shauna ~ originally on Instagram @shauna.with.a.u
This book releases in a week… and I CAN’T WAIT TO BUY IT! Not only are there pages and pages of epic mazes to find your way through, it’s also a super fun story, in which YOU are the main character! We begin in your (*ahem* messy) bedroom, when the narrator points out a little green door – hrm, that wasn’t there yesterday… After you “find a path through the chaos of your room,” you find yourself in the Quest Office, where a mysterious looking lady explains your quest. You are to find the five pieces of a priceless sword hidden around the realm, along with other tools, keys, gems and coins that will help you along the way. Each page is cleverly drawn with diverse mazes – flowery fields, underground mines, a bee hive, a tropical rainforest, even inside the body of a dead beast (GROSS…)! You’ll never get bored working your way through this book! I love that this is not only a story to read, but also a series of mind-engaging puzzles!
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book – all opinions are my own.
Wish Upon a Sleepover by Suzanne Selfors
(August 7th 2018 ~ Imprint)
Leilani has one goal – to be a part of the ever popular group of Hayley‘s. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with them? The six Hayley’s (all spelled differently) have weekly sleepovers, eat from matching eco-friendly lunchboxes, and wear the same purple Converse sneakers. Determined to impress the Hayleys and finally become their friend, Leilani decides to host her own sleepover and invite them all. Things take a turn for the worst when the invitations get mailed to the names on her Do Not Invite list instead of the intended recipients. In this amazing middle grade novel, Suzanne Selfors combines Hawaiian mythology and elements of the classic tale of Stone Soup to tell a story of a group of misfits who learn the power of friendship. With a descriptive Seattle setting and powerful themes, readers will follow a group of well-written, diverse characters on a small adventure and be inspired to find the sometimes hidden magic in others.
Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
(August 7th 2018 ~ Candlewick Press)
“Did one person’s fortune always have to come at the expense of someone else?” The Dollar Kids opens with a scene that could be described as familiar and relatable for anyone who grew up with “annoying” younger siblings and neighbors: Loewen Grover tries to enjoy a free moment working on his comics and sketches, but his younger friend and neighbor, Abe, will not stop bothering him with questions. Desperate for some peace and quiet, Loewen gives Abe some money and sends him to the store for some candy. The result of this distraction is a scene ripped from today’s headlines: Abe is unexpectedly killed in a shooting that happens at the store. While Loewen and his family are grappling with this tragedy, he learns about the Dollar Program, which enables families to apply and buy a home for just one dollar in hopes of restoring and repairing the city of Millville. His family applies and is accepted, and Loewen couldn’t be more eager to escape his grief by fleeing to a new town. But his family quickly discovers that this project and town is more than they bargained for. This story is told through the course of the year, which I loved because it allowed to you to see not only the development of the characters, but also the setting itself. Through the character of Loewen, Jennifer Richard Jacobson perfectly captures a difficult aspect of grief: in the face of loss, we always seem to “want” to take responsibility and sink into our feelings of guilt even when the situation is out of our control. Throughout the course of the story, Loewen struggles with these complicated emotions and is surprised to learn of an unexpected person who also feels responsible for his friend’s death. Finally, I loved this story because of its portrayal of community. Communities, whether big or small, will not flourish unless people are open to change and willing to give and receive help. This novel was equal parts entertaining and heartbreaking. The lessons in this story are real, and I think lots of my students could see themselves in this cast of characters. You will be rooting for the Grover family and all of the citizens of Millville!
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