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.
The Story Collector by Kristen O’Donnell Tub
(August 28th 2018 ~ Henry Holt & Company)
Good Reads Summary: In the tradition of E. L. Konisburg, this middle-grade mystery adventure is inspired by the real life of Viviani Joffre Fedeler, born and raised in the New York Public Library.
Eleven-year-old Viviani Fedeler has spent her whole life in the New York Public Library. She knows every room by heart, except the ones her father keeps locked. When Viviani becomes convinced that the library is haunted, new girl Merit Mubarak makes fun of her. So Viviani decides to play a harmless little prank, roping her older brothers and best friend Eva to help out.
But what begins as a joke quickly gets out of hand, and soon Viviani and her friends have to solve two big mysteries: Is the Library truly haunted? And what happened to the expensive new stamp collection? It’s up to Viviani, Eva, and Merit (reluctantly) to findout.
Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!
D-Day: The World War II Invasion that Changed History by Deborah Hopkinson
(August 28th 2018 ~ Scholastic Nonfiction)
Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @petriespicks
I remember my history teachers talking about the significance of D-Day to the Allies in World War II, but I never really personally understood why this was such an important event until reading this book. In this nonfiction narrative, Deborah Hopkinson gives the reader an account of this crucial military endeavor. She starts with all the planning that went into it, all of the action during the invasion, and the aftermath. As she does this, she seamlessly weaves in quotes from soldiers and eye witnesses, actual photos, and links the reader can go to if they want to continue their learning and research. I also appreciate that Hopkinson acknowledges groups that often don’t receive recognition for their achievements during this time, such as women and African Americans, and she honestly addresses the discrimination and racism that prevented them from doing more, even when they wanted to do more. I learned a lot of interesting things while reading this book– everything from how the weather affected plans, the different people who traveled to Normandy, and how they strategically planned their battle. One thing I found difficult about this book was the chronology. History is can be tricky because so many things are happening simultaneously. I had a hard time understanding what was happening when. I think a visual timeline of just the invasion would have been helpful. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in history, wars, or World War II specifically. .
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
(August 28th 2018 ~ Scholastic Inc.)
Photo and Review by Carli ~ originally on Instagram @the_loudlibrarian
This is a piece of #historicalfiction that is bound to be super popular with middle school readers. After her family is split up, Chaya is a courier for the a cell of the Jewish resistance in Poland during WWII. After a mission goes wrong Chaya finds herself alone until her least favorite person from her network, Esther, shows up with cryptic instructions to go to the Warsaw ghetto for a rumored uprising. Though the resistance doesn’t seem to have much of a chance, they know they must fight, whether they live or die.
I don’t know about you guys, but @nielsenwriter is one of the top circulating authors in my library. I was SO excited to get a chance to read this one early and will definitely be buying multiple copies. I did feel that is dragged a bit in the middle, but I still enjoyed it tremendously. Recommended for readers in grades 6+ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
Ivy and Bean: One Big Happy Family by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall, illustrator
(August 28th 2018 ~ Chronicle Books LLC)
Photo and Review by Shan ~ originally on Instagram @shansalterwrites
Book eleven in the Ivy and Bean chapter book series is just as likable as the string of books that have come before it. In this volume, Ivy is anxious about becoming spoilt because she is an only child. And so follows a string of attempts (of escalating intensity) to deal with this dilemma. Ivy and Bean give away Ivy’s clothes at school, electrocute her doll, find a real baby (complete with face goo) to care for, and even consider ways to become conjoined twins!
In line with the rest of the series, this is a smile-inducing, fast-paced, easy-to-read story for the chapter book crowd.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
(August 28th 2018 ~ Scholastic)
Photo and Review by Akossiwa K. ~ originally on Instagram @akossket
Cassidy’s best friend, Jacob, is a ghost who saved her life. Ever since that horrifying event, she can see ghosts, even though she is very much alive herself. When her ghost-free summer plans were thwarted with a trip to a literal city of ghosts, she finds herself unprepared for how much she is about to learn about the complex relationship between ghosts and those like her who can cross between the world of the living and the dead.
I’m pretty sure my summary doesn’t do the book justice. It’s spooky in a haunting, goosebumps-giving type of way. And Victoria Schwab describes Edinburgh in such a way that you will swear you’ve been there in a former life.
Cassidy’s relationship with Jacob is a peculiar one, one not meant to be, and you can’t help but wonder what is lying in wait for these two as they travel the world while coming into very frequent contact with the Veil, the world of the dead. While the book didn’t end with a cliffhanger, I’m plagued with questions and concerns about Cassidy and Jacob’s friendship. I am very much looking forward to their next ghostly adventure.
Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement and More by Mallika Chopra and Brenna Vaughn, Illustrations
(August 28th 2018 ~ Running Press Kids)
Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @littleloudlibrary
This is such a welcome and necessary addition to the middle grade market, and one that I think could be used quite effectively as a guided reading experience in grades 4-8 – a textbook, if you will. I will be purchasing it for my elementary and middle school libraries, and will also be highly recommending it my staff as a title to incorporate into daily classroom time. It may not be a page-turner fiction title, but it will be one that many students will pick up on their own as well.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
(August 28th 2018 ~ Nancy Paulsen Books)
Photo and Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @librarianmsg
Six kids. One room. Time to talk. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
The tough conversations Haley, Holly, Amari, Ashton, Esteban and Tiago have about race, identity and class are intense. With parents imprisoned or in danger of being deported or long gone, these kids are facing big problems. I am so glad I read this book before starting the school year in a couple of weeks. We all have students facing these kinds of challenges, whether we know the details or not. I hope we can all keep this fact in mind as we start our school years, teach with LOVE and create safe harbors in our schools for ALL our kids.
@jacqueline_woodson doesn’t hold back with this slim novel. The entire book is lyrical, but the few poems from Esteban’s father truly sparkle. Passages from this book would be excellent conversation starters for any grade level. I may use this as a read aloud for 6th grade lunch bunch next year.
The Magic of Melwick Orchard by Rebecca Caprara
(September 1st 2018 ~ Carolrhoda Lab)
Photo and Review by Michelle ~ originally on Instagram @Michellegoetzl
The Magic of Melwick Orchard is an unusual book featuring magical realism and a family in need. As Isa’s family finally attempts to lay down roots, her younger sister, Junie, is diagnosed with cancer. As her parents spend more time worrying about June, Isa feels herself growing invisible. As she feels herself disappearing she discovers a magical tree in their orchard, a chance seedling.
The tree is part wishing tree and part giving tree. Isa’s property includes the Melwick Orchard which has long been barren. Isa is led to a new growth and encouraged to plant her destroyed sneakers by a squirrel. The next day, Isa realizes that she finds that the tree has sprouted new shoes for her. From that point forward, Isa finds solace in the orchard and has conversations with the tree.
TMMO deals with the realities of having a sick child in the family from the sibling perspective. Isa not only misses her sister, her only friend, she also feels invisible to her family. Her mother spends all day at the hospital and when she is at home, she won’t get out of bed. Her father is working extra to pay the mounting bills and is sleeping at the hospital.
Rebecca Caprara has created a really moving book with TMMO. Everyone grows a bit in the story, learning from each other. I especially love when Junie tells Isa that she needs to give the tree some TLC. Like the Giving Tree, Isa was expecting things from the tree but not giving anything back. Love works both ways, an important lesson that she needed to learn. Additionally, Isa has to learn to let others into her life. Luckily for her, their new neighbor, Kira, is patient and persuasive and doesn’t give up on her.
This is a very well crafted MG book for grades 4-7. Readers are able to see things from a variety of perspectives and a lot of wonderful lessons are learned by all.
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