Middle Grade New Releases, Week of September 18, 2018

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.

img_6775Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes
(September 18th 2018 ~ Random House Books for Young Readers)

Picture and Photo by Michelle ~ originally on Instagram @michellegoetzl

Some books just beg to be read. Property of the Rebel Librarian is a book that will appeal to any book lover, librarian, or teacher. It left me cheering for June and her friends and shaking my head at some ridiculous ideas that people have about books.
June Harper loves to read. She looks forward to her time going into the school library and chatting about books with Ms. Bradshaw. But when her over-protective parents find her with a book that they don’t approve of, they take their disapproval to extremes. Soon they have taken away all of June’s books so they can read them themselves, have gotten the librarian suspended, and start a massive censorship issue at the school including a rule of no reading any book that isn’t pre-approved.
With very similar issues as Ban This Book, Allison Varnes takes on the idea of censorship and kids fighting back. There is this mood of extreme helicopter parents who refuse to let their kids grow up and learn for themselves. It is rare for anyone to take it to this extreme, but books will get banned for all sorts of reasons. Many people don’t want even the Harry Potter books to be readily accessible, because they are about witchcraft. Some parents look down on the graphic novels being published today, not realizing the powerful stories some of them tell. The truth is, kids should read what they want to read. They are pretty good at self-censoring and will stop reading a book if it isn’t interesting to them or if a concept is beyond them.
I loved June and her friends, especially the group of friends she never knew existed for her. In wanting to still be able to read what they wanted, June becomes the Rebel Librarian, providing reading material to a wide array of students.
While the book goes to some extremes and is over the top at times, it still touches this want-to-be librarian at heart. Not a perfect book, but still one that I absolutely adored reading and would encourage tons of people to read, even if they just enjoy the power June realizes she has.

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker: Incognito by Shelley Johannesimg_6774
(September 18th 2018 ~ Disney-Hyperion)

Review by Susan ~ originally on Instagram @redcanoereader
Photo by Kim ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads

Beatrice is back in her second book, and I think I may have liked it even more than the first (which is saying a lot)! Beatrice is just beginning third grade and along with her best friend, Lenny, has a secret plan, Operation Upside. They plan to make a lot of people happy by presenting “Award of Recognition” certificates.
Here are some reasons for you to order Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker: Incognito 
🔹The characters are so much fun!
🔹I loved the quiet kindness shown by Wes as he held the school door open for his classmates every single morning, his willingness to share his art supplies, and his thoughtfulness when he handed out kindness rocks to friends who might need them.
🔹Beatrice’s love of animals, her insistence that she thinks much better upside down, her creativity as she stealthily sneaks over to her neighbor’s window and her code names for Operation Upside members all added to this charming story.
🔹Ms.Johannes delightful illustrations bring so much life to the story. I would definitely love to have some of her artwork hanging in my office! You can’t help loving every character when you see their faces!
🔹The central theme of kindness in the story including the certificates, Beatrice’s plan to reward her teacher (even though it’s not too successful!) and the empathy shown by Beatrice and Lenny toward their classmates.
This is a great book to read aloud to all ages. Those ready for a chapter book are going to devour this latest addition to the Beatrice Zinker series and will be eagerly awaiting news of her next adventure. I know I will!

img_6773Friday Night Stage Lights by Rachele Alpine
(September 18th 2018 ~Simon Kids)

Photo and Review by Kim ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads

This middle grade book is incredibly sweet, easy to read and will appeal to various readers. Brooklyn recently moved to Texas. She misses her friends and is adjusting to life in a new town with a new stepdad and stepbrother. She’s also trying to understand why everyone is so obsessed with football. The only thing keeping her sane is her new dance studio. Dancing is Brooklyn’s passion and she is currently rehearsing for a very important audition. So what happens when the coach of the local middle school team enrolls his boys at the studio for a new conditioning program? Dance and football collide and teach quite a few people some valuable lessons along the way.
I really enjoyed this cute story. I grew up in Texas where Friday Night Lights was indeed taken very seriously. I on the other hand spent nine years of my life at the dance studio taking ballet, tap, jazz and pointe several times a week. I could easily relate to this story and loved watching the two worlds come together. There were some great points about how no matter what sport you focus on, you are equally a great athlete because you put in the time and dedication to practice. This story featured some really sweet, positive boy girl friendships which is always wonderful to see. It also touches on stepfamilies, pressure to perform, not focusing on just one talent/interest, lying, social media obsession and not being too quick casting opinions when trying something new. I really enjoyed the storyline with her parents as well – great reminder to always be open about your thoughts and feelings.
I would let my 8 year old read this book in a heartbeat and will definitely recommend it to many of her friends.

The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond (#4 in the series) by Max Brallier37822499
(September 18th 2018 ~ Viking Books for Young Readers)

Good Reads Summary: The newest installment in this New York Times bestselling series introduces new monsters, new bad guys, and tons of new laughs!

It’s the first winter after the Monster Apocalypse. For Jack and his buddies, that means sled catapults, epic snowball battles, and one monstrous Christmas celebration. But their winter wonderland turns dark when a villainess begins hunting them. And this villainess is different–she’s a human.

When the villainess steals Jack’s prized monster-slaying tool, the Louisville Slicer, he vows to get it back. But it won’t be easy. Jack and his friends soon discover that the Louisville Slicer is the key to a dark plan that threatens the entire world–and beyond

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!

36952590 Snazzy Cat Capers by Deanna Kent
(September 18th 2018 ~ Imprint)

Good Reads Summary: Life is short. Diamonds are fur-ever.

Internationally famous cat burglar Ophelia von Hairball V adores jewels—the only thing she loves more is a challenge. She’s never met a safe she couldn’t crack.

Now the Furry Feline Burglary Institute (FFBI) offers her the ultimate caper: steal the giant Himalayan diamond and win their top award!

There’s a catch! The FFBI sends an enthusiastic inventor to help Ophelia…but this cat works alone, and Oscar Fishgerald Gold smells fishy.

Can the smartest, stealthiest, and snazziest of cats learn to work with a fintastic sidekick and prove she’s still the world’s most purr-fect burglar? 

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!

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