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 Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser
(September 25th 2018 ~ HMH Books for Young Readers)
Photo by Susan ~ originally on Instagram @redcanoereader
I loved the first book in this series, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read the next one, which will be released September 25. I’m so we all get the opportunity to visit with the Vanderbeeker kids again!
Oh, I simply DID NOT want this book to end! From page one I was transported to a cozy brownstone in Harlem and entered the world of the Vanderbeeker’s. I felt the love and support all five kids have for one another, as well as the love they have for their neighbors who share their brownstone.The kids, along with their friends, display amazing teamwork, loyalty and resourcefulness as they join together to rescue a hidden garden for their adopted grandparents. I also like the fact that the realitity of a family with five children sharing a small brownstone was honestly portrayed. The family couldn’t love each other more, but they certainly didn’t always agree!
This gets all the stars and deserves to be in every family’s library and on every library shelf. It’s a perfect family read aloud from ages 3 and up. It’s one of those rare books that the entire family will adore! Librarians, be sure and order this one now (actually multiple copies!).
Now, I just need to wait for the NEXT Vanderbeeker family adventure! @karinaraisreadingandwriting, please write quickly!🌼
The Right Hook of Delvin Velma by Jake Burt
(September 25, 2018 ~ Feiwel Friends)
Photo and Review by Kimberly ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads
I am a huge fan of Burt’s first novel, Greetings from Witness Protection! so I jumped at the chance to read his second middle grade story. He definitely has a gift for great storytelling and developing relatable characters. I was instantly drawn to Addison, because I could identify with his battle against social anxiety. He freezes and becomes tongue tied when someone talks to him or puts him in an uncomfortable situation. Goodness, I needed this character when I was younger. I can only imagine how wonderful it will be for readers who battle the same feelings to finally see similarities in a main character!!! His inner dialogue was spot on. Devin was a great lead as well. I loved how his character was used to highlight the obsession over social media and gaining likes or followers. Talk about a current issue among kids!! Plus Devin’s grandmothers are a riot. Triple D and her dentures got me every single time.
This wonderful story is captivating, honest, real, hilarious and touching. It’s about true friendship, how our actions can be a way to cover a deep emotion, the importance of kids not feeling responsible for adult struggles and so much more. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this heartfelt book. It needs to be available in any library. The chapters are quite short and very entertaining making it a perfect read-aloud selection.
The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill
(September 25th 2018 ~ Boyds Mills Press)
Photo and Review by Julie ~ originally on Instagram @mrsoslibrary
My Rating: 5⭐️/5
Summary: Kate’s life is full of conflict and change right now. Her dad is sick with depression and has left. Her best friend Sophia joins the cast of Annie at the community theatre and starts hanging out with fellow cast mate Marisa instead of Kate. Kate’s grandmother Pat shows signs of dementia and moves in with Kate and her mom. Thankfully there is a new friend, Jane, who is just the friend Kate needs right now–encouraging, concerned but not nosy, and a little bit zany. When things seems like they can’t get worse, Grammy shares with Kate the 3 rules of everyday magic: believe, give, and trust. Kate isn’t sure that she believes in magic, but she learns to find hope and comfort, even when circumstances don’t change.
Review: I think this is a book some middle grade readers need right now. Kate faces the issues of deep depression, friend drama, divorce, dementia, and middle school crushes in a short span of time, just like real life. Sometimes it is hard for middle grade readers to know which are truly big problems and which are normal. This book could lead to great discussions, but it could also let a solo reader know that he or she is not alone. The pacing is good, the dialogue works, and I rooted for Kate from the beginning.
Readalikes: The Whole Sky and Smart Cookie.
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino
(September 25th 2018 by Scholastic Press)
Photo and Review by Danielle ~ originally on Instagram @read.disrupt.repeat
Alex Gino, much-celebrated author of GEORGE, is about to change your life again on Sept. 25th with their newest middle grade book, You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P! I’m in love with this book and its potential for engaging white readers in discussing #blacklivesmatter and the #deafcommunity
This story follows Jilly, a super-fan of a hit fantasy series who chats with fellow fans online. Her parents are about to have another baby, and when that baby is born, they discover she is Deaf. Ever the helper, Jilly tries to get some insight on the Deaf experience by talking to Profound, one of her online friends, since he is also Deaf. But if you know anything about tokenism, you know how well that conversation went over. 🙈
Meanwhile, Jilly tries to navigate microagressions and straight up racist comments from her family at thanksgiving dinner directed toward her favorite aunt… and though Jilly wants to help, she never quite knows how to go about it… especially when most adults in her life are making just as many mistakes as she is!
Okay, let me first say: I ADORED this book. As a white woman, I was 100% its intended audience. As Jilly (the white main character) discovers, there are certain do’s and don’t’s for being an ally in the face of discrimination – especially when you’re not speaking for yourself.
I highly recommend this book to teachers of white students who are looking for the vocabulary to engage them in conversations about inequality in America. Personally, I’m going to buy a book club set for my Social Issues Book Clubs in the spring!
Do keep in mind, this book is pretty targeted to a white audience- as Gino points out in the author’s note, People of Color and the Deaf community already know the things Jilly comes to learn in this book, so reading it might not be super great for them since Jilly is just one MORE white character they don’t need to root for. Hence, I won’t be using this book as a class read aloud.
A Witch Alone (#2 in the Apprentice Witch Series) by James Nicol
(September 25th 2018 ~ Chicken House)
Good Reads Summary:
Arianwyn is a fully qualified witch, but somehow magic doesn’t feel any easier than it did in her apprentice days. The Hex has driven all manner of supernatural creatures out of the Great Wood and into her little town — some benign, others dark, and others downright mischievous. The Spellorium has never been so busy!
What’s more, the High Elder has set her a dangerous secret mission. With Gimma acting weirder than usual and her friendships crumbling under pressure, Arianwyn faces the toughest spell of her witching career — can she really see it through alone?
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