Middle Grade New Releases, Week of November 6, 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.

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Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood
(November 6th 2018 ~ Disney-Hyperion)

Photo and Review by Hallie ~ originally on Instagram @bookloaner

Love Like Sky is a sweet middle grade novel about blended families, sisters, and growing up. Both of Georgie’s parents have recently remarried and she’s still trying to get used to all the changes. Along with new step-parents, she also has a new older step-sister who she desperately wants to be close with. The author dives into the complicated dynamics of newly blended families. This is a great book to recommend to upper elementary and middle grade readers dealing with their own family restructuring. It focuses on the ways that love can multiply. This book is also about Georgie’s bond with her little sister, Peaches. When Peaches has to stay in the hospital for a little while, Georgie realizes just how important her sister is to her. This sweet story about sisterhood also features larger themes of growing up, testing parental boundaries, first crushes, and standing up for yourself.


Ellie Engineer: The Next Level by Jackson Pearceimg_7142
(November 6th 2018 ~ Bloomsbury Children’s Books
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Photo and Review by Katie ~ originally on Instagram @texasreadergirl

It’s always hard to change someone who has made an assumption,” Ellie’s dad said. “But the best way to change a person’s mind is to teach them.”
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Ellie is an engineer. Ok, so she may only be a 3rd grader, and her last project *might* not have gone exactly as planned. But that how’s you learn, right? With the help of her two best friends Kit and Toby and parents who are delightfully encouraging (if occasionally wary), Ellie just knows she can create some awesome stuff.
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After her last disastrous building project, Ellie’s parents assign her to help an elderly neighbor around her house. Ellie enlists Kit and Toby to accompany her, and even comes up with some really cool ideas for helping Mrs. Curran. But when the woman sees Ellie’s inventions, she automatically gives credit to Toby for coming up with them! What gives? Ellie is super unhappy about this (and Toby is very confused!). Thankfully Ellie’s sweet dad helps her understand about challenging people’s assumptions, and gives Ellie some ideas on how to handle the situation.
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I didn’t read the first Ellie Engineer book by @jacksonpearce, but after reading this I absolutely will. This is exactly the kind of book I want my kids (and especially my daughter) reading so that they/she know not only that girls can do and be whatever they want, but that it takes patience and hard work to accomplish your goals – whatever they may be! Interspersed throughout the book are Ellie’s engineering drawings, and at the end is a guide to simple machines. Honestly it was a great refresher for me! This is a great book for younger middle grade audiences who will enjoy the story while learning some fun practical knowledge as well as some good life lessons!


img_7144More Than a Princess  by E.D. Baker
(November 6th 2018 ~ Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Photo and Review by Michelle ~ originally on Instagram @michellegoetzl

More Than a Princess introduces readers to Aislin of Eliasind. Aislin is half-fairy and half-pedrasi, a new being created by Baker who get their power from rocks. All of the magical creatures live in a realm kept separate from the humans by a magical passageway. When Aislin finds a group of humans have entered her kingdom, she passes herself off as human to save her home from discovery. Unfortunately, she winds up being taken back into the human realm “for her safety.” In their castle Aislin finds lies, back-stabbing, and generally awful people. She has to be the bigger person and rely on her own inner strength to get back to her family.
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I wasn’t certain about this book when I first started reading it. We love the Wide Awake Princess series, but I couldn’t really get into Aislin and her story. Then right around page 100 the whole thing came alive and I was completely sucked into the story.
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When Aislin finds herself in the human castle, the depth of her character, her ingenuity, and an immense inner strength really shine. Aislin figures out early on that King Tyburr was not to be trusted and then she quickly realizes that his entire court is also cruel and backstabbing. In order to survive, Aislin has to be the bigger person and let their unkind words and deeds roll off of her back. She also has to dig deep in order to keep her emotions in check due to her pedrasi power. The pedrasi are tied to stones and the earth and Aislin has so much power that when she gets angry it can make anything of stone around her shake – like the entire castle.
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Aislin learns that even though it can feel like it, she is not alone in the castle. With a few loyal friends, Aislin manages to stand up for herself and get free. Full of adventure, suspense, and touches of magic, More Than a Princess is a good start to a new series with a very strong female lead.


The Prophet Calls by Melanie Sumrowimg_7145
(November 6th 2018 ~ Yellow Jacket)

Photo and Review by Lauren ~ originally on Instagram @smilelines

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! The Prophet Calls is @melaniesumrow debut novel coming out on 11/6.
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The story is about a polygamous community and all of the challenges the members go through. The main character, Gentry, uses her love for music to get her through the darkest of days! Her family is being torn apart, and she needs to make her way out of this community!
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Gentry is such a strong female character who goes through very relatable teenage things. Questioning her parents, speaking her mind, standing up for what she believes… except it is in a polygamous world where she must obey The Prophet. The love and bond she has with her special needs sister is beautiful.
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I absolutely recommend this book and look forward to more books by #melaniesumrow.


img_7146Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
(November 6th 2018 ~ Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Photo and Review by Michelle ~ originally on Instagram @michellegreen120

Inkling by @kenneth.oppel is a middle grade that will entice your artistic kids, your writers, your students looking for something out of the ordinary. Ethan’s mother has recently died and his dad is in a funk. His dad is an artist who can’t come up with anything else to draw. So his ink breaks free of the sketchbook and takes on a life of it’s own!

Kids in grades 4-6 will surely enjoy this look at a boy’s life, his friends, and this unbelievable thing happening to him! He also is very, very caring and takes amazing care of his younger sister.


The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgisimg_7141
(November 6th 2018 ~ Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Photo and Review by Julie ~ originally on Instagram @mrsoslibrary
Summary: 13-year-old Silke works at The Chocolate Heart in Drachenburg. Her best friend Aventurine is a dragon who spends most of her time looking like a human and creating chocolate recipes. Silke and her brother Dieter live on the riverbank in a tent. Their band of refugees stopped there 6 years ago after a harrowing journey through Elfenwald, where Silke’s and Dieter’s parents were taken as prisoners by the fairies. Now the fairies have announced they are visiting the palace after 100 years without diplomatic relations. Crown Princess Katrin is suspicious. She hires Silke, who has gained a reputation for her quick wit and storytelling abilities, to spy on the fairies as a member of the court and determine their true motives. What she finds puts both her family and the kingdom in great danger.
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Review: I like this straight-up fantasy. The Chocolate House adds something exotic to a princess/fairy/dragon story. Silke’s family is black, and I like that this is a story that features black characters without oppression based on race. Props to Stephanie Burgis for writing it without including blond princesses. I wish publishers would buy more books like this, but also from non-white authors. .
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Readers of Gail Carson Levine and Kelly Barnhill’s Girl who Drank the Moon will like this book.


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