Middle Grade New Releases, February 26, 2019

Happy book birthday 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_7623OPERATION FROG EFFECT – by Sarah Scheerger
(February 26th 2019 ~ Random House Books for Young Readers)

Photo and Review by Emily ~ originally on Instagram @redpoppyreader

Operation Frog Effect, by Sarah Scheerger, is among the very best of middle grade fiction. Told through the perspective of eight fifth graders as they write in their class journals, this is the kind of book that fills you with optimism for the future and encourages you to become a better person. Ms. Graham has a creative way of running her classroom and teaching her students, through her innovative education philosophy her students learn the power of friendship, and standing up and taking action for what they believe in. Each of the eight diverse students is struggling in their own way and the way they come together had me cheering. I promise you will LOVE this book! Recommended for ages 8-12 (although I think it would be best for 4th-6th grade).

THE MOON WITHIN – by Aida Salazarimg_7624
(February 26th 2019 ~ Arthur A. Levine Books)

Photo and Review by Kendra ~ originally on Instagram @kendra_felder18

Celi Rivera’s a young girl who wants to keep all the questions she has about life to herself. She is not ready to grow up, yet her Mima insists on celebrating her impending journey into womanhood.

As my first novel read in verse, I was surprised by how lovely this book flowed.
This book perfectly captured a look at a twelve year old, discovering who she is. It is one every girl needs to read.

– A beautiful reflection of gender identity and friendships.
– A celebration of rituals.
– A celebration of heritage.

This book, which releases February 26th, has an extremely bright future, much like the moon.

SEARCHING FOR LOTTIE – by Susan L. Rossimg_7627
(February 26th 2019 by Holiday House)

Photo and Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @librarianmsg

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5 for SEARCHING FOR LOTTIE, a beautifully written mystery that involves the Holocaust, classical music and long-lost family members. I know this book will be a big hit in my community. We have a lot of student musicians who will love reading about Charlie’s obsession with the violin and we also have quite a few students who enjoy reading Holocaust-related literature. This book is accessible for grades 3+, but will still resonate with students in middle school. It was a quick read for me (I finished it in a day!). I think a lot of students will be eager to finish the book to discover if Charlie finds her long lost family.

A school history project leads Charlie Roth to investigate her namesake, her grandmother’s long lost sister, Lottie. Charlie and Lottie both share a love of playing the violin and even have some similar physical features. Thought to have died in the Holocaust, clues begin to indicate that Lottie may have lived. Will Charlie discover the truth about Lottie?

GAME OF STARS – by Sayantani Dasgupta
(February 26th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)39983673

When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been four months since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a reality show is taking over, and her friends are in danger.

However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again battle witches, solve riddles, and avoid her evil Serpent King father – all while figuring out who are her true friends, and what it really means to be a demon.

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!

39983549LETY OUT LOUD – by Angela Cervantes
(February 26th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)

Lety Muñoz’s first language is Spanish, and she likes to take her time putting her words together. She loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don’t care if she can’t always find the right word. 

When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. But grumpy classmate Hunter also wants to write profiles — so now they have to work as a team. Hunter’s not much of a team player, though. He devises a secret competition to decide who will be the official shelter scribe. Whoever helps get their animals adopted the fastest wins. The loser scoops dog food.

Lety reluctantly agrees, but she’s worried that if the shelter finds out about the contest, they’ll kick her out of the volunteer program. Then she’ll never be able to adopt Spike, her favorite dog at the shelter!

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!

THE LIGHT JAR – by Lisa Thompson
(February 26th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)img_7625

Photo and Review by Amanda ~ originally on Instagram @growingwithmrst

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson is a heart pulling, intense tale of a boy facing down his fears.

Nate and his mother are on the run from Nate’s stepdad. They end up at an old cottage in the middle of a forest. It smells, has a chicken, and is run down. Nate is uncertain of the future, but knows that he can hide his fears as long as his mom is nearby. When his mom goes out for groceries and doesn’t return, Nate is thrust into a tale of imagination, fear, and being brave. When an odd girl, Kitty, appears and convinces him to go on a treasure hunt, Nate is pushed further into the challenge of whether he should face his fears or hide away in a cabin.

This story is beautifully written and captures Nate’s loneliness, uncertainty, and hope. Thompson weaves together a tale that captures your heart and imagination. Nate goes through a tale of survival of not just living alone, but facing down the fears his stepdad put on him. The author captures Nate’s viewpoints of abuse, and shows how fear comes from actions and words of others, not just physical harm. I highly recommend this book for 4th grade and up!

img_7626BONE HOLLOWby Kim Ventrella
(February 26th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)

Photo and Review by Jasmine ~ originally on Instagram @3queensread

Ever since Gabe’s parents and grandfather died, he was had to live with Ms. Cleo. Ms. Cleo isn’t this nice old lady you want taking care of you. She treats Gabe like a second class citizen while her prize chicken is treated like royalty. She even makes Gabe go on the roof during a tornado to attempt to save said chicken. All doesn’t end well, and Gabe falls off the roof. He wakes up from the fall and thinks he’s fine, but is he really? He even shows up at his own funeral and tries to tell everyone that he’s fine. Everyone freaks out when they see him, because Gabe is dead. Or is he? Gabe is chased out of town and meets the mysterious Wynne who takes him and his faithful dog, Ollie, to Bone Hollow. She says they will be safe there. Wynne isn’t afraid of him, so he wonders if she is just like him. But when Wynne starts disappearing for days at a time, Gabe starts to wonder if Wynne isn’t keeping a big secret from him.

I enjoyed Bone Hollow. This book made me think about death and the afterlife. Who truly knows what happens when you die? Is there a bright light that calls you home? Do you actually see your family & friends who have already passed? Do those people help you move forward to the afterlife? Do some people’s spirits linger here with us because they can’t find the way? No one truly knows, and this book made me think about all of those things. Although death was a prominent part, there was nothing morbid. It was very thought provoking. While geared towards grades 3-6, I believe it just depends on if the child is ready for the subject matter of death and afterlife.

A DROP OF HOPEby Keith Calabreseimg_7565
(February 26th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)

Photo and Review by Susan ~ originally on Instagram @redcanoereader 

All the stars for this unforgettable MG book!! This heart print story reminds us that the small kindnesses we encounter everyday make our lives worth living. You’ll also read about friendship and caring teachers, as you begin to understand the struggles and repercussions suffered by a small Midwestern town when their factories close one by one until there is only one left. You’ll begin to understand how this stress affects everyone, adults and children, in so many ways. But most of all, you’ll read about how a small kindness can blossom into so much more; how it can lead to another and another. And you will wonder, could this really happen or is it just a story?

There are so many unforgettable characters in this book, beginning with Mr. Earle, the teacher who inspires them with his stories and sees the best in all of his students, no matter their background or past history. Then there are the students, including the school bully, who are so much more than they appear to be. And finally there are their parents, who like their children, have many different stories of their own. But, they all have something in common. Everyone has lost faith in their town and their community.  That is until Mr. Earle shares the story about the town’s magical wishing well. It’s the well in the local park that is rumored to grant impossible wishes to all who visit.

This is a book I couldn’t put down. Although I began reading it on a busy day, I found myself picking it up whenever I had a free moment. I didn’t want it to end. It was fascinating to read about the interconnections of the wishes, and the ripples of hope and kindness each created. I wanted to understand and believe the magic of each story. I was rooting for everyone’s wish, because that’s who I am. I am ever hopeful that the best will happen. And the best isn’t to win a million dollars or a fancy sports car, but for people’s wishes for others to come true.

I’m going to be thinking about this story for a long time. In fact, I’m ready to sit down and read it again, but instead I will be sending it on to @pnwreader for our next @kidlitexchange review. Reviewers, if you haven’t signed up for A DROP OF HOPE, I highly recommend that you do. You’ll be so glad you did! And everyone else, be sure and add this to your TBR list NOW!!

img_7629STOLEN GIRL – by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
( February 26th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)

Photo and Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @librarianmsg

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5 for STOLEN GIRL

Nadia has come to Canada with Marusia and Ivan to start over after the war. Life is hard. She must pretend they are her parents, but she knows they are not, but who are they? More importantly, who is she? In flashbacks, she gets glimpses of her previous life and she is horrified — is it possible that she was raised by Nazis? Her history is shocking and based on true events. Students won’t be able to put this one down, especially if they loved MAKING BOMBS FOR HITLER and/or THE WAR BELOW. Both are big hits in my library so I’ll be ordering extra copies of this one.


The Deceiver’s Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen39983676
(February 26th 2019 by Scholastic Press)

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller The Traitor’s Game, Kestra Dallisor has finally gained possession of the Olden Blade. With the dagger in her control, she attempts to destroy the tyrannical Lord Endrick. But when Kestra fails, the king strips her of her memory, and leaves her weak and uncertain, bound to obey him. Heartbroken, Simon is desperate to return Kestra to the rebel she was, but refuses to use magic to heal her. With untrusting Coracks and Halderians threatening to capture and kill her, and war looming on the horizon, Kestra and Simon will have to learn to trust each other again if they have any hope of surviving. But can a heart once broken ever be healed?

The Deceiver’s Heart marks a stunning return to Jennifer A. Nielsen’s gorgeously rendered world of Antora and all its treachery and magic.

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!

39983472THE POTTER’S BOY – by Tony Mitton
(February 26th 2019 ~ David Fickling Books)

An odyssey-type adventure and coming-of-age story about family obligation and finding one’s path. This is The Alchemistmeets Inside Out and Back Again for fans of Thanhha Lai.
The first middle-grade novel from internationally acclaimed author Tony Mitton!

Ryo was born the son of a potter, a fate that he is unsure of once a mysterious wanderer and trained fighter comes to his small village and protects them from a band of thieves. Inspired by the events, Ryo embarks on both a hero’s quest and a quest to be a hero. Through his adventures, Ryo trains in the art of both fighting and mindfulness under the elusive Hermit of Cold Mountain. On his journey, he learns the art of stillness, the body’s relationship to nature, and the art of controlling one’s emotions in order to find his path in life.

But when tragedy strikes the group, and the way of life that Ryo knows, he must use what he’s learned to do what is right for himself and his future. With excellent pacing and poetic prose, The Potter’s Boy is a story about family obligation and finding one’s purpose.

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!

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