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.
UP FOR AIR – by Laurie Morrison librarianmsg/bookloaner
( May 7th 2019 ~ Amulet Books)
Picture and Review by Hallie @bookloaner
Up for Air is an exceptional book for middle grade readers who are ready to transition to more mature books but aren’t quite ready for YA. Like Annabelle, a rising 8th grader who is joining the high school swim team, readers who feel stuck in the in-between of being a little kid and a teen will relate to this book. Laurie Morrison writes a compelling picture of a girl who is trying to find where she fits. She often feels left out because she’s not successful like her mom & step-dad, she doesn’t get the best grades, and now she’s the only middle schooler on the high school swim team. Her dad, an alcoholic who has been out of her life for years, has reemerged and wants to make amends for the past. This book covers a lot–relationships with parents and step-parents, growing up, first crushes, and learning disabilities but Laurie Morrison puts it all together so well. Annabelle feels like a real 8th grader who wants to be grown up but isn’t quite ready for all that it entails. This is a must buy for all middle school collections and public libraries.
SHOUTING AT THE RAIN BY Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(May 7th 2019 ~ Nancy Paulsen Books)
Photo and Review by Laura @librarianmsg
Scrappy and resourceful Delsie lives with her Grammy on the Cape (that’s Cape Cod for the non-locals). Delsie doesn’t know her mother or even her father’s name, but her Grammy is unwilling to talk about her daughter. Delsie is also dealing with friendship drama, as well; one of her closest friends is busy the summer play, and her other summer friend seems to be outgrowing Delsie and has befriended a new girl who is mean to Delsie. When a new boy, Ronan, comes to town, he seems like trouble at first, but he and Delsie increasingly find they have important things in common: an interest in running, a love of science, abandonment issues and more.
The greatest strength of this book are the characters and the strongly depicted setting of the Cape (not touristy Cape Cod, but the Cape of the locals). From Grammy who loves game shows, to their crabby neighbor Olive, to Saucepan Lynn, there is plenty of color and flavor to help bring the Cape to life. Anyone who’s spent time in a summer place like Cape Cod will appreciate the way Delsie tries to get away with not wearing shoes all summer or how the locals keep a snow shovel on the porch to remind them of the winter. Shouting at the Rain is a beautifully written coming of age book about accepting what life has dealt you and discovering that family can have a broader definition.
A IS FOR ELIZABETH – by Rachel Vail
(May 7th 2019 ~ Feiwel & Friends)
Photo and Review by Katie @texasreadergirl
“Good news! Ms. Patel told us today we have homework. We are in second grade now. So we get homework! This is the day I’ve been waiting for!”
Kid lit fans – get ready to fall in love with Elizabeth Case! Elizabeth is the little sister of Justin Case, which is another series by the same author (and which I haven’t read yet but you can bet I will!). She’s sooo excited to be in Class 2B and finally have homework, until she learns that they’ll be making posters of their name. Not only does “Elizabeth” have a bajillion letters, but “E” never gets to be first alphabetically! It’s not FAIR!
Young readers will adore this early chapter book (which I was delighted to discover will be a series!) and will laugh out loud at Elizabeth’s zaniness and spunky personality. The chapters are very short, which makes for a quick and super fun read, and there are great lessons about fairness, speaking up, and friendship. I will definitely be buying a copy for our home library, and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, also coming in May!
THE STARTUP SQUAD – by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear
(May 7th 2019 ~ Imprint)
Photo and Review by Kendra @kendra_felder18
The Startup Squad was a delightful fast-paced start of what I know is going to be an empowering series! A story all about Girl Power, Entrepreneurship, and Friendship! 👩🏻👩🏼👩🏽👩🏾✨⚡️🍋
When young girls know that they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to, is a power to be reckoned with.
All young girls need to hear this message early and chase after their own dreams, whether that’s dog walking or starting a lemonade stand like the girls in this book.
Four girls. Four personalities. One class assignment, One goal= 🎟 Tickets to skip the long lines at Adventure Central! 🎢
It’s as simple as that and the lessons they learn about themselves and what it takes to run a business along the way are so applicable.
The authors of this book even provide a website for girls to explore and discover how they too can start their own business. I know a few girls I will be suggesting this book to. This book releases on May 7th and I can’t wait for other girls to be introduced to Resa, Amelia, Harriet, and Didi!
Be inspired by tips and a website to get you started to creating your own business!
HURRICANE SEASON – by Nicole Melleby
(May 7th 2019 ~ Algonquin Young Readers)
Photo and Review by Michelle @mleonardwrites
Fig’s father, a brilliant musician, has good days and bad days. On the good days (his manic state), he’s full of energy and excitement sometimes putting them in awkward or dangerous situations. On the bad days (depressed), he’s despondent and unapproachable. In both case, Fig normally has to step in as a caretaker. Unfortunately, the students and teachers have seen him on some of his bad days, and it really affects how others interact with her and perceive her. Because of this, Fig lives in fear of being taken away from her father by social services, and she’s forced to deal with her living situation protectively. To try to understand her father better, Fig studies Vincent Van Gogh to understand how Van Gogh’s brother Theo helped him with problems very similar to her dad’s. But then a new neighbor, Mark, comes into their lives, and Fig must sort through how to trust others and to let someone else carry some of the load in dealing with her dad’s challenges.
I loved this beautiful stirring story about what life is like living with and loving someone with mental illness. Melleby covers these important topics very delicately. One of the messages that comes through is the importance of supporting others. This thread is important in the relationships Fig has with classmates, her art teacher, and her dad, as well as the relationship between Mark (her new neighbor) and her dad. I do feel like there’s an important footnote, though, and I hope it is included in the endpapers for the published version of HURRICANE SEASON. Sometimes when you are dealing with a mentally-ill loved one, support and medication are not enough.
Sometimes it is not safe for a child to live with a mentally ill parent. I think this is a very important thing for kids to know, especially if they are living in an unsafe environment. Middle graders need to know when and how to seek support when a caregiver is unable to function in a way that supports their success. I hope to see information like this in the final copy.
POLLY DIAMOND AND THE SUPER STUNNING SPECTACULAR SCHOOL FAIR – by Alice Kuipers
(May 7th 2019 ~ Chronicle Books)
GOOD READS SUMMARY: Polly and her magic book, Spell, have all kinds of adventures together because whatever Polly writes in Spell comes true! But when Polly and Spell join forces to make the school fair super spectacular, they quickly discover that what you write and what you mean are not always the same. Filled with the familiar details of home and school, but with a sprinkling of magic, this book is just right for fans of Ivy + Bean, Judy Moody, and Dory Fantasmagory, as well for aspiring writers, who, just like Polly, know the magic of stories.
WATCH FOR A REVIEW SOON!
MR. BRAMBUCKLE: RULE THE SCHOOL – by Tim Harris
(May 7th 2019 ~ Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)
GOOD READS SUMMARY: There’s never been a teacher like Mr. Bambuckle. Who else rides a unicycle while flipping bacon in a pan and wearing a dazzling blue suit? Magic tricks aside, Mr. Bambuckle is kind of the best. He gets to know each and every one of his new students, and makes learning exciting and fun!
But Principal Sternblast is not impressed with Mr. Bambuckle’s teaching methods, and is determined to get rid of him…
WATCH FOR A REVIEW SOON!
JUST SOUTH OF HOME – by Karen Strong
( May 7th 2019 ~ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Photo and Review by Laura @librarianmsg
“…we can’t change the past, but we need to remember it. We need to acknowledge it and not hide it.” This debut middle grade novel about coming to terms with our racist past is a must-buy for every elementary and middle school library! I sped through this book in one day and simply loved it.
Sarah, a Black pre-teen in rural Georgia, loves science, her small town and her family. She’s dependable and book smart so it’s no surprise when her mother puts her in charge of her little brother Ellis and her city cousin Janie, who is visiting for two weeks while her mother tries out for a movie. At least she isn’t stuck doing chores all day for her grandmother, Mrs. Greene, who strangely insists her grandkids call her by her formal name (this may be confusing at first for readers). Janie convinces Sarah to take her to Creek Church, the former site of her church, which was burned down by the Klan and is rumored to be haunted. Janie, Sarah, Ellis and their friend Jasper soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving restless spirits (“haints”) who must be brought to justice. Sarah may love science, but increasing evidence suggests that ghosts exist, too. Can she help put the spirits to rest?
Within three chapters I was completely hooked by this book. Strong’s writing flows effortlessly and the plot, as well as the sub-plots are well constructed. I loved seeing Janie and Sarah’s relationship grow, I adored the humorous scenes with Ellis’ bearded dragon Walter and I was captivated by the mystery. Highly recommended!
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