HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to these middle grade books making their rounds through our reviewers!
Thank you to @kidlitexchange for providing the review copies of this book. All opinions are our own.
THE PENNYBACKERS GO ON VACATION – by Lisa Doan
(June 25th 2019 ~ Roaring Brook Press) kateteaching7and8/redpoppyreading
Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @kateteaching7and8
Mr. Pennypacker, true to his name is cheap. He’s never taken his family on vacation; instead, he’s hosted annual vacations in his backyard transforming it by having his family imagine their in places like the Maine wilderness. This year though, he got a bonus from work and Mrs. Pennypacker has decided that it’s time they have a true vacation. The Pennypackers end up on a rickety former fishing boat filled with Disney-like characters. As they’re leaving port in Miami, two men in suits chase the captain onto the boat. The mysterious men show up again at the next port causing the ship to leave in a hurry. Charlie, the Pennypacker’s son, is positive that the ship’s captain is caught up with the mob, and he and his former best friend Gunter Hwang set out to find out what’s going on.
This is a hilarious and fun adventure story that is also full of mystery. The description of characters and the setting is vivid. Olive, Charlie’s little sister, is both cute and terrifying at the same time. I found myself laughing out loud after most of the scenes she was in. My new favorite phrase might just be “I will cook you like a french fry.” The book also has positive messages about remembering that competition and money aren’t everything and they certainly aren’t worth losing a friend over. I’m looking forward to adding this book to my classroom library and recommending it to students who are looking for a fun and engaging read.
THE PEPPER PARTY PICKS THE PERFECT PET – by Jay Cooper
(May 28th 2019 ~ Scholastic Paperbacks)
Photo and Review by Kelly ~ originally on Instagram @kidlitunderground
The start of @jaycooperbooks ‘s new middle-grade series, THE PEPPER PARTY PICKS THE PERFECT PET is funny and outrageous… in case the title didn’t give that away. ⠀
Annie Pepper, second-youngest child in a crazy family reminiscent of The Loud House, falls in love with Azzie the Chihuahua from has-been movie star Frida Flamingo’s shelter. She uses guilt and statistics about abandoned pets to push against the Pepper family’s No Pets Rule.⠀
Thanks to a weird tradition established by their ancestor, the comically infamous worst magician of the 20th century, the Peppers cycle through a sibling war of sabotage involving four over-the-top, short-lived pets. ⠀
The jokes appeal to parents (Elvis puns) and kids (bananas in chili, bird falling in love with a cat). Annie has enough brothers, and the Pepper family has enough extreme archetype personalities (electric oboe rocker, debate queen, obnoxious toddler) that boys shouldn’t balk at this book.⠀
Give this to: A kid who needs a funny book to urge them to transition from chapter books to true upper middle-grade; fans of The Loud House, Aaron Blabey’s Bad Guys series, and Notebook of Doom. ⠀
Caveat: I’ll just be honest… NOT a fan of the “just return the pets to the shelter” actions of the Pepper parents throughout most of the book. The Pepper kids are devastated when this happens, and the parents do see consequences – lecture and ban on adopting. The climax involves Annie taking hilarious and drastic action to help all the shelter pets get adopted. ⠀
I’ll just give a spoiler alert since this is such a hot button: The climax involves Annie taking hilarious and drastic action to help all the shelter pets get adopted. The Peppers re-adopt the four discarded pets and Azzie the Chihuahua after a well-deserved lecture on responsible pet ownership. ⠀
However, this book is funny and fast-paced enough, and with busy cartoon-style illustrations that readers will keep turning pages. ⠀
DUGOUT: THE ZOMBIE STEALS HOME – by Scott Morse
(June 25th 2019 ~ Graphix)
Photo and Review by Emily ~ originally on Instagram @redpoppyreading
Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home, by Scot Morse, is a tale of baseball, sister rivalry, witches and zombies! Sisters Stacy and Gina play on two different baseball teams and are rivals both on and off the field. They take their rivalry to a whole new level when they start using grandma’s magic and their amateur witch skills to cause trouble for each other. When they raise a zombie out of the ground and a poltergeist is chasing them through town, they have to work together. This is a fun and unexpected #middlegrade #graphicnovel that felt a little like The Goonies to me.
For readers ages 8-12.
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