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.
MONSTER CLUB: HUNTERS FOR HIRE – by Gavin Brown
(July 30th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press)
Photo and review by Amanda ~ originally on Instagram @growingwithmrst
Monster Club: Hunters for Hire by Gavin Brown is a thrilling, action packed book! In a world where monsters are the norm, an app like AppVenture is a hit! Through this app, monster hunters can be hired by people who need help removing monster from their backyard.
When Tommy is in need of money to go to Adventure Camp, his best friends Spike and Karim join him in registering as Independent Adventure Contractors and begin capturing monsters and getting cash. As the trio works together to be the best monster hunters, they begin to realize there is a conspiracy going on that could threaten their very lives.
This book is fun, unique, and creates a world with fantastical fun monsters. The three characters have strengths and weaknesses that they must work through in the book, but they find their friendship is strong and they can battle anything together. I really enjoyed Spike who comes out as the leader of the group. She finds that she can’t do everything on her own, and that is okay! This book is great for anyone who loves fantasy and new worlds! I recommend it for 3rd grade and up!
THE MIRACULOUS – by Jess Redman
July 30th 2019 ~ Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Photo and Review by Melissa ~ originally on Instagram @mllittleauthor
The Miraculous, set in an America that feels nothing like our America, and completely like a place new and mysterious, brings us a boy named Wunder, his friend Faye, a witch in the woods, and a baby sister who only lived for eight days. The imagery is rich, the dialogue thought-provoking. The characters burst off the page, not because they are so loud or eccentric (with the exception of Faye), but because they are so deeply real, with every quiet word and thought and emotion.
Many middle-grade books cover loss, but this is the first piece of fiction I’ve ever read that depicts infant loss. Losing an infant sibling is so different from losing an older one. You may not be losing a friend, but you’re losing your hope of this child. The idea of who this little person would have grown up to be. It can be deeply devastating. And this book handles it so, so well.
Jess Redman is a psychologist by day, but The Miraculous, her first book, reads like she’s been doing this all her life. It is masterfully handled and the story is woven with grief and mystery and so much love.
I read this book in one day. You can too on July 30th!
DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS: SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME – by Christina Soontornvat
July 30th 2019 ~ Scholastic Paperbacks
Photo and Review by Emily ~ originally on Instagram @redpoppyreading
Diary of an Ice Princess #1: Snow Place Like Home by Christina Soontornvat and illustrated by Barbara Szepesi Szucs, combines princesses, STEM and finding your true self! Lina is a princess from a long line of ancestors who have magic powers to control the weather and her grandfather is sure she is a windtamer like him, but Lina wants to be a regular kid at a regular school. Lina talks her parents into letting her attend regular school with her best friend as long as she will practice controlling her powers with her grandfather on Saturday mornings. But things don’t go quite right at school or in her lessons with grandfather, and Lina learns to be herself. Written in diary format, this quick paced book is perfect for princess fans just getting into chapter books.
MY FATE ACCORDING TO THE BUTTERFLY – by Gail D. Villaneva
July 30th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press
Photo and Review by Laura @librarianmsg
This is a MUST-BUY for all elementary and middle school libraries. I’m adding it to the list for our multicultural 6th grade book clubs for next year. .
When Sab sees a giant black butterfly, she believes the local superstition that she only has a week to live and begins living her life differently. For one, she decides to get a radical haircut. For another, she decides she must help her older sister Ate Nadine reconcile with their father. Sab and her best friend spy on Ate Nadine, a college-aged journalist, and in the process discover secrets about their family that are surprising and unsettling. 🦋🦋
Set in the Philippines, this book has a richly drawn setting. The plot incorporates poverty, inequality, racism, and more, but never in heavy handed way. This is a mystery wrapped up in love and hope that you won’t want to miss. Grades 3+ will enjoy this novel.
NOT IF I CAN HELP IT – by Carolyn Mackler
July 30th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press
Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @kateteaching7and8
Willa likes things a certain way and is not a fan of change. She has a sensory processing disorder which means, as Willa explains it, “that being in my body is harder than it is for most people.” She usually only wears leggings and despises anything with itchy seams or annoying crinkles. She loves gummy bears on her ice cream and dogs. She actually met her best friend, Ruby, at an ice cream parlor called I Scream when they bonded over their love of gummy bears as a frozen treat topping. Now, Willa learns that her dad is in love with Ruby’s mom, and Willa IS NOT okay with that. She doesn’t want to have to give up her room if they get married and she’s not too keen on the idea of her best friend becoming her sister overnight. This book is all about Willa overcoming obstacles and having to decide whether or not she’s going to let this big news ruin her life.
This is a unique book, in that it’s the first book I’ve read that has a protagonist with a sensory processing disorder. The book focuses on the social and emotional affects of the disorder as well as topics of divorce, remarrying, blended families, and peer pressure. Willa learns so much about herself, her family, and her friend during the novel, and the reader learns the lesson that we don’t know what others are going through. Just because someone appears happy and normal doesn’t mean they’re not struggling with their own battles. The story is sensitive, yet relatable and the reader is instantly sucked into Willa’s world. This will be great novel for middle grade readers to help them learn about self-identify, accepting differences, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, blended families, and friendship. This is a great book to help more kids find protagonists and characters that relate to them.
FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME – by Mariama J Lockington
July 30th 2019 ~ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Photo and Review by Akossiwa ~ originally on Instagram @akossket
Keda is a Black eleven-year-old girl with a white adoptive family. When her family moves to a different state Keda gets separated from her best friend, the only other Black girl with a white adoptive family she knows. Now she has to dig deep (into her beliefs and emotions) to face the world with the type of ugliness only she experiences because of her skin color.
There are so many Black girl truths in this book. I teared up, I laughed, I blushed, I hollered and got angry right along with Keda.
Keda’s story of coming of age is also one of family emotional ties. The love and patience she has for her family (especially her mom) will make your heart swell.
The way the author handles mental illness squeezed my heart. She does it truthfully with the confusion, anger, denial and loss that usually follows a medical diagnosis.
Keda’s life sounds rough and emotionally draining, but I appreciate the relentless presence of hope in the story through Keda’s beautiful verses. Things are very messy, but definitely not hopeless.
This is a book that is sure to spark hours and hours of discussions. I can’t wait for July so I can finally talk spoilers with quotes because I. Have. Things. To. Say.
Good things of course.
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