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.
A SWIRL OF OCEAN – by Melissa Sarno
(August 6th 2019 ~ Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Photo and Review originally on Instagram ~ @mllittleauthor
Though set in the school year, A Swirl of Ocean makes for a perfect late-summer read because of the setting and weather; both will have you wishing to go to the beach (or back to the beach). In A Swirl of Ocean, an adopted 12-year-old finds herself wrestling with one issue after the other: her mom’s new boyfriend, her best friend’s estranged father returning to town, strange dreams ever since a scary incident in a riptide, and mounting questions of who she really is and where she came from. Summer is a well-built character and I loved how she was in no hurry to grow up, riding bikes and spying on mysterious neighbors instead.
BY FAR the strongest point of this book is its descriptions. Nothing in the book was badly written, but the descriptions were out of this world phenomenal. The imagery makes you feel the gritty sand on the floor, taste the salt, hear the wind, see every detail of Summer’s life and surroundings.
I also adored the setting. The island town with only a few year-round residents, all of them eccentric (and I got a kick out of Gamzy and the Pitch & Putt). This book is a little hard to categorize. While the main story is solidly middle-grade, the dream sequences are very YA and teenager-y. However, it worked for me. I loved it.
A Swirl of Ocean goes on sale August 6th and you’ll regret it if you don’t check it out!
EACH TINY SPARK – by Pablo Cartaya
(August 6th 2019 ~ Kokila)
Photo and Review by Katie ~ originally on Instagram @texasreadergirl
This is my first book by Pablo Cartaya, but it won’t be my last! I loved it.
Emilia Torres has a hard time focusing, sometimes forgetting about schoolwork and what her mom and abuela ask her to do. She’s been anxiously awaiting her dad returning home from his latest deployment, certain that when he’s home things will finally get back to normal. But instead, her dad is acting strangely, not at all like Emilia remembered or expected. At school, she’s tasked with doing some research into her hometown in Georgia, which opens up some big questions for Emilia – about identity and community and standing up for what’s right. Can Emilia find a way to express her unique voice, and can she and her father find their way back to one another?
There’s a lot going on in this story, but it works. I loved Emilia and her sweet family. I loved how her mom let her wear her hair however she wanted, even as her abuela stood by with the flatiron. I loved the descriptions of food, and how important it is to her family’s culture. I loved her friend Gus – what a quirky sweetheart! And I loved that her abuela could be a total pain, and yet she so obviously loves Emilia and wants the best for her. I loved how she and her dad were able to reconnect over working on his old Mustang. And I loved how Cartaya interwove Spanish throughout the text.
This is a wonderful #middlegradenovel that deals with some big issues in a really great way. There’s something here for everyone. Recommend for grades 5+.
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