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.
THE VANDERBEEKERS TO THE RESCUE – by Karina Yan Glaser
(September 17th 2019 ~ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Photo and Review by Kimberly ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads
The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue is set to release 9.17.19!!! Book 3 is such a wonderful addition to the Vanderbeekers series. I just adore this sweet family, their caring hearts and the fun New York setting. In this story, Mrs. Vanderbeeker’s delicious cookies are always a hit and have landed her an interview that will definitely boost her business. Problem is their brownstone could use a bit of upkeep before the big day and then the inspector drops by unannounced. He immediately shuts down the home bakery after witnessing the numerous animals who reside there. The Vanderbeeker kids must once again work through some challenges and come up with a solution to help their mom keep her dream job.
I can’t get enough of this series. I love the relationships among the kids and how they learn from their mistakes, take responsibility and brainstorm solutions. They always have sweet side stories with their older neighbors that just melt my heart, too. Animal lovers will definitely enjoy this book. Every day, new animals are dropped off unexpectedly at the door. This offers many entertaining scenes and a light mystery to discover where they are coming from. Overall, I just love how realistic this family is! They have their struggles, but there’s a lovely emphasis placed on the value of community and working together.
This series definitely deserves a permanent place on your shelf. It’s a wonderful series to share, read aloud and love for years to come. I can’t wait for more adventures with The Vanderbeekers. I’m also super excited to see how Amy Poehler depicts the first book in her upcoming adaptation!!
GUTS – by Raina Telgemeier
(September 17th 2019 ~ Scholastic)
Photo and Review by Emily ~ originally on Instagram @redpoppyreading
Guts,” by @goraina, is the most highly anticipated ARC we have ever had the opportunity to read! I can’t even explain how excited my 8-year-old was when she found out we would get to read it before it is released. She had been asking at least once a week for the last several months when it was coming out. Obviously we are huge Raina Telgemeier fans! And “Guts” is our favorite of all her books! As a family who deals with anxiety, this book really spoke to us. “Guts” is the true story of Raina’s dealing with pretty severe anxiety in fifth grade. It’s really tough to be a kid and Raina and her friends are all dealing with a lot of stress, the way they come together and support each other in the end had me cheering and tearing up. Raina’s practice of feeling her feet on the ground and taking deep breaths, is something my daughter already started doing after reading this and it’s helping her deal with stress. I hope “Guts” is available for every 8-13 year old girl to read. We will definitely be adding this to our home library when it is released on September 17, 2019.
CATWAD: IT’S ME TOO – by Jim Benton
(September 17th 2019 ~ Graphix)
Photo and Review by Kelly ~ originally on Instagram @kidlitunderground
In what’s shaping up to be the most dysfunctional best frenemy/roommate/chosen family relationship since Ren & Stimpy, Catwad and Blurmp are back. 🐱
CATWAD: IT’S ME, TWO, darker than its predecessor, centers around Blurmp. But the happy-go-lucky Blurmp of the first Catwad has largely given way to a calculatingly stupid kitty whose mishaps mostly burn just Catwad. Except for the time Blurmp’s stupidity infects the world with a zombie virus. 🐱
Make that mostly calculating – Blurmp still mistakes a diarrhea medicine commercial for a video game and has a blast beating… something. Oh, and then Blurmp glues himself to Catwad for eternity in a decoupage project gone wrong. 🐱
On the minus side, the chapters are shorter (in the face of cooler storylines) and I got more “antagonistic co-dependency” than the quirky”opposites attract platonic love” of the first Catwad book. 🐱
But with a name built on the Demotivators-style humor of an angry bunny and a Dumb Diary, nobody should come looking to Jim Benton to be the Tony Robbins of graphic novels. 🐱
On the plus side, they were running zombie jokes, catnip that bites Catwad in the butt, and in general trippier pranks and storylines in the little vignettes. There is also a maze and a picture puzzle at the end, a plus up from the first book. 🐱
In short, worth it for a reluctant reader as a quick, fun book as long as they understand that the over-the-top pranks don’t translate into real life. I’m still holding out hope for a Happy Bunny book, but Catwad/Blurmp’s wacky storylines will have me looking for their third adventure.
MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS – by Dusti Bowling
(September 17th 2019 ~ Sterling Children’s Books)
Photo and Review by Katie ~ originally on Instagram @texasreadergirl
Oh how I loved being back in Stagecoach Pass with Aven, her parents, her friends Zion and Connor (plus some new ones who are utterly delightful – Trilby, I’m looking at you!), grandmother Joe, and all the wonderful characters that make Aven’s life complete.
In this sequel to the amazing INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS, Aven is starting high school: “two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler…” Aven is determined to be totally blasé, not letting anything get to her in a new school with 2,300 kids who can’t help but stare at the girl who eats with her feet. Well, Aven’s plans quickly fall apart when a particularly nasty bully humiliates her and breaks her heart. Her confidence is quickly deflated, filling her heart with fear, mistrust, and anger. Thankfully, she has her amazing family and friends – new and old – to help her find her way back to her true self – cool, confident, and full of love.
I sure do love Aven Green; she has taught me SO much. She really struggles in this book, and I like how it gives her amazing friends and family many opportunities to shine and to show her, through their love and support, just how strong she really is. I also LOVE all the punk rock lines and references sprinkled throughout! That was really fun. Middle grade fans will love Aven’s latest story; and even though she’s now in high school, it’s still completely appropriate for middle school-age readers.
THE WOODS – by R.L. Toalson
(September 17th 2019 ~ Yellow Jacket)
Photo and Review by Melissa ~ originally on Instagram @mllittleauthor
I plowed through the nearly 500 pages remarkably fast considering work and school consume about 90% of my time. Like a retelling of The Secret Garden, The Woods gives us the story of a newly-orphaned girl, Lenora, going to live with her strange and distant uncle in a huge, mysterious mansion post-WWII. STAY OUT OF THE WOODS is the only rule…but how can she, when the woods are so beautiful, when voices vaguely reminiscent of her family members’ whisper her name from inside?
The Woods is a fantastically written tale of the madness of grief, the burn of revenge, and the sweet taste of secrets and lies. It is a story of family and love and brokenness and healing. Though it is middle-grade, it’s not afraid to move slowly, and I admired the author’s bravery in that decision as it allowed tension to build. As a religion major, I noticed the book getting pretty Biblical in its themes of returning to sin, but that might be because of my major and my brain automatically goes there. This book is wonderful and I’m so thankful I got to read it. I can’t wait to own it on September 17th!
THE BOOK OF TERRIFYINGLY AWESOME TECHNOLOGY – by Sean Connolly
(September 17th 2019 ~ Workman Publishing Company)
Photo and Review by Genevieve ~ originally on Instagram @get.lit_erature
This is not a book I would normally pick up, but I’m so glad I did! I had a lot of fun reading about 27 different types of technology in our world today- technology we actually use and future tech endeavors. But what is so cool about this book is that the author discusses the pros and cons of each tech type- how the world is made better, but also how the technology could have major consequences for humanity and the world. The best part is that each tech type is accompanied by an experiment that you can do in your own home to see how it works! With just a few materials you probably have in your home (or that you can easily get at the store), you can conduct an experiment that directly correlates to each chapter of technology. Definitely a great read for weekend experiments, summer projects, and just general, all-around knowledge about the technology that fills up our world!
HARVEY COMES HOME – by Colleen Nelson
(September 19th 2019 ~ Pajama Press)
A dog’s world is a world of scents, of adventure. When a runaway West Highland Terrier named Harvey wanders out of his old life guided only by his nose and his heart, lives begin to converge.
Austin, a young volunteer at Brayside retirement home, quickly finds that the audacious Harvey inspires Mr. Pickering, a bitter resident coping with memory loss, to tell stories of his childhood. Moved by the elderly man’s Dust Bowl recollections of grinding poverty and the perseverance of his friends and family, Austin begins to trade his preconceived notions for empathy. But is it enough to give him the resolve to track down Harvey’s original owner?
Supported by striking illustrations from acclaimed artist Tara Anderson, Colleen Nelson immerses readers in a rich and unflinchingly human tale of struggle and hope—all inspired by one curious dog.
WATCH FOR A REVIEW SOON!
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