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.
DIARY OF A PUG: PUG BLASTS OFF by Kila May
(October 1st 2019 ~ Scholastic Inc.)
Photo and Review by ~ originally on Instagram @3queensread
This is the first book in the Diary of A Pug series from Scholastics Branches line. The book is in diary format in the pug’s point of view. We are first introduced to Pug who goes by Bub 😁. Bub the pug hates the water but loves his owner Bella. Bella comes home from school with a surprise for Bub. They are going to enter an Inventor Challenge. After the first invention literally goes up in pieces, can Bella and Bub fix it in time for the contest?
I read this book as a read aloud with my 7 year old. This is the perfect book for her age to read alone or out loud. Bub the Pub is hilarious in his antics to stay out of the rain. I look forward to the other books in the series and the see what other adventures Bub gets into. Be sure to check out Diary of A Pug: Pug Blasts Off when it hits shelves October 1, 2019.
Photo and Review by Lauren ~ originally on Instagram @thesmilelines
💥Are you serious with this book?! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time while reading The Disaster Days by @rebeccabehrensbooks !!! QUESTION: Do you have an emergency kit in your house?? What do you have in it? I need to get one together after reading this book!
The Disaster Days is about a disaster that occurs during one of Hannah’s first babysitting experiences! You will be turning the pages so fast to see if these three characters can survive this crisis!
I love how you can really feel Hannah’s thoughts throughout the story. Her texts are a neat way to show the reader how desperate she was feeling!
This books addresses having respect for each other, not saying things you may regret, and pushing yourself to make smart decisions!
The Disaster Days does address sensitive topics such as fatalities and trauma. I will wait a few years to let my son read this one. The nice thing is there is an educator guide on the website to help with big ideas brought up throughout the story. I DEFINITELY recommend reading this thrilling story!
REDWOOD AND PONYTAIL – by K.A. Holt
October 1st 2019 ~ Chronicle Books
Photo and Review by Danielle ~ originally on Instagram @dmvreads
I am head over heels for REDWOOD & PONYTAIL, the newest novel in verse from middle grade author K.A. Holt. If you’ve read HOUSE ARREST or KNOCKOUT, you know how talented Holt is at telling compelling stories about complex characters. This book is no different.
Kate is a cheerleader and Tam is a jock, but there’s much more to each girl: Kate feels like she’s living her mom’s dreams instead of her own. Tam feels like a book on the wrong shelf. When they meet, its with a little sass and a little spark, and they soon become friends – pinkie-holding friends. But what does that mean? Will Levi, Tam’s best friend, be OK with her ditching him for Kate? Will the cheer squad – or her mom, for that matter – accept the new (true) Kate? (This book is truly so much more than this, with so many good relationships between older females and the main characters, Kate & her sister, caring friends, all mixed with that classic middle school self-doubt that plays out in a fresh way. I loved the plot, the characters, and the poetry – This book is soooooo well-written.)
This exquisite must-read will be PERFECT for ALL middle school classroom libraries. I’d even venture to say it’s appropriate for 4th grade and up, and required reading for all humans.
October 1st 2019 ~ Candlewick
Photo and Review by Shan ~ originally on Instagram @shansalterwrites
From acclaimed picture book writer, Carolyn Crimi, comes the sweet and quirky middle-grade novel, WEIRD LITTLE ROBOTS. A story about a lonely, robot-making eleven-year-old named Penny Rose who wishes for a friend, but gets a whole lot more than she ever dreamed.
The gentle and wise narrator’s voice will draw readers in from the first page and the rising action and unexpected events that occur as the plot unfolds will keep readers intrigued until the final word. The character’s (both human and robot) are vividly captured by Crimi’s words and Luyken’s art and their choices, actions, and reactions are well explored. Their love of science, creating, and repurposing discarded objects adds an additional layer of intrigue and wonder to the story.
This delightful, early middle-grade story is a worthy addition to home bookshelves and classroom libraries. Buckle up your tool belt and enjoy!
HER OWN TWO FEET – by Meredith Davis @meredithdavisauthor and Rebeka Uwitonze
October 1st 2019 ~ Scholastic Nonfiction
Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @kateteaching7and8
Rebeka grew up in a small village in Rwanda and was born with arthrogryposis, a disease which caused her joints to contract. This resulted in stiffness, her feet curling back (clubfeet), and muscle atrophy in her arms. For the first four years of her life, she moved around by either crawling or being carried. After a couple painful and failed attempts at turning her feet in Rwanda, she was still determined to walk. With the help of her younger sister, Medea, Rebeka learned to walk on the tips of her feet. After Medea’s host family visited them and met Rebeka, they sent word about her condition back to her host family in the United States. Dr. Rice (her host) arranged for her to come to the U.S. to receive treatment. While in the U.S., she stayed with the Davises (Medea’s host family) and became a part of their family.
This is an inspirational middle grades nonfiction book. I love that it is written by Meredith Davis, the woman Rebeka lived with and became like a second mother to her. While written by an adult, the book still possesses a voice that middle grade readers will respond and connect to. The point of view is still Rebeka’s and her personality, pain, excitement, and experiences are vividly expressed. One of the things I liked most about the book is that though it is meant to be inspirational, it doesn’t shy away from talking about her physical and emotional pain. It covers how she felt when people said she was cursed or avoided her because of her feet, the pain she felt being so far from her family in a new and strange place, and the physical pain she experienced from the surgeries and casts. I loved the message Rebeka’s parents believed and instilled in her: chances only come once, so you should take them. It was easy to become captivated by her story & I finished the book in a day. This is definitely a book I will be recommending to my students.
HOPE – by Alyssa Milano @milano_alyssa and Debbie Rigaud
October 1st 2019 ~ Scholastic Inc.
Photo and review by Nichole ~ originally on Instagram @mrs.oo_reads
Hope is a middle school girl who loves all things science. After feeling her voice is not being heard, she learns some hard lessons while trying to make her point.
A heart-felt story about finding your voice as a middle schooler and dealing with changing friendships, new rivals, and staying true to yourself. Simple language and plot lines, as well as beautiful artwork, allow even struggling readers to actively engage in Hope’s journey and to understand her struggles.
SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE – by Jennifer L. Holm @jenniferholm
October 1st 2019 ~ Graphix
Photo and Review by Emily ~ originally on Instagram @redpoppyreading
We are big fans of Sunny Side Up so we were so excited to read Sunny Rolls the Dice written by @jenniferholm and illustrated by Matthew Holm. In this second book, Sunny is trying to make it through middle school and is trying to “be groovy” and be true to herself – two things that sometimes don’t seem to go together. Her best friend is a little boy-crazy, and into fashion and make-up, but Sunny would rather play Dungeons and Dragons in her basement with her new friends. Can Sunny quit worrying about being cool and just be herself? My 8-year-old and I love this book and will be buying our own copy when it is released on October 1, 2019. For ages 8-12.
A TIME TRAVELER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY – by Nicole Valentine @nicolevalentine
October 1st 2019 ~ Carolrhoda Books
Photo and Review by Melissa ~ originally on Instagram @melissa_joynson
An adorably likable protagonist with messages of hope and kindness, tied together with the idea that how we treat others can literally change the world—this middle grades novel is an absolute gem. A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity by @nicolevalentine tells the story of Finn’s self-discovery, specifically with how wanting to be loved and feel worthy impacts how we see ourselves.
Raising important questions such as who are we?, what are we?, and what are we to each other?, this novel is a must-read for students who are also grappling with these major self-reflective questions (all middle schoolers!). Set to be published on October 1st, this is an absolute purchase for all middle school libraries and classrooms.
LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT – Kim Long @kimlongmg
October 1st 2019 Running Press Kids
Photo and Review by Melissa ~ originally on Instagram@mllittleauthor
This book is quite honestly the cutest thing I ever read in addition to being very intelligent and clever. A trio of very unique twelve-year-olds teams up to enter a competitive and high-stakes teleportation tournament. Yes, this is a world where kids nonchalantly teleport from one country to the other and I was HERE for it. Along the way, they recover from very typical kid mishaps and become a team you can’t help but love and root for. I thoroughly enjoyed following the across-the-world adventure and even felt stressed wanting it to end well for the kids.
The book is full of puzzles I was very tempted to solve (which is why you should buy your kids their own copy and give them a pencil). It delves in-depth into STEM topics in a fun, intriguing way and would make a great book for a classroom to read together.
I really loved this book and you will too!
MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU – by Barbara Dee @barbaradeebooks
October 1st 2019 ~ Aladdin
Photo and Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @librarianmsg
I’ll never forget how it felt when a middle school boy created a joke about my body when I was in 7th grade. It was over 25 years ago, but I can still recall the shame and insecurity it created in me. I’ll never forget how when I told an adult, they said “it’s just words” and “it’s a compliment!” I certainly didn’t feel complimented. I felt scared and embarrassed.
Barbara Dee has written an important book in Maybe He Just Likes You, one that should be read by as many adults and children as possible. I read this book in one sitting (sleep? who needs sleep?) and plan on buying multiple copies for my library, my guidance counselors, my health teachers and friends. It will be an excellent conversation starter. We have to have this conversation! We need to do a better job teaching students how to assert themselves in the face of unwanted attention AND teaching students the importance of respecting each other. We can’t wait until high school to talk about this.
Mila has been experiencing unwanted touches and attention from boys in her grade, but when she tries to tell them to stop they only laugh and say she is overreacting. Even some of her friends aren’t helpful; shouldn’t she like the attention? It’s just flirting after all, right? It’s not like they can touch her without her permission — she must be doing something to make herself a target. (no. No. NO.) Mila is soon scared to go to school and begins covering her body in voluminous shirts and sweaters. Nothing works. Not until she joins a karate class and learns to assert herself will she regain control. Not until she finds the courage to tell an adult the truth will things stop. .
FROST FIRE – by Jamie Smith
October 1st 2019 ~ Chicken House
Good Reads Summary: Chosen as one of hundreds to journey to the top of the glacier in their village, Sabira will embark on a dangerous pilgrimage that will guarantee her a life of importance, but only if she can survive
On Choosing Day, children of Adranna who reach the age of fourteen are finally eligible to undergo the tests to determine if they are worthy of bonding a Frostsliver. Only one in a hundred are destined to succeed. If chosen, they will have to climb to the top of the glacier and cut a piece off for themselves, so that they may be granted the powers they’ve always dreamed of.
When Sabira is chosen, an entire world of possibilities opens up to her. But in order to see it through, she’ll have to embark on a dangerous pilgrimage to the top of the glacier. When a huge avalanche traps her on the glacier and destroys the pass, she must face up to the merciless mountain — but there are dark and fiery secrets hiding in its depths…
ANTHEM – by Deborah Wiles @deborahwiles_
October 1st 2019 ~ Scholastic Press
Good Reads Summary: Molly is a girl who’s not sure she can feel anything anymore, because life sometimes hurts way too much. Her brother Barry ran away after having a fight with their father over the war in Vietnam. Now Barry’s been drafted into that war – and Molly’s mother tells her she has to travel across the country in an old schoolbus to find Barry and bring him home.
Norman is Molly’s slightly older cousin, who drives the old schoolbus. He’s a drummer who wants to find his own music out in the world – because then he might not be the “normal Norman” that he fears he’s become. He’s not sure about this trip across the country . . . but his own mother makes it clear he doesn’t have a choice.
Molly and Norman get on the bus – and end up seeing a lot more of America that they’d ever imagined. From protests and parades to roaring races and rock n’ roll, the cousins make their way to Barry in San Francisco, not really knowing what they’ll find when they get there.
As she did in her other epic novels Countdown and Revolution, two-time National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles takes the pulse of an era . . . and finds the multitude of heartbeats that lie beneath it.
THE DARK LORD CLEMENTINE – by Sarah Jean Horwitz @sunshinejh
October 1st 2019 ~ Algonquin Young Readers
Photo and Review by Kimberly ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads
Clementine is the daughter of a feared Dark Lord. Problem is she doesn’t quite agree with her chosen way of life. She loves tending to a hidden flower garden and gets rather lonely at her castle. When her father is cursed by a mysterious Whittle Witch, her life and surroundings slowly start falling apart. She does her best to keep up the dastardly appearances and actions, but soon begins to question everything as she tries to save her father and home.
This middle grade book is going to be a hit! The whimsical storytelling captured my attention from the very beginning. It’s full of imaginative characters, quite a bit of humor and is the perfect way to introduce young readers to fantasy. You encounter magic (both dark and light), a vengeful huntress, unicorns, a satyr, enchanted objects, a few witches and so much more. My fav was the Gricken, a family grimoire that has taken the form of a hilarious chicken who lays random golden eggs when it wants to share spells from the magical book. I also loved the talking black sheep who becomes cursed when seeking refuge from his family.
Clementine is a wonderful main character. Her growth and awareness throughout the book is so sweet and heartwarming. I enjoyed watching her confidence build as she discovered her true self. Even amongst the wonderful scenes and endless entertainment, there are some great lessons. There’s a fantastic overall theme about the pressure of living up to family expectations and how it can hinder your growth when you desire other dreams or actions.
I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this story and would love to see it continued into a series!!
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