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Late Primary/Junior Grades/Middle Grades

Switched (Fairy Tale Reform School #4) by Jen Calonita

Switched (Fairy Tale Reform School #4)4 Stars

My Review: This was another wonderful adventure with Gilly and the other students at Fairy Tale Reform School. In this story, the new library is opened. The books are magical and many are off limits without special permission. Prince Sebastian (aka The Beast) and his wife Beauty are in charge of the library with the help of many fairies. Their daughter also comes with them and she and Gilly become friends. Anna, Gilly’s sister is still missing and Gilly is obsessed with finding and rescuing her. Jack, another new student also becomes friends with Gilly. They have a very similar background and both have family members with Rumpelstiltskin. When Gilly gets the chance to head up to Cloud City where she is hoping to rescue her sister, she takes up. All her friends join her in this adventure. Will things turn out the way they hoped? Will they rescue Anna and Jack’s family? Will they capture Rumpelstiltskin?

There is an undertone about bullying in this story as well as judging people by their appearance, title etc. There is also some discussion about trust, which is an issue in everyone’s lives, not just children. There is a lot more magic in this book and not as much figuring out puzzles, but that does not matter in this story. This book is another great addition to this series for middle grade readers. I would recommend reading these books in order as there is often cliffhangers as there is in this one. I am looking forward to reading Misfits, the next in this series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Continue reading “Switched (Fairy Tale Reform School #4) by Jen Calonita”

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The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall by Drew Weing

375343794 Stars

My Review: In this second book in the Margo Maloo series, Charles is the official assistant to Margo when it comes to solving mysteries or problems involving monsters or other supernatural beings. In this outing, Margo is contacted by a teenage vampire. They have been living and hiding out in the abandoned mall, but she is afraid that humans are trying to find and film them. Margo and Charles head off to help. They go not want another home to the vampires to be taken and have them move to another place like the imp they are helping. I also enjoyed the interesting explanation of why there are only teenage vampires. This case has a happy ending, but I do not want to give away the whole story.

This series is clever, witty with wonderful adventures altogether with great characters and plot. Both Charles and Margo are interesting characters with recognizable personalities. This comic fits both girls and boys with the main characters being one of each. The story flows nicely and the panels are put together in a way that the story is easy to follow and the graphics are recognizable. The art is well done in a dark shadowy way that fits well with the story. The back of the book has pages showing each of the monsters in the story. It tells a little about them and shows their physical makeup. A nice addition. This is a great book for school and public libraries, especially for those reluctant readers whether male or female. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Continue reading “The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall by Drew Weing”

Tricked (Fairy Tale Reform School #3) by Jen Calonita

Tricked by Jen Calonita4.5 Stars

My Review: This was another wonderful adventure with Gilly and the other students at Fairy Tale Reform School. In this story, most of the gang are living at home, having been released at the end of the last book. Rumpelstiltskin is now the head master of FTRS and things are changing. When Anna, Gilly’s sister is arrested, Gilly and Jax get themselves back at FTRS to save Anna. Finding many students under some kind of a spell, they try to sneak into Rumpelstiltskin’s office to see if they can find any information and magic beans. They are caught and the only way to help Flora and the school is to go on a quest to find the Golden Goose. This quest takes them into some scary situations and they meet some mythical creatures, all the while learning what they are capable of achieving both alone and together. We meet a few new characters in this story such as Hansel and Gretel as well as Red Riding Hood. The magical pets that are a class in this story, save the day a couple of times, which is quite fun. The reader will learn that depending on the choices we make, wh can be a hero or a villian. Being a follower can end you up in a lot of trouble. The princesses are not in the story as much this time, it is the kids that figure out what to do and how to do it. Another great addition to this series for middle grade readers.

New challenges, new mythical beings, and new fairy tale characters all bring fresh elements into the mix, creating a charming, fun, colorful, and magical tale!

Continue reading “Tricked (Fairy Tale Reform School #3) by Jen Calonita”

Charmed (Fairy Tale Reform School #2) by Jen Calonita

Charmed (Fairy Tale Reform School, #2)

4 Stars

My Review: In the second story in the Fairy Tale Reform School series, we are back in Enchantasia, the land of all the fairy tale characters. Even though Gilly and her friends saved the day in Flunked, they are still students at FTRS. The students are pretty much the same, but with Harlowe (The Evil Queen) in the dungeon, Blackbeard the Pirate has been added to the staff. Unfortunately, Harlowe escapes with the help of Alva, the wicked fairy and they begin recruiting to take over Enchantasia.

Gilly’s character becomes involved with the “Royal Ladies in Waiting” club at the request of Princess Rose. She quickly becomes entranced by Rose, the girls in the group and the hero worship and decides that she will find out on her own, her the mole is at FTRS. All her friends, are upset with her as well as her family. She quickly learns, however, that she can not go it alone if she expects to battle the evil villains in Enchantasia. But who should she trust? Who is the mole? Gilly continues to show her strength and guts, but does have some moments of doubt and issues of self-confidence. With the help and encouragement of her friends, once again, she is able to save the day. This story was a bit more predictable than the first one, but it was still entertaining and interesting. I liked that this book showcased teamwork, co-operation, friendship and humility. Once again this is a great middle grades series showing strong female characters.

Continue reading “Charmed (Fairy Tale Reform School #2) by Jen Calonita”

Science Comics

Science Comics: Solar System: Our Place in SpaceScience Comics: Solar System: Our Place in Space

by Rosemary MoscoJon Chad (Illustrations)
Hardcover, 128 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by First Second
4 Stars
My Review: This is a great graphic novel to interest middle grade students in the Solar System. Sara is home sick from school and she is bored. Her friend Jill comes to visit and brings the book she has been reading called “Solar Systems.” Using the book and her imaginations, she takes Sara on a trip through the Solar System on the ship called the Unbored. The crew on the ship are Sara’s dog, and hamster and Jill’s cat and snake. As they travel from the sun to the outer reaches of the solar system, they learn about each planet and the moons. They have to solve some problems and write short reports after each stop. It is a fun way to learn about the solar system and could be a starting point for further research into any of the things the ship encounters along the way. There are some great illustrations mixed in with the cartoon ones. A great addition to any school or class library. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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Wonder

Wonderby R.J. Palacio

Hardcover, Books for Young Readers, 316 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Knopf
5 Stars

 

My Review: I wanted to read this book before seeing the movie. I was expecting a sad story but was pleasantly surprised. August (Auggie) was going to school for the first time in grade 5. He did not want to go, but his parents convinced him it was time and that his mother, who had home schooled him, was not able to teach him what he needed to know. This is the story of the great courage and character it took for this boy to face the harsh, often cruel and judgmental world of school, one day at a time, and not only survive, but grow. It is a very moving story and probably a good one for middle-school children to read to learn more about what it feels like to be so different on the outside yet only desiring to be seen as normal and to be accepted. The ending was a bit too happy for me. Having taught in the school system, I know it is not that easy to change people’s perceptions. I liked that they included Olivia and how Auggie’s facial anomaly effected her life as well. It is hard to be the sibling of a child with a physical or developmental issue. It is important that parents read this book as well. It is true that a lot of the things that were said or done to Auggie and Jack were condoned by adults in a way by allowing it and supporting it. A book that all ages could learn something from.

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Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island (Emily Windsnap #7)

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island (Emily Windsnap #7)by Liz Kessler

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 20th 2018 by Candlewick Press
4 Stars

My Review: In this seventh outing with Emily Windsnap, Emily’s family, her best friend Shona and her boyfriend Aaron are headed to a tropical island for a relaxing vacation. Emily promises Shona, there will be absolutely no adventure, just plenty of fun and relaxation. It doesn’t take long for Emily to go off on a sidetrip with Aaron leaving Shona left out. Shona can’t resist catching up with the boat taking the others to Forgotten Island and when Emily sees her, she ends up in the water and they get caught up in a terrible current. This takes a lot out of them both, but adventure always seems to find Emily, and before she knows it, she ends up on the other side of a powerful waterfall on a forgotten island no one else can get to. There is a situation that Emily has to help with that upsets both Shona and Aaron. This book has so much angst wrapped up in a short story. There are tested friendships, danger, young love, fantasy, adventure, and mystery. The way these three friends handle all this shows that they are just kids, but sometimes need to step up to make the right decision. This is another great adventure in this series to interest middle grades readers. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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Wild World

Wild Worldby Angela McAllisterHvass&Hannibal (Illustrations)

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Wide Eyed Editions
4.5 Stars

 

My Review: This is a beautifully illustrated book showing ecosystems that are in danger throughout the world. Each of them is described using freeform poetry. There are thirteen described in total. The description includes animals that live there, as well as some of the plants and the climate. You could spend time on each page looking at the various life depicted. This would fit in perfectly with an ecosystem or environmental unit, as it provides the additional level of addressing how climate change has affected each of these ecosystems. The back of the book has further information about each of the ecosystems and what they provide to the world. There is also a final call to the reader about finding out what they can do to protect the ecosystems. This would lead into further research and possible projects or presentations. A wonderful book for all family, public, class and school libraries. The text form is not one that I prefer, but it is informative without sounding text bookish. The publisher provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley. These are my own honest opinions.

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In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horseby Joseph M. Marshall IIIJim Yellowhawk (Illustrations)

Hardcover, 176 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Harry N. Abrams
4.5 Stars

My Review: Joseph M. Marshall III is a member of the Lakota nation and he has written other books about Crazy Horse, his childhood hero. This is his biography written for younger readers. Eleven year-old Jimmy McClean is 3/4 Lakota, but his 1/4 Scottish gave him his looks. He is teased about not being a real Lakota by older boys at school. When school gets out for the summer, Jimmy’s grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, invites him to go on a road trip. Jimmy loves spending time with his grandfather, so jumps at the chance. This is not just any ordinary trip, this trip will take them on a journey to follow in the footsteps of Crazy Horse, the Lakota hero and leader who lived in the 1800s. One of the first things Jimmy learns is that Crazy Horse was also teased as a boy because he had light coloring and brown hair. In fact, Crazy Horse’s name as a boy was Light Hair. The journey takes them through South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. At each stop, Grandpa Nyles tells Jimmy how that area played an important part in the life of Crazy Horse and the Lakota. He explains what happened and why it happened. Jimmy learns that standing up for what you believe in is important and that strength comes from within.

For most readers, you have heard these stories from the perspective of the “Long Knives” or soldiers, but this story is from the perspective of the native people. I enjoyed learning about Crazy Horse and his struggles to defend the Lakota people from the encroachment of white settlers, gold miners and the US Army. One of the interesting things noted was the monument at the Battle of Little Big Horn. It states that General Custer and his battalion were defeated and there were no survivors, but Grandfather Nyles reminds Jimmy, there were survivors, the Lakota. We also learn about the strategy of the warriors that was successful at this battle. One thing I really liked was that Grandfather Nyles repeatedly stated that war should not be glorified and that all soldiers that died need to be remembered for their bravery and honour. The final stop on their trip is where Crazy Horse surrenders. The story explains why the Native People surrendered to the soldiers.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse is a well written story. The author explains that most of his information came from oral stories told by the Lakota as well as some other published works. The story is almost like a storyteller sharing this life of Crazy Horse with the reader. Jimmy and Grandpa Nyles are not fully part of the story except that they are the storyteller and receiver. It is an easy story to understand and follow and would make a great addition to a school or public library. A great middle grade story.

Continue reading “In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse”

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