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Late Primary/Junior Grades/Middle Grades

Mini-Reviews: Children’s Picture Books

Captain LaPlank: The Perfect Pirate

Captain LaPlank: The Perfect Pirate

by Flibber T. Gibbet

Published September 12th 2018 by CreateSpace

5 Stars

This was a cute story about a Pirate who is a perfectionist. He can not put up with any mistakes and ends up with a major problem due to this flaw in his personality. A great message not only for those listening to the story, but the adult who is reading it.

Captain LaPlank is a wonderfully written rhyming story with a great cadence and flow. My grandchildren enjoyed hearing this story and when we were finished, cries of “Again, again” reang out. The illustrations were great. They were large, vibrant and humourous. I would try to turn the page and have to go back as they wanted to look longer. It might have been a bit longer than other children’s books, but my grandchildren did not seem to mind. They did not get the message as they are only 2 and 5, but with older children, they will understand it better. The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions stated are my own.

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Sheets by Brenna Thummler

I actually requested this book back in August when I read a review on Perfectly Tolerable. Check out Brittany’s blog if you are not familiar with it.

Sheets

Sheets

by Brenna Thummler

Published August 28th 2018 by Lion Forge

3.5 Stars

SHEETS is a sad, but powerful middle grades graphic novel about loss, perseverance, forgiveness and unlikely friendships.

Marjorie, a thirteen year old girl, who feels invisible to the world. When her mother died, her father shut himself down emotionally. Marjorie is not running the family laundry and taking care of her little brother. She loves books and the piano. She is awkward and has not friends. A tough life trying to get through middle school. Throw in a ruthless business man harassing her, and I do not understand how she makes it through the day. And then there is Wendell. He is the ghost of a little boy, who has the habit of exaggerating. He is a cute little ghost who wears a sheet. When Wendell gets kicked out of his house and needs a place to stay, he ends up in the human world, living in the laundry. There are all kinds of problems with this, but when push comes to shove, Wendell and Marjorie team up to save the laundry.

This book is a graphic novel that deals with some deep issues: death of family and friends and the depression of the child forced into taking care of her family, as well as the bullying. Having said that, it is also about second chances and finding friends in the most unlikely places. The illustrations are wonderful. They are colourful, yet muted in pastel shades that add to the despair that Marjorie is feeling. The faces show so much expression, it is easy to see how the characters are feeling. This is a clever story that I believe middle school students would enjoy and perhaps some may identify with these outcast characters. With Halloween around the corner, this is a different type of ghost story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

For the second week of the Children’s Readathon, hosted by This is My Truth Now, we are reading Children’s Readathon Award Winners.

My final read for this week is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

Number the Stars

Over the years, I have read many of Lois Lowry’s books, I do not know how I missed this one. This is a poignant tale of Annemarie Johansen and her family living in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1943. Annemarie’s best friend is Ellen Rosen, a young Jewish Girl. When the nazis finally decide to relocate the Jewish people, a high-ranking German official tells the Danish government. The rabbi at the synogogue the Rosens attend warns them. The rest of the story details the secrecy and the plans the resistance has to smuggle the Jewish people out of Denmark, across the sea to safety in Sweden.

This is a story of bravery, love, sacrifice and success. The story is told in simple language for children. It is not gruesome or descriptive of the horrors that occurred, but it is easy to see the burdens and fear the Danish people lived with. This book is a Newberry Award winner and it is easy to see why. This is not a long book, but it is an important story. Once again, I have learned something about the people who survived WWII that I was not aware of before.

Make sure you read the afterword as it informs the reader of the true facts, what part of the story is fiction and some background to the author’s research and motivation to write this book.

How to Track a Pterodactyl by Will Dare

How to Track a Pterodactyl5 Stars

Expected publication: September 4th 2018 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

I really enjoy this series of children’s books. The stories take place in a wild west setting, but with dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t enjoy that. This is the 5th book in the series.

Trihorn Settlement is having a fair when the pterodactyls attack. When they fly off with Josh’s hero, Terrodactyl Bill (T-Bill) he and his friends set off to save him. Can they make it up the mountain? Will T-Bill be okay? Will they get attacked again? Read to find the answers to these questions and more.

This is a great book for anyone who loves dinosaurs. It is an early chapter book that late primary, early junior students would be able to read with help or independently. The illustrations are wonderful and add to the story. A great addition to school, classroom and family libraries. Definitely a winner with dinosaur lovers. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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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”

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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