Monday, November 25, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - A Song for Bijou

by Josh Farrar
Walker Childrens 2013

From Goodreads:
Life for Alex Schrader has never involved girls. He goes to an all-boys prep school and spends most of his time goofing around with his friends. But all that changes the first time he meets Bijou Doucet, a Haitian girl recently relocated to Brooklyn after the earthquake-and he is determined to win her heart. For Bijou, change is the only constant, and she's surprised every day by how different life is in America, especially when a boy asks her out. Alex quickly learns that there are rules when it comes to girls-both in Haitian culture and with his own friends. And Bijou soon learns that she doesn't have to let go of her roots to find joy in her new life.

Told in alternating viewpoints against the vibrant backdrop of Haitian-American culture, Alex and Bijou take their first tender steps toward love in this heartwarming story.

First, I would like to mention that this is definitely for the upper middle grade set. Much of the book focuses on Alex, a seventh grader, and the huge crush he has a new girl, Bijou. Some of the emotions might be a bit much for 8-10 year-olds to understand.

This is definitely a unique concept and plot that I don't think I have read lately in a middle grade. Showing first love and how that grows and evolves, especially in the light of a multi-cultural relationship, makes for an interesting, fun read. I enjoyed seeing the characters grow, especially as they learn how to deal with those who aren't as open to other cultures and ideas. I think both boys and girls would like this book.

I'm glad I found out about this book as a judge for the Cybils. Another I might not have read without seeing it on the nominations list.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library


by: Chris Grabenstein
Random House Books for Young Readers 2013

This gem of a book is part Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, part Trixie Belden/Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew and part Night at the Museum. Such a fun book to read, and best of all it is filled with references to books and authors through the ages. 

From Goodreads:
Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

I definitely hope all kids have a chance to read this book, not only for the sheer fun of it, but to learn how important it is to occasionally put aside technology and sit down to play a board game or read. And just as a disclaimer, when the book description states that the "stakes are high" to get out of the library, it isn't a life or death situation, it is more along the lines of what could be won. Totally kid-friendly!

I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Jessica Darling's It List

JESSICA DARLING'S IT LIST - The (totally not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection
by: Megan McCafferty
Poppy 2013

Today's post is short, I have to get back to my reading! But I wanted to share this gem of a book I read this past week. I don't tend to read too many "girlie" books, as 1) I have two boys and no daughters and 2) My work-in-progress is geared for boys. This for me was an enjoyable read, one I would have loved in my younger years. It made me laugh out loud and root for Jessica in her triumphs and failures.

From the jacket flap:
I hadn't even gotten to homeroom yet and I'd already discovered five hard truths about junior high:

1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn't know it yet.
3. It wouldn't be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn't a thing I could do about it.

It's the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom?

The best part of this book - it is the first in a new series!  I can't wait for the next installment. Well, that and the fact that the voice in this book was spot on, such a great learning tool!

Until next week, happy reading and/or writing! And Happy Veterans Day to all who have served our country, including my dad! May God bless you all!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Losing It

Today's pick was fun and inspiring to read. My middle grader read it before me and absolutely loved it. Once again, if it wasn't for the Cybils, we probably wouldn't have come across it! 

by: Erin Fry
Amazon Children's Publishing 2012

From Goodreads:
Bennett Robinson loves baseball, especially watching Dodgers’ games with his dad while munching on burgers and fries—the perfect “game food.” Baseball even helped Bennett and his dad get over his mom’s death from cancer. But there’s no way Bennett could ever play baseball. Bennett is fat, the kind of fat that gives you belly button sweat stains and makes it tough to get off a saggy couch.

But on one perfect, baseball-watching day, everything changes. Bennett’s dad is taken away on a stretcher, and Bennett doesn’t know if he will live or die.

Now Bennett has to move in with know-it-all Aunt Laura, his mom’s sister, who hates Bennett’s dad. And Aunt Laura is making it her personal mission to Get Bennett Healthy. Bennett knows that Aunt Laura will take over his entire life if he lets her.

It’s time for Bennett to step up to the plate. Because maybe there are some things a fat boy can do

Why kids will love it - Bennett is a great protagonist. He's a normal boy who has the same feelings and wishes that other kids do. What Bennett has to deal with is being overweight and not ending up like his dad. He also has to deal with friendship issues, the cute girl who actually LIKES him :), and living with his aunt and her family and making some life changes. These situations many middle-graders also work through and they can be tough. Reading how Bennett survives the changes and readjusts to a new way of living is so inspiring. A very positive book!

What I learned as a writer - Being honest and not sugar-coating situations is the way to go. Erin Fry really keeps things realistic and doesn't try to add too much to make the story sell. It feels very in touch with this age group.

I hope you have a great week.  I must get back to my reading! :)