Monday, March 31, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - New Kid

For today's post I'm featuring a book recommendation from my son. He received this book for his birthday and devoured it. It probably doesn't hurt that he is a huge fan of Tim Green's books. I hope you enjoy his thoughts.

by: Tim Green
HarperCollins Children's Books 2014

From the jacket flap:
It’s hard being the new kid, both on and off the field.

It’s bases loaded, bottom of the last inning, and Tommy Rust is up at bat in the championship game. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. But then his father barges onto the field, and Tommy knows what will happen next. They will be leaving immediately—again—because Tommy and his dad are on the run.

Now Tommy is in a new school, in a new town, and he is no longer known as Tommy. Brock Nickerson is the name of the new kid, and finding a place for himself is proving to be a challenge, especially when his new friend is the bully from the wrong side of the tracks. Things aren’t looking good for Brock, so to fit in, he accepts a dare to throw a rock at the travel-team coach’s window.

Coach Hudgens has demons of his own that he’s dealing with, and many say he’s “washed up.” The travel team he’s been running has lost every ball game in the last year. However, when Coach catches Brock in the act, he’s more impressed by his pitching arm than angry at the prank. But can Brock save Coach’s team . . . and maybe Coach himself? Or will Brock’s father make him be the new kid in yet another town?

What did you like the most about this book?
That baseball was the main story line of the book.

Was it hard to relate to Tommy/Brock, or did he still seem like a regular kid?
He changes personalities every time he changes his name, but baseball is his love, so that is a constant in his life. So that relates to me, as baseball is my favorite sport.

Is this a book for all middle graders or older middle grade?
This would be for older middle grades, probably 5th or 6th grade and up.

What is it about Tim Green books that makes you really like them?
They are action-packed with sports / mysteries, all the things I love to read about. #awesomebooks

And to close, I have to say it is such a good book because I teared up at the end.

I would say that is a glowing endorsement! Thanks for stopping by and I will be back next week with a post that's part of a blog tour with a fellow Michigan author.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Hattie Big Sky and Exciting News

Before I get to today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post, I wanted to share some exciting news with you all. My book, DUCKLINGS ON THE MOVE, is now available as an eBook from MeeGenius. For those of you who haven't heard of MeeGenius, it is a free app that gives parents access to hundreds of eBooks for kids ages 2-8. Click here for the direct link to my book. I don't think it has quite sunk in yet that I have a published book. It is a dream come true! But of course, now that I have one published, it makes me want to work even harder to get more out into the world. 

I also want to give a shout out to Rebecca Pry, who brought my book to life! Click HERE for some of her beginning sketches and HERE for some final illustrations.

Now for today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, a fantastic read by Kirby Larson that's been on my to-read list for a while now. I enjoyed another book by her, DUKE, that I shared with you this past fall, and knew she wouldn't disappoint.


by: Kirby Larson
Delacorte Books for Young Readers 2006

From Goodreads:
Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle's homesteading claim.

For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie's been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle's homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends--especially Charlie, fighting in France--through letters and articles for her hometown paper.

Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a "Loyal" American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie's determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home.

A more modern version of "Little House on the Prairie," Hattie Big Sky is written with the sweeping grace of the big Montana prairie it describes. Hattie is a girl made of strength and resolve, one who just wants to find her place. Kids will love reading of life on the prairie, even though cars, running water, telephones and other technology can be found in the towns and cities so close to the hardworking claim holders. Girls will especially love reading of Hattie's life and adventures.

Once again I learned how important it is in writing to find the fine line between description and sharing the story can be. I was immediately drawn to Hattie, and later on her new friends in Montana, so much so that the tears flowed at the end. I can't wait to read the sequel!

One other note, this book would fall into the older middle grade category, although younger middle grade could read it if they already had an understanding of World War I and how German immigrants were treated in the US.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. Have a great week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Heartbreak Messenger

I'm sorry for not having a post last week. March is one of those crazy times of the year for my family. Today's MMGM is a book I read from Cybils judging and wanted to share with you all.  

by: Alexander Vance
Feiwel & Friends 2013

From Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Quentin never asked to be "The Heartbreak Messenger," it just kind of happened - and he's not one to let a golden opportunity pass him by. The valuable communications service he offers is simple: he delivers break-up messages. For a small fee, he will deliver such a message to your soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. If you order the deluxe package, he'll even throw in some flowers and a box of chocolates...well, you don't want to leave a girl completely alone.

At first, Quentin's entrepreneurial brainchild is surprisingly successful. But as he interacts with clients and message recipients, from the teary-eyed football player to the dangerously powerful soccer chick, it doesn't take him long to start wondering whether his business will create negative repercussions in his life, especially for his relationship with his long-time best friend Abigail. Quentin discovers the game of love and the emotions that go with it are as complicated as they come - even for an almost innocent bystander.

I feel the age range for this book is 12+, thus the dilemma is it middle grade or YA? And more so for the boy/girl relationships. I don't think the average 3rd or 4th grader has the knowledge base to understand broken hearts and "breaking up". Either way, it is a fantastic book. Quentin is a fun twelve-year-old, but also pretty mature for his age, at least in some aspects of his life. Since his dad's been gone for years, he's become the man of the house and has more responsibilities than your average 7th grader. Even so, he doesn't always make the right decisions, but you can't help but root for him anyway. As he gets deeper into his business of being the Heartbreak Messenger, he soon realizes that love isn't just a game and emotions can cause people to do crazy things. Girls and boys will both appreciate this book, and may even learn a thing or two about girl/boy relationships.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope to see you next week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Prisoner B-3087

by: Alan Gratz
Scholastic 2013

From Goodreads:
Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

If you have a middle grader who doesn't know much about the Holocaust, or even if they do, this is a book they should read. Based on the true story of Jack and Ruth Gruener, it shares how Yanek (Jack) survived 10 different concentrations camps as well as the Krakow ghetto before World War II ended.

The book does a good job of sharing the horrors Yanek survived as a young boy and teenager (he was 10 when the war started) in a way for kids to read and learn from, but keeps the graphic-ness to a minimum. It is amazing the will to live that Yanek possessed, even when giving in to death would have been a welcome relief. Reading his account will help kids realize the importance of remembering who they are and where they come from whatever the cost.

Thanks for stopping by this week. See you again next week!