I read a lot of really interesting Middle Grade novels during my Children’s literature class last semester. Since it has been a while since I have read them, I feel that I cannot fully review them. So I have written mini-reviews to give you a good sample of the essence of these books!
What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren, 217 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Standalone
“Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.
Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?
Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.”
My Snippet Review: A family struggling during the Great Depression moves from downtown Chicago to a run-down farm in Wisconsin. I really enjoyed the historical setting for this very superstitious story. This was a cute story where Esther learns more about what family is and what love really means. This book is well-written, and I would definitely read another book by Gayle. She has a way of creating a setting that just pulls you right in to the story. A solid read.
My Bookshelf Rating: A Middle Shelf Book (3 out of 5 Stars)
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Gaither Sisters #1), 218 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Historical Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Award Winner
“In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.”
My Snippet Review: A historical novel about a period of history I know very little about (The Black Panther Movement), I was immediately drawn into this story. Delphine has such a unique and relatable voice, and she tells her story in a way that any reader can connect with. While this story is about a moment in history, it is also about family dynamics, identity, and sibling relationships. I really appreciated it from a librarian/critical reader aspect, but I don’t know how the intended audience–middle grade children–would react to this story. I will definitely be researching this, because I am truly curious. But this is a book that you think about, and think about, and smile at, and cringe at, and relate to in some way or another. This book is deserving of the MANY awards it has received for the intricate story that Rita Williams-Garcia tells.
My Bookshelf Rating: A Fourth Shelf Book! (4 out of 5 Stars)
Ava and Pip by Carol Weston, 211 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Family
“An endearing tween story about friendship, family, identity, and inspiration
Outgoing Ava loves her older sister, Pip, but can’t understand why Pip is so reserved and never seems to make friends with others. When Ava uses her writing talents to help her sister overcome her shyness, both girls learn the impact their words and stories can have on the world around them.”
My Snippet Review: A book for word nerds! Carol Weston has revived the tones of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary with this fun and entertaining story! Ava is a girl that just wants her sister to be a bit more outgoing. But Ava learns some valuable lessons along the way. I love the sister relationship that is explored in this story. I was really drawn into the emotions and the fun of this story. This book is fun and witty and great, and I think that everyone should read it! “A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL, PANAMA.” (Palidromes!!!) 😉
My Bookshelf Rating: A Fourth Shelf Book! (4.5 out of 5 Stars)
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Magical Realism, Multicultural, Award-Winner
“In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.“
My Snippet Review: This fantastical novel creates a journey of a story using interpolated myths to add a different element to Minli’s journey. While I appreciated this story-telling tactic, the overall story just didn’t mesh well with me. I can’t even put my finger on it, but I just didn’t like it. I really liked the cultural exposure to a historic, if fantastical, Chinese culture. But this story just wasn’t for me. I think it was just TOO much fantasy elements in one story. Ah, well. It has BEAUTIFUL illustrations!
My Bookshelf Rating: A Second Shelf Book (2 out of 5 Stars)
Owly, Volume 1: The Way Home and The Bittersweet Summer by Andy Runton, 160 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Graphic Novel, Animals
“Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who’s always on the lookout for new friends and adventure. The first graphic novel in the series contains two enchanting novellas, “The Way Home” & “The Bittersweet Summer,” wherein Owly discovers the meaning of friendship, and that saying goodbye doesn’t always mean forever.”
My Snippet Review: This is an ADORABLE graphic novel series! Owly is a wordless novel, but the illustrations tell the stories perfectly. The characters are just so cute! With vibrant animations and cute story lines, this is a series that children of all ages will enjoy!
My Bookshelf Rating: A Fourth Shelf Book! (4 out of 5 Stars)
Well, this is my first batch! My 2nd batch will be posted soon!
Love and Mashed Potatoes,