April 1

Book Review: The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

The Library of Ever

Zeno Alexander

Imprint Books

Published: April 30, 2019

Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9781250169174

Amazon Goodreads

 

Lenora is a curious, eleven-year-old girl stuck with an inattentive nanny for the summer. When the nanny announces they are going to the library, Lenora cannot wait to escape from her disinterested care and run off to the children’s section. Only that is not exactly where Lenora ends up.

Lenora is a bright child who loves learning, something that does not escape the attention of the Forces of Darkness. When she runs into one of their agents in the library, a strange series of events begins, plunging Lenora into a new and mysterious world…the Library of Ever. As Lenora works her way up from Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian, she takes on more and more difficult librarian tasks, discovering the meaning of learning.

Lenora encounters penguins, ants, kittens, and many agents of the Forces of Darkness. Helped along by the Chief Answerer, Malachi, Lenora must learn how to solve problems and ultimately discover what a secret phrase means.

 

The first three-quarters of this book are fast-paced, full of adventure, and impossible to put down. Unfortunately, the ending was rushed and unsatisfying. Hopefully this means a sequel is coming, as the finale was a let down. This was a good book for middle grade students and others might enjoy the ending more than I did.

NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

March 13

Book Review: Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron

Maybe a Mermaid

Josephine Cameron

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Published: March 26, 2019

Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9780374306427

Amazon Goodreads

 

In this poignant story of a girl searching for her True Blue Friend, Josephine Cameron’s Maybe a Mermaid touches the heart and reminds readers what real friendship is all about. The pre-teen years are hard, and making friends can be torturous. Through her writing and characters, Cameron shows us that your friends are not always who you expect.

Anthoni and her mom always have a plan and the number one rule is to “Stick to the Plan”. It’s worked so far, so when her mom drags Anthoni to The Showboat Resort, a run-down, ancient, and practically abandoned hotel on the shores of Thunder Lake, Anthoni believes that everything will be OK if they stick to the plan. Her mom’s business will get back on track, and Anthoni will make a True Blue Friend, something she’s never had.

 

Only, the summer doesn’t go exactly according to plan. Anthoni finds herself in a swim class with kindergarteners and is afraid to put her head in the water while the other kids her age are waterskiing around the lake. She chooses a Potential – someone she thinks should be her True Blue Friend and spends the summer trying to make it all work out. With the help of the eccentric lady who runs The Showboat and the misfit boy who lives up the road, Anthoni decides to give this friendship all she’s got, only to discover that real friends aren’t necessarily who you choose them to be.

This book seems a little quirky at first, but the characters develop as the story goes on and by the end readers will find themselves fully immersed in The Showboat Resort and rooting for Anthoni to find her True Blue Friend. The message in this book is perfect for any kids who struggle with making friends and any young middle grade reader would enjoy this story.

NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

March 8

Book Review: The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten by Krista Van Dolzer

The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten

Krista Van Dolzer

Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Published: April 9, 2019

Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9781681197708

Amazon Goodreads

 

The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten is a puzzle based middle grade novel centered around a group of children at Camp Archimedes math camp.  Esther, an artistic child on her way to Camp Vermeer art camp, finds herself stranded at a math camp when her step-father’s truck gets stuck in the mud. At first, Esther is not happy to be a part of the “number crunchers”, but as mysteries begin to unfold, she finds herself making friends as she solves riddles and unravels puzzles.

Esther is the main character in this story. She is funny, witty, and often sarcastic. She goes from not wanting to have anything to do with the math campers to sadness about leaving. Watching her grow throughout the book is interesting, although her character is not deeply developed.

 

I love mysteries, and math, so the two combined? This ought to be great! Unfortunately, reading this as an adult, I know too much about puzzles and math and I solved the clues way too quickly for the book to have much staying power for me.  I knew by the middle of the book how to go about solving the main puzzle, even though Esther didn’t get there until almost the end. I think kids who don’t have a lot of experience solving logic puzzles would find this much more enjoyable than I did.

If you have middle grade students, maybe 3rd or 4th grade, who like math, this would be a good suggestion for them. For older students, I think you might be better off with Chris Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello books which have more difficult puzzles to solve.

NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

February 19

Book Review: The Flooded Earth by Mardi McConnochie

The Flooded Earth

Mardi McConnochie

Series: The Flooded Earth – Book 1

Pajama Press

Published: September 28, 2018

Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9781772780499

Amazon Goodreads

 

When the Flood hit, the world changed. The Admiralty took over, people moved inland, coastal cities were abandoned and became run-down slums. One of these abandoned cities was home to Will and Annalie. That is, until the Admiralty came looking for their father and they found themselves on a high-seas adventure to find him.

Will and Annalie set out to find Spinner, their father, with no idea where he could be. All they have is his old boat, some ancient tech, and his talking parrot Graham. When Annalie’s school fried, Essie, ends up tagging along by accident, she ends up learning a lot of lessons: about the sea, herself, and what it means to be a family. Along the way, the trio becomes a quartet, picking up a stranded former slave named Pod. The four of them survive almost ever type of disaster you can imagine: storms, pirates, run-ins with the Admiralty. Eventually, making it to their destination, the only place they thought Spinner might have gone, the kids discover that you don’t always know who you can trust.

This intriguing story of friendship, family, and adventure is perfect for middle grade students, both boys and girls. Some may relate to Will, a boy who doubts himself but feels responsible for the outcome of everything around him. Annalie is an intelligent girl, who is compassionate and would rather let Will think he’s running the show than step in and take over even when she knows he’s wrong. Essie is in the midst of family turmoil, but would do anything for her best friend. Finally, Pod has never known family, happiness, or security, and when he finds these three things in his new friends he shows true loyalty and love.

The only downside to the book was that I was unsatisfied with the ending. No spoilers here, but I was left wanting more. Thankfully, the next book in the series (The Castle in the Sea) comes out in June, and it is already on my to-read list!

NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

February 9

National Pizza Day Ideas Round-Up

Did someone say PizzA?

One of my favorite foods is pizza. I know pizza is different all across the country: from big, thin, floppy slices in New York to thick, deep-dish in Chicago. Even where I live, the Quad Cities, has our own style of pizza with malt in the crust and super-finely ground sausage.  How ever you slice it (pun intended), pizza is a part of American food culture. We even have a day to celebrate this food marvel: National Pizza Day, February 9.

Pizza in the Classroom

I love when teachers find ways to incorporate special days into the classroom. I realize that with crack-downs on food in classrooms it may not be feasible to have a pizza party in the class. However, there are fun ways you can play with your food!  I’ve put together a few ways to teach math or science using pizza. These are mostly middle grade (4-8) ideas since that is what I plan to teach, but there are tons more out there. These can just get you started.  Check them out on my National Pizza Day Pinterest board, and feel free to follow me while you are there.

Do you celebrate fun days like this in your classroom? If so, drop me a comment and tell me how! I’d love to hear your ideas!

Now I’m off to grab a slice…