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 14

Pi Day Resource Round-Up

Today is Pi-Day. What is Pi-Day? A day for celebrating the awesomeness that is a hot, gooey, flaky-crusted apple pie? While that would be awesome, it is not exactly the purpose. However, eating pie today would definitely be a wonderful way to celebrate as pies are round and pi is the constant that allows us to find the area, circumference, and volume of a circle. (It’s also a Greek letter, but that has nothing to do with today.)

The first few digits of the constant pi are 3.14…which in calendar-speak is March 14. Thus, today is Pi-Day!

We are on Spring Break this week, but if we were in school, I would expect my son’s math class to celebrate pi day with some sort of activity. In my own class some day, I plan to make sure we celebrate to the fullest! Here are some ideas I’ve rounded up for you:

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.

March 5

Book Review: The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Night Diary

Veera Hiranandani

Dial Books for Young Readers

Published: March 6, 2018

Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9780735228511

Amazon Goodreads

 

The Night Diary is a touching piece of historical fiction following Nisha and her family as they flee the newly formed Pakistan for India following the end of the British Raj. Written in the form of letters to her late mother, the story details Nisha’s thoughts, hopes, fears, and dreams as she watches the world around her change.

Nisha and her twin brother Amil live with their father and grandmother in the city of Mirpur Khas.  What makes the twins unique is their heritage: Papa is Hindu, while Mama was a Muslim. This fact has not been incredibly relevant in Nisha’s life up until this point. Nisha’s best friend Kazi, a Muslim man who cooks for their family, gives her a diary. He knows there is much that Nisha has to say, but she is crippled with shyness. Writing allows her to release her emotions onto the page.

As England turns rule of the country back over to the people of India, the country becomes a hostile land where Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs cannot live in harmony. Instead, the country is divided into two portions: the Muslim Pakistan and the Hindu/Sikh India. Those living in the part not associated with their religion are forced to flee. This includes Nisha’s family who must leave the new Pakistani area of Mirpur Khas and move to the city of Jodhpur. On the journey, they face dehydration, starvation, ambush, and attack as they find their way to a new home in a newly formed nation.

Along the journey, Nisha finds more than a new home. She discovers more about herself, her dreams, and her desires. She finds her voice in her writing and discovers that who she is is not defined by her religion but by what is inside of her. This inspiring story is one of acceptance, love, and bravery. I would highly recommend The Night Diary for middle grade students who need to understand that it is not who you are or where you come from that defines you.

 

March 2

Book Review: The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson by Quinn Sosna-Spear

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson

Quinn Sosna-Spear

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Published: April 2, 2019

Fiction, Middle Grade

ISBN: 9781534420809

Amazon Goodreads

 

Walter Mortinson is a unique boy in a town where being unique is not a good thing. Walter is an inventor. While searching for his own identity and a connection to his late father, Walter finds friendship, love, and the real meaning of family.

 

Walter Mortinson’s father, Maxwell, died when Walter was just four years old, but Maxwell’s creativity and inventiveness lived on in Walter. Unfortunately, Walter’s mother Hadorah was determined to quash all inventing and force Walter to be like everyone else in the humdrum, grey town of Moormouth. When Walter receives an invitation to become an apprentice to the great Flasterborn, he sets out on an adventure with his one and only, somewhat-friend, Cordelia Primpet. They travel through strange towns to arrive at Flaster Isle, each searching for the one thing they believe they desperately want.

Artistic, inventive, creative and completely outcast from the town of Moormouth, Walter is relatable to anyone who has ever felt friendless or alone. The same can be said about his traveling companion, Cordelia Primpet. Cordelia isn’t outcast for her mind like Walter, but for her appearance and an illness that she has dealt with since childhood. The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson teaches how being different can sometimes be a wonderful thing. Through Walter and Cordelia’s journey, we learn about their unique personalities, their sad histories, and the hope that keeps them going.

This book was a fun, imaginative read that would be perfect for any middle grade student. If you are looking for a good read aloud for 4th or 5th grade, this one would be fabulous!

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 11

Book Review: Hieroglyph by WJ Scott

Hieroglyph

Series: TC’s Adventures – Book 1

WJ Scott

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published: September 30, 2016

Ages 9-12

ISBN: 978-1539151111

Amazon Goodreads

 

A fast-paced, intriguing journey bridging the ancient and modern worlds, Hieroglyphs was a fun book that I would recommend to any reader interested in adventure, ancient Egypt, or archaeology.  It was a quick read that kept me interested throughout and left me wanting to hear more about TC’s adventures.

TC is a 13-year-old living with her aunt in New Zealand when she finds herself on an adventure to the past. After being sent to Sydney, Australia, to visit her archeologist uncle, TC fears that she is destined to be bored to tears sitting through seminars while Uncle Max attempts to persuade investors to back his most recent project. When TC accompanies Uncle Max to the dig site, her world changes and she finds herself in the midst of an ancient expedition.

TC had a secret; one that she hadn’t shared with anyone, even the aunt with whom she lived.  Due to this secret, TC was an outcast, considered a “weirdo” at school. She is a relatable character for any teenager who likes a bit of adventure or has ever felt different from their classmates.

I really enjoyed Hieroglyph, and recommend it to any middle grade, preteen reader.  The only downside to the book was that the climax of the story was so close to the end of the book that it ended too suddenly.  I would have loved to hear more about TC’s adventures, and I hope that WJ Scott writes a second book in the series soon.

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