Book Review: Give and Take by Elly Swartz

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I was honored to receive an advanced reader copy of Give and Take by Elly Swartz (thank you, #booksojourn and Macmillan Publishers) and I was inspired! If you haven’t yet, pre-order this phenomenal middle grade novel. You won’t be disappointed.

About Give and Take: Maggie is a caring 12-year-old who loves her family and friends. Her daily life includes trapshooting with her friends at school (with her dad as the coach) and helping to care for Isabella, the family’s foster baby. Maggie has 2 brothers, as well, who give her a run for her money. Maggie would love to call Izzy her sister, but mom and dad made it clear that this is a temporary arrangement.

“Temporary” haunts Maggie — her grandmother recently passed, and didn’t remember her in the end. This devastates Maggie, and the thought of giving up another family member is too much. Maggie is obsessed with remembering every conversation, encounter, and memory that is important to her. Maggie doesn’t want to make the same “mistake” as her grandmother, so she collects artifacts in boxes and places them in her closet and under her bed. Even baby Izzie’s sock and pacifier sit in a new box of memories.

When Mom finds Maggie’s overwhelming secret stashes, she is more than concerned about the anxiety that has taken over her daughter’s mind. With the help of a doctor, family, and friends, Maggie must learn to cope with life’s give and take. With Izzie leaving to go to her forever family soon, it’s not going to be easy for Maggie to let go of anything.

Why I Loved Give and Take by Elly Swartz: I learned about the sport of trapshooting, child hoarding, and more about life as a foster family member. I was rooting for Maggie (and her friends) the whole time, and also got to relive a little bit of middle school (for better or worse!). This story is one that appeals to readers of all ages.

Why You Should Read Give and Take: Everyone will find something in common with Maggie, Mom, Dad, or her brothers. The family dynamics are realistic and well-written. The back matter includes information and resources that help families; I love “further reading” opportunities.

This book is an inspiring story of family, friendships, and growing up. Read Give and Take — take the story into your heart, and give the book to your friends when you’re done reading. (Due from FSG Books for Young Readers on October 15, 2019)

 

Book Review: Astro-Nuts, by Jon Scieszka

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Recommended for ages 8-12, Astro-Nuts is the newest creation by Jon Scieszka , illustrated by Steven Weinberg. In this first book in a planned trilogy, Mission One: The Plant Planet, NNASA (Not-NASA) charges four mutant animals hiding in Mt. Rushmore to travel to outer space and find other planets to support human life, since the humans have all but destroyed planet Earth. (Science concept: Climate change) In their attempt to report Plant Planet as habitable, the Astro-Nuts found that the plant citizens are ready to defend their home.

As they navigate the crazy colorful pages, readers find out much more about the science of plant life, and also increase vocabulary skills, learning words like ice caps, fossil fuels, vortex, and many more. Reporting back to Earth isn’t as easy as it seems.

Would you like a funny book that also teaches science concepts, aimed to explain deep content to children? Well, Jon Scieszka does it again — creating zany characters who ban together for exploration and learning fun. Blast off! This adventure in reading has just begun. (Due September 2019 from Chronicle Books)

Book Review: Ordinary Hazards, by Nikki Grimes

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Nikki Grimes is one of my favorite writers, gathering beautiful words in her notebooks over the years, which are now mixed with memories in Ordinary Hazards (coming 10/08/19 — thank you for providing ARCs, WordSong/Highlights).

The content is dark, yet hopeful. The words are tragic, yet inspirational. Some poems made me laugh (“Math Madness”) and more made me cry (“Reunion”). Ms. Grimes shares everything with the reader, making the reader feel her pain, believe in God, and hope for the future, all at once. The cover of the book reveals a beautiful, silvery sparkling butterfly; that’s Ms. Grimes — a cocooned child who emerges as a powerful and poetic, soulful adult.

“Words have the power to change a life, the power to save a life.” The last poem is the perfect, gripping ending to a heartfelt story of a human. Thank you, Ms. Grimes, for your words.

Book Review: The Tornado by Jake Burt

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    What does it take to avoid the school bully? Fifth grader and innovative thinker, Bell Kirby, has an elaborate plan that works, until the day Daelynn Gower, the new student with rainbow hair and crazy attire, arrives.
     Back in 4th grade, former friends, Bell and Parker Hellickson (the principal’s son), had a falling out over a hallway water fountain and a chipped tooth. After that incident, Parker became a diabolical bully and Bell became his favorite victim. In the present time, Bell created a notebook full of systems and solutions for every possible encounter, and was able to mostly avoid Parker (and Mr. Hellickson). Until now.
     When Daelynn becomes the new target, Bell must either step up and do something, or let it go and revel in the relief that Parker has finally decided to leave him alone. It seems like an easy choice, but it proves more difficult than Bell thought. Plus, Bell finds out during Creator Club that more kids have more stories to share about Parker and his “accidental antics.”
     The Tornado, by Jake Burt, is a book about bullying that is true-to-life, from the victim/bully mentality of kids all the way down to adults who say there is “zero tolerance,” but don’t act on their words. This book should be read aloud, discussed, and shared widely; it is important and timely. Put this book on your radar. Be prepared for this middle-grade must-read in October 2019.

Fourth of July and Grace Goes to Washington – Book Review

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I’m so happy to live in a country where I am able to read and write. I’m celebrating the 4th with some books and my computer.

Today I read the upcoming Grace Goes to Washington, by Kelly DiPucchio. This title is due out September 3, 2019 from Disney-Hyperion and is another friendly and fun book about Grace and her adventures. (See also, Grace for President.)

As Grace’s class prepares for a field trip to Washington, DC, Mrs. Barrington prepares the children with a lesson about the three branches of government. She leads the learning about checks and balances, asking, “Who’s in charge here?” Later, while Grace and her fellow student council members work to decide how to spend the latest fundraiser money, they find correlations between their arguments and those of the government officials who run our country. With the help of a new friend, Grace can see that keeping an open mind to new perspectives and voting are ways to get things done.

The author gives children the chance to get involved in government, even if they are not old enough to vote yet. Read the Author’s Note and list of how to be an involved citizen. Kids and adults alike will love reading and sharing Grace Goes to Washington.

Happy Fourth of July!

 

IMWAYR: Picture Books and Memoirs

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I’m spending the week with my granddaughter and today we headed to The Brain Lair Bookstore to visit Kathy (the owner and my book buddy). “M” spied one of her favorite authors right away and said, “Hey! Look! We have How to Build a Sandcastle! How about we get It’s NOT Jack and the Beanstalk?” (We have that one already, thanks to our generous and amazing friend, Josh Funk. We also have Mission Defrostable, so we searched the shelves for something we don’t already own.)

We looked a little deeper and I found a title I knew she hadn’t seen before – Claymates by Dev Petty and the fabulous Lauren Eldridge. I said Dev Petty was the author who wrote I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, and “M” was convinced. She immediately opened her new book and started to read. Not only did we buy the book for her home, now we have to go buy some clay so we can make some “claymates” animals ourselves.

 

 

We returned home and I read How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, with art by Melissa Sweet, who dazzled us with her beautifully-created pages. It’s a touching poem Kwame wrote for his daughter; it’s neon pink and “clementine”-colored and makes you want to find a tree to sit under so you can read the rest of the day. There are so many surprises in this book — it’s so much fun to read, again and again! Don’t forget to discover the Author and Illustrator Notes and that back jacket flap with the biographies (hint: those glasses!).

During the week, I’ll share Lita Judge’s newest, Homes in the Wild: Where Baby Animals and Their Parents Live, with “M”. It’s wonderful and “M” loves animals, so I’m sure she’ll love this book. Animals build shelters – some hidden, some underground, some in trees, etc. The descriptions are perfect for older readers of picture books (middle school and up), reminding the reader of well-known animals’ homes and introducing new animals, too. Lita’s illustrations are beautiful, and her words entertain and inform, making this one of the best picture books of the year so far (according to me).

 

After the little one goes home, I will finish Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson and begin the ARC of Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes (due out October 8, 2019 from WordSong). I’m so happy that Kathy shared this ARC with me. I’ve been waiting a while to see it in person — I love everything my friend Nikki Grimes writes. The cover is brilliant! I am amazed that she wrote this memoir for us, and I have been following the news about this book for months. I already pre-ordered my copy, so I’ll get to savor it later, as well.

 

 

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

 

IMWAYR: Summer Reading Begins!

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It’s FINALLY summertime, and while I only have a little time off, I’m ready to read and write much more. Here are the two best reads of my first week of summer:

The Bridge Home, by Padma Venkatraman – Viji and her little sister, Rukku, live a hard-knock life (literally) in India. Appa drinks and gets angry, and takes out his frustrations on Amma and the girls. Viji knows it’s time to run — to start a new and better life — and takes Rukku with her. Little does she know, life outside of home is not much better. The girls need to constantly find work and food, and with the help of two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, they are able to find shelter under an abandoned bridge. They even find a trusty canine friend to help them out.

To survive, the companions form a family. They take care of each other and work at the trash dump, scavenging enough to buy food and some basic supplies to make a home. They become quite successful…for a while. But being your own boss tends to have its own challenges, as the youngsters soon find out. They must maintain, and then change, to survive the harsh realities of Chennai’s rainy season. Viji discovers that she may need more help than she can give…is it too late to invite adults back into her life?

Padma Venkatraman wrote a beautiful novel with relatable characters and a heartbreaking look at life as a homeless child in India. The reader cheers for the children all through their journey to find out what family means, and to find home.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, by Shaun David Hutchinson – I love Shaun David Hutchinson’s work — The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried got me again. Dead or not, July Cooper is a riveting character. Dino, her once-best-friend, is left to deal with her untimely demise…is that right? Not to mention a new relationship with Rafi and all the other things that Dino has to confront in his life. Nothing is as it seems in this YA read. You’ll love it!

Up Next: Brave Face, by Shaun David Hutchinson – I saw this one on Facebook after I finished The Past and Other Things...so I stopped by the public library and picked it up for tonight’s entertainment, as it is raining. (Again.)

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

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