Category: Middle School

The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

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The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

Released February 21, 2017.

Delia thinks she is just heading to her uncle’s house for the summer, but instead finds herself competing for an internship at the Time Museum, a museum that contains items from across human history. There are other teens competing against her, including a girl from future Japan who loves robots, a boy from ancient Rome, and a boy from the far past. While the internship at first seems to focus on physical fitness and school work, quickly the missions become real time travel. Each mission judges the interns individually as competitors, but they quickly learn that they need to work together to survive traveling through time!

Loux is the author of several award-winning graphic novels. In this latest work, he has created a world where history and the future mingle. Time travel wristbands, magical stones, and body-free brains all appear on the pages, each more wonderful than the last. It’s a setting where you are never sure what the next adventure will contain and that makes it immensely appealing.

Loux’s art adds to that appeal. His characters are vibrant and charming. Even the villainous character is complicated and has a clear history with others in the story. Delia herself is perhaps the most straight-forward character which makes the book an exploration of those around her even as Delia discovers her own bravery and ingenuity on the page.

Clearly the first in a series, this graphic novel has mass appeal and plenty of smarts. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

 

10 Great Books for Youth and Teens with Great Heroines

The number of books written with amazing heroines makes it daunting to pick 10. May your life be filled with too many heroines as well on this Inauguration Day. Let’s get inspired!

audacity code name verity

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge lies we tell ourselves

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

lumberjanes Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and illustrated by Brooke Allen

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

You Cant See the Elephants by Susan Kreller zita_frontcover

You Can’t See the Elephants by Susan Kreller, translated by Elizabeth Gaffney

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King

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Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King (InfoSoup)

Everything has changed for Obe over the last few years. His family’s farmland has turned into a housing development. His best friend is now friends with the kids living in the new development. He has constant nose bleeds caused by something he doesn’t like to talk about, but it has a lot to do with his ex-friend and the new development. Obe spends a lot of time at the creek on his family’s remaining property, cleaning up the trash left by others. Then he meets an unusual animal. It is an odd mix of pig and dog and it eats plastic. Obe names the animal “Marvin Gardens” and knows that he has to keep it a secret from everyone. But when his ex-friend discovers the animal too, Obe has to decide who to trust and who can help Marvin Gardens survive.

A.S. King is best known as a writer for teens. She has made a lovely transition to middle-grade writing here in a novel of environmentalism and self-acceptance. King wrestles with the problems of middle-grade friendships, the loss of green space, and the question of how one kid can make an impact on climate change or even on his local environment. Throughout, her writing is a call for action, for personal responsibility and for staying true to what is important to you as a person.

Obe is a fascinating protagonist. At first, he seems young and naive, but as the book progresses, one realizes that he is simply interested in the environment, understands deeply changing friendships, stands up for others, and speaks out for the rights of animals and nature. King manages this without giving Obe a major shift or change, rather it is the reader who grows and changes and understands the character in a different way. It’s all thanks to King’s skill as an author, her way of showing adults as fools at times, and her willingness to allow Obe to simply be himself.

A strong book about the environment and a rousing call to be responsible for your own patch of earth, this will be a joy to share aloud in a classroom or with children who love nature and don’t mind a bit of muck on their shoes. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Arthur A. Levine Books.

 

30 Best Children’s Books of 2016

What a great year for children’s books! Here are my favorite 2016 reads for elementary and middle-grade readers.

As Brave As You Beautiful Blue World

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LeFleur

The Best Man The Best Worst Thing

The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane

Booked The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

Booked by Kwame Alexander

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science Full of Beans

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

Ghost (Track, #1) The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Goblin's Puzzle: The Adventures of a Boy With No Name and Two Girls Called Allice The Haunting of Falcon House

The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton

The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin

Hour of the Bees The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

Juana and Lucas The Land of Forgotten Girls

Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Lie Tree Maybe a Fox

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Allison McGhee

Moo Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Moo by Sharon Creech

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

Raymie Nightingale The Poet's Dog

The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

The Sandwich Thief The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

The Sandwich Thief by André Marois, illustrated by Patrick Doyon

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

Soar Some Kind of Happiness

Soar by Joan Bauer

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Unbound: A Novel in Verse When Mischief Came to Town

Unbound by Ann E. Burg

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad

The Wild Robot Wolf Hollow

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

10 Best Graphic Novels of 2016 for Children and Teens

I didn’t manage to read as many graphic novels as I would have liked this year. In fact, I still have some on my to-read shelves that I hope to get to. I love the bridge that graphic novels form for children and the incredible artistry that is found in them.

27414462 Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1)

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing

Giant Days Volume 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar

Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World Hippopotamister

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green

Little Dee and the Penguin March: Book Three (March, #3)

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

 

March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Mighty Jack The Nameless City

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Snow White: A Graphic Novel Sweaterweather: & Other Short Stories

Snow White by Matt Phelan

Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories by Sara Varon

The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

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The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli (InfoSoup)

Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli tells the story of a girl who lost her mother as an infant and grew up as the daughter of a prison warden. Cammie isn’t a girl who is silly and lots of fun. In fact, she is fast moving and fast talking, exactly why she has the nickname Cannonball Cammie. Cammie is actually angry most of the time. Her best friend has developed faster and seems to be 17 instead of 13 sometimes. She wants to get on Bandstand and be famous. Cammie though is more interested in riding her bike around town and playing baseball. Cammie thinks that her life would be better with a motherly figure, so she begins to try to get the prisoner assigned as their housekeeper to be more like a mother to her. Then there’s Boo Boo, the prisoner who acts motherly towards Cammie but hides a dark secret. Her father too is a mystery, both present and not there, sometimes at the same time. It’s all a confusing mix of emotions for Cammie, who will need to deal with her own grief both past and present before she can do anything but be angry at the world.

Spinelli has written a completely captivating story in this middle grade novel. The setting is richly created with the prison, a full city and community, and one moment after another where Cammie sets it all ablaze with her anger and acting out. Throughout though, Cammie is far more than just as angry person, she is humanity personified, a girl in search of herself even as she spends her time looking for solutions in others. It’s a compelling story, one that is filled with moments of joy and despair.

Spinelli writes like a wizard, unveiling truths slowly and beautifully. As Cammie storms through her life, she also reveals the truths of others around her. And without revealing the entirely riveting and humbling ending, she creates opportunities where others become more than they have ever been before. It is a staggeringly rich novel that is written with such skill that it manages to read in an accessible way.

A masterful book about loss, childhood and recovery by a master of books for children, this is a must-read and a must-buy for libraries. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Alfred A. Knopf and Edelweiss.

 

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

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One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (InfoSoup)

Released January 3, 2017.

Master poet Grimes has created a book of poetry that celebrates the poets from the Harlem Renaissance who influenced her. Through her amazing skill, she pays homage to their original poems by creating her own from their words. Using a form called Golden Shovel, she takes lines from their poems and uses them as the final words in the lines of her poems. Both the Harlem Renaissance poetry and Grimes’ speak to the experience of African Americans and for Grimes, African American children and teens. These are poems about difficulties, about racism, about hate and about love.

As I read these poems, I realized over and over again how very skilled Grimes is. It is most stunning when you remember the form she is using, because her poetry flows and dances as if entirely unrestricted. Still, the bold words tie the two poems together and one remembers the strict form she is using and the grace with which she handles it. Grimes speaks directly to children and teens of color in this book, making sure they see themselves and their experiences on the page. That they see the racism, the bullying and the dangers around them. She also makes sure though that they see a strong community, voices to raise in protest and the familial love around them.

The book is beautifully designed with each page washed with yellows and sometimes lined in blue. It is illustrated by some of the top African-American children’s book illustrators working today. It is a stunning collection of art, filled with emotion, pain and endurance.

Masterful, skilled and very timely, this book of poetry elevates us all and sings to the skies that African-American children are valuable and vital in this world. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.