Middle Grade New Releases, Week of October 15, 2019

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to these middle grade books making their rounds through our reviewers!

Thank you to @kidlitexchange for providing the review copies of these books. All opinions are our own.

SUPER HERO PLAYBOOK – by Randall Lotowycz randalijl18
Illustrated by Tim Palin @timpalincreative

img_8968October 15th 2019 ~ duopress

Photo and Review by Lauren ~ originally on Instagram @thesmilelines

Superhero Playbook is a HUGE hit over here! 💥 This is different than the other super hero books we are used to. The superheroes teach life lessons throughout the book. The lessons deal with bullying, cleaning the planet, kindness, integrity, anger, and SO much more!
Got Craft Sticks?
We have a bunch over here! We used the FREE printables of superheroes from @messylittlemonster to make super hero puppets. Such a quick and fun activity! These superhero craft sticks can be used as bookmarks too! My kids LOVE them!!

img_8970GIVE AND TAKE – by Elly Swartz @ellyswartzbooks
October 15th 2019 ~ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Photo and Review by Katie ~ originally on Instagram @texasreadergirl

Twelve-year-old Maggie has a hard time letting go. She holds onto things because she’s afraid she’ll forget…just like her beloved grandmother forgot her before she died last year. So Maggie keeps empty milk cartons, and gum wrappers, and straws. She WON’T forget. Maggie’s family is fostering a baby until she can find her forever family, and this precious baby is one more thing Maggie doesn’t want to let go of, doesn’t want to forget. To top things off, her all-girl super star trapshooting team is losing a member…and gaining a new one – a boy! Things are changing, and Maggie’s special collections are growing beyond her control. Thankfully, Maggie’s parents, with some help, are teaching Maggie that sometimes, it’s ok to let go…

What a sweet, tender novel! I absolutely loved this one. I’m so glad Ms. Swartz wrote about the sensitive topic of hoarding in kids, because I think a lot of kids will relate – even if they’re not technically hoarders, it can be very hard for some kids to let go of things (I know it is for mine). Maggie has the most wonderful, loving family who is devoted to each other and to helping her with her struggles. She has a very special relationship with her grandfather, and both of them are grieving over their shared loss. I felt such a connection with precious Maggie and her very real struggles. Maggie is in 7th grade but this book is totally accessible to younger children – I’d say 3rd-4th and up. I really loved this one and highly recommend it!

by Mike Lowery @mikelowerystudio
October 15th 2019 ~ Orchard Books

Photo and Review by Kristy ~ originally on Instagram @cracking_spines

I hang out with 6 and 7 year olds all day. You know who knows more about dinosaurs than most PhD paleontologists? It’s 6 and 7 year olds. 🤓😉 This great new book by Mike Lowery is chock full of dino info! While there are approximately 2.4 million books about dinosaurs for kids, Lowery manages to relay information in a new and engaging way. The book is full of dino jokes, speech bubbles and interesting graphics. The typeset is mostly a sketch font, which gives it a graphic novel feel (I.e. this will make it even more exciting for the elementary crowd!). It even includes drawing directions for some of our favorite dinosaurs. This prehistoric powerhouse goes on sale October 15. I can’t wait to add this to our library shelves.

img_8969ALLIES – by Alan Gratz @alan.gratz
October 15th 2019 ~ Scholastic Press

Photo and Review by Katie ~ originally on Instagram @texasreadergirl

Fans of REFUGEE will be so excited about Alan Gratz’s latest novel, ALLIES. Gratz uses the same winning formula to tell the story of that fateful day in history, the beginning of the end of World War 2 – D-Day. I loved the way he told the story from so many different viewpoints: from Dee, an America soldier (who is a German immigrant) landing on the beach in Normandy, to James, a Canadian paratrooper; from to Henry, an African American medic tending to the wounded in battle, to Samira, a French-Algerian resistance fighter trying to undermine Nazi operations in France. It’s a powerful story that will resonate deeply with mature middle grade readers.
It certainly had an impact on my son, a 9yo WW2 history buff. REFUGEE was his favorite book from last year (3rd grade) so I was excited to be able to read this one with him now. I will say there are some difficult and disturbing parts (understandably), and he ended up not wanting to read it before bed, so parents/teachers should know going in that they should be available to discuss this book. (And in fact, I’d recommend it for older readers in general.) But we both absolutely loved it, and of course we especially loved how the different stories intertwined and connected throughout the book. I am so impressed with Gratz’s writing and story-telling abilities. This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!

ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS – by William img_8972Lashner #williamlashner
October 15th 2019 ~ Disney-Hyperion

Photo and Review by Melissa ~ originally on Instagram @mllittleauthor

Elizabeth Webster comes from a long line of lawyers, but finds herself in a new world when she discovers her long-lost father was, in fact, a lawyer for the other side—a place of ghosts, demons, and the undead. When her friend Henry is haunted by a ghost, Elizabeth (and her fantastically enjoyable friend Natalie) head out on a journey to find her father and sue the ghost in the Court of the Damned—solving a long-buried mystery along the way.

The ending of this book is marvelous and heartwarming and I truly never solved the mystery. It kept me guessing. With the original, relatable characters and slight cliffhanger, I can see a whole series following this book.

I liked this book way more than I expected to. It is gloriously sarcastic, funny, snarky, detailed, and engaging. The plot was fantastic, moving at a pace I couldn’t stop reading. I’m not into afterlife or ghosts, so that’s a big deal. I really did love this one. I’m glad for the opportunity to read it.

43319677._SY475_ (3)DOC AND THE DETECTIVE IN GRAVEYARD TREASURE – by Tim Tingle #timtingle
October 15th 2019 ~ Arthur A. Levine Books

Good Reads Summary: A Choctaw boy with a taste for detective work teams up with a lonely old professor.
Timmy loves reading stories about great detectives, and soon he begins to spy mysteries all around his small Oklahoma town.

Why was his next-door neighbor, the distinguished Dr. Moore, standing outside with a knife at midnight? Who’s sneaking around their house, shining flashlights in the windows? And where did Mrs. Newberry’s diamond necklace go? As Timmy and Doc work together to unmask the thief, Timmy also comes to understand the challenges Doc and his family face with his developing dementia, and discovers that a real detective needs a good heart as well as a sharp brain.

Watch for a review soon!

NAKED MOLE RAT SAVES THE WORLD – by Karen Rivers @karenriversimg_8973
October 15th 2019 ~ Algonquin Young Readers

Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @kateteaching7and8

At first, kit’s* life seems pretty normal. She enjoys eating cookies, roller skating, volunteering at the animal shelter, and hanging out with her best friend, Clem. She lives with her mother who is a former one-hit-wonder and has severe anxiety, so severe that she won’t even leave their building. Clem’s life changes dramatically the night she watches Clem fall during a televised talent competition. Now, kit has a super weird secret: sometimes, without warning, she will turn into a naked mole rat. Following the accident, Clem isn’t her usual self and kit doesn’t feel comfortable sharing her naked mole rat secret with her. Both girls are changing, inside and out, and aren’t sure how to navigate through these transformations.

This is a cute book. The major focus of the book is overcoming your fears, finding your courage, and recognizing that not all change is bad. The story is told through the alternating perspectives of kit and Clem. Through these alternating views, the reader develops a greater understanding of each girl, their personal history, and their current struggles. There is a large focus on character development in the novel. I really like that kit has alopecia universalis as it isn’t something you often see in books (especially those written for middle grade readers). I also thought the concept of a naked mole rat super power was really cool. The power though, only shows up a few times in the book and it’s almost a you-blink-and-you-miss-it situation. I know that turning into the naked mole rat isn’t the point, it’s the personal discoveries that kit makes that are really important, but honestly I was a little sad that this component wasn’t more prevalent. The book is full of jokes and important lessons about forgiveness and friendship.

img_8974THE YEAR WE FELL FROM SPACE – by Amy Sarig King #amysarigking
October 15th 2019 ~ Arthur A. Levine Books

Photo and Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @librarianmsg

@as_king_ knows how to break your heart with words. Liberty’s pain and emotions about her parents’ divorce (which is introduced on page 1!) is so hard to watch and of course that’s what makes it realistic. She talks to the meteorite she’s keeping in her room about the possibility of her parents getting back together even as part of her realizes that will never happen. She is irrationally angry at the world, fears that she’ll inherit her father’s depression and is acting out in strange ways. Basically, she’s a mess. Her first person narrative conveys her messy emotions effectively. I couldn’t look away from her journey and finished the book in one sitting.
Highly recommended for all elementary and middle school libraries.

October 15th 2019 ~ DC Zoomimg_8975

Photo and Review by Emily ~ originally on Instagram @redpoppyreading

DC Super Hero Girls: At Metropolis High, by Amy Wolfram and Yancy Labat is a fun graphic novel about friendship and teamwork! Our favorite Super Hero Girls are in trouble with the school principal and forced to join after school clubs when they would rather be fighting crime. Their first attempt at choosing clubs turns out be a disaster because they chose clubs that they are too good at, then they pick clubs that do not match their superpowers and each learn something new. In the end they realize how much they need each other and all they can do when they work together. Don’t worry, they stop some bad guys in the story too!

Pick it up on October 15, 2019. For ages 8-12, but my five-year-old also loved it as a read aloud.

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