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.
PREMEDITATED MYRTLE – by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Algonquin Young Readers
Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @kateteaching7and8
Myrtle Hardcastle is a rather unique twelve-year-old girl with a passion for criminal science and investigating. She doesn’t follow the rules and expectations of a Victorian Young Lady of Quality. One morning, while observing her neighbor’s estate, she notices something isn’t quite right and rings the police. This leads to the discovery that her elderly neighbor has died under what Myrtle believes are mysterious circumstances. In addition to her being found in the bathtub, having taken a bath in the middle of the night, her prized lilies are missing, and her gardener is caught burning “storm debris.” Though her father, the local prosecutor, attempts to keep her out of the way, Myrtle is devoted to finding out who murdered her neighbor, Miss Wodehouse, and why in order to bring them to justice.
This was a delightful middle grades mystery that reminded me of both Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew. I really enjoyed that this book was set in 18th century Victorian England and that there is a strong focus on the investigative process and the development of criminal science. Myrtle is a strong female protagonist who is breaking the gender barriers of her time period. She is quite precocious and her passion often leads to her getting in over her head. Myrtle has many excellent character traits that readers should admire: her determination, intelligence, wit to name only a few. The story is told through Myrtle’s voice and she often includes footnotes to help the reader better understand the historical, scientific, and societal context of the situation at hand. This book very much unfolds like a Sherlock Holmes, one of Myrtle’s role models, mystery. It is full of twists, turns, intrigue, and red herrings. Clues are expertly distributed throughout the novel to build suspense without giving too much away too soon. This is a fun a mystery book that is perfect for readers who love old school mysteries.
WE DREAM OF SPACE – by Erin Entrada Kelly
May 5th 2020 ~ Greenwillow Books
Photo and Review by Laura ~ originally on Instagram @librarianmsg
I loved this heartfelt book about family and tragedy. We Dream of Space is the type of book you hug when you finish and want to give to every child you know. . .
Cash, Fitch, and Bird are siblings who, along with their parents, are on different orbits within their home. The year is 1986 and all three siblings are in 7th grade; Cash was held back once and Fitch and Bird are twins. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas fight incessantly in front of their children and all three children feel lost to some degree. Cash is a poor student who might fail 7th grade for the second time, Fitch has an anger problem he can’t seem to control, and Bird is the responsible one, the glue that holds their family together…barely. Their science teacher engages the class in activities related to the launch of the Challenger space shuttle and Bird is captivated and decides she wants to be a future shuttle commander. When the Challenger explosion occurs, Cash and Fitch strive to support Bird the way she has supported them in the past. . .
Each chapter is one day in the life of the siblings with short vignettes showing each of their day’s experiences. Includes black and white illustrations by the author of each of the teens; more illustrations will be in the finished copy.
TURTLE BOY – by M. Evan Wolkenstein
May 5th 2020 ~ Delacorte Press
Good Reads Summary:This middle-grade debut, which will surely appeal to fans of Wonder, explores self-image, friendship, and grief, while highlighting the importance of taking chances. It will make you laugh and cry, and you will be eager to share it with someone you love.
“A story about what it means to be brave when all you want to do is hide in your shell.
Everyone deserves a friend like Will Levine.” —Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale
Seventh grade is not going well for Will Levine. Kids at school bully him because of his funny-looking chin. His science teacher finds out about the turtles he spent his summer collecting from the marsh behind school and orders him to release them back into the wild. And for his bar mitzvah community service project, he has to go to the hospital to visit RJ, an older boy struggling with an incurable disease. Unfortunately, Will hates hospitals.
At first, the boys don’t get along, but then RJ shares his bucket list with Will. Among the things he wants to do: ride a roller coaster, go to a concert and a school dance, and swim in the ocean. To Will, happiness is hanging out in his room, alone, preferably with his turtles. But as RJ’s disease worsens, Will realizes he needs to tackle the bucket list on his new friend’s behalf before it’s too late. It seems like an impossible mission, way outside Will’s comfort zone. But as he completes each task with RJ’s guidance, Will learns that life is too short to live in a shell.
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