Middle Grade New Releases, Week of May 26, 2020

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.


img_0217HELLO FROM RENN LAKE – by Michele Weber Hurwitz
May 26th 2020 ~ Random House/Lamb

Photo and Review by Susan ~ originally on Instagram @redcanoereader

I was drawn to this MG book for two reasons. First, it was written by the author of a book I’ve reviewed and recommended more times than I can count, THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD IN …. 65 DAYS. I included it in my first post of kindness books back in 2016 and have suggested it repeatedly since then. Secondly, every year I spend many months living on a lake in northern Michigan, which is very much like Renn Lake. Just like Renn Lake, the livelihood of the residents in the surrounding area depend upon tourism. They depend upon the summer months for the income that will support them throughout the year. And to make this happen their lake must be healthy and safe.

This is the story of what can happen when pollution and terrifying changes in our ecosystem make those lakes unsafe. It is the story of what happens to the community that depends on the lake. And it is also Annalise’s story; about her uncanny ability to communicate with Renn Lake; to be able to sense how the lake is feeling and to understand what can be done to make it better. And finally it is a story of community; a community that is willing to make changes and to support one another to protect their way of life.

I loved the closeness of Annalise’s family and their support for one another. I also loved the support and closeness of her friends. It was refreshing to read a MG story where the friends really cared for each other and were understanding of one another’s hopes and fears. I loved the support the community showed for one another and for their openness to the kids’ ideas of how to save their dying lake. Finally, I loved the fact that I learned so much from this story about the dangers of algal blooms and the importance of working together to prevent these from happening.

This is an important book that needs to be added to both elementary and middle school libraries. It is one to read aloud and is sure to prompt lots of conversations about what kids can do to help our world.


HOW TO BE A PERSON – by Catherine Newmanimg_0216
May 26th 2020 ~ Storey Publishing, LLC

Photo and Review by Kimberly ~ originally on Instagram @whatkreads

My daughter and I read this nonfiction book together this week and really enjoyed it. She will be turning 10 this summer and said she knew several topics this books covers, but there were still plenty she learned from. In fact, she asked if we could order it once it was released so she could have it as a reference. Can’t get a better recommendation than that.

This book covers such a wide range of useful, how-to, everyday life skills young readers will benefit from learning about. The text is easy to understand, very helpful and is accompanied by wonderful illustrations (Another reason my mini wants this book. My young art lover wants to draw the cute images from it!) It’s broken down into seven different chapters: Other Beings, Saying It Right, Dirty Things, Edible Food, You’re Wearing That?, Your Two Cents and Useful Skills. Some of our favorite topics were: How To Address An Envelope, How To Clean A Bathroom, How To Make A Quesadilla, How To Get Out A Stain, How To Calculate The Tip, and How To Tighten A Screw. Heck many adults could benefit from reading this!! My daughter especially loved the Pop Quizzes scattered throughout the book. The silly choices always made us laugh.

I would definitely recommend this for any middle grade library. If you read it with your child or student(s), it’s a great way to start a conversation about the topics. It would also be a helpful resource for those kids who are shy to ask, but anxious to be more independent.


img_0214THE WITCHES OF WILLOW COVE – by Josh Roberts
May 26th 2020 ~ Owl Hollow Press

Photo and Review by Melissa ~ originally on Instagram mllittleauthor

13-year-old Abby finds bizarre things happening to her right after her birthday, and soon finds out that she—and five others girls her age—are actually witches connected to a complicated and mysterious past. As Abby’s friends solve a genealogical mystery, Abby and the other witches are trained by their teacher, Miss Winters—but is she exactly as she seems?

This book is set outside Salem, Massachusetts and begins on spooky Halloween night, meaning it kicked off with a vibe I loved, and that vibe continued the whole time. Crisp, history-haunted New England is the perfect place for scary stories. Some of it was pretty similar to Harry Potter, like Latin-esque spells, but only small things, and the story as a whole was unique. Characters actually reference Harry Potter which I thought was funny. I found the climax to be really strong and I was SURPRISED by Miss Winters. I should have seen that coming, but let’s face it, I didn’t. I loved the villain arc. I recognize how weird this sounds, but I like it when villains are redeemed, or at least realize their mistakes, and then die. So I was here for that. Also my favorite character was Perseus even though he was literally only on four pages 🐕 I believe this might be a series because of a little hook at the end.
The Witches of Willow Cove can be yours now!


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