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MIDDLE GRADE SPECULATIVE FICTION (Fantasy) : Nightingale by Deva Fagan

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  NIGHTINGALE by Deva Fagan Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021 ISBN: 978-1-5344-8134-3 Source: ARC from author for review Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own. ABOUT THE BOOK A plucky orphan girl stumbles into a conflict centuries in the making in this thrilling middle grade fantasy about unexpected heroes, the power of friendship, and one boisterous enchanted sword. Twelve-year-old Lark is determined to escape her squalid life at Miss Starvenger’s boarding house, but she needs to find the coin to do it. Her grand scheme? To steal her fortune from the Royal Museum. Unfortunately, her heist goes off the rails, and Lark ends up stealing a magical sword right out from under the nose of Prince Jasper, who’s none too happy to have his plans thwarted. Lark soon discovers that the Sword has a mind of its own, and has chosen her to be the next Nightingale, a fabled hero who must vanquish an ancient evil that is waking after centuries of sleep. Working alone has its limitation

EARLY CHAPTER FICTION REVIEW : Franklin Endicott and the Third Key by Kate DiCamillo

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  FRANKLIN ENDICOTT AND THE THIRD KEY by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen Candlewick Press, 2021 ISBN: 978-1-5362-0181-9 Source: publisher for review Ages 6-9 All opinions expressed are solely my own. ABOUT THE BOOK Frank Endicott is a worrier. He worries about lions, submarines, black holes, leprosy, and armadillos. He lists his worries alphabetically in a notebook and suffers vivid nightmares that even a certain neighborhood pig can't dispatch. When he accompanies Eugenia Lincoln on an errand to duplicate a key at her favorite dark and dusty thrift shop, Frank earns fresh cause for alarm. Odd Buddy Lamp, the shop's proprietor, has sent them home with the original key and its copy. Can Frank come to terms with the mystery without buckling under his mounting dread? REVIEW Like so many people today, Franklin is a worrier.  In fact, he has so many worries that he keeps track of them in a notebook with all the appropriate details.  But after stashing the notebook und

BOARD BOOKS QUICK REVIEWS : Workman Publishing

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JUNGLE NIGHT by Sandra Boynton soundtrack with Yo-Yo Ma on cello Workman Publishing, 2021 ISBN: 978-1-5235-1360-4 Source: publisher for review Ages 0-5 All opinions expressed are solely my own. REVIEW All the jungle animals are sleeping, making various noises as they do, at least until the elephant lets out a giant snore.  With all the noise sounds included in the text, this book makes for a fun read aloud.  Boynton's illustrations use her typical cartoon-like style that has so much appeal for young readers/listeners.  Young listeners who hear the book a number of times are bound to start making the sounds themselves.  And the ending does bring a smile to one's face or a giggle in the case of a young listener.  There are two audio files that the book references that add to the enjoyment of the story.  The first audio file is a read aloud by Keith Boynton with sound effects by Yo-Yo Ma on his cello.  The second audio file is a song that goes with the story performed by Yo-Yo Ma.

BOARD BOOK QUICK REVIEWS : Candlewick Press

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MONSTER CLOTHES by Daisy Hirst Candlewick Press, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-5362-1528-1 Source: publisher for review Ages 0-3 All opinions expressed are solely my own. REVIEW   Monsters have to choose what to wear when they get up in the morning.  Hats, socks, undies (on the head), and a tomato (!) work for some monsters.  Other monsters choose to wear a t-shirt, a dress, pajamas, and toy cars (!).  Tamsin likes her tank top, Oliver prefers overalls, Lester tries leaves, and Beatrice puts boots on hands and feet.  What will Evie put on?  The unexpected choices of some of the monsters adds some fun surprises that will induce giggles on the part of young readers and smiles from adult readers.  A fun read that can also help young listeners learn the names of various types of clothing. MONSTER FOOD by Daisy Hirst Candlewick Press, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-5362-1774-2 Source: publisher for review Ages 0-3 All opinions expressed are solely my own. REVIEW Peaches and pears are what some monsters like to eat.  

MIDDLE GRADE SPECULATIVE FICTION (Animal) : Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi

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SECONDHAND DOGS by Carolyn Crimi Balzer + Bray, 2021 ISBN: 978-0-06-298920-8 Source: Blue Slip Media Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own. ABOUT THE BOOK A heartwarming—and heart-tugging—middle grade novel about love, loyalty, and what to means to be part of a family, featuring a motley pack of rescue dogs—from author Carolyn Crimi, with adorable illustrations by Melissa Manwill. Perfect for fans of A Dog’s Life and Because of Winn-Dixie. Miss Lottie’s home was for second chances. When she adopted Gus, Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie, Miss Lottie rescued each member of the pack—including herself, her helper, Quinn, and her reclusive cat, Ghost—and turned them into a family. But when a new dog, Decker, arrives and tries to hoard Miss Lottie’s heart and home for himself, the pack’s future is threatened. At first, Gus, the insecure pack leader, only notices little things, like tiny Moon Pie being kicked out of the bed and Ghost acting spooked (then again…Ghost is a cat). But things

MIDDLE GRADE SPECULATIVE FICTION (Fantasy) : Magic's Most Wanted by Tyler Whitesides

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MAGIC'S MOST WANTED by Tyler Whitesides Harper, 2021 ISBN: 978-0-06-256837-3 Source: purchased Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own. ABOUT THE BOOK Magic is closer than Mason Morrison ever thought possible. For Mason Mortimer Morrison, life isn’t so magical. His dad was just sent to jail, his grades have been plummeting from meh to yikes, and, oh yeah, two officers from some organization called Magix just showed up to arrest him in the middle of fourth period. Talk about bad luck. Mason knows he’s innocent. But in order to clear his name, he’s going to need the help of a plucky Magix junior detective and a cantankerous talking bunny—and a little bit of magic. REVIEW Tyler Whitesides imagination runs wild in this tale of life gone wrong for one young boy.  Life is not looking good for Mason Mortimer Morrison, his father's in jail for robbing a bank, his grades are terrible, and he has no friends.  Things take a turn for the worst when he finds himself opening a mus

GRAPHIC NOVEL REALISTIC FICTION : Pawcasso by Remy Lai

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PAWCASSO by Remy Lai Henry Holt & Company, 2021 ISBN: 978-1-250-77449-1 Source: purchased Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own. ABOUT THE BOOK Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list, and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes eleven-year-old Jo, peering out the window of her house, bored and lonely. Astonished by the sight of an adorable basket-toting dog on his own, Jo follows Pawcasso, and when she’s seen alongside him by a group of kids from her school, they mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner. Excited to make new friends, Jo reluctantly hides the truth and agrees to let “her” dog model for an art class the kids attend. What could go wrong? But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows Great Dane-sized when animal control receives complaints about a dog roaming the streets off-leash. With Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships? REVIEW Pawcasso  takes