Showing posts from February, 2020

MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY FICTION: Hollow Dolls by MarcyKate Connolly

HOLLOW DOLLS by MarcyKate Connolly Sourcebooks Young Readers, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-4926-8819-8 Source: eARC from NetGalley/purchased copy Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Simone is a mind reader. She knows a great many things about everyone she meets, but she can’t seem to remember anything about her past or where she came from. After finally being free for the first time in a long time, she sets off, determined to find her home.

When she stumbles across a man with two minds inside him – the real one, shoved deep down, and one of a body walker, someone who can take over a person’s body against their will – Simone is even more eager to leave her old life behind.

As Simone dives deeper into her history, she learns truths she never could have imagined. But when those she loves start disappearing around her, Simone knows only she can stop the evil.

Set in the same fantasy world as the Shadow Weaver duology, this series starter weaves a tale of secrets, power, …

PICTURE BOOK FICTION REVIEWS: Lali's Feather by Farhana Zia & Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention by Pip Jones

LALI'S FEATHER by Farhana Zia, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman Peachtree Publishers, 2020 Available in April 2020 ISBN: 978-1-68263-129-4 Source: ARC from publisher for review Ages 4-8 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

This endearing story of identification and values shows the rewards in looking closely and thinking imaginatively.

Lali finds a little feather in the field. Is it lost? Lali sets out to find feather a home, but one bird after another rejects it. The feather is too small for Rooster, too slow for Crow, and too plain for Peacock. Once Lali decides to keep the little feather and discovers all the things she can do with it, the other birds begin to recognize its value.

Farahan Zia's charming tale employs an inventive circular structure that reveals the importance of looking beyond first impressions. Illustrator Stephanie Fizer Coleman brings this delightful story of imagination and inspiration to life.


Lali finds a feather in a field.  Wh…

MIDDLE GRADE REALISTIC FICTION: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

SONG FOR A WHALE by Lynne Kelly Delacourte Press, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-5247-7023-5 Source: purchased Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

The story of a deaf girl's connection to a whale whose song can't be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she's the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she's not very smart. If you've ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to "sing" to him! But he's three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?


Song for a Whale is a beautifully-written tale involving a young girl who is deaf, a whale with an unusual song, and the connection be…

EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS FICTION: Surf's up! by Luke Flowers & Don't Worry, BEE Happy by Ross Burach

SURF'S UP! Moby Shinobi and Toby Too! #1 by Luke Flowers Scholastic, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-338-54752-8 Source: purchased Ages 4-8 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Moby Shinobi and his dog Toby are excited for a day at the beach! Moby tries to use his ninja skills to build a huge sand castle, catch some fish, and save a leaking sailboat... but each try ends in a mess! What if Moby isn't right for the job? But with some help from Toby, he discovers that teamwork makes every job easier! With easy-to-read rhyming text and full-color artwork throughout, this early reader series is sure to be a hit with beginning readers!


Having read a couple of the early reader Moby Shinobi books, I was looking forward to reading this longer chapter book story about Moby.  And while the book is cute enough, I didn't love it.  Moby heads to the beach with his dog, Toby.  In the first chapter, they pack the supplies they think they'll need.  Once at the beach, Moby is pr…

YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION: A Thousand Sisters by Elizabeth Wein & A Light in the Darkness by Albert Marrin

A THOUSAND SISTERS: The Heroic Airwomen of The Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth Wein Balzer + Bray, 2019 ISBN: 978-0-06-245301-3 Source: purchased Ages 14 and up All opinions expressed are solely my own.

The true story of the only women to fly in combat in World War II

In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—nicknamed the “night witches”—faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.

This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and …

PICTURE BOOK NONFICTION: Red Rover by Richard Ho & Big Cats by Nic Bishop & Manhattan by Jennifer Thermes

RED ROVER Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho, illustrated by Katherine Roy Roaring Brook Press, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-250-19833-4 Ages 5-10 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

On a planet far, far away, one pioneer explores a vast frontier. Many others have come before it seeking an answer to Mars’s many secrets, and the little rover is no different. It plays games.

It looks for water.

And it waits…

…for the next one to come to Mars to explore.

Join Curiosity on its journey across the red planet in this innovative and dynamic nonfiction picture book by journalist Richard Ho, illustrated by Sibert Honor winner Katherine Roy.


This gorgeously illustrated book tells the story of the NASA rover Curiosity and it's work on Mars.  This book could have been kind of boring, I mean, the rover just moves slowly over the planet.  But Ho and Roy have done an incredible job showing the remarkable things the rover has seen and the amazing pieces of information that it…

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION/GRAPHIC NOVELS : Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale & Field Trip Disaster by Derek Fridolfs & Dave Bardin

DIANA: PRINCESS OF THE AMAZONS by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by Victoria Ying DC Comics, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-4012-9111-2 Source: purchased Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Eleven-year-old Diana leads an idyllic life on the island of Themyscira. Cut off from the rest of the world, she's beginning to feel more and more isolated. Though she has a loving mother and many "aunties," she is an only child. THE only child on the island, in fact.

After an escapade goes wrong, Diana gets in trouble for not living up to the Amazonian standard. She just can't seem to measure up no matter what she does. Every other person on the island is an adult proficient in their trade and mighty in body, while she is gangly, sometimes clumsy, and not particularly good at anything. She's not Wonder Woman ... yet. What Diana needs is a friend; someone her own age whom she can talk to. But when she decides to take matters into her own hands, sh…

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK SERIES REVIEW : Wallace and Grace by Heather Alexander

WALLACE AND GRACE #1 Wallace and Grace Take the Case (978-1-61963-989-8) #2 Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper (978-1-68119-011-2) #3 Wallace and Grace and the Lost Puppy (978-1-68119-012-9) Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2017 Ages 6-9 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Wallace and Grace meet a rabbit who is sure he saw a ghost! But the clues lead them in a different direction. Something is spooking the garden . . . Can Wallace and Grace solve this case?


Monty the chipmunk's cupcake is stolen, and he thinks Sal the groundhog took it. If Wallace and Grace want to prove that Sal is the cupcake thief, they will need to look for clues and talk to witnesses. But what happens when the clues lead them to a cupcake thief they never expected?


When Wallace and Grace are on a scavenger hunt, they stumble upon a puppy named Jasper who can't find his way home. Will the owl detectives be able to follow clues to get the lost puppy home?


YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION : The First Dinosaur by Ian Lendler & Locked in Ice by Peter Lourie

THE FIRST DINOSAUR: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth by Ian Lendler Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-5344-2700-6 Source: purchased Ages 12 and up All opinions expressed are solely my own.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Book of 2019
An Orbis Picture Recommended Title

“An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Join early scientists as they piece together one of humanity’s greatest puzzles—the fossilized bones of the first dinosaur!

Dinosaurs existed. That’s a fact we accept today. But not so long ago, the concept that these giant creatures could have roamed Earth millions of years before humans was unfathomable. People thought what we know as dinosaur bones were the bones of giant humans. Of large elephants. Of angels, even.

So, how did we get from angel wings to the T-Rex? The First Dinosaur tells the story of the idea of dinosaurs, and the chain of fossil discover…

2020 NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER : New Kid by Jerry Craft

NEW KID by Jerry Craft Harper, 2019 ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0 Source: purchased Ages 9-14 Graphic Novel -- Realistic/Contemporary All opinions expressed are solely my own.

A graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?


Jerry Craft has created a masterpiece of a story with his book, New Kid.  I'd been meaning…

MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY : The Seeking Serum by Frank L. Cole

THE SEEKING SERUM Potion Masters #3 by Frank L. Cole Shadow Mountain, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-62972-606-9 Source: ARC from publisher for review Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Mezzarix has stolen the Vessel, the source of power for all potion masters, and is preparing to launch his final attack on the potion-making community—which includes his own family.

Gordy and his family have gone into hiding, but when his mom uncovers some new information, she takes Gordy into the underground network known as the Swigs, a haven for renegade potion masters and black-market potions, to secure support in the fight against Mezzarix. But when Scourges, rebel potion makers acting on orders from Mezzarix, attack the Swigs, Gordy barely escapes with his life and is forced to leave his family behind.

As the fight intensifies between B.R.E.W. and the Scourges, it falls to Gordy and his friends—Max, Sasha, and Adilene—to locate Mezzarix's hidden headquarters, retrieve the Vessel, sa…